Friday, January 24, 2014

One month home

Last week Ryan had an appointment with an ENT. I wasn't worried about his ears but his adenoids since he lightly snores and sounds hoarse all the time. The appointment was at nap time. Not good considering I've been working fervently on getting him on a strict napping schedule so he feels more secure at home. We were there almost two hours and by the time the doctor came in to see Ryan, he had been asleep for about 15 minutes. He woke understandably upset to a man all in his face. The dr was very nice but that didn't help. He checked both ears and found he had an ear infection. I was surprised because I hadn't seen any signs other than waking often which could have been attributed to a dozen other things. I then recalled that often times adopted children don't show signs of pain because their hurts and falls have been dismissed at the orphanage. I'm not sure if this was the case but I did notice many times kids at the orphanage would fall HARD and not even cry. They were picked up and brushed off instead of being hugged and loved on. So possibly Ryan had this infection for a long time and didn't show signs of pain. The dr then checked his nose and noticed the drainage we've seen. Nothing green or major just a runny nose. I was disappointed he didn't check his throat but Ryan was screaming and it was traumatic for all three of us. We go back for a follow up next week and I will ask that he check the adenoid/throat area again.

This week we went to the International Adoption Clinic in Birmingham. What a God-send for adoptive parents! International adoption is complex and having a team of doctors and therapists who have adopted internationally or have been adopted themselves brought me such peace knowing there are specialists that  REALLY understand us. We met with the therapist for nearly an hour. She asked dozens of questions about how he's adjusting, adapting, bonding, attaching, prior life at the orphanage, etc. We were so thankful that most of our responses were positive. Ryan is obviously adjusting and adapting well to us but to know the therapist also noticed it was very comforting. She was very pleased with his interaction with us and our responses. She said a big part of the reason he's doing so well is because of the care he received at the orphanage. (insert my huge tears of relief here..seriously I cried and cried)  He was loved and cared for and it shows in his interactions with his family. He is very affectionate with us, gives us hugs and kisses all day and is so thrilled to see Papa, Katie and Braden when they come home that he squeals with JOY. He LOVES his family! He isn't showing indiscriminate affection with strangers which is a wonderful sign. In fact he's scared of strangers and clings to me if someone even tries to hold him. I know everyone is anxious to love on our boy but it's still too soon so for now give him a high five if you see him or knock some knuckles. :) He will be ready to give and receive hugs soon and we'll let you know when it's ok. She did recommend it was fine for me to start leaving for 30min every once in awhile. I can tell him goodbye, leave and show him that Mama comes back. I had been afraid to do that yet  so it's good to know the right way to do it. We met with the dr after the therapist completed our session. Dr Chambers checked him out from head to toe and found one ear impacted with wax. We've got some drops for that. She pointed out two TB inoculations on both arms that we hadn't even noticed. She said his foot that he kicks out may resolve itself but if it not, we will see a PT in six months. He gained TWO POUNDS in one month which is awesome! He's showing growth in height and weight since we first shared his file with IAC a year ago when we were matched. All positive signs! The dreaded blood work came at the end of our appointment. They drew antibody titers to see what immunizations he's received, they also checked for Hepatitis, lead, and a few other things. The first draw was traumatic and Mama could not take it once Ryan moved and they lost the vein. I sent Daddy for the other vials which resulted in a total of NINE. That poor baby was screaming in a way I've never heard before (THANKFULLY!). I also have to do a sweet little stool collection over the week to check for parasites. We will get all results when we go back next month plus a developmental session with the therapist. 
Playing at IAC. It was a long day and we found a ball and played in the hallway. I happened to catch one of many wipe outs in the hallway. Crazy kid!

After the blood work. Those tears came off and on all the way home. Did I mention it was a three hour drive back to the house? Very long day! 

Here are some happier pictures of everyday life with our little chocolate muffin. 

Ryan's first trip to the grocery store. He sat IN the cart which was a huge since he's usually in the Ergo, or being carried if we shop. He said, "Mmmmmmmmm Mmmmmmm" down every aisle. He loved holding all the groceries. He even insisted on helping me bring the groceries inside. He loves to carry things on his arms so I put a bag on his arm and he toddled on in the house. 

Nap time snuggles help with the crankies. 

He officially LOVES bath time now! It's Daddy time which he enjoys since Daddy is gone to work all day. The first few weeks bath time was torture but he's LOVING it now which is great cause we're clean people around here :) 

He is understanding so much English. He learns something new every day. It's amazing to watch! He goes to his room to get his diaper without being asked now. If he's poopy, he will go and get the diaper and wipes. This morning his wipes weren't in his room and he was confused. He was looking for them and called out, Hallllooo!?!? (people what did you DO with my wipes?)  He then puts the wipes away on his dresser when he's done. He does the same with his shoes - gets them and puts them away. He understands the nap/bed time routine. Lights off, white noise on, door shut, he grabs the elephant lovey and blanket, then we rock. He will dump all the duplo blocks out of the bag and when we tell him to clean up, he cleans them all up. He finds satisfaction in cleaning, whether it's cleaning up his toys, helping me clean the french doors with Windex, taking a towel and wiping down walls or floors. I know these are things he's seen the ladies do in the orphanage and they taught the kids to clean, too, I'm sure. A few days ago we had let all three dogs outside. Two came back in but one didn't. She started scratching and Ryan ran to me, gave me a pat and showed me Nugget wanted to come inside. He's loving the dogs now which is a huge relief. He was so scared of them the first time he saw them. He now gives them hugs and kisses and obviously looks out for their well being, wanting them to come inside from the cold :)

A few of his new words he can say:
PupPup (puppy/dog)
Gabbbblablab (or something like that for Yo Gabba Gabba)
Cocoa (he loves chocolate)

He can name the following body parts by pointing to them: teeth, nose, eyes, belly button, and he's almost got ears down, too.

Nap time is still a struggle. He wakes every 20-30 minutes and I rock him back to sleep. He will wake again and we repeat. This means Mama is not productive but we will work on it. I'm hoping by next month we can start putting him in the crib and sitting by him until he falls asleep. Bed time is much better. He usually only wakes 1-2 times now if at all. Praise God for that! Daddy gets up with him when he wakes around 5-6am so I can get a few more winks. 

We are slowly settling into a new normal life with our precious toddler boy, after one month home. 

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

I may have missed his first smile

And first steps but today I got to witness his first Krispy Kreme donut experience and it was wonderful. 

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Our Honeymoon is ending?

But Ive been in denial that this was coming. I've read all about it and know it happens in every adoption. 

Last week I could read the signs. Everyone back to school, Dad back to work means a quiet house.  This is quite the opposite of a loud home filled with with lots of kids (ie orphanage). I'm not sure if that's throwing him off. He will pick up framed photos of Papa, sister and brother and call their names. One day last week he went to the window and yelled Papa Papaaaa! for about 5 minutes. So we face timed Papa and that seemed to help. He's also been testing the waters. Smiling and deliberately doing things he's been told not to like throwing the fork or sippy cup from the high chair. He's so cute that it's hard not to laugh at and I don't but it takes restraint. ;) Typical toddler behavior but I can't parent him like a typical toddler since he is still attaching to us and learning we are his family. I can't walk away when he's having a tantrum or wanting to be held because he may not develop the trust needed to fully attach and know I'm his Mama forever. It's a delicate balance and I'm still not sure I'm doing it all right but I pray I'm at least taking steps in the right direction. 

Last week we saw a lot of this -- 

And we also saw a lot of this --- 

First time at the park 

Helping Papa/Daddy --

Playing with big brother - 

This week has been better. So far not as much distress but he still wants to be within 3 feet of me at all times which is totally understandable. He wants me at all times and I'm cool with that. I'm his mom and that's what moms do :) 

They love their babies. 

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Does he speak English?

I get asked that a lot. It cracks me up considering he's developmentally around that of an 18mo old. I don't know many 18mo olds that speak English. ;) He does say a lot of phrases as I mentioned in a previous blog post. He's also added a few new words this week 

"Go" when he wants the dogs to go away. 

He says "teeth" and does a brushing motion with his finger when I tell him it's time to brush his teeth. 

He's learning to say Puppy although it sounds more like Pupa. 

He says "rolllll tide". We're Bama fans, y'all! 

He's almost mastered Katie and Braden's names. 

If I say, Let's count - he takes his fingers and starts counting with me almost to ten. 

He loves YoGabaGaba and dances to the music. It's slightly annoying but we are learning about sharing and caring...

He really is doing a remarkable job at adjusting. I feel like I'm sitting on pins and needles waiting for it all to come crashing down and our honeymoon to end. He is sleeping well at night for the most part. He wakes usually once a night and after a few minutes of rocking, goes right back to sleep. Naps are pretty easy.. He wakes once or twice but usually sleeps about 3 hours every afternoon. I'm not kidding when I say I'm exhausted. I feel I've recovered from jet lag and that awful stomach virus that hit us the week after we got home. I don't know if the adrenaline that kept me afloat for 3 weeks has vanished and keeping up with a toddler has zapped my energy. I can barely keep my eyes open past 7pm. I'm thinking an afternoon cup of coffee might be in order to get over that hump. 

The kids went back to school this week and Scott returned to work so it's just me and Ryan all day. It's so quiet and he misses the kids and Papa. He greets them with big hugs and kisses when he sees them! It's so sweet. :) 

Here's our morning thus far - 

Sunday, January 5, 2014

God's story : How Ryan came to be a part of our family Part 1

It's hard to believe I'm writing this because we have been praying about adoption for 11 years. Eleven years of tear-filled prayers, waiting on the Lord, His timing, His provision, His will. He delivered and we could not be happier. Ryan is adjusting so well to his new life. He's come so far in just a few weeks and he amazes us with new things every single day. It is such an honor that God has chosen us to be Ryan's parents. I know many people say Ryan is "lucky" to be our son but as I've said before (HERE), WE are the lucky ones, lucky that we have been entrusted to be his parents.

December 12, 2013

We left from Atlanta, Georgia, and boarded a plane for Pondicherry, India! It was terribly emotional leaving our kids for 12 days, not knowing if we'd be delayed in India since Ryan's passport hadn't been issued yet. It was a HUGE leap of faith going and believing God would fill in all the gaps. While we waited to depart from Atlanta, I met my friend Trisha and her family at the airport. She and I met via her blog several months ago. I found we were using the same agency and we both live in Alabama. It has been amazing to share this journey with her. She's been a shoulder to cry on and vent with via text messages for months on end and I am so thankful for her! Trisha's little one didn't live in the same province as Ryan so we didn't see each other again until our medical and embassy appointments in Delhi the following week.

December 13, 2013
Our first layover was in Frankfurt, Germany, where we met my other sweet friend, Kelly and her husband. She contacted me on Facebook over the summer when she found our babies were at the same orphanage. It was comforting to know our children shared the same home half way around the world. Our cases moved along at the same pace which meant we traveled at the same time. This was one of many answers to many prayers that had been said during our adoption journey. I remember telling Kelly we could at least be clueless together in India. I couldn't think of any other couple I'd rather be in India with - such a blessing!

December 14, 2013

At the Chennai airport - up almost 48 hours, WAY too excited to sleep!
The ride to our hotel was interesting. We saw tons of construction happening at 2am, lots of people out and about, horns beeping, cars swerving. We arrived at our hotel and fell asleep around 4am then we were up at 6 to FaceTime the kids and eat breakfast then we headed out for the 3 hour drive to Pondicherry. Again, the ride there was such an adventure. Cows in the grassy median, a huge herd passed right in front of us on the highway, a few of the cows were leashed but most just wandered, family of  three or four on mopeds or motorcycles none of them wearing helmets, trucks with sacks of vegetables and grain 8 feet tall with people sitting on top of those stacks, men urinating on the side of the road, construction and rubble everywhere, car horns were honking constantly, buses filled with people going to school and work. We finally arrived in Pondicherry and Kelly and I squealed! Our driver didn't know where the orphanage was so he made many stops and called THE Sister , who was the social worker for Ryan's orphanage. Finally we saw the street where Ryan's orphanage was located. That name has been permanently etched on my heart. This is where our son had lived since birth. We had driven too far down the street so Sister met us and walked down to show the driver where to go. 
We pulled into the hospital where the orphanage is located. There were people and children everywhere. The is also a convent located there for the nuns. 

Sister brought us up to our rooms and told us to get cleaned up, we would have lunch and THEN we could meet our babies! We were so thankful to be able to stay at the orphanage. I don't think this is typical procedure for adoptive families but the sisters were very accommodating.  They told us we could stay as long as we wanted. Our room was actually a hospital room complete with tiny twin beds, a shower/toilet room combined and A/C! I didn't see much air conditioning at the compound so they gave us one of their best rooms. She told us how to get hot water from the water heater with bucket for a shower. This was surely a first for us but we embraced this adventure knowing this is exactly how Ryan lives and what better way to really get a feel for his first home. 

The Church of our Lady of the Angels (Eglise de notre Dame des Anges) was right across the street from Cluny. I didn't see the significance of that church's name until later.

At lunch we were served some interesting food while the nuns sat in a table across from us smiling and chatting away with us. I was entirely too excited and anxious to eat and the sisters were very concerned about that! :)  Kelly and I went back and forth discussing how we wanted to meet our babies, wishing to photograph this anticipated event for each other but eventually went with Sister's suggestion of meeting them with the entire group of kids. I am so glad we did it this way. Ryan was able to warm up to us as we played with all the kids. It wasn't an intimidating experience for him and he got to enjoy hanging out with us for hours over a two day span. Sister brought us to the children's home after lunch. 

We walked into a big room that was used for playing, eating, and some sort of schooling, we think. We were greeted by 15-20 of the most gorgeous children with jet black hair and big brown eyes. The kids were so hungry for attention that they surrounded us with huge smiles and open arms. I started scanning the group for Ryan while waving and smiling at the others. At first I saw him and then thought...nope, not him,  he's too tall. Looked again, and THEN I saw him toddling around in a little Angry Birds t-shirt. He saw us, glanced at us for a few seconds and then went back to the TV. 

He was real apprehensive of us for obvious reasons. We were SO EXCITED to finally meet him and he was just like, Meh. I've noticed he does this lip biting thing when he's nervous. :( 

The workers had to go back to him several times and steer him in our direction. By this point, Scott and I were on the floor covered in kids. They were chatting away with us in Tamil (which we didn't speak a lick of), hugging us, kissing us, taking off my shoes and putting them on their own feet, gazing at my iPhone while I snapped their pictures, reprogramming Scott's watch, in awe of his hairy arms. 

You know you've met a friend for life when they will pick pretend lice out of your hair with such vigilance. I felt truly loved. :)

One of the sisters brought Ryan over to Scott, to shake his hand and meet his "Papa". Heart melted.

At some point, I scooped Ryan up in my arms and took a few pictures. I had waited 338 days for this moment. 

He ran off for a few minutes and I scooped him up again and placed him back in my arms. He gazed into my eyes for about ten seconds and at that moment I knew HE knew I was his Mama! That sealed the deal for me. I tickled him for what seemed like forever. I had waited 11 years to be his Mama. 

A few other times he would toddle back and plop down in our laps on his own. He warmed right up to both of us. This day was definitely on my list of the 4 most amazing days ever!

After playing with all the kids for over two hours, we left the children's home and went back to our room and crashed at 6pm. The sounds of car horns blaring didn't stop until about 10pm. 

December 15, 2013

I woke at 3am and grabbed my phone and flipped through all my photos waiting for Scott to wake up. When he did, I crawled into his tiny twin bed and we looked at all of the photos together. Our hearts were so full! At 5:30am the church bells rang from the Catholic church across the street from Cluny's. Children were singing in the choir and it was such a heavenly sound. 

We got showered (with our bucket of hot water and a pair of socks used for washcloths) and did some sight seeing around the beach side of Pondicherry before we headed back to the children's home.

Right before lunch we headed back to the children's home and played with all of those beautiful children for several hours. Again, it was magical, hearing them laugh, feeling their arms squeeze my neck, my legs, my arms and beg to be held. My heart was shattered when one sweet little girl, about 5 years old, would shout out, "Mama!! Papa!!" over and over again.  She didn't have a Mama or Papa and that little one clung to me for two days.  She didn't want to leave my side for a second. This sweet precious girl wanted a family and it hurt knowing we had to leave without her - and a dozen others we would have loved to tuck into our suitcases. I kept telling her Jesus loves her. I love her. Another precious one brought me a matchbox car and pointed to me, Scott, herself and the car. She wanted us to take her! Oh how I wish we could have walked out with that feisty little miss! Many times I have thought about what must have gone on in the minds of the little ones left behind. We got to shower them with love and little gifts but their heart's desire is to be loved and cherished by a family. Sadly, this is just one of thousands of orphanages in India. Millions of children in India alone need homes. I find myself thinking of those babies daily and praying big prayers for them to know they are loved, cherished and wonderfully made by God. 

We wore Ryan out and he fell asleep in my arms that morning. I had asked Sister to show me which bed Ryan slept in. She said he liked to rock so he slept in the cradle. I thought she meant he slept there when he was younger. Nope. He still slept in that tiny cradle as a toddler.

 We checked into our hotel after we left the orphanage, then got something to eat. We headed back to see the kids for the last time that evening. They had just had baths and were playing in the court yard area. They didn't have any playground area that we saw, no grass to run and play in, no swings or slides, not a sandbox to dig around in. Kelly brought some bubbles which turned out to be a huge hit! The kids LOVED those bubbles! 

I can't get over how different Ryan looks here. 

We left the kids with tears in our eyes knowing we wouldn't see them ever again. 

That was the last night our son slept in an orphanage. 

December 16, 2013

The next day we met Sister and the a few of the other nuns in the chapel for prayer before we took Ryan to the hotel. When we saw Ryan, he leaped into my arms. I held him as we sat in the quiet chapel and Sister prayed the most eloquent prayer over Ryan and "M". It was just beautiful and very emotional because I knew how difficult this day was for the sweet sisters as well. They had loved these children their entire lives and they were handing them over to us, never to see them again this side of heaven. We were told to leave the compound and not to bring them back for obvious reasons. Ryan didn't seem to mind walking out in my arms. The hotel was two blocks from Cluny and he just took it all in as we walked the streets of Pondicherry. I don't think he had ever left the orphanage before because he was taking in all the sights and sounds with wide eyes and a look of wonder. 

When we got to the hotel, it was tough. The tears came. For a very long time. He was scared but SO SO brave. He slept twice but the tears didn't stop until I started walking and rocking him. Because we were waiting to hear if Ryan's Indian passport was ready for us to pick up, we couldn't leave the hotel. Rocking and holding Ryan close to the door was all that made him happy. Through the sniffles and tears he clung to me. My heart was breaking for him. It was way more difficult than either of us had imagined it would be.  As I rocked and swayed him, Scott was video taping and taking photos of us. What he captured was unbelievable. 

There are angels dancing over us and then they dissipate. I was speechless yet comforted knowing God was reminding us that He was there with us in this devastating moment, when our son lost everything he had ever known. God was there as He always is. 
The Lord your God will be with you. He will neither fail you nor forsake you.
Deuteronomy 31:6
After that moment, Ryan turned a corner. He ate Teddy Grahams, drew pictures on little pieces of paper, played football with Papa, he sang the ABC song whenever he would see letters. He perked up and seemed happy with lots of laughter and smiles. He would cling to me because he was still so fearful but he didn't grieve again with tears.  Those angels were sent to comfort all of us, no doubt. Their  presence calmed our precious boy in his most fearful moment. It was a tremendous comfort and reminder to me as well. 
p.s. remember the name of the church across the street from the compound?
The Church of our Lady of the Angels

Right before 5pm Sister called to let us know Ryan's passport was ready!! We had come half way around the world praying and believing it would arrive right on time. Dozens of people told us it was too risky but we put our trust in God and we knew He was telling us to GO. We had faith when it seemed absolutely foolish but God made it happen! In the past few weeks I have recounted of all the times my fear was greater than my faith. I have pondered the times I trusted myself more than I trust God. There have been times I have believed man and his word over God's word. Our entire adoption journey has been filed with several faith building experiences and I am grateful to God for that. Apparently my faith needed some exercise. We went downstairs expecting the passport to be there. Instead we found a jeep-type ambulance full of nuns awaiting us. They told us to get in and as usual we were confused but we did so anyway. Within a few minutes we realized they were taking us to the post office to get our kiddos passports. Once we arrived, I immediately thought I'd never complain about US post offices again. It was a crazy mess of a place. After waiting for good bit, Ryan "signed" for his passport with his thumbprint and we were set!