Friday, June 29, 2007
I also know from my visit in October that he has a quiet, sweet and laid-back personality. I know he learns well because I taught him to wave bye-bye in the few days I spent with him. He also reacted to me calling his name by turning and looking at me smiling. These are good signs.
I am visiting again in two weeks. On this trip I have decided not to keep Ahren at the hotel with me. At 18 months old, he is completely attached and dependent on his foster family. Separating him from them for a few days would cause him too much pain. It would be selfish of me to do that, especially since there is no chance that he would remember me from this visit by the time he comes home. Instead, I have arranged with his foster mother to have her bring him for visits. He will have her there as his comfort source, and I can spend time with him and get to know him.
I keep thinking about how it will be to separate him from the only life, the only family he has ever known at an age when children are trying to exert their independence but also need the security to do so successfully. Because we will have 4 other children when he comes home, will that help him be comfortable or will he feel lost in the crowd? (His foster mother has only grown children.) He will have developed language by then, so he won't be able to communicate with us or us with him very well. How do you soothe a child that you cannot explain things to?
My plan is to take it very slow. We will bring him home to a quiet (or as quiet as can be) home where we will not have visitors at first. We will spend time holding and rocking, playing on the floor and exploring his new surroundings. We will take it at his pace. We will watch and learn from him as we go. With his personality he could adjust easily and fit right into the family, or it could totally overwhelm him. We will just have to be very careful in what we expose him to in the beginning.
As we get through the adoption process, and we come close to the end, I will visit as often as I can so that he will know me. I don't want to be a complete stranger. Already, his foster mother shows him pictures of us every day and refers to us as Mama and Papa. I will send more pictures and little gifts (which I already do each month) so that he has some concept of us. I need to find out if they have a VCR or DVD player because I can send videos of us for him to watch.
It is so strange to me to think we have loved this child with all our hearts for so long, and he has no idea we exist. Can he feel our love on some other level? Will that love be enough to help him through this adjustment time? What if he never loves us back?
None of this really matters at this point since we still have a very long and difficult road ahead of us. I just can't stop thinking about what it will be like to finally be his Mommy.
Thursday, June 28, 2007
Even knowing that I have more paperchasing to do, and that getting the DNA accomplished could be a big problem, I am still over the moon with happiness. It is now POSSIBLE to move ahead. For almost 18 months we have been loving and planning for this little boy. That whole time he was not legally available to adopt yet because he did not have a valid birth certificate. There are a lot of other complicating factors but I won't go into them. We are focusing on the future and the hurdles we still face.
Update on Levi: Still no bath. I tried bribing him (oh shush, I am desperate!) with new Spiderman bath bubbles and a Spiderman towel, but he didn't go for it. Chris was going to get in with him, but he didn't want that either. So this morning I had a long talk with him.
Me: Levi, why do you scream when it's time for a bath? Are you afraid of the tub?
Levi: I'm scared. There's gudders in the tub.
Me: Gudders? What are gudders?
Levi: They squirt water at your head. I don't like them.
Me: Oh, the squirters shoot water at your head. Did you know your bathtub does not have squirters?
L: (looking like he is thinking this over) Hmmmmm.
Me: Nope, no squirters there. Not even a button to push.
Me: Tonight I will show you. You can check it out for yourself. No squirters.
I plan on having this conversation again this evening, followed by a thorough inspection of the tubs. Keep your fingers crossed. Maybe, just maybe, we can get back into our normal routine. The bath is an important part of the nightly ritual and is much needed for helping him to wind down, in addition to the de-stinkification reasons.
Oh, and cheer camp? He loves it. All the older girls fight over who gets to carry him around and who he gets to sit with. Today they had a huge waterballoon fight and that's all he could talk about since yesterday. He was pretty timid at the beginning of the week (like not telling the instructor when he had to use the bathroom...) but he is coming out of his shell quite nicely. And boy can he shake his bootie!! He has another boy in his group and they hang together. I may sign him up for the second session which is at the beginning of August, and sign him up for tot tumbling too.
Wednesday, June 27, 2007
OK, so I am a bit giddy with the news. I really never thought we would get to this point. I was so afraid that they would have to pursue an abandonment case and it would be another 2-4 years before he was available for adoption. Or worse yet the US Embassy would declare him not an orphan and he would never be adoptable. Instead, we are moving forward and will probably bring him home in 9-12 months. Funny how that sounds so short now....
Tuesday, June 26, 2007
The next day I mention to Nanny that Levi just did not want to take a bath the night before, and she looks a bit sheepish. She had him playing in the master bathtub the day before (with all the rain she has had to become quite inventive in ways to keep the little ones occupied) She was curious about the jacuzzi and hit the button. The water wasn't over the level of the jets so the thing roared like a wild animal and shot jets of water directly at his head. Poor kid flew out of the tub in terror and wrapped himself around her neck.
So now we know why the sudden fear of the tub. And shower. I even tried the kitchen sink. So now what? I don't want to further terrorize him, but he has to be de-stinkified somehow. If it would quit raining I would get a wading pool, soap him up and throw him in there to play. But no, it rains and rains and rains. I can't spray him with Febreeze (can I???) Just kidding! Last night I ended up standing him naked in the kitchen and washing him down with a washcloth while he stood on a towel. I couldn't really do his hair, but the rest of him came out pretty good (remember, a day at camp plus 2 wet pants episodes. He needed to be washed in the worst way) If anyone has any brilliant ideas, hit me with them. This could turn into a desperate situation very quickly....
Camp is out at 3 pm. 3:10 the phone rings. Ashley: Mom, Katie is being rude. Don't let her do anything tonight.
While on the phone, the other line beeps. It's Katie: Mom, don't believe anything she says, she's a liar. (Ashley screaming in the background)
I tell them both to quit, no one gets to do anything and I will be home at 4:45.
Phone intermittenly rings up until I walk out the door of work. Conversations revolve around who gets to do what tonight and how the other sister is evil, mean and should be grounded.
4:30 I am at the grocery store, picking up pull-ups (for camp pant-wetting issues) Phone rings. Do I answer it? I opt not to and ignore it. It continues to ring and ring and ring. Finally after I pull out of the parking lot, I answer it.
Ashley: (at the top of her lungs) Mom, Katie locked me out of the house. She is evil. You never punish her. You have ruined her. You have to do something RIGHT NOW!!!
I tell her I an hanging up and calling Katie to see what is going on and to get her to let you in.
Right now the bottom falls out of the sky and I can hardly see the road, the wind and rain are blowing so hard. I dial Katie.
Me: Did you lock your sister out of the house?
Katie: Mom, she is so stupid. The door isn't even locked. She's just to stupid to come in.
I can hear Ashley screaming bloody murder in the background. I tell Katie to open the door. I tell Katie again that no one is going anywhere, they are both stuck at home until they can act like civilized human beings and I hang up.
I walk into the house, drenched, not in the best mood, to arguing. Loud arguing. I have had it. Be quiet! Right now! Sit down and listen up. This is not going to fly. As long as you two can't treat each other nicely, you will both be stuck at home with nothing to do. The choice is yours. Then I got them busy doing things.
The rest of the evening was much better. Thankfully!
Last night I made spaghetti and meatballs for supper. I usually buy frozen meatballs but I decided to make home-made meatballs. Now, if you don't know me, you wouldn't know that I grew up in the midwest where the only spices utilized are salt, pepper and garlic powder. Every recipe starts with a can of cream-of-something soup. Plus, I don't have one drop of italian blood in my body. So meatballs? A bit of a stretch. I love to cook and I try to learn new things all the time. So, I made meatballs. I made a large double batch so we would have enough for another meal. It turned out the meatballs were a huge hit and so few were left after dinner that I will have to make more to have another dinner. Levi ate 4 all by himself. He has never eaten that much before. It was amazing! So woot for me!
Monday, June 25, 2007
A wonderful woman who I have never met mailed me a box full of donations for the orphanages. Her generosity completely amazed me! I figured I would get responses form the people I work with and my family mostly, but someone I have never met? It left me speechless. Sometimes the world amazes me with the sadness and pain it heaps on people, and then one little angel steps forward and my heart is filled to bursting with the goodness. Stacey, you are the epitome of all that is good in this world. I thank you and the children thank you!
I am thinking of naming our new house The Ark. You see, every day since our moving day it has rained. It has poured, thundered, blown, and poured some more. Our grass-less yard is nothing more than a mud hole. I can deal with that. I walk on the sidewalk, wipe my feet, and ignore the mud. But..... little boys, girls and dogs do not avoid the mud. The mud calls to them like a siren song. There is now a large pile of very muddy shoes by the back door. I have bathed each dog at least twice and I got so sick of it that I shaved off all of Max's hair (He is now a naked Sheltie) It is so wet, the landscaper cannot even think about doing something with our yard (unless he plants rice) Can you Astroturf your lawn? I am seriously starting to consider it. The mud is driving me insane. (But, the pond is full and we had a Crane hunting for fish in it this weekend. So beautiful)
One last word: when your kids spy the gigantic Quick-Set pool at Wally-World, and it is marked down making it appear to be a good deal, and the box says it takes only 30 minutes to set up......DON"T DO IT! I have been wrestling with that stupid pool for a week. The ground is so wet under it and still not settled from recently being graded that as we fill the pool it begins to list to one side and then spills over. We have emptied and re-leveled the ground twice and the stupid pool still lists to the side. I am about to set it up on the driveway since that is the only solid area we have. Dear Quick-Set, I hate you so very very much!!!!
Thursday, June 21, 2007
The second orphanage I am visiting is Hogar Para Ninos Un Mundo Neuvo. This orphanage is for small children, newborns to 8 years old, who have been abandoned or given up for adoption. Katie and I visited this orphanage last year and brought donations and gave of our time. It was a hugely rewarding experience!
The third orphanage we are visiting is one for girls ages 4-16. The girls are rescued off of the streets, given a home and schooling and taken care of until they can live on their own. Over 70% of women in Guatemala are illiterate so just the fact that these girls receive an education is a small miracle in itself.
One of the things we have been asked to help with is to purchase new mattresses for the girls dormitory. Here is a picture of what the beds look like now. We have contacted a reputable mattress dealer in Guatemala City and will purchase and deliver the mattresses personally while there.
The other types of things (besides money to buy necessities) that the orphanages have requested are simple school supplies like markers, crayons, notebooks, paper, pencils, etc. The children can always use underwear and socks, shampoo, soap, lotion, pajamas, and vitamins.
If anyone would like to make a donation, feel free to contact me (Wendy) at 281-863-3140, or firstname.lastname@example.org. I will be sure and take lots of pictures to share with all of you of these precious children. No donation can compare to the joy on their faces from a simple hug. These are truly precious children.
Wednesday, June 20, 2007
Instead of one sign, I got three. Here is how it happened.
On Monday we were set to close on our old house. I knew the family buying our house was from Utah, they have 4 children and I knew their last name was hispanic sounding. When we walked into the closing, it was clear the father was hispanic and the mother anglo. We hit it off right away. They are the best people! At one point, she referred to his citizenship papers and I assumed he was from mexico, as are a lot of people in our area. We got to talking about children and I explained we have three plus two on the way through adoption. They asked where from and we said Guatemala. Their eyes lit up and they announced that is where he is from. He grew up 40 miles south of the city in Chimeltanango (spelling???) He has a lot of family still there and they offered to hook us up with them when we visit Guatemala. We talked for 2 hours!
When we got home, I got an e-mail from Adoption Supervisors (the extra attorneys we have hired to help with Ahren's case) They announced that the rectification has been approved, signed by the director and released. This is the one thing we needed to make Ahren legally adoptable. I can hardly believe it! We are waiting on confirmation that the attorneys have picked up the file and submitted for a new birth certificate, but if this is true it is a miracle!!!!
Then, when I got to work on Monday morning, there was a new set of pictures of Ahren. Just one last confirmation that he is our son and waiting for us to get thru the process and bring him home.
I now have hope again. I have renewed energy to fight. I am back in the game and ready to do whatever it takes to bring this precious child into our family. Talk about a labor of love! Someday, when we are sitting with Ahren and he is wondering about his past, I can show him all the ways we fought to bring him home. The journey has been so difficult, so painful and so enlightening, but all worth it. He is worth it. Now our adoption begins a new phase. We can proseed with the legal adoption of Ahren. It will be at least another year to get him home, maybe longer. I am prepared to have patience and faith. God is good!!!!
Tuesday, June 19, 2007
Today I am back at work, thank goodness. I have AC, a comfy desk chair and the internet. Life is good. I may not be back to normal for a while, but I am at least not sweaty. This is a great thing.
I will post pictures soon. I promise!
Wednesday, June 13, 2007
We close on the old house Monday afternoon. We are in good shape getting the repairs completed (they didn't ask for many but we only had 2 weeks) Termite treatment:done Plumber:done Fire door:done Roofer:scheduled for today We are in good shape. Packing is progressing. It seems like the more stuff I cram into boxes, the more stuff we have. It is growing behind my back. Katie was supposed to pack up her room before she left for camp. What she did was to throw everything she didn't want into the hallway outside her room, then shove all her clothes into two huge boxes. Her shoes, bedding, desk, etc are all still spread all over the place. I am going to spend this evening trying to tame the beast that is her room. If you don't hear form me soon, send a search party. I may be trapped in there.....
Levi is definitely affected by the move. He isn't sleeping well and isn't eating. He is crabby which is very unusual for him. We keep explaining how the move works, but he seems to think we are moving and leaving him behind. We have shown him his new room, explained that all of his things will move with him and that we will all be living in the new house, but he is having a hard time with it. I think Friday will be really hard for him because Nanny is going to watch him at Mina's house for the day. He will be in a strange place and then not come home to the home he has always known. All we can do is keep reassuring him and showing him what will happen. There may have to be a couple of 'special' new toys as a welcome gift at the new house, too. The power of toys should not be discounted. Think like a 3-year old. "Wow, this house comes with cool new toys. I like it here". Then again it may just take a couple of weeks to settle in. That's OK. We can handle it. *Famous last words......
Friday, June 08, 2007
Then the 'little mistakes' began to add up. The floor plug in the living room didn't get added, the light switches aren't in the right places, the tile was laid incorrectly, the wrong stone was put on the columns, there is a towel bar in the art niche in the bathroom, the faucets have gold handles instead of porcelin, etc etc etc. We have never gotten a supplemental bill that was correct on the first try, ever. Even the last one we received yesterday clearly had us double-billed for something. We have been hit with charges for things that we thought were included, charged for things we didn't want, charged for things we were told would be no cost and charged for things multiple times. Not a problem, we were able to clear it all up eventually.
No Mr. Builder, what has upset us the most is not these things, but the fact that it has been 10 months. Ten long months. And do you accept the blame for any of the delays? Nope. You blame us. We are the reason it has taken so long. We have had to beg for paperwork, have had to wait on pricing and information for many weeks, had to re-order the cabinets not once but twice because you changed vendors. You have made us feel small and stupid by trying to explain what the industry standard is even though Chris is in construction. Since when is the pad under the foundation not included in the house price? Since when is it standard to leave the house unlocked every day and then complain because things are stolen? Your idea of standard is a bit off I would say. But mostly, the service we have received from your company has been very poor. No one ever goes to check on our house. I can be standing in the house and have you telling me what is being done and know you are full of shit. So the driveway went in yesterday? Gee, I am standing in the front yard and nope, no driveway. The tile guys are working there right now? Are they invisible cuz I can't see them. You say the stone is correct? Then why are the suppliers ripping it out right now?
Admit it. Our house was not your priority. You started building in the new elite subdivision about the same time you started our house and that got all your attention. Our house just got phoned in. Backburnered. Short changed. Remember that reference letter you wanted from us? Forget about it. Instead you will be seeing the document we are filing with the Greater Houston Builders Association, the BBB and several other professional societies. Your company is small change compared to my husband's. You picked the wrong people to treat poorly.
Not so happy customers
Wednesday, June 06, 2007
My new arrythmia meds are working better. Phew, I need the ol' ticker to behave right now so I can get everything else done! No more tachycardia (speeding heart rate) and only one arrythmia episode in the past week. I feel like a new woman!
I think the stress of the move is getting to Levi. He has been acting out this past week. Poor thing, with all the insanity his schedule is shot. More than one night he has gone to bed still dirty from a day of play. In fact, last night he fell asleep on the couch before I got the dinner dishes cleaned up. I ended up throwing him in the tub this morning while I got ready for work and he had a blast. I didn't want Nanny to think we are total heathens! (Nanny: Levi, what is that between your toes? Oh good lord child, you are growing potatos!)
Yesterday Levi once again removed hs underwear and then put on a pair of jeans. Nanny told me later she warned him that he would get his tallywhacker hung in the zipper if he didn't watch out. (Yes, she really talks like that! I love that woman) I laughed and laughed. I'm sure he had no clue what she was talking about. Luckily nothing got hung in the zipper.
I took Katie shopping for camp supplies this weekend. The rules clearly state that girls must have one piece bathing suits and to not even test this. If you show up with anything else they will drive you to Wal Mart and make you buy the ugliest old lady suit possible and make you wear it. So here is how it went.
Katie: I'm just going to wear a shirt over my bikini. That's what everyone is doing.
Me: No, it says you have to have a 1 piece.
Katie: (much grumbling) Ok, I will just get a tankini and pull the top down
Me: No, it specifically states no tankinis.
Katie: But Moooooooooom (it's a 3-syllable word) Lisa said it would be OK.
Me: Lisa is not in charge. The rules say....
Now replay this conversation 20 times verbatim. That is what it was like taking her camp shopping. I won. She has a 1 piece. It was either that or she wasn't going. I am such a mean mom!
Tuesday, June 05, 2007
And here is what I found. The embassy has NOT declared our cases illegal. Yes, they are flagged and will be scrutinized more closely, but they have decided to look at ALL cases more closely. This actually started a couple of months ago and had nothing to do with Waiting Angels. Ahren's case has not even been filed yet, so there is no way it could be labelled as illegal. The message we all received, although it was from a source we considered legit, was not entirely true or accurate. It wasn't meant to be malicious, it was suppposed to be a warning of how difficult things are going to be. But it still remains that it wasn't true.
So the fight continues! It's not over until the fat lady sings and I'm not singing! We will do everything within our powers (legally) to bring our son home. In the event he has to remain in Guatemala we will do everything we can to insure he has a wonderful life and is well provided for. You cannot turn off love. You certainly cannot turn off a mother's instincts. Grrrr!!!!
Monday, June 04, 2007
Your case has been red-flagged. The status as of the arrest and the news reports of every WA case was that EVERY single case would be flagged as being ILLEGAL due to the admitted birth mother payoff. At this point, the Embassy (and possibly PGN) would consider the case invalid until proven otherwise. Some of these cases have NEVER had their POA (Power of Attorney) registered, the information is simply wrong about the status of the case and there is question whether the child is adoptable.
OK, how in the world would you prove that something did NOT happen? How can you prove a birth mother was not paid? You can prove that something did occur, but how do you prove it didn't? That is going to be impossible. We still haven't gotten proof his birth certificate has been approved. We have nothing, zilch, zero. Just worries and fears. Those I have plenty of!