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!