Saturday, October 26, 2013

Two weeks since I "Gotcha!"

I stepped away from social life for a bit....a lot of reasons for that....but first and foremost to give this amazing gift I have been given EVERY MINUTE OF TIME HE DESERVES!  I feel like I fail miserably at being his mommy EVERY DAY!  It's like when I went to college to become a teacher and then when I became a teacher I was like, "NOTHING they taught me in college prepared me for how to actually do this!!!!"  Same thing here!  All of the books, training, support from other adoptive parents, etc are wonderful but NONE of it actually dictates what life in my home with my child will be like.  It is helpful, YES! It is important to be knowledgeable and trained, YES, but the learning began 2 weeks and one day ago when this little munchkin was placed into my arms forever.

Me stepping away from everyone, really, has to do with being a bit tired of explaining over and over again why he shouldn't be touched, held, hugged, fed, ETC. ETC by anyone except for me.  I feel really mean and like a broken record having to continue to repeat it.  I know it doesn't make sense.  Why can't you hold this amazingly adorable bundle of energy!  I mean he seems to want your attention, right?!?!  It doesn't feel natural to not dote on him and give him all kinds of love.  I get it.  Adoption is not natural though.  It was not in God's plan.  It is part of His redemptive plan.  It is necessary.  There are children without mommies and daddies.  Children need them.  So, God created adoption.  It is a wonderful, painful, confusing, overwhelming, beautiful plan He created.  But it is not natural.

Our days have been everything but easy, but like the above they have been wonderful, painful, confusing, overwhelming and beautiful.  From minute to minute things change.  One minute we have smiles and hugs, the next tears and anger.  I know you may be thinking this is typical of any 3 year old and that may be true, but this is so much more complex.  He has been through so much in his 3 years of life.  Two weeks ago he did not have the 24/7 attention of ONE person.  He loves it and he also resists it.  He tests.  His mind is filled with so many conflicting emotions.  Although he NEEDS a family and he has one, he also desperately misses and wholeheartedly loved each and every one of the children and adults at GLA who have been his life and "family" for the past 2 1/2 years.  He also spent 9 months within his mother and 6 months with his mother and father.  Does he remember that?  No.  But it is a apart of who he is forever.  I will never know what those 15 months were like and what long term effects they will have on him.

I know now that he needs ME and only me.  We have a short time together.  6 weeks.  Less than one month left before I will entrust him to the care of a school where he will learn and thrive and grow with other children and teachers for 8 hours a day.  Even thinking of this breaks my heart.  God knew when He called me to this that I was single, that I would have 6 weeks to be with him and then he would need care out of the home.  I trust HIM that he will be ok.  I have chosen a place for him where I know he will truly thrive.   I do not look forward to the day that I will leave him there though!!!!  I was careful to choose a place where I could tell they were not the touchy/feely, hold kids on laps and snuggle kind of center.  He will not need that from them even 6 weeks from now.  At that point he can begin to get some extra snuggles from his grandma and grandpa and some other family members.  His teacher at school will be there to help him grow in other ways.

Our 2nd week home has been harder than the first.  He is not sleeping or eating as well.  This mommy is on her knees for her little boy.  Tonight as I rocked him to sleep this song came to me, "Hold me Jesus" by Rich Mullins (a special friend that went to be with Jesus too soon).  I feel so unworthy of being his mom at times.  I know with all my heart God called me to this and He will equip me.  I just don't feel worthy!  I need HIM all day every day!  I know this is something HE wrote in HIS book for me to do!  I know he intends for a second child to join my little guy too.  HE IS IN CONTROL!  He is writing this story!  It is an amazing one.  I am humbled to be a part of it.  It brings me to tears that HE chose me to hold this little boy, to tuck him into bed, and to hear him call me mommy.  I am GRATEFUL!  I am truly NOT WORRYING about tomorrow!  Tomorrow has enough worries of its own!  I put and have been putting the adoption of Mack's sibling into HIS hands since before I knew I would be Mack's mommy!  HE IS IN CONTROL!  He is the author of this story!  (link below is to HOLD ME JESUS, by Rich Mullins)
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I have not shared pictures on FB the last few days since I have not been on so I will share them here.  Please continue to pray for us.  We are doing ok.  We are SO blessed!  I thank Jesus EVERY minute of the the enjoyable and more challenging moments!  All praise to you LORD!
Likes the big boy swings at the park by our house.

Ready for next week!

Loves our walks and doesn't seem to mind the weather :-)

First pumpkin carving.


Silly Grandma!

Getting a special gift made of his hand print!

One of his buddies from GLA that lives super close :-)


Monday, October 21, 2013

One Week Home!

Wow.  One week.  Seems like it has gone quickly, but also not.  There have been 100s of firsts this week.  Even though I have been preparing for over two years, you can't really prepare or know what it's gonna be like til you have that 3 year old with you 24/7!

I could write a book about the first week.  When we got home from the airport I just had to give him a bath right away!  I didn't know how he would react.  He had never been in warm water before.  He LOVED it!  He laid all the way down in the water and loves putting his face right into the bubbles giving his eyelashes and chin extra "hair."  The language barrier makes things tricky so as far as how to keep water in the tub, when he gets to splashing, I pull the plug and then he stops :-)

I was nervous about how he would react to the cats.  Now I am more nervous for the cats!  He LOVES the cats!  I did not learn much Creole at all before bringing home and have learned phrases as I need to. So my main phrases to him in Creole are "be nice," "gentle," and "don't throw that!" LOL.  On top of the kitchen cupboards are all of the things he has thrown.  I have to decide how he will earn them back :-)   He doesn't seem to care too much that they're up there. 

The car ride home from the airport was fine.  The next time I put him in the car seat was NOT fine.  We ended up sitting in the back seat together for awhile....then into the car seat and me into the front....everything is a process.  We have gone on a little ride each day and after that first day he was been totally fine with the car.

We also go on a walk each day.  The first day he was not liking the coat, hat or mittens, but now he puts them on with no problem.  Today it snowed while on our walk!

Every single thing has become a routine.  He falls asleep SO quickly and stays asleep basically all night.  For the first 5 days I had a twin bed right next to his toddler bed and each time he moved or whimpered in the night I rubbed his back.  Five days later may be too soon, but I did it and it has been great....while he was in the room, I changed the room around.  Now my twin bed is on one wall and his toddler bed is on the other.  Sometime in the middle of the night he comes and climbs in with me.  I hold him for 20 minutes or so and then put him back in his bed.  Then like clockwork at about 6:15 he is standing over me ready to be up and I can usually get him to lay down with me for 30 minutes or so before we actually get up!

I love rocking him.  I almost just want to hold him the whole nap or night but I also want to help him to feel secure with sleeping in his bed, knowing I will be right there if he needs me.  I have done so much reading and preparing.  Everyone has their own ways and opinions on these topics, but so far it is working really well for us.

Breakfast is tricky.  He liked Cracklin' Oatbran for about 2 days.  He has frowned on oatmeal, eggs, sausage, Cheerios and toast.  He really liked yogurt for about 2 days too but that has ended.  He will eat a little bit but the first day he ate 3 tubes!  Maybe he overdosed :-P

It has been a really cold and drizzly time since coming home so enjoying the outdoors has not been on the list like I hoped it would be.  We read books, color, chase the cats and hear mommy says "Gentle" over and over again, swing in the basement, dump any and everything out and the sing "Clean up, Clean up" (he seemed to already know this song!)  He loves to snuggle.  He usually very willingly gives me hugs and kisses and then sometimes withholds them, making it clear he is mad at me.  I wish I could know his thoughts.  I pray over him constantly. 

My mom stayed with us the first 6 nights and it was fun for him to get to know her a bit and I greatly appreciated all of the help with laundry, cleaning, cooking, etc...etc!  My dad came by today and mowed for us.  I had hoped Mackenley would mow along side him with his little mower but he was scared of the real mower.  

Every day I sit and look at this little wonder that God has entrusted to me.  Sometimes I cannot believe he is actually here!  Other times I second guess EVERYTHING!  Mostly I just am cherishing this time I have to fully pour into him and get to know him!  I love hearing him call me Mommy.  I guess as I finish I can document the English used to date by him:  Mommy, baby, all done, I love you, clean up, bye, hello....I think this is all....he understands far more than he is speaking. I can't wait to watch him grow with his language.  This last picture was of a priceless moment....I gave him a piece of ice cream cake...I am assuming it was his first taste of ice cream although who knows.....with the first lick he looked at me like, "Why have you kept this from me!?!?"  :-)

Thank you for continuing to pray for us!  I will update as I can!

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Bringing Mack Home

This has to have been one of the most difficult yet rewarding experiences to date.  I arrive at GLA on Friday morning, October, 11, his "Gotcha Day," and life is no longer as it was, for either of us.  He is handed to me and off we go.

He no longer spends his days wandering around the nursery with nannies and 50 or so kids.  That may sound like a good thing, but this was his normal, his reality, and what he was used to.  So as much comfort, care, etc. etc. I can offer him, his world has just been flipped upside-down.  Mine has too of course.

We go to the Baptist Mission.  A place I have longed to return to since I was a 4th grader!  The memories flood back!  Ordering food, eating food, shopping at the store and on the street are not the same with a 3 year old (who is barely the size of a 2 year old) in your arms who will not let me set him down.  He must be scared to death!  He knows he should love me.  I keep telling him I love him....but can he understand?  I mean we don't speak the same language!

Not everyone gets the attachment deal.  Everyone wants to "OOOH" and "AAAAH" at this little guy.  Everyone wants to touch him and say his name and be his buddy.  Put yourself in his shoes!  I am to be the one and ONLY to care for him for quite some time.  When he reaches his arms to someone else, I am to ask them to send him to me.  In an orphanage a child will go to anyone who will pick them up.  This is life in an institution.  Now he must learn that I am his person.  His mommy.  He does not need to get his needs met by others.  I feel bad at times, like I am depriving others of the chance to be his buddy....he needs for me to set firm boundaries for him so that he can learn to attach and have healthy relationships, first with me and then with others.  This will take a LONG time.

The first night I put him to sleep he stirs and fidgets a lot.  He "checks" on me.  He reaches for me.  He wants to know that I am still there.  I realize this is an instinct God put inside of us.  He has not needed to learn that this should be so, it should just be so!  It just has not been his reality for the past 2 1/2 years.  He has been in a place that is amazing when compared to others, but there is no way the  nannies can be there to pat backs, wipe tears and rock back to sleep the large number of children in their charge every night.

So I think that first night, he does this, he looks for me, he needs me, but he didn't do this yesterday. Contrary to most of his other Haitian buddies who have since come home, he falls asleep in the dark and quiet.  He also loves to hug his build-a-bear and be snuggled up with his super soft blanket.  Just yesterday he slept in a crib with no "lovies."

The weekend is filled with opportunities for us to build trust with each other.  What does he think of all of this one-on-one time?  Does he just know this is how it is supposed to be so he accepts it?  The smiles he gives me at each bath time, lotion time, jammie time, snack time (and the list goes on) are priceless.  He is not lucky!  He deserves this and he is getting this!

In January I knew him to be a tense, on the go little boy.  He was very quiet all weekend.  I never got a snuggle in January.  Now I get snuggles whenever he or I want.  When he wakes up from a nap or in the morning we snuggle for about 30 minutes.  Is this instinctual?  He didn't do this the day before I came....

God is bonding our hearts.  God is helping him to trust and to feel secure.  God is also healing his body as I have prayed for SO long!  We'll see what the International Adoption Doctor says on the 30th, but besides a cough, I truly believe his body is free from parasites.  This would be miraculous!

The trip home was not an easy one, but I suppose traveling with any 3 year old would be a bit challenging.  I can't even begin to imagine what was going through his mind with every new sight, smell and feeling.  I prayed over his little body constantly.  Airports are so overwhelming.  We made it through immigration in Florida in about 15 minutes....another miracle!  He made it home in the outfit we started the day in even though I had
3 outfits packed for him! We had a couple of meltdowns and the second flight was difficult, but we made it home to a beautiful welcoming party.  The emotions going through me as I went down that escalator at the MPLS/St. Paul Airport was something I cannot explain.  After waiting and waiting, here I was with him in Minnesota.  We made it!

Lord, I thank you for bringing us to this point!  You are sooooo GOOD!  You deserve all of the GLORY and PRAISE!

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Watch him come home to Minnesota!!!!

The above it the link to the live streaming!!!  You can also watch it after the fact.  Our flight lands in MPLS at 8:30 pm central time on Monday, October 14.  So tune in shortly after that.....we'll deplane and then change the diaper and the clothes if needed and come on down the escalator and celebrate with all of those there or watching live that have prayed this little guy home!!!!  YAY!  The time is here!!!

He's coming home! Now what???

Attachment, bonding, cocooning, eye-contact, co-sleeping, baby-wearing, indiscriminate affection, neurological pathways…All of these things and many more have been filling my thoughts and conversations for these last couple of years as I have been preparing for Mr. M to come home. Countless hours talking to other adoptive parents who have already been where I am going, online classes emphasizing the concepts and stacks of books explaining what to expect and how to cope.
As I anxiously await to bring him home, I am about to enter the stage where I put all of my preparation into action.  This is when the real work starts. I understand that my family and friends have not been reading piles of adoption books, so I want to give you a glimpse into the next steps and my plan for his first weeks and months in my family.

When I bring him home, his whole world will be changing. He has learned to love and trust the nannies who have been caring for him.  For the last 2 1/2 years he has been in the same room every day. My home will smell different, sound different, the food will taste different and there will be so much to see, including two cats! The differences will be overwhelming for him. He needs to settle into a new normal, to learn that this place is his safe place, his home and that I am his mom.

The first part of his healing will be a process that people in the adoption world call cocooning. We are going to huddle in as our small family unit and begin to form attachments to each other. This means spending lots of time at home. For the first 6 weeks that we are home, he will go to the doctor and we may visit a park and maybe grandma and grandpa’s, but visitors and other outings will be very, very limited. I will do the best I can to keep his environment calm, stable and comforting.

I will be his ONLY caregiver. I will hold him, feed him, change him, bathe him and comfort him. As these small acts are repeated, he will learn to trust me and will learn what a family is. We are starting from the very beginning. Many of my actions will be similar to how you would care for a newborn. I will be doing a lot of baby-wearing. Keeping him close to me, so he can learn my smell, my voice and hear my heartbeat which will bring him comfort and help form attachment. It is vital that he learns to create a bond with me so that he will be able to form bonds with other members of my family in the future. Bonding deeply with your parents at a young age creates neural pathways in your brain that allow you to develop healthy relationships in other areas of your life (friends, spouses and children). 

When he cries, I will go to him IMMEDIATELY. He is learning who I am and who will care for him. When he needs attention, it is very important for it to be given to him immediately to create trust. I will hold him in the beginning and let him drink from his sippy cup which you may not see most parents do with a 3 year old but we will use this special time to encourage eye contact, nurturing and bonding.  Anything that would take me away from him and is not necessary will not happen during this time.

I realize that some of this may sound strange to you. Over-protective and secluding. Please, please know that it is my dream to see my son enjoying the company of my family and friends. I am making these choices at the advice of experts and those who have gone before me. My priority has to be the total health of my son. It will be a happy, but difficult time for us. I’m sure I will get a bit stir crazy, but I believe that this investment of time into my son will make a difference in his future. 

What can you do? Support me. Encourage me through calls and emails. Pray for us. Bring meals. Wait to visit with my amazing kiddo until after we have had time to attach as a family. When you do meet him, it is important to set physical boundaries. If adults limit what is usually considered normal, physical contact, it will help us to continue to bond with even when we are in public. For a while, I ask that you do not ask to hold him and refrain from excessive hugging and kissing. Because of his past situations, children from orphanages are vulnerable to attach too easily to anyone. Attaching to anyone other than me, will affect his relationship with me. Attachment is a process and it will be an ongoing on for many years.

This is my last Sunday with no child at home!  We have 5 more “sleeps” each until we are together! Please keep praying for us during this important and special time. Adoption is redemption, restoration, healing. It is work. It is parenting on the front lines of children who come from hard places. Thank you all for you support and love!

I borrowed and adapted this entry from this blog: with permission!  :-)

Thursday, October 3, 2013


I keep saying, "I can't believe it!"  But of course I can!  The wait has been SOOOO long!  The journey has been amazingly challenging and rewarding!  His VISA appointment was today!  My dad and I will travel to Haiti next Thursday!  We will get there Friday!!!!  My little boy will be home on October 14!!!!!  Thank you Jesus!!!!

I have MUCH to do!  I have been doing so much for so many months in preparation and now I don't feel like I can get everything done that is left!  I will do it though!!!  Pray for me!!!  I have 4 days left with my 5th graders until Thanksgiving time.

Pray for strength, peace, joy, and some rest for me as I do the final things here....pray for Mr. M.  Pray for him in his last few nights in an orphanage.  Eight more nights.

Pray that God works in miraculous ways to bond the two of us!!!!

Thank you!