Friday, September 30, 2011

6 months home!

I can't believe our kids have been home 6 months.  In some ways it has been just a blink of an eye and in other ways it seems they have always been here so when I think about it only being 6 months it doesn't seem real. 

Abi and Joseph continue to do amazingly well.  In 6 months you can't even imagine the number of "firsts" they have experienced.  It's mind boggling.  But they continue to take things in stride and keep moving forward.  Now that doesn't mean they are perfect kids!  LOL!  They are normal kids with a lot of resiliency. 

Abi is starting to enter puberty and that is interesting with a girl......haven't been down that road before.  :)  It's made for some interesting moods and drama. 

Joseph has been struggling a little lately just letting go of me as his "Mommy" and not clinging so much.  We've had a few times where he tells the school nurse he is sick so he can come home or he cries and pouts if I am not home from work when him and Abi get home from school.  Seems like we've made some strides with this lately though.

Right now the toughest thing we are working through is how far behind in school Abi is.  It's super rough on her.  We work and work and work on it at home but don't feel like we make much head way.  The schools are frustrating at best!  She reads at a first grade level and she is in the 4th grade.  It's rough!!  We worked on it all summer and used resources the school gave us and they tested her this fall again and she hasn't made ANY progress.  Even her verbal language is coming really slow.  I keep waiting for that break through.

Joseph on the other hand is basically already at grade level.  He is one sharp little guy!  It just comes easier for him and I know that frustrates Abi.  Life lesson for her though right? 

So...... the first 6 months are behind us.  I don't think we had any kind of "honeymoon" period and essentially no hard adjustment issues.  :)

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Picture Tuesday

First time camping AND making smores

The girls!

Lake Powell with her big Brother Lance

Lake Powell

Lake Powell

Thursday, June 16, 2011

11 Weeks Home (long post)

I know I have been going a long time in between posts.  I've had the hardest time finding words to express these past almost 3 months.  Not because there aren't many things to share but because it all feels so natural it just seems like normal day to day stuff and I struggle putting that into words.

I know before we brought the kids home I scoured the web looking for blogs and information on adopted kids, especially internationally adopted kids and most importantly kids adopted from Ghana.  I admire those that have kept their blogs going post adoption and seem to have the ability to express their day to day lives with words.  I also know that there are many families in the adoption process who can benefit from our experiences and our post adoption lives.  I want to share and encourage or help in any way I can.  With that in mind I will try to post more often!

I thought I would write today a little bit about each of our kids and their first 11 weeks home.


Abi is an amazing girl.  She is 9 1/2 years old and part little girl, part almost tween and part grown woman.  The little girl part of her still wants/needs many hugs, adores her Daddy, models what I do and still needs tucked in at night with lots of hugs and kisses.   The tween part of her can be stubborn and moody, loves hanging out with girls her age, loves pretty clothes and wants to be more independent than the little girl part of her will allow.  The part of her that seems very much like a grown woman is her soul.  Abi can say the most wise and deep things.  She understands human behavior better than many adults.  She is an extremely compassionate girl and her first thought is always how she can help someone else or make another person feel better.  Abi is very smart and very athletic. 

Her first 11 weeks home have been FULL of firsts, learning experiences and change just like any adopted child.  What amazes me is how she takes all of this in stride.  She just dives in and moves forward.  They started school about one week after arriving home and Abi just walked right into that classroom and joined in like she had always been there.  She made friends fast, joined in activities that were already in progress, learned all the songs for a school program a couple weeks later and of course her teachers adored her.  She's an adorable girl! 

Some of her challenges the first few weeks were being willing to try new foods, learning to not completely shut down and pout EVERY time something didn't go her way, learning not to throw huge loud temper tantrums (there have only been 3 of these but still....she is learning not to handle things that way) and overcoming some of the gaps in school especially reading and writing in English. 

Abi handles many challenges in her life with humor.  We are so thankful for that because we are that way many times.  She can laugh at herself or the situation and then buckle down and figure it out.  She's going to earn huge amounts of respect throughout her life for this trait.

Now some pictures of our amazing Daughter:

Learning to ride a bike

On the shuttle to their first Rockies game

At my Mom's in Denver trying out the goggles for swimming!


Our fiercely competitive and ultra soft hearted son.  Joe is 8 1/2 and still very much a little boy in many ways but like Abi wise beyond his years.  Joseph has always clearly shown (from the first moment we met him) how much he is craving to be Mothered.  He hugs and cuddles with me and isn't shy to hug me and say "I love you" in front of other kids.  Although he has always been responsive to Omar his preference to be Mothered was obvious.  That is probably the biggest change I have seen in him.....his transition into a very close relationship with his Daddy.  He will now go to his Dad for anything and everything just as easy as me.  He still craves Mommy time which is fine with me since I know from experience he will outgrow this very soon. 

Joseph is an AMAZING athlete and he is most comfortable playing sports.  Soccer is his first passion (and he's raising some eyebrows with coaches in our community) but he is loving every sport he is being introduced to especially baseball.  When Joseph is involved in a sport his shyness just DISAPPEARS.  He is so physically is an amazing thing to watch. 

Some of Joseph's challenges these first 11 weeks have been his shyness towards school and other kids, completely shutting down when he doesn't get his way (just like his Sister), and learning to cling to me a little less and trust his new world.  Reading and writing have come a little easier for Joe mainly because he is younger and only in first grade (now second this fall).

Joseph also handles challenges with humor but unlike Abi he does get his feelings hurt much easier and sometimes will cry for what seems like no reason.  He can turn on the tears at any give time!  But, in just 11 short weeks we are seeing this happen much fact as I write this and think about it I realize this has become very rare.

Some pics of our sweet and talented son:

Learning to ride a bike

First MLB game The Colorado Rockies Denver, Co

Sucking down a Coca Cola as quick as he can before someone tells him he can't have any more!
Back at the hotel showing off his foul ball he got at his first MLB game!!

At my Mom's house in Denver posing with his Dad, Abi and his cousin Dylan

And here is a pic of the 4 of us at the Rockies game:

Having a blast taking them to their first MLB game!!
I've been asked several times now that they have been home almost 3 months what we would have done different if we could.  I don't have a good answer to that.  I'm sure there are things we SHOULD have done differently but I honestly don't know what they are.  I am not a person that tends to have regrets.  I know that the way these 3 months have unfolded is what has molded us into a family.  Good or bad it is what it is.  We are all figuring out each other's personalities and things just seem to feel more and more settled as time goes by.  I find myself often having "aha" moments where I figure out something about each of them and I just store it away in my mind for future reference and part of my knowledge base on each of my kids.  With bio kids we don't notice this so much because things are so innate.  Having completely raised two bio sons I notice the differences between bio and adopted relationships and it is fascinating.  I also notice very obvious moments where we "settle" just a little more.  We go about our day to day activities and then all the sudden I will just "feel" a little shift.  It is subtle but yet strong enough to catch my attention.

The things that I think have been instrumental in Abi and Joseph adjusting so well go against almost everything we read about bringing adopted kids home and the first several weeks.  Adoption books and training suggest that you kind of cocoon yourself with your kids and avoid too many activities outside the home to enable bonding and adjustment.  For whatever reason this just didn't feel right to us and didn't feel like it was the right thing for Abi and Joseph.  When we got them home (after a day or two of rest) we literally just went on with our lives.  We wanted them to feel like they are a normal part of our lives and so we just conducted our lives that way.  I had every intention to wait at least 2 weeks before starting them in school but Abi really wanted to go so we visited their new school only 3 days after they arrived and then they started the following week.  Once Joseph visited the school even he, in his shyness, wanted to go.  The absolute best thing I feel we did for them was sign them up for soccer before they even got here so they could play the spring season.  It enabled them to socialize with American kids and families in a very familiar  For Joseph this was DEFINITELY the best place for him to spend part of his first few weeks and Abi as well. 

I don't want to suggest that adoptive parents ignore the advice and training they are given but I do want to urge parents to listen to their gut and pay attention to the personalities of their kids and take their cues from them.  Don't over analyze and try to be perfect.  Since when is parenting a perfect science??  I also want to suggest that older kids will need something completely different than little ones the first few weeks.  Older kids have a very strong desire to BELONG.  I feel like the things we did the first few weeks taught them they BELONG in our family, BELONG at their school and BELONG with their soccer teams which made them feel like they belong in their new world. 

Well enough for now....I know this is a long post.  I just want to add that I am hoping to become a stronger advocate for older child adoption and not sure how to accomplish that.  Our experience has been amazing and I know many other families can have similar experiences and even in those situations where the older child does not adjust as well the success stories in the end with an older child can be extraordinary.

Monday, May 9, 2011

The First 6 Weeks

What an amazing 6 weeks!

Abi and Joseph have settled in amazingly well and experienced many, many firsts!  We laugh everyday at their sense of humor and perspectives.

They are in school and playing soccer.  School is going really well.  There is a definite gap in reading, vocabulary and spelling but that gap will shorten over time.  We work with them at home and their teachers have been great working with them.

They both love sports and are incredibly athletic.  We have been approached by the soccer league to start them both in the academy soccer in the fall which grooms young players.  It seems any new sport they try they are good at.  We can see how our weekends will be spent for the next several years.  :)  It will be interesting to see what other sports they latch onto besides soccer.

As far as health they are doing great.  All screenings came back just fine.  The biggest issue is dental care and we are working on that.  Abi had to have a tooth extracted and that was really traumatic for her.  They will have some fillings done next week as well.  They had their first cleanings a couple weeks ago and it was VERY needed.  Once we get the dental care in line they will be in great shape!

Behavior has been great.  They have each had a few emotional ups and downs and a couple weeks ago I thought we might be heading for a small grief crash but they both seemed to have readjusted and moved on.  This last week I have noticed a REAL settling in....just an abvious sense of belonging. 

I'm sure we aren't going about things in a real text book way but everything seems to be working.  Both kids are extremely affectionate and tell us "I love you" and they hug lots and seem very, very trusting of us and their environment. 

Here are some pics to help tell the story:

First Day of School
Abi wanted her picture taken again on another school morning because she loved her dress.  That's my girl!

Trying to figure out the best way to stay warm in our Colorado spring time.

Easter morning.....took a few minutes for them to get the egg thing figured out then the competition was on!

Cleaning up after Easter.....such a ghanain girl at heart

Nice form!

Abi thinks her Dad hung the moon!!

Mr cool and collected

First soccer game

Had to make them nuggets fans!

Maybe a future Nugget??
I'll just end this post by saying "Yes, they really are doing that well.  We aren't making it up!" 

I've had a few too many people look at me questionably and make comments like "It won't last" or "Are you sure?" or "Are you being honest?" 

Maybe it won't last...........

but maybe it will.  

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Trip Home

I've been really slow in getting this post done.  We have been so busy since the kids came home and time has flown!  It is a great feeling after so many months of waiting and wishing time would go faster. 

I'm going to dedicate this post to the pick up trip and trip home and then do a separate post about the first few weeks home.  Abi and Joseph are adjusting great!!

I'm going to let the pictures tell the story:

Abi and Joseph right after I arrived at Auntie Ruth's.  Joseph already has my backpack on and wants to go to the hotel.
Abi and Joseph at our hotel
The afternoon of the day we leave for the airport.

A few minutes before leaving waiting for the AAI Van to pick us up and take us to the airport.  Very excited kids!

A last pic with Auntie Ruth.  This was Abi and Joseph's foster Mom over the last 7 months.

At the airport after making it through bag checks, tickets, immigration, etc etc.  We are having a "treat" to kill some time before we go to the gate and have to sit and sit and sit.

At the gate.  Joseph is taking a picture of Abi and I.

At this point we have been at the gate about 30 is about 10:30 at night (way past bedtime) and Joseph is getting cranky and not thinking all this waiting is much fun.

Finally on the plane.  Very excited kids!  (If they only knew how many hours we were about the fly)

The next day on our 3rd and last flight.  We are within minutes of being home and Daddy waiting for us at the airport.

Getting ready to take off in Denver.  This is our 3rd and last flight.  Abi can't stop talking about Daddy being at the airport.

This picture says it all.  They went running through the glass doors and practically knocked Omar over.  Very happy to see their Dad and he was soooo happy to see them.  For Omar it had been 5 months since seeing the kids.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

We Have Visas!!!

Abi and Joseph's visas are printed and ready to be picked up tomorrow morning!!!  We are so excited!  Now we're frantically trying to arrange our travel plans. 

We're going to Ghana and bringing home our kids this time!

Monday, March 21, 2011

They're coming home soon!!

Finally....good news!!  The interview at the embassy went well today and they took Abi and Joseph's passports.  Now we just wait for an email from the embassy confirming the visas have been printed and we can travel to pick them up. 

Time frame??  Maybe this Friday?  Next Friday?  We won't know until they tell us but it's soon!!