Sunday, January 24, 2010

The big trip and the return home! (Part 2)

On with the trip! Here's what we woke up to on day 2:

After a first day of screaming and crying (mostly all from just one of our children...the older one!), the day started quietly, as you can see. The kids quickly got their energy back, though :)

That day, the other family from our adoption agency that was staying at our guest house was scheduled to pick up their new boy. We were going to tag along and take care of some paperwork at the agency's office, so we all jumped in the same van that we were in the day before and headed over to the agency office.

That day was a complete roller coaster. We were so excited to see even a little progress with Tarik already. However, he was still pushing Amy away. The experience at the office made things even harder. Let me say that we are completely happy with our agency and really have no complaints. I think what happened this day was more of an individual thing. Well, basically, the social worker that Tarik clinged to on our Gotcha Day was there. That was fine. The problem was that she was intervening and trying to meet all of Tarik's needs that day instead of allowing the bond between parents and son happen. As you can guess, it quickly felt like all of the progress from the day before was lost. By the end of our time there, he was pushing me away and only wanting her again. I understood that she cared for Tarik, too, but it was time for her to step back and let this new relationship develop. I know I'm not crazy because of one the other employees actually apologized and said they would talk to the social worker (and we hadn't said anything to them about it). There is absolutely no other emotion that is like that's a feeling of helplessness, of brokenheartedness...I just wanted to be there for him so bad and I couldn't. The situation ended up okay, however. I'm not sure if anyone talked to her or not, but it was absolutely clear that when we saw her two days later (I'll post more about that excursion later), she was completely conscious of her actions and basically just stayed away from Tarik to let us bond with him. It was very thoughtful and appreciated.

The paperwork was pretty fast. Basically, we talked to an employee about the kids for bit, then we talked to the nurse and counselor about Tarik and Sophie. They basically said Sophie is no problem and Tarik has a hard time adjusting. Oh, and he hates fried egg :) After that, we signed some documents and, to our surprise, we were given pictures of the children's birth parents. Those will be nice to have down the road when we talk to our kids about adoption.

After the paperwork was done, we spent the rest of the time at the office playing with the kids and partaking in a traditional Ethiopian coffee ceremony. That was so cool!! It is crazy how long it is...not a bad thing, just different than American style. It took about 45 minutes for the first "round" of coffees and they were the size of espressos! They served the coffee with popcorn, but it was really more like kettle corn. Delicious! Here are some pics from the day after Gotcha Day:

More to come soon!!


Saturday, January 9, 2010

The big trip and the return home! (Part 1)

Hey everyone!

I'm so sorry for the delay on the updates. As you can imagine, going from no kids to 2 overnight causes just a bit of change in the ol' daily habits :) We are doing well and the kids are happy and healthy (most of the time...), although Amy has really been nailed by 4 weeks in a row of bad colds. Add in the lack of sleep for new parents and it makes it tough. She's amazing though, and is the awesome mother I knew she'd be.

So, where to start...well, the trip was only 5 days long, but was chock full of tears, smiles, love, and adventure! We waited until the last minute to pack and head to DC, so we literally got 1.5 hours of sleep after the 11 hour drive. We got in at 3:30 and got up at 5 to head to the airport. When I say "we waited", it was because we were fixing up the house for Amy's mom so she could move in and that took every spare second we had.

Here's a clip during our short stopover in Rome. Clearly, I'm tired as can be...

The first day was basically catching up on our rest. Other than that, we took a short trip to some shops to get some Christmas presents for our families and got to know the other families at our guest house. The guest house (Ethiopia Guest House) was awesome. It's a Christian accommodation designed for missionaries and adoptive families. It's very comfortable and has a bed and breakfast feel more than a hotel feel, which is perfect for an adoption trip. Here are some photos of views from the guest house (you'll have to wait until later in this series of blogs for photos of the guest house itself...all of those pics have our kids in them! :) )

There were two other families staying there that were adopting as well; one family from Seattle was adopting a 2 year-old boy and a family from Sydney, Australia was adopting a 5 year-old girl. Both of them were back to adopt for the second time from Ethiopia. It was great to share stories and just have each other for support in general. Here are some pics of the other families:

The second day was the day to pick up the kids! We went to bed that night just thinking about how our lives were going to change so dramatically. I know all first-time parents go through that to some degree...but it was a strange feeling. The next morning, we were nervous, but ready. We really didn't know what to expect. We were thinking that it could be either extreme with Tarik - he might recognize us and be excited or he would freak out.

Well...he freaked out! The little guy did not want to let go of his nanny. The funny thing was that he was clinging to the photo book with our pictures the whole time. He cried and screamed and was just an upset little boy. We spent a while at the boy's orphanage waiting for him to calm down.

The only thing that got him to calm down was when his nanny suggested we go over to the girl's orphanage to see Fasika (Sophie), which was extremely sweet to hear. They had been introduced a week or two before we arrived and he had started to feel drawn to her before "Gotcha Day". Apparently, he hugged and kissed her the day before!

So, we headed over to the girl's orphanage with buddy boy still crying and upset. Sophie was just a bit of a different story...she was just pure sweetness from the beginning. We held her, kissed her, and fed her for a while before she passed out in Amy's arms. Tarik was still sad, but seemed to be getting a little more comfortable with us.

We spent a while there with the kiddos before we finally headed back to the guest house. I'm sure you can imagine how things went then...

The drive back was fine, but Tarik really had a hard time when the social worker got back in the van. Pretty much for the rest of the day, Tarik would point to the front gate about every 10 minutes hoping that the van would pull up and take him back. Little sweetie...We ate lunch and then went back to our room. Tarik threw a huge tantrum that lasted about an hour before he passed out on the floor. It was really cute...he was clinging to the only things he owned in the world: his photo album, his blanket, and his shoes. I think Sophie was still up...she was just hangin' out with Mommy and Daddy.

Even on that first day with our babies, we could really feel a bond starting. I'll admit, it was kinda hard to go from living for myself (and Amy) to having a (very loud) screaming child the next! Tarik probably cried for 5 hours that first day, but we did have some beautiful, sweet moments where Tarik just seemed to relax and understand that we were there to help and care for him.

More coming soon... Like always, thank you for all the prayer and support you have given our family!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

More Details Coming!!

I apologize for the lack of updates, but family life has been crazy! :) I am planning on a big post detailing our trip to Ethiopia and back...we have plenty of stories to tell about Tarik and Sophie!

God Bless,

PS - Photos are coming, too!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Back in the US, back in the USA.

Hey everyone! We are officially back in the US with our kids. We are so happy! We love our kids and God definitely matched us with the right children. I am dead tired, so I really can't write too much more. However, we will post one more detailed email with everything that happened near the end of of the trip in the next few days.

Thanks for the support and prayers!

Phil & Amy

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The Adventure Continues!

Well, it's been a crazy week! Sophie is an absolute angel and Tariku is a miniature version of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde! But we love them both already... :)

Tarik is very shy and he is still adjusting...he goes through spells of tantrums and pure joy. Not having ever experienced parenting before, it is definitely challenging at times, but it's just part of loving these little children. The day after we picked up the kids, Tarik's old social worker was present and she was highly involved with was very, very tough. We felt like we lost all of the gains from the first 24 the time we left, he wanted to be back with her and didn't want us. We know to look ahead and we do, but these things are difficult in the moment. The same social worker was with us today on a trip to Acacia Village (our agency's new foster home here) and she was much better about understanding the need to not encourage too much reattachment (I think after my feedback...).

I am learning how to say many things in Amharic to communicate with Tarik. It seems to help a bit. So far, he has bonded more with me and Sophie more with Amy, but Sophie is really pretty good with everyone, so it's not a big deal. We're just trying to get him acclimated with Amy before I go back to work.

Oh - and we are officially/legally parents now!! We went to the embassy yesterday and there were no problems! They did ask if Sophie was married, though... :) They also said "no givebacks". We both were expecting a 6-month return policy...but we'll make it through this. haha.

Thanks again for all your prayers and we will be flying back home tomorrow!!

Phil & Amy

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Phone Call Today

Disclaimer: Phone connection was hard to hear over, so the events described are to the best of my memory and ability to hear what was being said. Plus I’m not getting any younger you know.

I talked to Amy and Phil today. Terrik had a difficult time leaving the orphanage today. He was actually refusing to leave until he found out they were going to see Sophie. Phil said he cried and screamed for a couple hours, till he wore himself out and fell asleep clutching his prized possessions (blanket a lady had made him, sneakers, and photo album Amy and Phil had sent him). He woke up in the same state. Phil said it was like he started crying before he woke up.

He seems to be bonding with them now and is imitating everything they do. I could hear him laughing in the background while Amy was playing with him. He said hello to us a couple times and goodbye (waterworks started for grandpa). This has been an exciting day!

Phil said Sophie has really taken to Amy. I could hear her in the background as well. Please pray for them that Terrik will continue to bond with them and for a safe trip. It has been a rough go for the little guy, he has been moved a couple time so I’m sure it will take some patience on Phil’s and Amy’s parts. But God is able and your prayers are very much appreciated. I know they will be wonderful parents and in time they will become a family.

Amy’s Dad

It's the big day!! Needless to say, it was a little hard to sleep last night... Amy woke up at least once an hour thinking it was about time to get up :) What a unique adventure this has been so far. I wish we could adequately describe all the sights and sounds. For example, being a partially Muslim country, there are constantly sounds of Muslim chanting and praying outside of our room. All through the night we heard the chants/prayers and the local poultry. :)

We just had some French Toast at the Guest Home and are just waiting at this point! We'll be heading over to the orphanage in about an hour to meet our children in person for the first time. We are ready for whatever happens...we know that Tarik has been through a lot and he is slow to warm up to some people. We have been praying that he responds to us well, but we know that he might not. Please pray for our little guy. We try to imagine what he must be thinking and feeling and we know this will be a scary event for him.

We still can't believe this is really happening! We've been in this process for so long, but it's very different to be here about to have our lives changed dramatically in an instant. We will try to post later today, but please understand that we might be just a little busy with our kids!! :)

Phil & Amy

FYI: Buy the time I posted this tyey have meet thier childern. I cant wait to meet them.

Amy's Dad