Bike shorts on head made for an hour of fun!
This is a way overdue post! When we got cleared to travel by embassy we really weren't in a place to get excited and celebrate. There had been so many delays along the road that we weren't sure there wouldn't be more last minute ones. We packed the last few things, kept our fingers crossed and still wondered when we drove to the airport if everything was going to go ok! Except for close friends and family we sort of crept out of town quietly because we were just burned out. So many of my emotions over the previous five months had been pushed down hard into 'a bucket.' It was on overflow and the tears started at the airport. First checking in at ticketing I started sobbing, then one of the Emirates agents heard us and came over and thanked us for adopting from her country and was so lovely I started again, then talking on the phone to my sister telling her we were actually checked in it all started again. You get the picture. There had certainly been meltdowns and some ugly cries over the months, but this was just a release of so much that hadn't come out.
Five weeks ago last Saturday we arrived back with our daughters. My sister, brother in law, Bean and her Dad met us at the airport which we were so grateful for. We had reached the point along this journey that "wheels up out of Addis" wasn't the point we were going to sigh and feel relief, rather "wheels down in the US," so family was a welcome sight!
One year ago today, right about this time of day, we saw the photos for the first time of our daughters. I remember it so clearly! The last year with all it's unexpected delays sure has seemed like at least two years though! They were 3 months old then. Yesterday they turned 15 months! They are settling in really well and are really sweet, lovely, adorable toddlers. They are walking and jogging, have about 8-10 words including a couple in Amharic that we continue to use, they each have dimple and the loveliest eyelashes that curl. They both suck their left thumbs which is so sweet. They do that twin talk which cracks me up when I hear them babbling away to each other in a big conversation. They have transitioned easily to solids and will eat everything: fish, meats, love all fruits, mexican, japanese etc.etc. They get super excited over finger foods and their bottles. They are super ticklish everywhere and love to laugh. Love their belly laughs! Rachel was really scared of taking a bath when we got home, but is now good with it which is helps! When we got home they were also scared of stuffed animals and dolls that have faces, so we've worked on it and now they are happily playing with their dollies. They think hanging upside down, lying on our legs when we're sitting down with their heads towards the floor and flipping over is fabulous fun! The dog has gone from being horrible in their minds to the dog working at staying clear of them sometimes because she's very popular. They are big mimickers and it constantly amazes us how quickly they pick up on things that are either physical or verbal. It's a credit to Gladney and the attention and love that they received that they are way ahead on where they should be developmentally. There are a few differences between them. Often if one is worried about a new experience the other won't be and this isn't consistently one, they switch in confidence in different situations. Rachel is a little more independent whereas Isabel likes to hold hands walking from room to room. Isabel tends to be the one having a party when she's supposed to be napping! It takes a lot longer to grocery shop now because of the attention they attract being twins. They are majorly ogled and cooed over in every aisle which is sweet but admittedly getting a little tiring. Just trying to remember when I'm running late or in a rush that it all comes from a good place! The months big question which is unlikely to change I think since they are identical is "Are they twins?" They love their big sis, the Bean, and think their Dad is the most wonderful, fabulous person EVER! Which of course they are right about! He is their bundle of fun! He also is awesome to me, helping with so many things around the house and is so good with them.
The first month home was really tough. Something I'll probably blog about later, but we are now settling in and the girls are feeling more secure. It's been a BIG transition for everyone. Part is having twins, but mostly I think it's this way for a lot of people, but perhaps not talked about too much. I'm especially sensitive about that with the Bean, who just turned 13. It's a lot of work to manage the needs of such a wide age range and make sure she's not short changed. The noise has been an adjustment to her, and poopy diapers have been known to have her evacuate a room!
Today I am so grateful to be home and glad that while we are adjusting to what our new normal is going to be that we are not in the weird, yukky place that so many of you adopting understand, of counting each day away waiting to clear the next hurdle, or on bad days watching the clock waiting for our agency to call with an update, or an e-mail from embassy. So many of our friends that went to court in the couple of months after we did are still in that position and we think of them daily actually a lot more.
There is no time these days to edit or correct so take this as it is: just a stream of writing as it comes to mind!
Yay to be home and start life as a family of 6 one year after we first laid eyes on them!
This has been the strangest week! Our document was supposed to have been dropped off at embassy on Monday, but we found out that embassy was closed to visitors until Wednesday because Hillary Clinton was in town. What were the odds of that happening. Not exactly like she's been to visit there before, but on the day our document was to go she's there. Perfect. So if that wasn't random enough that afternoon a volcano in Eritrea erupts creating a bad ash cloud bad enough that air traffic is going to be affected. It hadn't erupted since 1861! To laugh or cry. We laughed!!!! Luckily the document was accepted Wednesday and today we are relieved to say we are cleared for travel to pick up our daughters. It's been along 6 months since we were in court in Addis and able to hold our girls. Almost 11 months since referral. We have hit SO many speed bumps: referral at the beginning of rainy season so no court date for 4.5 months, a five month agency investigation, embassy wanting more docs, and the huge emotional peaks and valleys that have gone along with it. So many of you reading this know exactly what it's been like and how hard it's been. So now I am dying to get on a plane to get my girls! Really hoping that we have smooth sailing from here on out and there are no last minute, unexpected problems.
Other good news update here is that since the Bean has started acupuncture (continues with Migrelief supplement) she hasn't had a migraine! WooHoo! Huge! Her life is a lot nicer without them, and hope this trend continues. We have still to do the biofeedback, so hope next school year is easier for her with fewer absences.
School has been out for 10 days and we are loving it! Bean and I have had a sleepover including painting toenails and staying up late chatting. We all went to Wild Animal Park and did a Behind the Scenes tour which was fabulous. We've done a little retail therapy, gone to her favorite Bead store (she makes jewelry,) read books, made cookies from scratch and really enjoyed being out together. Love hanging out with my girl!
So here's to the rest of the summer being awesome, and going back to life's regular ups and downs without watching the calendar day by day! Our family really hopes that all the other families waiting for their MOWA letters, embassy submissions, and travel clearances get them SOON!
So this morning I awoke to news that the embassy needs a change made to a document in the file. We were hoping to be on a plane by now or at least traveling this weekend. Totally bummed, demoralized, depressed. Seriously, another problem? I hope to get more news later today to see how big of a problem this is and given the difference between US and ET timelines perhaps how long this will take. Almost 6 months since we saw our daughters at court they are still slippery bars of soap. Don't know there is anything else to say right now.
Two months ago The Bean, our 12 year old, started having migraines. Since my sister and mom have them I suppose it shouldn't have surprised me, but still it did. They suck. They hit instantaneously as migraines with all the yucky symptoms: nausea, light sensitivity, sore neck, and of course the bad pain. But worst of all twice a week. Poor thing. We were fortunate to find an awesome Pediatric Neurologist who has migraines herself and has children so she really gets migraines in kids and is so good at talking to Bean. Since they hit so fast and hard I was concerned so we went in six weeks ago for brain scans to make sure it was "only" migraines we were dealing with. Let me tell you how nerve racking that is. The night before I was so cognizant that we were at one of lifes forks in the road. Either we were going to get to go on with life pretty much as we knew it, but with the new normal of trying to decrease the migraines frequencies and get rid of them faster when she got them, or gulp, dealing with something that would turn our lives upside down and her life wouldn't come close to ever being the same again. Very frightening. Very stressful. Made the stress of waiting for that MOWA letter look like a walk in the park. Thank goodness it was wonderfully, fabulously all clear:) So now I feel so fortunate that 'all' we are dealing with is migraines! Funny how life can be put in perspective so fast.
The neurologist put her on a supplement called MIGRELIEF. Omg, love that stuff:) I'm not a supplement person, we eat pretty darn well and have never felt extra stuff was in the least bit necessary, but this stuff ROCKS! It's taken her from 2 migraines a week, to 1 every 17 days. Woo Hoo!!!! You take it twice a day, it takes 4-6 weeks to see a difference, and apparently raises the B2 levels (which if I remember which is which correctly tends to be low in people with migraines) and magnesium levels (which helps reduce the frequency of them or something like that!) I've found it to be cheapest on Amazon - I'm now done with my plug! These migraines are horrible enough just from the pain standpoint but they have also been very problematic in terms of lifestyle too. Each time she had one I had to race to school to bring her home and we'd be there for hours until it eased which meant she was missing a lot of school and I was having very unpredictable days. Teachers were not happy either. Ugh. In addition to the Migrelief we've started throwing everything at them we can. Acupuncture has been shown to be really effective with headaches so 3 weeks ago we started that. She's a trouper about it and is relieved she can barely feel it. It's giving the chance to read "Emma" together twice a week so that's an upside to the visits! Today is Day 17 - according to our previous schedule it should be migraine day today, so we are all holding our breath to see if we can buy a few more days thanks to the acupuncture. Fingers crossed here! The neurologist also suggested trying bio-feedback. I have no experience at all with this, nor any knowledge about it, but if she recommends it we're trying it! That has been a little harder to find than the acupuncture which was more an issue of finding someone reputable that was covered by our insurance. Looks like Childrens Hospital will be doing it through their Chronic Pain Management program. Hoping to get that going next week. So that leaves the prescription meds to try to get rid of the pain much quicker than the Excedrin can, so perhaps it can be treated at school and she can go back to class. We're about to try Imitrex because the Maxalt didn't touch it. Aargh. More fingers crossed that we'll have better luck with the new stuff, but hoping we don't get to try it out soon if we can postpone the upcoming migraine!!!! Crazy!
I'm really wanting this to all work so life's a little more manageable. School field trips, sleepovers, and all those other things have become really problematic since we know have to prep for migraines if she goes. No field trips unless I'm chaperoning right now, and with sleepovers she has to carry a large bag of migraine stuff in her purse: water to take the pills, towel to cover her face etc wherever she goes if they go out for dinner, to ice-cream etc. Not so fun when you're 12.
But thank goodness we are only dealing with migraines.
First and most importantly I want you to know that it was my intention to write this this past weekend. In other words my sentiments and thanks about this have NOTHING to do with me just being all happy because we got our letter and court decree this week. I just ran plum out of time this weekend and it was Monday before I knew it and after The Call all plans went out the window.
Last Friday I was checking in with Sara and she sounded really tired. I asked her about it and she said she was, and it was raining, and that it was hard not having any news for us day after day for so long. That got me thinking. A lot. I think I've been so wrapped up in my own difficulties of the past few months that I haven't stepped back to think that it's been pretty tough on our caseworkers too to tell us day after day that there is no news when a large part of their satisfaction and enjoyment from their jobs is probably about building families. Also that since they are our only connection and imparters of information from Ethiopia and Gladneys program our frustration and sadness probably feels like it's personal to them and we are frustrated at them instead of the situation. That made me sad because Sara has been so incredible through this whole process to us. I was going to write her a card but then decided to write it 'publicly' on our blog so you all would know what impact she's had on us.
Perhaps if you feel the same way about your caseworkers you could take a minute to give them a call, write an e-mail or a card to say thank you. I wish I'd thought of it sooner:)
I cannot thank you enough for everything you've done for us during the last few months. Before we left for court we already appreciated you and what you did for us. You always had all the info we needed, were so on top of everything and we had complete faith in you. Since court during this 5 month delay we have a whole new appreciation for you. You have gone so above and beyond to take care of us the last few months and none of it has been taken for granted or been unappreciated. You had an e-mail waiting for us when we got back, you took the time out of your vacation and family time to call us and see how we were doing. So many weeks you've called to check in on me if we haven't spoken in awhile and when on a couple of those occasions I burst into tears you were so patient and kind and compassionate. I never felt you were rushing me off the phone when you probably had a ton of work to do. You've listened to me vent a few times when you've probably spent the day hearing it from a few other Moms too and have always listened to me. Then there has been your patient explanations as to why my latest great thought for the day won't work to get our letter from ET, and I never once felt like you wrote those e-mails rolling your eyes or wringing my neck. It is easy when things go right in life, but when times get tough people show their true colors and we are so grateful to know you to be such kind, thoughtful, compassionate, patient person.
You are a big part of our adoption journey, and as the girls learn their story of how they came to be in our family you will be an important part in that story. We hope we will have many years of knowing you and that your presence in our lives continues long after the girls are home.
At last we get to post photos of our identical twin girls!
Rachel Derebe and Isabel Dilnesh, born very loved May 8th, 2010
They smile a lot in person but seem to get pretty suspicious of cameras so they look very serious in the photos. They both have dimples which hopefully in a couple of months we'll have captured on camera and can post those! We'll be painting their big toenails different colors so we can tell them apart so not to worry in the first 10 minutes of having them that we've mixed them up already! Derebe is a little more inquisitive, Dilnesh falls asleep first after eating. They are dear, curious, sweet little people and tonight we are blessed to call them our daughters.
Enjoy meeting them!
The girls about 5 weeks old taken by visiting Gladney mom and sent to us by her after referral! True baby pics! Dilnesh referral photo taken mid-July Derebe Referral photo taken mid-July Late December while in ET February End of April Taken this week
9/19/09 Mailed in I-600A application 9/20 Got Package from Gladney 9/21 Hired KBS Dossiers - great idea! 9/22 Orientation call with Gladney 9/25 1st packet to Gladney 9/26 FBI/Dossier fingerprinting 10/5/09 2nd packet to Gladney 10/7 1st homestudy meeting 10/19 All medical forms signed 10/20 Final documents to Gladney 10/22 2nd homestudy meeting 11/6/09 Homestudy to Gladney & USCIS 11/27 housefire 1/17/10 I-600A approval 1/26/10 Waitlisted
We are so excited and feel very fortunate to be adopting from Ethiopia. We have 2 girls, 19 and 12, and are so excited about having 2 more. My husband is a little outnumbered! I am a stay at home mom, and my wonderful husband works very hard so I can be.