Sunday, February 17, 2013

Waiting Mom Life Book Ideas

When I was trying to plan the life books for the girls, I could not find many templates that I could do without knowing what pictures I would have and or the colour scheme. So I decided to create my own. I started with adoption sites and honestly I could not find many. There are a gazillion scrapbook sites...oh my.....a gazillion. Life books were few and far between but less that were free.
So I set about creating the pages I thought would work for our family. Then I created pages that I could fill in after we came home. There was time before and there has been very little time since. I am not complaining, but now I am printing pics, the girls are having a blast looking at the early days and it was only six months ago. They have grown, they have changed, and they have new friends and yet do not want to forget their friends pre coming home.
We have since added pages for friends and we have added art work they have done, we have added cd's or dvds in pouches that were made. It has been fun completing the pages with the girls. Especially the page of "Monkeys jumping on the bed" they remembered in Kinshasa how we took pics of them jumping on the bed and video, and then we had to watch short videos of those early days.
We have added their own printing, we have been blessed with family information for the family tree and we have made each side of the tree first family and family now. We have purchased some of the great adoption pages from a online scrapbook store.



I have covered up the personal information and so there is hearts, happy faces and word bubbles to protect our girls. Please do not share these pages on the internet. If there is a special page you would like the still image of so you can remember...I did that...collected images of pages that I liked, please message me at hearts4africa@ymail.com



Saturday, February 16, 2013

Building bridges of trust, through play and time spent


 Every now and then my heart is racing too fast,  I am frustrated, stressed out because I am late. Being late bothers me, I hate being late to meet someone or for an appointment. I am the one lurking around the parking lot early because I do not want to be late.

The other day I went as always to the bus stop to pick up Miss G and some days if I am really busy at home, I set a timer to go off so I am not late. Somewhat anal about late but in this case it is most important, because my little girl would be on the side of the road and scared I had left her.
It is this sense of abandonment and fear that works both ways; each day I am at the bus stop on time, it builds trust. Trust one of the major stepping stones to attachment.
There I said it..the "a" word.....attachment...the crazy word that we adoptive parents read every book we can find, prior to our children coming home but then forget half of it because we are living in the moment.
Life is ever changing but, there is seldom routine that doesn't grow or morph into something else for us. When we were in the ever spiralling downward vortex of waiting, it seemed that attachment was BIG. It was SCARY. It was something we needed to WORK ON. It was the catch phrase you chatted about to other adoptive parents.

Now I can honestly say we spent less time trying to build attachment and more time just being and building relationships, building trust and playing. We had many weeks where things were pretty rough and we were thinking "what about attachment....we need to do time in and not time out" Bah humbug. Again it may work for you, but we needed to do what we felt was right and we felt we could do consistently and calmly.
Attachment is a process and one that is a continuum, it doesn't happen in the first days or first weeks or first months, it happens when there is relationship and there is trust and there is love, and it happens without being noticed.
Do our kids know and respect us as parents, yes.
Do they come to us when scared, hungry or hurt, yes
Do they watch where we are in a room and feel safe, yes.
They are attaching.
Thankfully we didn't have to do any of the fifteen step plans some books laid out. We just had to keep loving, believing, praying over and building trust honouring the commitment to  take care of all of their needs. Attachment came.

We are learning and we are loving two littles every day. I love it. I love the simple prayers of  thank you Jesus for mommy and daddy and for pancakes!

I love answering the questions..why did God give you two girls...why can't you just stop parenting me...how come daddy gets coke at dinner...yep they just keep coming. Some simple, some deep...why did God spare Ramses, when he could have drowned him in the sea for not believing....Do you think Ramses learned his lesson? I don't know all the answers but I do know that having time to spend just sitting around, chatting, is a gift.

There are many days that the yard or house is unkept, there are many nights when fatigue over takes common sense and we have gone swimming or skating on a school night. There are days when staying in pjs's until noon because we really have nothing that "has" to be done . There are days when we sit in the driveway inside the car, solving something without breaking up the moment.

I think finding the spot where nothing else matters but them, has made the road simpler and easier to navigate. I rarely think of attachment or spend time re reading the books. I know where something is located so I can if I want to, but honestly spending time sitting on the floor with them is a better strategy. If they are tired, have fear or anxiety over something, if they are grieving the losses in their life, time is the healer. Trust gives them the ability to share intimate details and time spent makes them feel heard. Being heard and trusted, and time will heal parts of their broken hearts.

I have spent a ton of time making time for the girls, now we are working in, the details of things we have to do and they can do them with us, and eventually we will move to a place where the girls fit into our schedule. Not that I am saying they don't fit, but a time where we do not need to intentionally parent or problem solve any flags before doing. More spontaneous and less structure is next up.

Home seven months...and like I said, our lives change daily!

Note: I am in no way trying to minimize the struggle parents with children dealing with attachment related behaviours, but I am clearly hoping that someone will walk away from this saying..Phew...I don't need to read another book, because every kid is different and I am just going to need to figure out what works best!


Friday, February 8, 2013

How do you eat an elephant..one bite at a time!

I remember this week a year ago and I cannot for the life of me remember how my work life was going because everything revolved around adoption thinking. The girls were officially ours..we had confirmation in front of us that had our names and theirs, we had passed court and here it was; we were going to be parents again!  I do remember thinking there are still so many what ifs, I do remember wondering, do I tell anyone, do I wait, do we not share until we are actually getting on the plane or do we share once we are on our way home. A million little details ran through my head, what do i do next, who do i tell.

 Then it hit me, this adoption was like eating an elephant and I was only at the knee, I had crawled off the foot of a referral and painstakingly waiting for a long list of papers as we crawled up the shin. Yes we were at the knee, but did we have the strength to keep going. We were weary, our emotions completely wrung out, the dark days of January and the endless rain made it all seem worse than it was.
Here is a excerpt from a blog post at this time last year.....
I struggle with answering "fine" when someone asks...but do they really want to know? We are not fine, we are tired, emotional, drained, seek news at every moment, log onto the email too many times to mention, Forever in our arms has already begun. We can feel them and imagine them here with us...then I go on to say...
I have heard international adoption is not for the faint of heart, ...jumping out of an airplane without a parachute is not for the faint of heart, chasing tornadoes, feeding sharks, ...but I could not imagine how far we had come and yet the end was still not in the distance. You see then I was eating the elephant but what I failed to notice is our family and friends eating right along side of us.

The waiting is such a difficult part. We were also waiting on the first family from BC to go and get their children and because it was a pilot project it all just seemed to precarious for my "in control" personality.

I did write on a Face Book post today, I am 50 years old, the process nearly killed us, would I do it again, yes if I was younger, but honestly I believe God would have to knock pretty darn loud on my door for us to hear it loud and clear. I am just smart enough to not say never again.

Waiting was one of the hardest things we have ever done as a couple, and we have had to make some tough decisions in our marriage. Our elephant was chewy, it was big, it was slippery, because every now and then we slid back down a few steps, but ultimately we made it through. It was hard eating!

Waiting is misunderstood and it most often down played, "Oh more time to decorate or do life books, or work and make money. " No thanks, I don't need more time, I need my kiddos home! We have a song we sing in church, one of the lines is...there is no place I would rather be...picture Feb 2012 and me in the second to the front row, gasping and sobbing, because how could I sing it, there was someplace I would rather be.





Our girls light up our world,  hasten our steps, challenge our parenting skills, and allow us to remain faithfully His in every sense of the word. We could not and continue to do not without His help. It is that simple. How do others do it? They must just be very competitive or have great support networks and believe in something powerful and positive. 


I am so thankful the other day I heard the song again and I sang my heart out, no there was no place I would rather be...here with my girls...same seat, same day of the week, same man sitting beside (lucky me) same pastor, and most likely same worship band, but there was a difference...I had eaten the elephant, and although I had a 27 month pregnancy, (like an elephant) we had two little heads bopping to the music and lifting their hands in worship.

Take that elephant!





Saturday, February 2, 2013

...happy hellos and sad goodbyes...

"Why can't we get all the people together in the world that we really like and then just stay together?  I guess that wouldn't work.  Someone would leave.  Someone always leaves.  Then we would have to say good-bye.  I hate good-byes.  I know what I need.  I need more hellos." –Charles M. Schulz

In my story Carry Me to Kinshasa I wrote a line about sad goodbyes and how each sad goodbye is followed by a happy hello. At the time I had not read this quote nor had my children come home so I was unaware exactly how impacting good byes would be. It was a way to say to children I know good byes are sad, but they are inevitable. For  children who are adopted,  it is part of their journey. Whether you are born in Canada, Russia, the USA,  Haiti and any other country for that matter, and adopted into another family, there was at least one goodbye.

I hate goodbyes. I just said goodbye to a dear friend and her family. I worked on it at least ten times in the weeks previous to them moving. I wanted it to be joyful as they embarked on their new adventure, but every time I thought about another goodbye I teared. I pulled it off by promptly declaring I am not going to cry and then not getting eye contact. Worked! But I still miss you guys!

I have also said goodbye to friends and family that have passed away or those that I know I will never see again.  It is the forever gone that our daughters struggle with. Is it forever?  Who knows, but realistically it could be. Our daughters miss their family and friends and their country and their culture. They do not dwell on it, nor do they pine away, or cry inconsolably. Every now and then I catch a glimpse of recollection or remember and I see they go somewhere. Perhaps to a time or a place that was happy and often a really great story follows or a song or an action and some Lingala and we all laugh at the memory. 

Memories are good, they make our goodbyes seem less hurtful. If you can go there in your heart, you can almost feel it. But memories are also hard to bear. Our girls have said goodbye to, too many people in their short lives; and that hurts a momma's heart. I wish I could protect them,  I wish I could shelter them, I wish I could promise I will never say goodbye, but I can't. 

Our bigs visit us often and the simple few minutes of saying goodbye has often been filled with anger and fear. Appropriate responses....absolutely.  We recently had a conversation about a country song that was playing. Miss G asked what does live like die mean, I told her it was ... live like you were dying. It means live a life without regrets, live a life of hope and dreams, plan for the future, and leave no relationship in a hurtful way. Be kind to everyone and don't say you can't...tackle challenges with ...why not. 

She pondered my thoughts and asked me if I did that. I said no, not all the time. I sometimes forget to look at the bright side. (enter English idioms and half full vs half empty...long conversation) then I said I wish I could be better at it. She smiled and said me too. I wish people would not come, because then they would not have to go. I agreed, missing auntie or the  bigs was always hard for me too. We talked about goodbyes and how we say "I love you" and "see you soon" and hug them goodbye. She mentioned what if it was the last time you hugged them, very matter of fact. I teared because I felt so inadequate to try and explain a mother's heart for her kids to a child whose mother loved her. With a large lump in my throat, I said the only thing I could think of and that was...I never take the chance, and I always say goodbye with a hug and I love you. 

You see goodbyes in our house have taken on a whole new meaning for us and it is a good thing or a "God" thing. We needed to see through their eyes and their hearts and hear what they were saying in order to truly understand the depth of the fear in their goodbyes. God showed us through a goodbye, some country music and a chat, he refilled our compassion tank for all the fatigue that comes along with parenting littles, and He gave us a new perspective. 

I pray that one day we will all return to their birth country and walk the streets they did as children. For now we can pray for our family here and in Kinshasa and we can pray for safety and protection, and we can pray that hearts will be filled with happy hellos. 


Hug someone today, call up a family member and say I love you. Say three happy hellos to random strangers and then tell me if that didn't make you feel good. Fill your world with happy hellos and let me know how it worked for you!