Saturday, March 24, 2012

A Litte Update

Someone is beginning to show the signs of being pretty well nourished! Little cheeks are beginning to balloon and the double chin is forming. Rolls on the thighs and a nice dimple at the knee. Oh the sweetness!! She had her 1 month checkup this week and she weighed in at 9 pounds. The doctor is very pleased with how she is growing considering the multiple transitions she experienced within the first few weeks of her life. And other than being in her birth mothers womb she has been with us longer than anyone else now. Feels nice to see her little body get excited upon hearing my voice and watching her turn her head towards me. People keep asking me if she is a good baby and I want to respond that every baby is good. We like to classify our babies based on how content they are and how well they sleep. I will say that as far as babies go she is a rock star!! I have never had a baby that is so content. We hardly ever hear her cry. I think we are finally finishing up all the updates needed for our home study, our lawyer is secured and the documents are signed to get things started, first post-placement visit has happened already and trying not to hyperventilate over the amount of money needed within a few short months. God has already met every single need and I know I can rest in Him!
In between phone calls, meeting with the lawyer and all the everyday chores we have spent as many waking moments as possible outside in this beautiful weather! Tristan was showing off his skill of swinging on the rope swing.
Heidi pleased to find some of the first little blossoms of spring. She is a perpetual dirt ball and loves every moment of her freedom!
A dear friend gave our younger children these really fun bubble blowers when Naomi came home. We have gotten hours of usage out of them already!!!
Eden still asks to hold Naomi many times a day! She is a huge help!
Before bedtime snuggles! Heidi loves being a big sister and takes her job seriously most of the time.
Pretty sure she is loved!
And pretty sure one little girl is just as pleased with her baby as the day she arrived!! I am amazed at the work that God has done in Eden's beautiful little heart through Naomi.
I have had so many people say to me, "I don't know how you do it!" I'll tell you the secret: you just do it!! You wake up and do what God has placed before you to do that day! Some days go smoothly and some days you want to lock everyone in their rooms for an hour. True story! I don't lock them in their rooms for all you concerned individuals. And believe it or not I am not a baby lover. You know the kind: they love babies and would just keep having them. Not me. I know I have a lot of children relatively speaking but would be happy if they all came to me at about the size and development of a 10-12 month old child. I like sleep (haven't really had much in almost 6 years but who is counting), I like being able to curl up with a book for hours, I think I would like knitting for a few hours too. Basically I am saying I am like every other woman. But......having a baby in this way has been delightful! I enjoy every moment of being Naomi's mother!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

2 Weeks Later

Two weeks have gone by already since Naomi came home! This week we have seemed to settle into our new routine and life is feeling "back to normal." Meals have been organized and so I don't have to worry about cooking for our family until the end of next week. Such a huge blessing! I was thinking that maybe two weeks of meals was a little extravagant but am finding those extra minutes and hours are precious when it comes to spending time with other children who are still adjusting.

In many ways I think the adjustment has been harder on me then on the kids. Over the weekend I found myself really questioning our decision. Going to be gut level honest here. Sometimes I feel on display and like we are a spectacle when we go places. We took the kids to get ice cream on Friday evening and the stares were a bit unnerving. Maybe it was Tristan's horrid plaid shorts and camo shirt combination that they were looking at. It almost hurt your eyes to look at him but he was insistent and who am I to stand in the way of a child who could possibly be a trend setter? All jokes aside sometimes I want to look and feel normal. Those were the words I uttered to Mark numerous times Friday and Saturday. "Why can't we just be normal? Why has God called us to this? What if our other kids feel forgotten? What if, why, what if, why......?"

A few things I started realizing in the midst of my ranting: first of all, when I stepped back and listened to myself I sounded extremely self-absorbed. Secondly, I feel very strongly that God had something to say about redefining "normal" for me.

Where do I get this sense of normalcy? Who am I allowing to define normal in my life? If I look at the crux of the gospel and if I look at the heart of adoption I see a different normal than I have allowed to be defined in my mind. From the foundation of the world God new that His plan was redemption! Redeeming what had been lost to Him through sin. His plan was to adopt us into His family. Adoption!! It transcends everything - skin color, diversity, issues, abuse and simply says YOU BELONG!!! You have a place to call home. You have a family. You are loved and part of the beloved! I realized that what the world may deem as not normal is completely normal in God's eyes! And since I am living to honor Him who cares if I am a spectacle when I take my children places. This is my normal and I better be ok with that!

Mark keeps saying to me, "You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, known and read by everybody." 2 cor 3:2 After having a long cry on Saturday, processing with Mark and praying with some friends I have felt complete peace! I know that God's hand has been in the midst of our lives and Naomi's life. My heart is completely smitten by her and I love her as though I birthed her! I have said for a long time that I want to live my life and have no regrets! Plus, I am fully aware that I have had to cram about 10 months of preparation (which includes the hormones and emotions) into 2 weeks. Feel free to pray for Mark. Just kidding. Kind of.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

3 Weeks Old

There are so many surreal things about the way this little girl entered our lives and home. In time I will process all the details from my heart and head and type them out. For now we are still adjusting and trying to find our new normal. Look at her sweet little rose bud lips!
One of my main concerns in bringing another baby into our home was how Heidi would respond and react. She has had a few moments of tears and needing me to hold her. For the most part she has really surprised me with how well she is adapting. We aren't far into this journey but so far she is loving being a big sister. She was helping me take the compost bucket out to dump it this afternoon and told me, "I not a baby. I big, big, big!" I may be having a harder time with the fact that Heidi is not my baby anymore. Again, in time those feelings will all be sorted through and processed.
The girls were more than willing to help give Naomi a bath! She didn't even cry while getting her bath! This little girl hardly ever makes a peep and I was sure that stripped down and placed into water that we would hear the full extent of her vocal chords. Nothing. She is so incredibly content and relaxed! I have heard rumors of baby's who hardly cry but have never experienced it first hand. So grateful for her sweet little nature.
And apparently I am to play pirates with some children outside. I have been instructed to make a map and then join them. So I am off to explore and do piratey things!!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Here She Is

A week ago today I woke up not knowing this little treasure even existed! A week later she is welcomed into our home and hearts! Introducing...... Naomi Elise.

Naomi - peaceful, beautiful
Elise - consecrated to God

Elise was her given name by her birth mother and it is her biological maternal grandmothers name. The name book that I have had since we found out we were pregnant with Judah has had the name Elise underlined for years. I have always liked the name but it just never made it into the final cut when naming the other girls. Now we know why.
She isn't happy or anything! Ha! I basically have to fight her for a chance to hold Naomi.
I met the boys as they got off the bus. Shane threw his coat and backpack to me and made a beeline for the house. By the time Judah and I got to the house this is how we found him.
We feel blessed beyond measure tonight. Mark and I are both completely exhausted which I think is a good indicator of how emotional the past week has been. We will be heading to bed soon. Amazing what a day can bring, isn't it?

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

This Adventure Called Life

I am aware that my blog has been sitting very neglected lately. It isn't because I have a shortage of funny stories about my children. Just today as I was going through Tristan's drawers I happened upon the last pair of dirty underwear in his drawer. You read that right. Unbeknownst to me he didn't realize that upon getting new underwear you should place the dirty underwear in the laundry basket. So for a while now he has just been rewearing dirty underwear. Now, this is all funny until I stop long enough to realize that it has taken me this long to notice I have no clean underwear to put away in his drawer after folding the laundry. We sat down and established how often he should be changing his underwear and where he should put the "dirty" ones. I guess to him dirty is relative because if he didn't visibly see dirt on them they were still clean. I thought I had looked through his whole drawer and retrieved all the worn underwear but today I unearthed what I hope is the last pair. My goodness!!

One of the main reasons my blog has been neglected is my hands have found a new hobby which I find more desirable than typing. My hands would rather have the feel of knitting needles and yarn now. It is true - I am becoming even more domestic and there are many grandiose plans for when my knitting becomes more refined. I am accumulating patterns that are being tucked away in hopes that I can find time to get to them eventually. I really is pretty therapeutic. Although after the first day I was ready to throw the needles away and give up. I am so predictable. If I can't do it perfectly right away why continue? I pushed through my frustration and have been knitting nearly every evening. Mark has already dubbed them my "crack needles" which I don't find as amusing as he does. Although secretly I think it is kind of funny.

The other reason I have been a little preoccupied is because I have been scurrying around trying to get 10 months of preparation and nesting done in a matter of days. Do you catch my drift? We have been tossing around pursuing another adoption for the past year now. On the days that things go pretty well I think why not? On the days that are hectic (most days) I think we are crazy! But in December we decided to go ahead and send in our preliminary application for going back to Ethiopia. We haven't signed a contract with the international agency yet because we were waiting on reference letters. Over the past year we have also looked into domestic adoption. We have talked at length with our homestudy agency about African American adoption here in the States. Did you know there is a need for families to adopt African American children? I wasn't aware this was a need until talking with our caseworker. So, while we have wrestling with where to adopt we decided to pursue Ethiopia and believe God would make it clear to us. We were contacted twice in the past 6 months about possible domestic cases but we didn't feel peace with either situation. I started really questioning how obedient we really were to His leading if we were being approached about cases and saying no to them.

Fast forward to last Wednesday. I was driving around running errands, taking Tristan to the doctor and on a lunch date and thinking maybe we should just not pursue anything right now. Maybe five is our number and we should just settle in. I love our five kids and things are finally hitting a place of what I consider relative ease. Nobody in diapers, kids that can get themselves dressed, go to the bathroom, etc. I was thinking specifically of a woman I know who has raised 5 children and now is getting to enjoy life with her husband. Not that she didn't enjoy her life before but I was just dreaming about life in 20 years. Does anyone else do that? We arrive home from our errands, I check my email and see that all our reference letters have arrived and it is time to go ahead and schedule our phone interview. An hour later as I am finishing up dinner preparations my cell phone rang. I glanced at the number and answered without it registering. It was our caseworker who has done our homestudy. My heart skipped a beat, my stomach churned and I just knew this call was going to be different. I just knew somehow! While we are choosing to keep some details to ourselves and to our families I will share a few with you.

Tomorrow around lunchtime a beautiful little girl who was born on February 20th will be arriving at our house in the hopes that within the next year she will become a forever part of our family!! How is that for crazy awesomeness?!! A dear mother who is an African refugee has chosen us to be the family for her little girl! This woman has endured tremendous things within the past few years. She has been in the States for a little over a year now with her other 11 children. She is from The Republic of Central Africa. Our little girl (ahhhhh) has been in respite care for the past 2 weeks and is doing great! Her first and older sisters said good-bye to her today and are at peace with this decision. The 30 day period of waiting goes into effect as of yesterday when her mother signed release papers. She assured the agency she isn't going to change her mind but we know it is a possibility. It is a tough position to be in. Our hearts are completely invested and we wouldn't have it any other way but knowing her mother has 30 days to change her mind is a bit nerve wracking!!

One of things that really held me back from wanting to pursue domestic adoption was the whole open-adoption concept. I just wasn't interested. Suddenly, we find ourselves in a pretty open adoption situation and we feel peace about it. We will have ongoing contact with the mother and sisters, especially over the first year. All the details will be sorted out over the next little bit.

We have been blown away by the events of the past week!! I cannot even put into words the emotions I am feeling. I am excited, nervous, scared, feeling anticipation, crying that Heidi won't be my baby anymore, worried about the transition on the girls and on and on. Heidi has been especially needy the past few days and I am sure it is because she knows what is happening. She is excited about the baby one minute and the next denies that there is a baby coming. I have so much I wish I could could get of my head tonight but this is probably enough for now. We are so grateful to our families and our friends who have prayed with us over the past few days and shared in our excitement! We have been so tremendously blessed by the outpouring already and for that we thank you! To the throngs of people who have wondered what they can do to help: the biggest thing is commit to praying for us over the next weeks. Particularly the next 30 days! And I mean commit! Send us emails of what God is speaking or verses that you feel He is speaking. Secondly, gift cards for meals over the next couple of weeks (which translates pizza since my kids would be thrilled with pizza nearly every night) or target so I can buy formula for the baby. We already have lots of diapers, formula, wipes, onesies, bottles.....I had given every single baby item away. I am sure God is laughing right now at how adamate I was that we were past the baby stage.

So tonight we go to bed as a family of 7 and tomorrow we become a family of 8!! Good thing I overheard Shane informing Eden a few weeks ago that our family isn't big. "We only have 5 kids and some families have like 11." His exact words! I am okay if we stay a family of 8 for a good long time. Possibly forever! We are not settled on a name yet. Have you tried naming a child in a few days? Kind of difficult. Hope you are all still breathing because I nearly passed out when I found out!! I will do my best to at least blog briefly tomorrow evening to let you know how our first day went. And give you a sneak peak at our daughter! She is pretty stinkin' sweet!!