Friday, June 22, 2012

Pooper Scooper

One of the challenges when our boys first came was that of getting stool samples from them.  It was not my most looked forward to task with eight and ten year old boys whom didn't know me well nor knew any English.  I thought I had been thorough when I had our escort, Tsedey, AND a family acquaintance (each on separate occasions)  explain to them what needed to done and how.  I left folded & labeled gallon sized Ziplocs for them to "deposit" on the back of the toilet seat.  This would be a piece of cake. Now wasn't I the most efficient, on the ball, first time adoptive mother ever?  Yes, thanks, I thought so too.

Nothing happened.  And the bags remained a ghost town.

After one week, it became clear that they had no intentions of giving me anything to bank on.  So I called up my trusty escort, Tsedey, and updated her and explained the poop.  For once in my life, I was asking for a crappy situation to occur.  We both felt it would be better for the boys if, instead of using a gallon Ziploc, it would be easier for them to  do their jobs on a toddler's training potty.  Excellent.  I had about three of them hanging around our house since we had recently potty trained our three year old.  Tsedey then asked me to hand the phone over to the boys to explain again, in their native language, what needed to be done and why.  Both the boys' heads nodded in absolute agreement and understanding.  Ok, now I felt confident that we were now ready to rock.

For the next week my toddler potties remained sparkling clean and lonely.

These boys had not even the slightest desire to do this, and quite honestly, I did not blame them.  Crapping for complete strangers is not even remotely near the top of my "bucket list"of things to do before I die.  I called my pediatrician and explained to her the situation.  I was done, and unless I could figure out a way to squeeze them like tubes of toothpaste, nothing was going to happen anytime soon.

Several days later, my eldest son was begging for a job to do to earn some extra dough.  

Yes, my astute reader, you know where this is going don't you? 

I proceeded to explain to my unsuspecting victim, I mean darling son, that I would pay him a large sum of money per child if he could get them to poop their brains out for me......enough to fill nine vials each.  

As with any teenager, I had to lay down some ground rules like: 

You may not use laxatives of any kind. 
No substituions allowed AND 
You may not use any instruments that I cook with.

The price apparently was right and a glint in his eye appeared.

  He brainstormed and came up with the idea of a five gallon bucket, a glad bag and some heavy bribery that included the props of a Spider Man poster, a soccer ball and a jar of Nutella. 

 He then took both boys into the bathroom with him, where the Glad bag lined bucket was set up.   Here's the conversation I heard behind the closed bathroom door:

SamOk.  Here's the deal.  You guys need to crap.....a lot.  I 
           will give you a Spider Man poster if
           you poop in this bucket.  (Silence then ensues where 
           I  assume some pretty major Oscar worthy miming is
           taking place.)


Sam:   Ok.  I will give you your OWN soccer ball. (I hear Sam 
           slap the soccer ball for emphasis)

Anteneh:   (with heavy accent) mmmmmmm....maybe tomorrow.

Sam:   (Heavy sigh and sounding a little unsure.)  Well........
            how about a whole jar of Nutella?

Nutella was apparently the silver bullet for our reluctant poopers.  The crap-fest that began after this was almost more than I could handle.  Both boys watched me fill the vials and when they saw they hadn't produced the amount needed, they continued to go back time and time again until all the vials were full.  Needless to say, they were both pooped out and the proud owners of their very own jar of Nutella by nightfall.  My son was also very proud of his financial windfall as a result of taking a lot of crap from others..... (tee hee, I thought that pun was funny!)

So, to all prospective adoptive parents, my son, and self proclaimed "Poop Whisperer", has informed me that you can contract him out for this difficult task for a nominal fee.  

P.S.  The results of these tests all came back negative!  Thank you Lord!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Going Into The Turn

I'm sure you have all had this feeling at one time or the know, when you go into a turn a little faster than you had anticipated (whether you be driving, roller skating, being chased by someone, on a roller coaster, etc...).   There comes a point when you just don't know if you're gonna make it out of the turn or if you're going to be flung out of control by the strength of the centrifugal force whispering death threats in your ear.  The fear and/or exhilaration of this moment is enough to send you out of your mind.

That's where I am.

Every moment of each day.

Is it too soon to see proof that things will be ok?  Or am I just being foolish?

The adoption of my two boys, Ephrem and Anteneh has sent me into a realm that I have never been.  It is uncharted territory.  As much as I am committed to these boys and as much as I love them, I do not know them.  This takes time. They have our undying commitment but I now I hunger for knowledge of their hearts.  I have continued to read adoption books, only to turn my head away gasping from all the horror stories.  It's more than I can take right now.  Because what it translates into is me looking for evidence of potential issues....searching for trouble.  The current book I am reading is Brothers and Sisters in Adoption by Arieta James.  It is a thorough and comprehensive book regarding the risks of adoption.  And littered throughout the book are quotes from siblings about their feelings on the adoption of another sibling into the family.  It's enough to make a parent cry pools of tears laden with guilt.  It's enough to convince someone never to risk helping a child in need....ever.  It's enough to be flung out of the turn in the curve of adoption.

I have prayed everyday for the Lord to show me otherwise.  And he has been so faithful.  Everyday, I see a light in my boys' eyes telling me the Lord has spared their hearts and minds from their past.  These boys are retrievable.  Please don't get me wrong, they have been injured and they will remember and grieve.....I am just saying that everyday I think I see evidence that their spirits have defied the odds and survived.  

Everyday, little Anteneh has shown me that he hungers for communion with me physically and emotionally.  Yesterday, I was singing while cleaning gum off his dirty little hands.  And out of the corner of my eye, I could see him studying me intently as if he were about to make a big decision.  I could actually feel the burn of his gaze.  He then called to me "Ma Ma" and he continued to "find" other spots that had invisible gum needing to be cleaned off.  And of course, I cleaned them off with an overflowing heart.  He is letting me be his Mom.  We're making the turn.

 And I thanked God.

Ephrem is such a gentle boy.  It is obvious to me he has an understanding of things way beyond his years.....a deepness I hope to fathom one day.  He leans into me whenever I explain something to him....I love this.  Yet,  I've seen this serious boy light up at the opportunity to play in a kiddie pool for hours trying to teach himself to swim.  A true survivor.  I can see his trust in us grow everyday.  After wearing a long sleeve shirt every day and every night, even when it is blazing hot, he finally accepted my offer of a short sleeve shirt to sleep in.  He was finally comfortable enough to expose his hand-less arm......victory.  Just another sign that he feels accepted and at home.  We're making the turn.

And I thanked God. 

To some of you seasoned veterans of adoption, I wonder if you are shaking your head and thinking "She's in for a big surprise.....she hasn't seen noth'n yet."   I leave room, actually a canyon, for this to be entirely true.  I am such a newbie at all of this.  Books are doing me no favors right now, if anything I think they are causing undue stress and fear.  What I could really use are adoptive parents who have gone into the turn and made it.  Nikki, my sweet evil twin, I would be lost without you,  your experience and your wisdom!  I am so thankful for the friends that I do have that have four wheeled through the jagged turns of the adoptive process. 

So this is where I am.  I am an adoptive Mom being blown about with the uncertainty of not really knowing if what I am seeing is true or a mirage.  I am clinging to every shred of evidence that things are really as good as they seem.  This is when I know that I need to sit with my Sweet Lord and have a good pow-wow.  AND this is the only way I know that I can pull out of a turn and be victorious.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

The Other Shoe.....

.......When is it going to fall?
Many people have been so curious about how things are going in our household with our new sons.  To look in their eyes, I can tell they are not sure what answer I am going to pop up with.  Well here is my answer:

It is going so well, it scares me.

After months and months of reading books on adoption and all the pitfalls of taking in older children, I was ready for the worst.  I still am.  I am on my guard.....but I feel I am losing my grasp on this caution as I fall hopelessly in love with these boys.

I wince as I remember not in the too distant past (only a little over two weeks ago), how the youngest, Anteneh, hid behind his brother at the airport.  I remember his fear and my immediate primal desire to want to comfort him and tell him I was all his.  This little boy was the last to warm up to me.  In fact, his smiles had to be earned....and now I can't stop him. 

I will never forget having to hold him in my lap to restrain him for blood work.  It was almost more than I could handle.  Anteneh wept bitterly, this poor child who had traveled half way around the world to be in a family and a land that confused him.  Holding him, I wept.  No words could capture the ache I felt for this boy, the desperation of wanting him to feel safe in my arms, the sorrow I felt for his past.  It all came crashing down on me in that lab chair.  Not once have I ever wept when any of my other children received shots or had blood drawn.  But this particular instance did me in.  I was undone.

He is now a Tasmanian devil that crawls under our bed and grabs our feet to our horror and surprise.  This is the little guy that when given a cup to fill at the gas station, he fills it with every flavor of soda and every flavor of icee.  Yes, all in one cup.   This is a child that swallows life whole....without chewing.  He loves touch.  He loves to say the word "Mom."  He follows me smiling at times for unknown reasons and leaves after I kiss and hug him.  His hugs get tighter and tighter every night.

I am in love.

Ephrem is the eldest and is just gorgeous.  He is intelligent and much more serious that his youngest brother.  He is close to 11 years old and. like Anteneh, has blended so well with our boys that are around his age.  He is picking up English at an alarming rate and I am in awe of him.  Although he is quite a bit more laid back than his younger brother, he is not afraid to try anything new.  He seems fearless like his brother.  Ephrem is also so good to let us know the Amharic equivalent is to many words.  He is such a gentle child that has taken awhile to loosen up, but tonight, he let out a rip roaring laugh that filled our whole family with absolute delight.

They are both crazy-good at soccer, so much so that it seems their feet are as nimble as their hands.  It's beautiful and entertaining to watch.

Have I said that I am in love with these boys yet?

We have started them on chores by having them shadow several different children so they can learn the different jobs in our home.  They seem to relish the chance to help as I believe it makes them feel part of the family. 

Here are some pictures of our newest additions, Ephrem and Anteneh:

Their 1,000 watt smiles

Ephrem walked around the house with this box on his head as if were the most normal thing in the world.  His dry humor has won me over.

How can you NOT fall for a face like this??????

Anteneh.......trying to hide and failing miserably.

The computer is Ephrem's lost love.  He LOVES the game canvas rider and is not too crazy about the 30 minute limit we have on computer time.!

My handsome Ephrem.

Ephrem giving Timothy some brotherly love.


Doing chores as a team.

Ephrem showing his prowess at trash emptying.

Anteneh helping Luke with the dishes.

So this is our life with our new African sons Anteneh and Ephrem.  I have no complaints and to put it bluntly, I am amazed at how well things seem to be going.  I am ready for the hard times to come. The honeymoon will wear off and the backlash of culture shock and grief in some form must ensue.  But for now, I will enjoy without shame the beauty and innocence of it all.

Monday, June 04, 2012

24 Hours

Ephrem and Anteneh have officially been with us for over 24 hours.  It is hard to explain, but with the language barrier, I feel like I am having to relate to them through plate glass.  I can see them but I can't get to them via my words......and words are my specialty.  So I will wait patiently for the plate glass to recede as their language develops.  What a sweet gift this will be for the both of us.  And as I wait, I will desperately find other ways to get to them.  There is so much I want right now.  There is no such thing as instant intimacy in a situation like this.  It is earned through time, exposure and consistency.  And even then, there is no guarantee....just more opportunity.

Our first day together started with Anteneh accidentally locking himself in our bathroom.  The lock is sticky and not easily undone.  Add to that the language barrier and the fact that doorknobs seem to be a mystery to them, you have.........a little boy locked in the bathroom.  I know he heard all the voices on the other side, so I know he was aware we were fighting for his freedom.  He was a cool little doobie through the whole event and seems none worse for the wear.

My 9 year old son was successful in getting a gut wrenching laugh from both new brothers by burping.  One could tell through their laughter that burping was about as bad as farting in church......but funny nonetheless to a couple of real boys.  I thought I'd join in on the fun, so I belched.  I might as well have pooped in my hand and ate it.  Their looks were derived from pure horror.  Feeling that they had not realized how funny I could be, I looked at Ephrem and said "This one's for you."  And I proceeded to belch a perfectly enunciated version of his name.   .......chirp......chirp......chirp.....   How could a boy resist my charm???   Going for round three, I pointed at Anteneh and said "You're next."   My burping pro-ess could not have been better and yet so under appreciated.  Again, big eyes, no smiles and a look of utter under-amazement.  So, I sadly gave up realizing that my gut ripping sense of humor was not universal.  As I walked away, I could hear my son again erupting with burps and my new boys collapsing with oxygen depriving laughter.  Just wait day you will see how funny I am....just wait...

They also both had their first showers tonight.  Interesting.  Before letting them loose, I thoroughly went through how to turn on and off the shower and what soap to use on hair and body.  When I felt confident they knew what to do, I left Ephrem to shower.  On the other side of the bathroom door I could hear the shower go so on.  This went on for the better half of 20 minutes.  To this moment, I have no idea what that poor boy was doing.  I was too afraid to go in there and shame him to death with him being buck naked.  I am imagining that he was either playing with it or it had gotten to a temperature he could not tolerate for long periods of time.....or both.  Oh well, he was at least under some water to get that two day boystink off.

Most of today was spent jumping on the trampoline and playing soccer.  All the kids are spent but happily tired.  It was a really good day and I am feeling more confident than yesterday driving away from the airport with two little scared and overwhelmed boys.  I still can't believe they are here.  I rub my eyes and pinch myself to make sure this is all actually happening.  They are actually my sons.  Unbelievable!!

Here are some pictures of today:

              Ephrem had really attached himself to Timothy our 10 yr. old.

The kids playing hard at which they were consistently and brutally creamed by their new brothers.

Anteneh in the van before going to the pediatrician.  Sorry little dude, you wouldn't be smiling if you knew you were going to get poked.   Ignorance is bliss.

                           Timothy and Ephrem.......the new "dynamic duo"

Taking a rest between beatings.

We just can't keep our hands off of him, he's just so dang cute!!

Trying to prevent Anteneh making his millionth goal of the day.

My sweet, sweet Ephrem

Sunday, June 03, 2012

The Homecoming

We left church this morning allowing us enough time to catch a bite and head on to the I thought.  What I did not account for was the adoption virus that had invaded my brain making me an absolute moron in the simplest of moments.  I left our church only to get promptly lost in an area that I should have known like the back of my hand.  We arrived late to lunch, ate quickly and went on our merry way to the airport.  We calculated that we would get their at least a half hour before their arrival.  

Then came the call.

A good friend of mine, who had already arrived at the airport, called to inform us that our boys' flight was 20 MINUTES EARLY!  This was not good.   And from the looks of it, it was probable that we would not make it in time to welcome our boys after having to park, debark and walk to the terminal.  I fell apart and cried while speeding through traffic.  This couldn't be happening.  We just couldn't miss this....we just couldn't.  In a virtual panic attack, I called my sweet friend Nikki, who was tailing me in traffic.  It was decided that we would park at the arrival deck, hop out of our van and have members of Nikki's family park our van.  Their gesture was quick thinking and allowed us to make it to the gate with time to spare.  I will always be grateful for this.

There were MANY friends there with signs, balloons, cameras and 100 watt smiles.  The support was overwhelming.  Our poor sweet boys were absolutely shell-shocked.  They have no idea what they have walked into.

Below are just a few pics that were taken.  My extreme fatigue is preventing from posting more but I promise I will post more soon with updates.

Saturday, June 02, 2012

It Was The Night Before......

It was the night before the landing
counting the minutes and the hours
praying for new brothers walking
from their life to ours

We've talked of the change
We've meandered over our cares
To know what it means
To give our lives for theirs

Pain is everywhere, the poverty never ending
But God has blessed us so much
We had to do something

So when I look in their eyes
I see not one guarantee
Of a rose colored ending
Where we are all "home free"

I sense bodies that need hugging 
I see healing that needs to begin
I will try to ask nothing in return
Just my Father's "Amen"

I know this is all
Easier said and harder shown
If their parents were living
I would tell them their sons have a home

But what I suspect will happen
And it will have to be given
From the greatest of gift givers
From our Father in Heaven

And when His gift is opened
It will be humbly realized
That our boys were the ones
Who rescued us and opened our eyes

-Dedicated to Ephrem and Anteneh