Odds and Ends


April 15th, 2009

I need to blog and I’ve got a lot of things I want to blog about but not much to say about each topic so let’s just cram them all into one post, shall we? Great.

  1. Milo goes to the audiologist tomorrow. Or maybe it’s the opthomologist. I don’t remember which. But he’s got appointments at both. Nothing serious just the routine stuff they do for infants who are born in the States. Mostly to get a baseline incase things come up later.
  2. Milo had giardia. It’s a gross little parasite that comes from drinking contaminated water or poor sanitation. Luckily in the States we have meds that can treat it but unfortunately the meds taste horrid and give the patient stomach cramps so he gets really pissed when we give him the meds three times a day.
  3. I go back to work on Monday. I’m looking forward to being back at work because I miss the routine and just being at work but I’ve heard (and seen) that my class has been less than stellar so Monday probably won’t be a super-happy-yeah-ms. abby’s-back kind of day. It’s going to be more of a oh-crap-we’re-in-so-much-trouble-we’re-lucky-if-we-even-hear-the-word-recess-again kind of day.
  4. School is out May 29. Which means there are only 29 days left of school. And one of those days is the end of the year field trip. One is the student coucil field trip. One is the class picnic. One is 8th grade graduation and one is kindergarten graduation. So it’s only 24 days left of teaching. But who’s counting?
  5. I’m working on a sweater for a friend’s baby. It’s almost done and I am really liking the yarn. I think I may have to make Lexi a sweater out of the same stuff.
  6. We met with our social worker today for our first post-placement report. And surprise, surprise there’s more paperwork.
  7. Yesterday I took both kids, by myself, to a friend’s house. It felt very grown-up to be dealing with a toddler and an infant and not losing my cool – even when the toddler pooped in her pants twice and the infant started scream while I was cleaning up the toddler.
  8. I’m really tired. My bedtime has officially moved from sometime around 11 to 9:15. Which means I’m up way past my bedtime.
  9. It’s spring. Windows can be open. Sun is shining and I can wear sandals again.

Thank You My Friends


March 7th, 2009

When we first started waiting for our referral I signed up for our agencies adoption forum. The group adopting from Ethiopia was huge. And for a while the people there remained as just people in the computer that had some good advice about all things adoption.

But after participating there for several months I started making friends with a group of people going through the exact same thing I was going through. Some of them I’ve met in real life, some of them I’ve only had e-mail contact with and some I still only talk to on the forum.

Yesterday we found out the Milo was sick. He has had acute gastroenteritis since  last week. He was put on 2 different antibiotics and is now showing some improvement. My head told me that this was nothing more than a stomach bug/intestinal thing but my heart went into a total panic about not being able to be with my boy while he is sick.

I posted the message on the forum and within about 45 minutes I had 20+ people e-mailing and responding to either offer their sympathy and prayers or to tell me about how their child went through a similar experience while still at the care center. The reassurance from friends was great but the reassurance from friends who have been there with their kids was exactly what I needed.

An Open Letter to Our Family & Friends


February 25th, 2009

An Open Letter to Our Family and Friends,

We’ve been on this adoption journey since the summer of 2007 and we’re almost there. As we write this, we’ve just cleared court and Milo Rahimeto Hendricks will be coming home on March 27. We’re beyond excited.

Before all the crazyness of travel and bringing Milo home sets in, we wanted to share with you some of our expectations and rules. This adoption thing is new and exciting for us, but there’s also a lot to learn. We want to share some of that with you ahead of time and explain the rationale behind our choices. We’re always open to questions, but we may not be very receptive to those questions after 18 hours on a plane with a screaming infant. Hopefully this will resolve some of that.

Language
First and foremost, we need to be sensitive with the language we use to talk about adoption. We’ve brought up a lot of these issues already, but it’s good to be reminded and will become even more important when Milo is home and as both Milo and Lexi hear you talk about adoption.

Some examples of language to avoid:

• “own child” – (example: “Why don’t you want your own child?’). Milo is our own child. Just as we are God’s children or Jesus called Joseph his father without a biological relationship, Milo is our own child regardless of a genetic connection. If you need to speak about a specific, genetic relationship, please use terms like “biological child” or “birth child”.
• “real” – (example: “Where are his real parents?”). We are Milo’s real parents. If someone asks you that question, please correct them by saying, “Kevin and Abby are his real parents.” Instead use terms like “biological family” or “birth mother”.
• Introducing Milo as our “adopted child” is unnecessary. It will be pretty obvious that he was adopted, but more importantly a statement like that can imply that he’s somehow second rate (did you introduce Lexi as our “biological child”?).
• “Orphanage” – This term isn’t offensive, but it can have negative connotations and people can make assumptions about the level of care received.  Please use the term “care center” instead. (For the record, Milo received better care and attention in Ethiopia than he would have as an infant in daycare in the United States.)
• “Third World Country” – Please use the term “developing country” instead as this is the politically correct term for countries such as Ethiopia.

Milo’s Story
The story of how Milo was placed for adoption and what happened to his birth family are private and personal. We’ve decided not to share that information at this point in time. This is sacred information to an adopted child and we want to be sensitive to Milo and make sure he learns his own story in the proper time and in the proper context. The only way to ensure that happens is to protect his story.

We realize this makes for a difficult situation. Even Lexi will be curious about Milo’s story, but we don’t want her to know the story before Milo does. As kids do, she could taunt him with details of that story and deprive him of learning about his own past in the proper context.

This is all about protecting Milo and helping him to understand and appreciate his story. And it won’t be easy. More than likely we’ll end up telling him bits and pieces or generalized versions of the story as he’s old enough, and then it will be up to him whether or not he wants to share those pieces of the story with you. If he asks you questions that you can’t answer, simply tell him to ask us.

We hope you’ll understand our reasoning and give us grace as we try to sort out what we can share, with who, when.

Coming Home
One of the biggest challenges we’ll face is the need to bond with Milo. Thankfully he’s very young and that should help the transition, but it will still be a challenge. He’s likely to regress and need to re-learn basic skills.

Because of the importance of forming a quick and strong attachment with Milo, we’ll be doing things a bit differently than we did with Lexi. We’re going to seem rather over-protective, but it’s all in the name of forming an attachment with Milo so he can feel safe and thrive in our family. We’ve done a lot of research on this, so we hope you’ll trust us and not second guess our choices.

What does that mean? It means we’ll be promoting attachment with Milo in a number of ways, including:

• Sleeping in our room/bed.
• Baby wearing. We’ll be holding or carrying Milo as much as possible. Lots of time will be spent in a sling.
• “Funneling” techniques. This is a big one. The basic idea is that we need to be the only source for Milo’s needs. Everything needs to be funneled through us. This means all feeding, changing, holding, comforting, bathing, dressing, etc. needs to be done by us. Don’t worry—this won’t last forever. It’s only during the initial attachment period, and often the younger the child the shorter this period needs to be. You will get to spend plenty of time with Milo, but he’ll need to be in our care. There won’t be the usual game of ‘pass the baby’ (you may not even get to hold Milo when we first come home) until that attachment is firmly established. And we don’t know how long that will take, so please be patient with us. Trust us, as soon as Milo’s ready we’ll be happy to let you change his diaper and comfort him when he’s crying. But until then we have to be the ones to meet his basic needs.
• Cocooning. When we first bring Milo home everything in his short life will have completely changed. One way to minimize that trauma is to minimize additional new experiences. A good way to do that is to bunker down at home and not introduce him to lots of new places. For the first few weeks or months at home we might not go anywhere or do anything. Limiting new experiences also means meeting new people. This will depend on Milo’s personality, but we may need to take it easy with visitors at first. You will get to meet Milo right away, but we may need to keep those visits short at first.
• Bonding with Lexi. Milo and Lexi will also need to bond to one another and we’ll undoubtedly face some jealousy and regression from Lexi as she gets used to losing her place as the only child. While it’d be tempting to let others take care of Lexi while we deal with Milo, that won’t always be helpful. We’ll probably have to do some of that to preserve our sanity, but we need to be sure that Lexi has her time with Mom and Dad and her new brother.

These are just a few of the ways that we’ll be working on bonding with Milo. We’ll need your help as we go through this, but unfortunately that help will likely mean doing things around the house as opposed to holding the cute baby.

Racial Issues
We’re now a multi-cultural and multi-racial family. There are a lot of issues that can come up here and we want to be open and honest about them. More than anything it’s important to keep an open mind about racial issues. We’re all learning here.

As an example, it’s important that Milo see people and families who physically look like him and his family in his books and toys. This is also important for Lexi. As a family (and really as people) we should be celebrating diversity. That means all races and cultures, not just black and white. For example, it’ll be kind of weird if Lexi always gets a white baby and Milo always gets a black baby. They’ll both need diverse toys. This is more our responsibility as parents, but we bring it up just as something to keep in mind. Diversity is the goal, and as Abby has always said about her classroom, it’s not diverse if everyone is black.

We also need to be clear that we will not tolerate racism. We will not put up with any prejudice or racist comment of any kind about any group of people. We hope that you will also not allow negative, hurtful, racist, or bigoted statements to go unchallenged. Our family will have a zero tolerance policy to these kinds of comments. That may mean confronting someone immediately or simply leaving a situation completely and dealing with the person later. This is non-negotiable. We understand this may be a difficult issue for some, and we’re more than willing to educate and promote understanding, but we will not tolerate continued racist comments or attitudes, whether they’re directed at Milo or not.

In relation to that, we will be working very hard to keep Ethiopian culture alive for Milo. We hope that you will respect and encourage that as well as this culture is now part of our family’s culture. We will not tolerate any negative statements about Ethiopia, her people, culture or food.

In Closing
If you have any questions please feel free to ask us. Part of being adoptive parents is helping to educate others in adoption and it’s a role we take very seriously. Ask the hard questions and we will do our best to give you an honest answer. If it is too personal we will simply say “that’s not something we are willing to share” and leave it at that. We want you to be familiar and comfortable with this whole process and talking about it before jetlag sets in is the best time.

Finally, thank you. You have all supported us through this long and tiring process and that means the world. We’re almost there and we know you’ll continue to support us and help us welcome Milo into our family.

Love,

Kevin & Abby

——-

If you are interested in any of our resources these books were a huge help to us during the process:

The Weaver’s Craft

There is No Me Without You

Attaching in Adoption

Adoption Parenting: Creating a Toolbox, Building Connections

I am Chocolate, You are Vanilla

Should Parenting Be Discussed?


January 22nd, 2009

I recently had a conversation regarding whether or not parenting is a topic that is open for discussion. I’m of the opinion that parenting is a topic that should be discussed (and among several of my friends it’s one of our most exhaustive subjects) but I know others feel that it is a topic not open for discussion.

I should clarify when I say ‘parenting’ I’m referring to all aspects of parenting – from the abstract styles of parenting (what do you think of this style parenting vs. that style) to the specific (we do _____ with Lexi because….I noticed you do ______with little Stanly. Does that work well for you? Why did you decide to do that?)

I tend to lean towards the philosophy of “It Takes A Village” when it comes to parenting my child. I want to know what others do and why they do it. I also appreciate it when people ask me why we do things with our kids the way we do. Often times those are tough questions to answer but having to answer them makes me re-evaluate what I’m doing as a parent and decide if it’s something I should keep doing or if changes need to be made.

I don’t think a person can tell someone how to raise their family. But I think discussing parenting and even offering advice on the topic can be beneficial. And if advice is going to be given it has to be received as well. It’s a package deal. It also needs to be done carefully. Don’t give me advice on how to handle a temper tantrum when I’m wrestling a screaming and kicking 3-year-old into her coat and carrying her out the door. But when we are hanging out and things are peaceful feel free to bring up that time you saw me wresting her into her coat and tell me about when you had to do the same thing and how you handled it.

Personally, I learn best from watching others and hearing their experiences than I do from reading all kinds of parenting books and articles. What about the rest of you? How often do you discuss parenting with others? How personal do you get when you discuss it?

Even when she’s sick, she’s cute.


September 6th, 2008

Lexi woke up at 10 this morning. And that’s never a good sign. That usually means a sick day is upon us. Sure enough, I went into her room and she had thrown up. Here’s how our conversation went:

Me: Did you throw up?

L: Yeah. I froed up on my jammas and my bed. Can you get me my bucket. I’m supposed to fro up in my bucket.

Me: Let’s get you cleaned up.

L: Then I need to go downstairs and watch T.V. in my chair with my towel and I’ll fall asleep in my chair. I want to watch the Jonah movie and then the Muppet Show.

Me: uh…okay. Good to see you have a plan.

Potty Training in a Day


August 4th, 2008

So, the reason for our trip to Target. Tomorrow Lexi is getting potty trained and we needed supplies. I read a book called Potty Train Your Child in One Day. And I’ve also had quite a few people recommend this method. At this point, I’m willing to try anything

We went to Target to get supplies for tomorrow’s “potty party”. Yup, we’re having a potty party. It’s Elmo themed. The basic concept behind the book is that your child wakes up to a party at their house. They get a present which is a new “big kid” doll. And the doll wears big kid underwear. Preferably underwear that matches the big kid underwear they will be receiving later in the day. You spend the morning having your child “potty train” the doll. So, yes, the doll has to sit on the toilet, sometimes has accidents, gets rewards for staying dry – the whole bit. Then after lunch/nap your child gets big kid underwear and it’s her turn to sort of practiced what she preached all morning long. On top of that, you feed them juice and water and fruit and smoothies and anything else that will make them need to pee more than normal so they can have more success at it. At the end of the day, they get a big reward and you repeat the process the next day with less fanfare. (No party, but still little rewards here and there).

Oh and Lexi’s party is Elmo themed because a) I can draw a semi-decent Elmo b) she’s in love with her Elmo underwear that she picked out and c) I had some random Elmo fabric that I can make “big kid” underwear for her doll. That and her little toilet seat ring to make the hole smaller has Elmo all over it.

I’ll let you know how it goes.

Baby Tattoos


July 11th, 2008

Those of you who know me and have been in public with me and Lexi know that I don’t worry too much about her running off. Okay, that sounds like she never runs off. Not true. The kid takes off like a rocket all the time. I just don’t worry about it too much because she’s so loud that I can find her no matter how far away she is.

These might come in handy. At first it seemed a little close to micro-chipping my kid, but then I realized that if Lexi ever were truly lost, she’d really have no way of telling anyone any information that would be of any help. And as a classroom teacher, these would be great on a field trip (as it is, we always put a piece of tape on the kids’ backs with the school name and our cell phone numbers and those have come in handy on a few occasions).

Lexi’s Afternoon


June 12th, 2008

Here’s Lexi’s afternoon, from about 4:00 p.m. until 8:30 p.m.

4:00 – 4:45 She stood at the kitchen sink playing with bubbles and water. And the kitchen rug, counter top and her shirt look like a tidal wave hit. Oh well. It’s just water. It’ll dry and tomorrow I was planning on washing the floor.

Before that she unloaded about half her toy baskets into her bed. No clue why but she was entertained, happy, and completely focused on something for over an hour.

4:45 – 6:00 We ate dinner. She tried to entertain the restaurant and then offered to cut everyone’s food.

6:00 – 6:30 Took a bath. Repeatedly put cups on her head and called herself a birthday cake.

6:30 – 7:00 Took all the couch cushins off the couch and piled them on the floor. Tried to get Mazie to sleep on the “bed” she built but Maize wasn’t having it.

7:00 – 7:30 She wanted to color. With markers. I gave her a box of markers and a huge piece of paper. She colored happily for about 30 minutes. She also got some on the table (on accident) and her hands are very rainbow colored but it all washes off (and she liked washing it all off too). Should’ve waited with the bath.

7:30 -7:45 Now she’s back at the sink again – more bubbles and water. My favorite part was when she set the cup with holes in the bottom on the counter and tried over and over to fill it up. Took her about 3 tries to realize there were holes in the bottom and water pouring on her feet.

7:45 – 8:00 Okay done with bubbles again. Now all the toys that are on the living room floor are going into her doll buggy because the baby wants them. Nevermind. There back on the floor again.

8:00 – 8:11 Went into her room packed up several little back-packs and bags with her toys (for the baby) and is back to piling them on top of the baby in the buggy. The baby has just been dumped on the floor because “the baby is crying and doesn’t want the toys”.

8:11 – 8:12 Pulling empty yogurt containers from the Tupperware drawer and filling them with water to feed the baby. (Which really means she almost dumped a cup full of water on her doll’s head.)

8:12 – 8:14 Back in her room. Came back out wearing 2 necklaces and a bracelet. And all her doll house furniture is shoved in a backpack that she is desperately trying to zip shut.

8:15 – 8:30 (This has not happened yet, just a prediction) Bedtime. I tell her it’s bedtime. She runs, yelling no and telling me she can’t because she’s “finishing.” I put her to bed and tomorrow the day starts all over again. (Which by the way, today started with her shouting over the baby monitor “Daddy! Hey Daddy! Come get me out of this bed now!)

And you wonder why parents of toddlers are tired.

Free-Range or Helicopters?


April 28th, 2008

I’m a free-range parent. I’m a big fan of letting kids become independent. I don’t like to hover over her. When we go shopping I don’t insist that she stay in a stroller or keep her on one of those kid leashes, she wanders around, picks things up, sometimes gets out of my sight and comes back when I ask her. I didn’t do too much baby-proofing. We put those locks on the cupboard and the little plugs in the outlets. There’s a baby-gate at the top of the basement stairs but it’s rarely closed.

I don’t panic about dirt and germs. When her nuk dropped on the floor, I just picked it up and gave it back. My kid is the one who spills her box of raisins on the floor and then sits down to pick them up and eat them

She climbs stairs by herself, without us watching and plays in the rooms that we aren’t in.

When she’s older she’ll get to stay home by herself. She’ll ride her bike to the park. She’ll take the bus to friends’ houses.

I’ll teach her about strangers and crossing the street safely. She’ll always wear a bike helmet and wear her seatbelt. But I think she’ll enjoy her life much more with out me hovering over her worrying about if she’s hot, cold, tired, hungry, thirsty, if the kids aren’t sharing, if people aren’t being nice, or that they didn’t get the toy they wanted.

Baby Care Simplified


March 2nd, 2008

For those of us who don’t want to read the entire Dr. Sear’s Library.

Simple and straight to the point.