Monday, November 23, 2015

Trial and Error and the "love-shun"

We have been home just over two weeks and we have begun venturing out of the house. We are trying to choose our outings wisely, debating if where we go will be overwhelming for Ella or if it will be ok. Well, let me tell you friends, this is no easy task. I find myself failing more often than winning. I've felt guilty and have questioned myself many times. Ella has been with us for 2 months now, but we still have so far to go. SO. FAR. I was reminded today that time really has nothing to do with her attachment. No one can say stay inside for x amount of days then go here and there, allow this person to see her and keep others away until this date... how I wish it could be this easy. I wish I could follow rules, but there just aren't set rules that will work for every child. So here we go, trial and error, trying to figure out our new life. It's hard. We went to Isaac's swimming lessons and then strollersize today. I ended up spending half the class in the back because Ella wanted to be held. It was a half fail...and it has made me realize that stroller size just isn't for us right now. She needs to know I'll pick her up when she needs it and me trying to get a few more minutes in with distracting her only frustrated both. So back home we go, nesting again. Trial and error. But isn't that the beauty of parenting, we don't need to nail it all the time. It's ok to try something and decide it doesn't work for you and move on. You will see me second guessing myself often. I may be hard on myself but in the end I've been given a job to determine what is best for my children. This is, by far, the hardest job I have been given. Two precious lives, traumatized, and now I am entrusted to pick up the pieces. I am so thankful for  a Jesus who guides me and allows me room to grow. I just hope I can lay aside my self to hear him well enough.
With all this said, we ask you continue to re-direct, shun, ignore, whatever you want to call it, but please continue to do this for us. Ella is not ready for more relationships yet. She is still figuring out she needs us and that we are not leaving her. I can't tell you how much it hurts to feel like I am replaceable or dispensable in her mind. I often break down at this thought. She is used to a revolving door of caregivers and this feeling will not go away overnight. Unfortunately, we do not have an end date, we just need you to trust us. Loving Ella means when she reaches for you, you point her back to me. Her heart is confused, she is figuring out her home base on which to live life from, this needs to be Arnie and I right now. While she is showing she prefers me at times, this is so fragile. She is still figuring out where to go for comfort. Please also pray for us, for wisdom and for Ella to continue to form an attachment to us. I have so many more thoughts in my head right now, I'm just not sure how to word it all. We are in the thick of it and it is hard but we trust God to lead us through. Thank-you for your love from a far, it means so much to us right now.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Our Journey Home

We have been home now for just over 1.5 weeks and I have been meaning to write about our journey home. It was an eventful three days and I really want to remember it!
We were so excited to come home, although we were living in paradise, we couldn't wait to come home and start our real life. Arnie was anxious to get back to work...with reason as we spent a pretty penny in SA, and I was anxious to get to kids into a real life routine. Now that we are home, we are wondering what all our rush was about haha. Anyways we had Ella's passport in hand on a Monday and we were set to fly out on Friday. It was good timing and we were grateful for a few extra days to not have to worry about getting Ella's documents in time, but we were ready to come home. We had spent three weeks on the beach, living it up, but even that can't keep the home sickness at bay. By day we had our loose routine: walk to our coffee shop/bakery, walk home for nap and swimming, find lunch, swim some more, afternoon naps, get dressed and find dinner, walk along the boardwalk, head back to our room. The evenings were the hard part. I often asked Arnie if we could walk on the boardwalk in the evening just so we could get out and I could distract myself from feeling home sick. We had the life, yet we still missed home. I am so grateful for this because it means we have something at home to miss. Friday finally arrived, Isaac walked around and said goodbye to the kid's pool entertainers (they were so kind to him) and we packed our bags. This was a feat on it's own as we had three suitcases and a carry-on. We ended up maxing all three suitcases out at 50lbs each and had to stuff the carry-on to the brim! Arnie is always anxious to get checked in at an airport and be ready for our flights (I made us miss a flight once and so I take full responsibility for this anxiety). He wanted to head to the airport three hours early. This was actually crazy because we were only going on a domestic flight to JoBurg...but for some reason I agreed. We called our cab and loaded up. Once we arrived at the airport we wondered around a little until we found the British Airways check in.  The lady at the desk told us our flight had been delayed by 2 hours and then asked about our connecting flight. We would not have enough time to get onto our flight to London and therefore our entire trip was about to be delayed. This was not good news for us for a couple of reasons. Because we went to Hungary first, we had ended up doing two round trips. We had a one day lay over in Budapest and then we would continue our journey home, only this was a separate trip so if we missed this flight we would be buying a whole new trip home. Panic ensued as we looked at each other with silent panic in our eyes. The lady helping us then said, "Just wait, I'll see what I can do. We have a flight leaving in 20 min to Jo-Burg and I'll try to get you on it." The next 5 minutes were the longest five minutes as she immediately got on the phone and started to rebook our tickets. She wasn't sure if she could get us on as the flight was full so we waited in anticipation. We tried to listen in as the conversation went back and forth as to whether we would make it or not. She told us to get the bags ready to check in case they said yes as we would be running through security. After a few minutes she  hung up the phone and directed her co-worker to start printing the tickets! I have never seen flight workers work with such fury, it was amazing. She threw the luggage tags on, handed us our boarding passes, pointed to security and said run. And run we did. The airport is not large and our gate ended up being right past security. As we arrived, the line up for boarding was not moving. They were late boarding (likely because of our baggage) and we were able to breath. Arnie had not eaten lunch as we were hoping to get food during our three hour wait, now turned 5 minute wait. He was able to grab a sandwich while I waited in line and we boarded our plane in perfect timing. I think that is the key word, PERFECT TIMING. God had it all planned out, including Arnie's idea to arrive 3 hours ahead of time and my compliance with this. We arrived in Jo-Burg early and had a couple hours to walk around. It was perfect. The kids got to run a little and I got to find some great last minute souvenirs. It was 9pm when we boarded our overnight flight to London. We got the kids in their pjs and everyone used the bathroom. We let them run around right up until we boarded the plane. Ella was so tired the minute we sat down, she was out. She slept through take-off and woke up 11 hours later in London. Isaac watched a show and then he was out for the remainder of the flight. It was beautiful. We had the bassinet seat which meant we had tonnes of space. We put Isaac under the bassinet (we weren't supposed to, but we got away with 5 hours like this!) as the arms did not move up and down so we couldn't lay him across us. Arnie and I slept in and out during the flight, as we were making sure the kids were ok for most of the flight. We could not have asked for anything more. In the morning we boarded our flight to Budapest, which also went smoothly. Once in Budapest we checked into our hotel and got a cab to downtown. We didn't know it, but on the weekends they have a food market set up downtown. It was so fun! We decided to just enjoy ourselves and call this a one day vacation. We ate amazing food at the outdoor market, I had hot mulling wine and we got a hot strawberry drink for the kids. We found they had build a large ferris wheel since we had last been there and decided to take the kids for a ride. It overlooked the city and was beautiful. We found our favorite coffee shop and walked around a little more. It started to rain so we headed back to our hotel. We all went to sleep early. I ended up being a little sick so it was a bit of a long night for me, but the kids got a good sleep. We headed out at 430am and made our way back to the airport.  Our flight to Amsterdam was short and easy and then we had a 6 hr layover. We let the kids play for the entire time. when we boarded our flight to Edmonton, Ella was asleep for take-off again. This was a day flight so the kids were awake for a few hours. We gave Isaac free rein to watch as many movies as he pleased so he was content and we took turns entertaining Ella. 9 hours later, we arrived home. When our wheels hit the ground, I looked at Arnie and said, "I can't believe we made it." He agreed and we sat quietly as we thanked God for our safe finish to this crazy journey. It was a moment our hearts rejoiced in. Somewhere in those 2 months gone, you wonder if you will make it out alive...but God had us in His hands. We worried often about our safety and played it safe many times by staying in, but God had it all under control. When we walked through the doors into the arrivals the greeting we received was one of my favourite moments. Isaac missed his cousins so much while we were gone. When we were walking to the doors, Isaac says, "I am going to run to Oli and hug him!" Guess who was there right when the doors opened...our sweet little nephews. Oil ran to Isaac and they had the best hug. I will post a picture as soon as I get it. Our family was there and some of my closest friends to welcome our  sweet Ella to her forever home. It was a tiring journey but we made it. The only thing left behind was my purse on our London flight, but all things replaceable, everything else safe and sound!

Monday, November 2, 2015

Heading Home

As our time winds up here in SA, we are beginning to think about when we arrive home. We did a cocooning phase with Isaac and are planning on repeating that with Ella. She has done so well with us and has really grown in her attachment with us...but we are about to change her world on it's head again. Coming home will be a huge change for her. Everything will be new and we feel our job is to help her transition as softly as possible. We long to take the stress from her and help her enjoy her first days and weeks at home. With that said, I have felt strongly that I am to give myself permission to say no to any commitment for our first little while home. My goal is to keep November as low key and commitment free as possible. I'm also giving myself permission to say no to invitations as well. As much as this month is about Ella, it is also about Isaac, so we feel we are on double duty. We are figuring out our new norm with two children. This is still new for us. Arnie will be going back to work and I will be staying home with the kids. I've watched them alone here for about 1 hour maximum on my own a few times so Arnie could play tennis...but other than that, I don't really know what a day alone with two kids looks like! If you do see us out and about, because I imagine I'll need to gain some sanity through walks and coffee, just be reminded that we will be keeping Ella close to us. We won't be passing her around or letting others pick her up or feed her. She is still learning who we are and it is detrimental to who she is that she forms an attachment with us first before anyone else. Maybe this seems drastic, but we have done the research and we feel in our hearts she needs to know who Mommy and Daddy are first before she learns about other people. We don't know how long we will stay in this phase, but we ask you to trust us. When we feel confident as parents and confident in Ella, we will start to let her explore. It is helpful to think of Ella's age in family age, that puts her at one month old. This means we will carry her, rock her to sleep, give her bottles and keep her as close as we can. It may look like we are babying her, but remembering her trauma and newness to our family will hopefully help people to understand. We are so excited to show our girl off, she is amazing and we think everyone who meets her will agree. She will light up a room when she feels confident and safe and we can't wait to let the world see this in the right time! We are also asking for prayer. Please pray for us as we fly home and transition our family into our new norm. We have felt people's prayers as we have been in SA and we thank-you for everyone of them. God has been looking after us and I know He will continue to do so.

Friday, October 23, 2015


It's been one month since we first laid eyes on our girl. I can't believe it! It would be the equivalent of someone giving birth then realizing their child is a month old already. How things can change in just a few short weeks. Ella has totally opened up to us and we can tell she feels right at home. We are getting to a place where we couldn't imagine life without her. It takes time to feel like a family when you add a member, but we are getting there. Isaac is opening up more to her and he is letting me back in. I'm so grateful we are all settling in this quickly, we are truly blessed. Yesterday I went for a run (cause all we do is eat) during the kids naps and I found myself excited for when Ella wakes up so I could see her again. I know that may sound silly, but this was a big moment for me. I'm feeling like she is mine. You know that ferocious mama love? The kind you feel when you first look into your child's eyes...sometimes that love can take a little time. But I am feeling it. I'm starting to walk around with my girl strapped to my chest and pride in my heart as the world smiles at her sweet face. There are so many aspects to adoption...attachment playing a huge roll. We carry our children, rock them to sleep, sleep beside them, feed them, dote on them, play silly games and don't let them wonder further than a foot from us at all times. This isn't just for them, but for us too. The more time Ella spends on me, the more I feel attached to her and her to me. It's different for everyone but this is how it is happening for us. We are so amazed how God, once again, knew the exact child He would place in our family and how perfect we would be for each other. I'm not saying we are all perfect and every moment is perfect...but the big picture and story is only one God could write. We are increasingly astonished how we are moulding together. We are so blessed to have each other.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Brother and Sister

I didn't think a lot about the dynamics between Ella and Isaac, I mean you can't really prepare for their reactions to each other until they are actually together. Isaac was excited for his sister and we did the best to prepare him, talking about her and talking about what it means to be a big brother, but its hard to go any further than that. Isaac did such an amazing job when he met her, he walked right up to her and kissed her. He didn't want her to stay at the orphanage when we had to bring her back at night and could hardly wait until we could keep her with us forever. He really has been amazing. We are two weeks in and we are seeing some dynamics play out. In some ways we are happy to see that Isaac is clinging to his Dad and that he is struggling to share him, this means he is attached to him. While he loves his sister, he is struggling to share his toys and sometimes she hits at him which has also been hard for him. But here is where grace is given. Adoption is hard, it is right for us, but it is still hard at times. No one ever said it was easy, we were not told this at any point of our journey...because it's not easy. There is a reason there will be few people who ever do it, it's costly on every front...the question was never "will this be easy?" but always "is this right for us?" We know, without a doubt, that this is right and so we tread lightly. We give ourselves grace and now we are understanding that the same grace is to be extended to our son. It's not easy to suddenly share your life, your parents, your toys, your space. Ella is not a newborn who eats and sleeps all day, she is 14 months and loves to play! She is fun, adventurous and has a playful spirit, which means Isaac has to share a lot more than if she were a newborn. So we are taking this in stride. We are so proud of him when he loves on her and we are not disappointed when he has moments of struggle. Isaac is a fun, loud, caring and playful soul. He loves people and kids, he loves us and his sister...but sometimes love grows. Its the same for us, we love our girl from the bottom of our hearts...but attachment takes time. It will take time for the two to be attached to each other. We want to be gracious about that. We knew it would take time. I'll admit, I was hoping they would be best friends off the hop, but let's be realistic...these thins take time. We pray for them daily, that God would bind their hearts together. There is only so much we can do as their parents, and then God picks up the pieces. What we do know, is that we are called to faithfully love God, each other and our children and that leading by example is the best teacher.
Yesterday, our sweet son said this, "I'm going to protect Ella. I'm not going to let her walk to anyone, because she's ours!" He gets it, he knows she belongs to us, he gets the attachment process. I was floored, he has been listening to our conversations about not letting others hold her, meeting all her needs, and keeping her close to us. If only she didn't bite his chest hours later hahahaha.... and that is reality my friends. Forgiveness, grace, gentleness, kindness and self control all taught through life. This part is hard but so worth it. Please pray for us as we lead and teach.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

our girl- 14 months

It's been almost two weeks together and there is so much we have learned about our daughter...and there is so much we still have yet to learn! We are falling more and more in love with her everyday as we continue to pray for God to bond us together. Isaac has gone through some changes as I mentioned in the last post but we are also seeing him warm up to Ella and begin to come back to me! Here is what we know so far:
Our girl is happy. She didn't show us this at first, she was in a bit of shock and therefore was way more reserved. We have seen this girl open up in just this short time and really start to show us her true colors! She loves play time and she loves being thrown around. Arnie will throw her in the air and she loves it, she is always squealing and laughing when he plays with her. She also loves to cuddle...this is such a gift to me. She will play with Daddy then come to me for a quick hug. She loves sucking her middle two fingers and with the other hand playing with a handful of my hair. She will even pull a chunk out of my pony tail creating a hot looking rat tail :( I've joked about putting in a braided rat tail extension for her! She likes her brother and loves when he plays with her.
What she eats:
she will eat most foods but dislikes mushy things like bananas, we are still trying to figure her out as sometimes she will eat something the 2nd or 3rd time it is offered to her. She likes carbs but dislikes yogurt! She loves eggs and sausage for breakfast and eats whatever we eat for lunch and dinner. She really has won over Arnie's heart with her love for food and eating most of what we serve to her. She will still sometimes overeat and have a huge swollen belly after meals so we are trying to do more meals of smaller quantity.
How she sleeps:
Well, not hard to guess, but she sleeps in the middle of our bed. Most nights she will sleep a solid 12 hours without any fuss and then about every 5th day she will have a rough sleep where she tosses and turns for half the night. We are still trying to figure this out and reminding ourselves that this is all still so new for everyone. She loves to sleep in the carrier if we are out and has given us no grief with falling asleep on our chest. She takes two naps whether we are at home in the bed or out in the carrier. We are so blessed by her (mostly) easy going spirit...and it's ok to have a few sleepless nights anyhow, it reminds us we have a baby :)
What she weighs:
Ella was a premie, we have mixed messaged on how premature she actually was but she was born at 3lbs so we know she was early. She is still small weighing in at 17lbs as the banana scale at the local Spar tells me! She wears 6-12 months but I put some 12-18 on her too even though it is a bit big. The coolest part about this, is that she is so close to what Isaac weighed at this time!

We are always comparing Ella to how Isaac was and we are so amazed at the differences. Isaac was so advanced with speech and understanding but emotionally and physically behind. He would be fine being handed to a stranger and rarely made a fuss over anything. He didn't know how to cuddle and very rarely would lay his head on your shoulder. Ella seems a bit behind in speech but has clung to us. Many people have reached to hold her but she always turns from them and grabs me. This is amazing for us as we don't have to try to get her back if someone has taken her. A lady in the child room in a restaurant tried to put her on her lap, not only did she wriggle out of her arms but she came running straight for me! We are so amazed by this and thank God she is beginning to understand to trust us.

We went to Marine World the other day and had an amazing time! We are really enjoying our family time and are starting to settle in.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Introducing our daughter!!!!

Ella Ruth Szabo

This is our daughter, Ella. She is sweet, sensitive, loves to cuddle and when she feels safe she is loud and playful! She loves to sing "I love you" from Barney randomly when she is happy. She can say mama (sounds more like yaya), dada, Ella and she is working on brother. She is a mamas girl but loves to play with daddy and brother, unless she is tired. She LOVES her middle two fingers and has raw skin between them from them being wet with slobber! We plan on working on this when we get home 😉 she loves to cuddle to sleep with her fingers and her other hand playing with hair. We got her a pink fuzzy elephant that she adores. We had to decapatate it though to get the rattle out after she kept rattling it in her sleep waking everyone up! She likes to play with toys and pull anything off shelves she can reach. She even knows how to drive a car on the floor! She will eat anything we give her ( one way to her daddy's heart) and never refuses food. She especially likes bread and other carbs :) the only thing we have found that she doesn't want to eat is ice cream or ice. She makes a sour face and spits it out if it is too cold. She sleeps for 2 naps a day and 12 hours at night. She rolls around and likes to kick us in her sleep but at least she is asleep! She likes to look into my eyes and has a beautiful smile. She is a gift from Jesus to our family and we can't wait to find out more about her!!!

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Bonding, stress and everything in between

We have had our girl for three nights now, we are so happy with how things are going! She is a great sleeper and are only complaint is that she sleeps too much! We remember back to Isaac's first days and how much he slept as well, so we are not alarmed. Attachment is hard work for our kids so sometimes they sleep a little bit extra. Our daughter is doing great, we can tell she is starting to relax but still has some anxieties. She has taken to me and, when she is tired, is a little leery of daddy. During the day though, they have had lots of good play time where she has opened up. Arnie has been amazing, maybe I'll write a whole post about him, he will never give up until he has earned her affection. He could so easily sit back and take a back seat, but he has chosen to be right in there with me winning over the love of his daughter. There is no doubt in my mind, that she will feel safe with him in no time, but for now we are being patient. Isaac has been a great big brother (he'd wants to be called Big Brother, not Isaac). He kisses her and plays with her. We can tell this has also been a transition for him as he has started to reject me and cling to daddy. This has been really hard for me, if I am to be honest, as I have never in my life worked for someone's love as much as I work for his. I am trying to be gracious but my fragile, breakable, mama heart is feeling it. He wants daddy to put him to sleep and he wants to sit by him and be carried by him. We don't want to have a divide between the children so we are careful to swap when we get the chance. Please pray for all of us in this light, as we all get used to being a family of four. We have been laying low in our guest house. It is beautiful here and has been such a gift to our family. We could have not picked a better place to start our family of four. Most people only stay one night here, as this is more of a passing through town, so we have the days to ourself on the compound. We have a little pool and a nice little yard that we spend the days playing in. We feel safe and like we can relax here. We have been doing little workouts in our room as all we do is eat and play we are feeling quite lazy! Today is our last full day as tomorrow is court. We are scheduled to be in court for 145 and then we are  doing the drive back to Durban right after. Please pray for safety on this drive and for our kids as we journey back. Well the lady is awake so I will cut this short :) Pictures and details will come tomorrow after we pass court!

Thursday, September 24, 2015

our first day together

Today we were allowed to take our girl out for the day. We arrived to pick her up at 830. Today was a holiday so no one was in the office, which meant we just walked right through the gate and straight into the baby house. When we arrived she was all dressed up in a fancy pink dress ready to start our day together. We stayed and said hi to all the kids then packed our little lady up. She was doing great until we put her in her car seat. She has never left the orphanage before, so this was a big deal for her. We should have been more aware of this being a big deal, but it honestly didn't cross my mind that she has never been in a car seat. She had a couple of tears, but I sat in the back between the kids so she stopped crying. She managed to fall asleep on our car ride to the guesthouse so I transferred her to the bed and we tried to let her nap. We laid beside her and basically bugged her until she woke up! Isaac did this same thing to us when we first brought him home, we were choked he had fallen asleep because we wanted to hang out. After she woke up we spent the day in the compound of our guesthouse, we didn't want to add anything to overwhelm her so we planned to lounge around for the day. Turns out our little girl was quite timid today. She was quiet and withdrawn. We carried her and snuggled her all day, which was a lot for her. She didn't want to play and made it clear she wanted to be held. She is an amazing cuddler, something Isaac is not!! She fell asleep on me in the afternoon so I laid with her on the couch for her nap. She woke up around 3 and by this point was very confused with where she was. I felt so bad for her. She was clinging to us and had a few little cries if one of us left the area she was in. We both held her but we knew she was stressed out. We decided to go back to the orphanage an hour early and play with her there for the hour. The minute we walked into the baby house, her face lit up. She turned into a completely different girl, she was playing with us, laughing and running around. We could not believe it, we had no idea she would be so aware of the change. We only had Isaac to gauge from and he was chill, but he was a little younger and I think he was used to just being left in his bed. Although it was a stressful day for our girl, we are happy that she has an attachment to her home, this means she will hopefully have the knowledge how to attach to her new home. We stayed for an hour playing with her, feeding her and giving her a bath then we kissed her goodbye for the night. It is a terrible feeling to hold your child and then have to say goodbye to them, but we know this will help her transition to us the smoothest. It did remind us of the huge change this is for her and to approach gently. Please pray for our girl as she goes through the biggest transition of her life...a transition many of us will never have to face and one that we do not want to think as easy. We plan to show up to the children's home tomorrow and repeat today, hopefully tomorrow will be a little easier on our sweet girl! Isaac was amazing again and was upset that his sister couldn't stay with for the night. We honestly didn't know he had this in him, he has been the sweetest big brother! We are so proud of him and praise him continually for being such a kind and thoughtful brother.
After we left the children's home, we went to find dinner. We promised the workers KFC tomorrow to thank them for their work so we went out in search of where we would need to go. We ended up at the shell station as they had a pizza place inside. Arnie decided he would go in alone and get food to go, so he locked Isaac and I in the car and went inside. As Isaac and I waited we watched all the people walking by...I was increasingly aware that we stand out and that we weren't really welcomed here. It's hard to say why I was feeling this and feeling afraid as well, but I was on high alert as we sat in the parking lot. I didn't say anything to arnie when he got in the car, the first thing he mentioned was how unwelcome we were here. So we are both on the same page. We have resolved to stay in our compound and go to the children's home and back and that is about it. There is a grocery store close by as well that we have been to, but we will not be venturing out further than that while we are here. Like I said in the last post, we have been warned by NUMEROUS people to stay safe, so we are not going to be very adventurous right now...after all we are here to get our daughter and focus on here so it all works out.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Holy Ground

Have you ever had a day, or maybe a moment, where you have felt you were standing on Holy ground? Well that was us today, we met our daughter. Standing in that baby room in the orphanage with my baby girl in my arms, looking at all the sweet, priceless, valuable babies all was Holy ground. Like stepping into one of those monumental churches with steeples, painted ceilings and stain glass windows. Only it was better, as if the presence of Jesus was so thick you could touch it.
But let me start at the beginning.
We arrived yesterday into Durban. It was a long day, about 26 hours of travelling, but we made it. We had booked a rental car and headed straight to the counter outside the airport. We loaded up the car and got in. Arnie was the designated driver because there was no way I would be driving on the wrong side of the road. Arnie was nervous, which in turn made me nervous, but after a few rounds around the parking lot to get used to driving we were off on the highway! We rented a GPS because we had no idea where we were going. After a few minutes the GPS battery light started to flash, we plugged it in and thought we were good. We made it to our guesthouse as the GPS turned off. We realized the cord wasn't charging it and now we had no GPS. We were ok though as we had made it to the guesthouse and now had wifi. We unloaded into our room, and immediately hit the bed. We set our alarm as we know from travelling, you never turn the lights out when your exhausted and expect to wake up after an hour! We were set to meet our social worker, Robyn, at 5pm so we set out in search of supper at the mall 5 minutes away. The mall is huge and so not what we expected to find in Africa, I kept saying, "This is not the Africa I know!" You can find anything here! We have been warned many times about safety and not going to certain places so we were happy to find a place we could roam about safely. We made it back to the B&B and met with Robyn. She is the kindest lady and I don't know how she does her job. She drives all over meeting people, going to orphanages and doing paperwork, she really has a heart of gold. After we met with her, we headed to our room to lounge. Realizing we won't be going out after dark anymore, we settled in to our room. We played around with Isaac on the bed, watched a movie and went to bed early.
This morning when we woke up, we were set to be in Ladysmith at the orphanage at 230pm. We were giving ourselves 3 hours to get there so we went to mall again to grab coffee and walk before we left. I loaded up a map to Ladysmith at the guest house but I erased it at the mall...this sent us into a bit of a panic spiral. We drove back to the guesthouse and I loaded the map again. At this point we were panicking over the GPS not working, and the fact that we were about to drive 3 hours on the wrong side of the road in a country we had never been to. We debated going back to the airport and throwing the GPS across the counter and yelling at someone about stranding us in the middle of nowhere...but we settled on following the loaded map and hoping for the best. Getting to the highway proved to be interesting....I think Arnie would use a different term...but my job was navigation and to randomly yell, "Stay left!" We arrived in Ladysmith about an hour early and were able to check into our new guesthouse. Being in a new country is overwhelming, especially when you have been warned man times about your safety. Upon driving into Ladysmith, we realized we were not in the safest town and I was panicking again. I had no idea what to expect from our guesthouse other than our friend, Laura, had stayed here last week and didn't say anything bad about it. Well it is beautiful here. We were shown to our loft room and I had a few tears. I know that sounds crazy, but I am bringing my baby here and I needed to know we would be safe. Our room is so cozy and the fact that it is up high in a loft above the main kitchen and dining hall is so nice. It feels so safe, that is why I had tears. I know I can bring our girl here and we would be ok.
Quickly after checking in we gathered some stuff, loaded a map and we were off. The orphanage turns out to be about 7 minutes away so we made it there quickly. Nerves were high and I was so excited we would finally meet our daughter. Isaac was excited too and had big plans on kissing and holding his sister. We went through the gate and into a large compound with many buildings. We went to the reception and checked in. We had no idea what to expect. The lady went and go the social worker who came to greet us. She took us straight to the baby room and said she wanted to see if we knew which one was our daughter before telling us. We walked into the room and there, standing in the middle, was the cutest, tiniest little girl. I knew right away she was ours and walked over and knelt to my knees. I let Isaac go to her first and stayed beside him. He went up to her and gave her a kiss on her tiny head, then he came back to me and put his head in my lap and did a funny dance. Next was my turn, I held out my hand to see if she would be ok if I touched her. She didn't seem upset so I went for it. I picked her up and gave her a kiss. She was so tiny and precious, she is the sweetest little girl. Next was Arnie's turn. I was making him take a video so I passed her to him. I could tell he was a little nervous but they were playing little games and she was not upset to be held by him either. We spent the next 2.5 hours playing with the kids and holding her.
 This is where i talk about Isaac. I had no idea how he would react, but he blew us away. He was so kind to the kids, sharing little snacks, handing them out to all the kids, playing with them and with his new sister. He asked to hold her and took her hand a couple of times to drag her across the room to me. I didn't know he completely understood what we were doing there, but he did. He knew that she was now his. My heart was so full watching him. When it was dinner time, he sat down and joined the crew for dinner. He sat at the little table across from the other little kids and ate his sandwich with them. He did such a good job, I was so proud of him. I wasn't sure if he would be overwhelmed, or scared to be there or worried about sharing us...but he seemed to be so understanding and trusting of us that we would not leave him. We made sure he had access to us even with all the kids climbing all over. He is such a confident boy and that shined today!
We were able to feed our girl and see her get her bath. I played with her and held her as much as she would allow. A few times she laid her head down on me and just rested. I thought she must be tired to have laid her head on me, but she didn't fall asleep...It dawned on me that maybe she was just cuddling! Whatever it was, I had the same feeling when I held Isaac, I knew we were going to be ok. She has moved right into our hearts and we are delighted that she will be ours forever. She is such a sweetheart, I don't know how we got chosen to be her parents, but we do not take it lightly.
Well, we are off to bed as we have an early morning and we get to have our girl with us for the day! It is a holiday here tomorrow so they said we should just take her for the day and bring her back for problem on our end with that!

Monday, February 23, 2015

Giving up control

Back to the waiting game of adoption.... Although the wait is different this time, there are so many things that remain the same. As I find time to sit and pray over this adoption, a theme keeps coming up in my heart: control. I like to control circumstances, control outcomes, control  the moment and just control my life. I don't like feeling out of control, I don't like leaving these things up to someone else... Even if that someone else is God. It's shameful to admit, but it's the truth, I catch myself so many times trying to write my own story. Trying to control this adoption, the outcome, the wait, picking dates I feel it should all happen in, etc, etc. Unlike pregnancy, I have zero control over taking care of my baby in utero. I can not take prenatal vitamins for the baby, I can not make sure the baby is getting folic acid, I can't avoid alcohol and drugs for the baby, I have zero control. This is hard for me, to think the control of my baby is in the hands of someone else. I can't go for regular check ups to make sure baby is doing ok, go for an ultrasound to see how baby is growing, I can't do any of that. All I can do is release control to God. He is the only one who can see all of that and he is the only one truly in control of the baby anyways. I'd love to control when our baby will come, what they will eat, how often they will be held, if they will cry it out or not, if they will be rocked to sleep, if they will be cuddled and kissed, if they will have their diaper changed, if they will be circumsized, if they will eat solids sooner than later, if they will be breastfed, if they will sit properly
In a car seat, if they will sleep in someone's arms or a crib... Honestly I could go on and on... Just think of all the decisions you make in your baby's first year of life. All the choices you make because you feel those choices matter and are what will be best for your baby in the long run. In adoption, these choices are made for me, and most of the time
are  choices I would not choose if I was given control. So I find myself in this hard place of trusting Jesus and panicking over every detail. I still mourn the loss of control over Isaacs first year, it's hard to let go. The only thing that makes this better is knowing that Jesus was and remains in control of our whole situation. This is the part of adoption they don't review in the workshops, that your social worker doesn't warn you about and the part, I honestly, just didn't premeditated. Yet it hit me like a tonne of bricks with isaac and is a daily issue as we wait for number two. Really all
I can pray is for God's grace on my
Life and on baby's life as we wait to see Gods story unfold.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Turning a corner

I've seen a change in Isaac over the past few months. It has been gradual and I almost didn't notice it. If you know my son, you know that he has one level of cry and that he is sensitive. He cries when he is hurt, loudly. His cry for over a papercut and his cry over scraped bloody knees is the same- LOUD. This is one part I have never really minded about him. I love to hold him when he cries. The other day, he fell and got scared and as I was holding him and rocking him, I noticed he put his head on my shoulder without me encouraging it. You may think I'm crazy for noticing this but only months previous he did not respond this way. He would use his arms to push against me and throw his head back. He reacted this way most of the time. I would hold him facing me and try to push his head gentle against me, he often resisted this. So you may understand my shock and joy when I noticed that he clung to me. He put his head down, wrapped his arms around me, and squeezed hard. I know this is small, but I feel it is so huge in our journey of attachment. He trusts me enough to wrap his arms around me instead of push me away.
On Sunday, as we walked down to the nursery, he asked me to pick him up. As I picked him up he stated, "you are my mama." I'm not sure what goes on in his mind but somehow I can see that I am becoming irreplaceable ...we are turning a corner and I'm so happy about it. 
Putting his arm around daddy to watch a movie.
The cutest kissing face!!