Thursday, April 7, 2011

a good read!

i don't know if you've heard of adoptive families magazine before, but i definitely enjoy reading their articles. anyways, yesterday i stumbled across an article on their website that is particularly about adopting a toddler. it's a great article and i thought i would share it in case anyone else is in a similar situation: go here to check it out.

honestly, i didn't really do much research into adopting a toddler specifically prior to our adoption but now that our little man's home i'm finding this info very helpful. toddlers are in a unique stage of life so i know i can use all the help i can get!!

that's all for now :) hope you're enjoying a beautiful day like we are here in the bluegrass state!!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

some pictures...

if we're friends on fb, these are definitely repeats so forgive me!

our Arise travel group from our first all home with our kiddos :)

this is how i spend most my days now...playing toys with my silly boy still in his pjs at noon. i couldn't ask for a better job!!
falling asleep on his first long car ride. i think he's beginning to get the hang of the whole car seat thing
sweet smiley boy! his 4 tooth grin will soon be a 7 tooth grin because of lots of newcomers
learning to become friends with his 4-legged brothers!
knocked out on an evening stroll. jetlag is not his friend either!

Monday, April 4, 2011

working on attachment

what have we been up to?

well, honestly not a whole lot. ryan and i decided before bringing greer home that we wanted to be pretty diligent to put in the hard work now to gain a strong attachment with greer so that we don't regret it later in his life. prior to leaving, we developed a pretty extensive attachment plan to share with our families so that everyone was on the same page and no one's feelings got hurt when we got home and were living in our own little bubble for awhile. 2 weeks after coming home, i'm really glad we did things this way. although there are definitely a few things on our attachment plan that we've been pretty lax on, overall, we're sticking to the plan and i think it has been invaluable.

as i mentioned while we were in ethiopia, gaining greer's trust has not been an easy task for us. from day 1 of our second trip, he was more than apprehensive about us. in fact, i think he was downright terrified! pretty much every day we spent with him at the transition house began with about an hour of crying before he'd settle down and begin to feel comfortable with us. in fact, even our first week at home was quite a challenge for us. we definitely saw many signs of grieving and that was really hard to watch! the first few days here were mostly characterized by greer crying about 40 minutes out of every hour that he was awake. he wanted to constantly be attached to my body, and would freak out even if i sat him down for a second to go to the bathroom. i had no real clue how to read his cues of what he needed so i'm sure that was even more frustrating for him {and me!}.

ryan had to go back to work on monday following our return, so when he'd get home from work at night, greer wanted absolutely nothing to do with him. greer would kick, scream, cry, and pull on my clothes until i picked him up and got him away from ryan, and that was heartbreaking for both me and ryan! more than anything, i think ryan and i were both especially taken back by the violent head banging that greer did on his crib when laid down for bedtime or naps. {thankfully, this seems to already have begun to resolve for the most part, but it was still scary.} although i read a lot of books on adoption, attachment, and transitioning home adopted kiddos during our long wait, it's different when we're finally living it!

despite feeling completely inadequate over the last several days since bringing our son home, i can say that this has definitely been a teachable moment for ryan and i. since we've settled in a bit, things are getting much easier and we're really beginning to see greer come into his own and feel comfortable in our home. however, i wouldn't trade our experiences in those early days as a family of 3 for anything! just like most things, i think God was once again showing us that we cannot do anything by our own strength, especially parenting. no amount of books, blogs, or child development websites could really help me in the midst of some of those hard moments early on. it was not until i turned over my worries, stresses, and concerns to the Lord that i really began to see the tide turning.

i still have my moments pretty much every day...moments where i wonder if my child has multiple personalities or if i am just the world's worst mom, but things ARE getting easier. mostly just because i know that i'm not doing this mom thing in my own strength, and for that i'm so thankful! we're learning as we go and i'm also thankful to have such a forgiving little man to share this journey with.

if you've walked this crazy path before us, please feel free to share any helpful tips or just pray for us :) thanks!!

Saturday, April 2, 2011

the trip home

we have now been home exactly 2 weeks and i can hardly believe it!!! in some ways it seems that we just stepped off the plane and in others it feels like our little "natty greer" has been with us forever! i have lots to update on life since coming home, but i don't want to get ahead of myself, so first things first...i will tell you guys about our trip home.

we left ethiopia on friday, march 18th for our long flight home. it was a hard day, and especially hard because we had to say goodbye to some dear friends and the wonderful caregivers of our son. despite being so happy to finally bring greer home and start our life together, i still cried on and off a good part of the day. i cannot put to words how grateful i am for all the love, attention, and adoration the staff of the west sands transition home gave natty greer during the 13 weeks he lived there. i don't think there is one person there that didn't know his name and dote on him every time they saw him. here are just a few of those who loved our boy so well:

natty's beloved mimi

sweet aster, who definitely had me crying the hardest!!

nurse hanna {who's known natty since he was first admitted to the orphanage} and jemma fikre

and last but not least, selam

also, here is a group shot of all the arise for children families that were in ethiopia with us bringing home kiddos:
i love that now 6 former orphans have families to call there own. plus, all these kiddos are in the same city as us so i see many play dates in our future!!

our flight left around 10:00 p.m. so we headed out in time to get to the airport a little before 6:00 p.m. so that we could ensure that we'd get a bassinet on the plane for greer. however, despite being towards the front of the line when ethiopian air opened, we were told that all the bassinets on the flight were taken. this initially freaked us out but we quickly resolved that everything would be alright because the guy checking us in told us that we had a row to ourselves so that greer could lay in the middle. the wait in the airport went pretty quickly and it was fun to get to finally have our little greer to ourselves. up until that time, he had still been mainly under the care of his nannies at the transition home so we were trying to prepare ourselves for our first night as a family of 3 to be spent on a 17 hour plane ride :)

once the plane started boarding, we were pretty nervous about how the next several hours would go but we were ready to get the flight over with. however, our nerves hit an all time high when we got on the plane and realized that the flight was full and we didn't have a row to ourselves as we had been initially told. i honestly started to panic a bit thinking about having to travel all that way with a pretty active and at times, unhappy toddler on our hands, and not much room. thinking quick on his feet, ryan went back to the nearest bulkhead area on the plane and asked if anyone would be willing to switch one of us seats so that we could sit there and use a bassinet for our son. by only the grace of God, two very nice ethiopian gentlemen volunteered their great seats so that ryan and i could switch them. i was so relieved that i almost cried!! one seat with the bassinet would have been awesome, but two seats together was more than we were even hoping for!!!

thankfully, with our new seats and bassinet ready for greer to sleep in, the rest of the trip was pretty easy. greer was a champ and slept the entire first 6+ hours to rome without interruption, drank a bottle and played for a few minutes during our stopover in rome, and then went back to sleep for another 3 or 4 hours after rome. although he definitely had his moments, overall the flight was easier than we were expecting and the people around us were very gracious when our little guy had a hard time. when we hit US soil in washington d.c., we were ecstatic! i may or may not have even shed a tear or two :) we were soooo glad to be off that plane and we were also pumped that our little guy was officially a US citizen!

the rest of the trip home was pretty much a blur. we had to fly from d.c. to chicago, and then chicago to louisville still that day. in d.c. we began to panic again because the airline couldn't find our flight reservations at first but thankfully they worked it out! greer was still a trooper but i definitely think the short flights were more challenging than the long one. i guess that is to be expected though because we had been traveling for over a day by that point so i know he was exhausted! plus, i think americans are generally less understanding of screaming babies...

it was so exciting when we arrived in louisville and knew that our little man was finally going to meet so many people who helped bring him home, prayed for our family over the last year, or were about to become his forever family. i don't think he had a clue what was going on but it was so awesome to have so many close friends and family members celebrating our little guy's homecoming. after the airport, our parents came back to our house with some wonderful american takeout and they got to see their first real glimpse of mr. personality :) i know he was running on fumes because ryan and i both were, but you'd never know it! he was his super smiley and typically singing self, and we were happy that our parents got to see it before we all headed to catch up on some necessary sleep.

while the trip was pretty easy and we couldn't have asked for a more cooperative toddler to travel with, i'm glad that we don't have to do that again!!! to end our day of travel, here's a few pictures of our little guy's first bath experience at home that night: