Thursday, July 30, 2009

Wordless Wednesday-A Day Late

That was easy...

What's this?! I can climb from my little bed to this big bed? Weeeeeeee!

Hmm. Let me try it out.

This feels a little different...

Let me try it out some more.

HE HE HE this is SOOOOOO FUN! (He seriously would not stop giggling!)

Nah, maybe I'll sleep in my little bed.

Now how did I get up here again?


Somewhere in there I pulled the little bed away from the big bed and put a step stool down for him to get up there. He climbed up like a champ. He's got up and down just fine. Now why was I so worried? When Jer came home, AJ showed Daddy his new bed and how he gets in and out. So cute.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Reflection: Part 8

When Mom and I arrived home, I went into full nesting mode. I must have packed and repacked AJ's suitcase a hundred times.

July 10th, 2007 Received word the adoption decree had been recorded and AJ now had a passport

July 13th, 2007
Recieved word we were submitted to the US Embassy on July 11th

July 20th, 2007 PINK! Received US Embassy appointment date set for Monday, July 30th. We were finally able to make our travel plans. Talk about quick!

This time around we chose to work with a fantastic travel agency, specializing in adoption travel to Central America. Are we glad we did! Since our Embassy appointment was on a Monday, we had to take custody of AJ by the Friday before, which made our travel plans quite challenging.

We flew out of Milwaukee on Wednesday, July 25th. We arrived in Guatemala around 11pm that night. In the "travel guide" you are given as prospective adoptive parents, they discourage you from flying in late at night. Well, when you have 4 days between when you receive PINK and fly out, you take what you can get. Another "suggestion" is not to take the taxi cabs outside the arrival area at the airport. Well, our regular taxi driver never showed. We took a wrong turn somewhere off the main street our hotel is located on. I'm still not sure how I figured this out, but I realized we were going in the wrong direction.

Soon we were driving down this dark, and I mean dark, alley. Um, where are we going?!!! I tried to quickly gather my spanish vocabulary and managed to say, "No, no. Casa Grande. Estados Unidos Embajo....(think of a directional word)....derecho!" The cab drivers understanding of English was very limited. He had thought I had said "Casa Viaje". Um, NO!

We made it to our hotel and I've never been so happy to see that place. It was the first and only time we ever felt scared in Guatemala. (Ok the anti-Bush protest right next to our hotel (in front of the US Embassy) that we drove through as we left from our first visit was a little scary). We tried to settle in. When we arrived a bag was waiting for us at the front desk from another adoptive Dad. We were picking up our boys at the same time. He had brought down their half of the gifts we were putting together for the orphange staff. I sat down and started stuffing the bags. We made little "bath/body" bags for each of the nineras (caregivers) and slipped in a handmade card that said thank you from "AJ and Adrian's Families". It was a great way to decompress after our not so fun "tour" of the city.

We were excited for tomorrow to come get ready for our tour of Antigua the following day. Adoptive parents are encouraged not to tour/go out of the hotels with their children. So, we thought before we get AJ on Friday, lets do a day tour of Antigua. We are so glad we did!

Reflection: Part 7

Wednesday, June 27, 2007
Mommy & 'Drama's Last Day with You

It is Wednesday night...we said goodbye to you about three hours ago. Today was a much better day with you.

You had a bit of a rough night-went to bed at 7pm-woke up at 10pm to eat-then you woke up at 3am and were very unhappy. It took you a good hour to go back to sleep. You then slept until almost 10am! You got up and we fed you-then gave you a bath-you were not happy!!!
Mommy thought this was interesting since you loved bathtime during our last visit.

Since Mommy and 'Drama's dinner and dessert (ice cream) got cold and melted last night due to our exciting news from PGN, we had no way to do your birthday dinner. So, we improvised and put your "1" candle in your pancakes-ok Mommy's pancakes. We sang "Happy Birthday" to you and we blew out your candle. :)

3pm rolled around and we got ready to take you back to the orphange. Mommy and 'Drama sat outside for about a half our with you while we waited for Roberto to pick us up. The atmosphere was great. We sat and enjoyed the breeze and the fountain in the courtyard.
We lifted you high in the air and made you laugh! Roberto came and the first thing he asked us was if we had talked to our agency. I said YES! He handed me a copy of the PGN opinion and also shared that your friend Timmy had gotten out of PGN THE SAME DAY!

We rode back to the orphange and this time, Mommy handed you back to Sylvia with a smile on her face. I knew we'd be returning soon to bring you home forever. The look on Sylvia's face was priceless when she saw you again. She spoke to you in Spanish and your face lite up when you saw her. We asked to take pictures of some of the other waiting children. We can't wait to bring you home little man!!


This visit was such a great experience. It gave me a chance to spend some one on one time with my own Mom and seeing her meet her grandson was priceless. I remember she put a paperback book next to him and compared the size. :) There is/was something about being in Guatemala. A slower pace of life, while hard to get used to at first, we welcomed each trip after. The kindness and humble spirits of the Guatemalan people. The staff at the hotel, especially the front desk were amazing. They helped you with anything and everything. We were able to spend more time with AJ, which revealed some not so great things, but gave me a chance to enjoy my son without trying to cram it all into 24 hours.

It was also bittersweet as we met many families who were all in the same boat...we were all waiting for PGN. As much as I wanted to run across the dining area and scream "YAY were out!", there were many families eating with and without their children. Knowing how that feels, I knew that wasn't appropriate. The concept of why a family who is "IN" for 8 weeks gets out when another family who has been in for 16 weeks and kicked out twice and is still "IN" makes no sense.

When we went back to the orphange and took pictures for other waiting families, we met some of the older children in the front courtyard. When those children come up to you and exclaim "Hola! Hola!", it is the most sweet and innocent action combined with such sadness. My Mom and I left wanting to put them all on the plane with us.

I had also brought "Diego" themed plates and party hats to celebrate AJ's birthday with other families visiting at the hotel. When I realized he still wasn't sitting up, eating solids, or anyhting else I was hoping he might be doing, his birthday celebration sort of went down the tubes. I still watch the video of his birthday pancakes and feel sad. This visit showed us he was an orphange baby and would need lots of love and a bit of therapy when he got home. Not so bad we thought. We had already been in touch with the new pediatrician starting her practice at Jeremy's clinic and we had everything in place for him to get involved in Birth to Three and see a Development Specialist. He was a premie. He's been in group care. He's going to be developmentally behind a bit. Yep. Not so bad.

On AJ's actual birthday, we flew home. On our flight from Charlotte, NC to Milwaukee, we flew over Lake Michigan. I saw the fireworks over the Summerfest grounds and wished my baby boy a very happy birthday and whispered, "We'll see you soon."

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Reflection: Part 6

The months dragged on and we still didn't have approval from PGN. Do some of you remember those infamous three letters?! PGN (Procuradoria General de la Nacion) is the Attorney General of Guatemala. They have the final say in all adoption cases. May creeped up on us and we made the decision that one of us should make another visit trip for AJ's 1st Birthday in June. Jeremy was not able to take the time off of work for another visit plus the pick-up trip in the future. We asked my Mom to accompany me on this visit-she had her passport and time off of work in no time! Before we left we decided to ask the orphange if there was anything we could bring down that they needed. We sent out an email to our family and friends, putting out the call for needed items. We collected a lot of cold medicine, infant pain relievers, triple antibiotic ointment, bandaids, first aid kits, etc. and had enough to pack an entire suitcase! Our agency also asked us to take two duffels full of teddy bears and gifts for waiting children from their families. As a waiting family, you were allowed to fill one gallon size zip lock bag with small items for your child. Here is the bag we sent to AJ early in our'd be amazed what you can fit a bag that size if you are creative and work at it! In an earlier post you saw a book in AJ's bassinet?? That was the book of pictures we sent in his gift bag)

We were able to visit with AJ for three days. We arrived on a Sunday, had AJ Monday through Wednesday, and then flew home Thursday. Here is another excerpt from my journal:

Tuesday, June 26, 2007
Our 2nd Visit Trip

Mommy's heart is breaking as she's writing this...


Let me start from the beginning.... We entered PGN on April 30th so we were 7 weeks in when 'Drama and I arrived on Sunday. What a long trip! We picked you up at 10:00am on Monday morning and you just looked so cute...still small as ever! Sylvia was holding you when we arrived.

When we got you back to the hotel, we started noticing things. You have begun to show signs of orphange life. This really bothered Mommy.
I was not able to feed you unless I laid you on your back and held the bottle as if it was propped. You also scratch & pull your hair and skin and bang your head in the crib. Self-soothing is what we grown-ups call it. You still aren't eating solids. You weren't the first time we visited either. We had hoped you would be on solid foods. This is a major factor as to why you are so tiny. You were sick again too. I snapped the cutest picture of you and 'Drama, both in your PJ's (pajamas).

Today was a better day for you. you allowed me to feed you as long as I fed you on the couch outside our room. I don't know why. You were more content today.

Still, Mommy's heart was breaking to get you home. Mommy was missing Daddy and wishing he could be with us. 'Drama was worried and missing your 'Drampa at home. Mommy and 'Drama ordered dinner to our room. Mommy went to the Internet Room to get cold water out of the water cooler and decided to check her email.


Never thought we'd hear/type/write/say those words :) Carmen emailed us at 2:46pm although I didn't check my email until 7:00pm! Mommy tried to calmly walk across the dining area to our room (which was difficult as I wanted to run/jump/skip!). I busted in the door and told 'Drama, "We're out of PGN! AJ is officially ours!" We cried and laughed and looked down at you in your pack n' play and felt this wave of relief that was so long overdue.

**Please disable music above AND turn your volume up before viewing this video. Please excuse the darkness of the video...its what is being said is important. The image is AJ sleeping in his pack n'play.**

'Drama called "Drampa Jim and then Daddy called. We told Daddy to call your Godmothers Auntie Jodi and Auntie Sally and your Godfathers Uncle Bryan and Uncle Jason. Daddy had Grandma and Grandpa Nutt call. Mommy still doesn't feel like this is real! Oh My God!! You are really going to come home. Daddy was so excited-he loves you so much! Mommy too! Well, its getting late and you're already sleeping. More tomorrow.

With Love, Your Mama (Officially)

Reflection: Part 5

In late 2005 (while we were pursuing domestic adoption), we had the idea to make a Quilt of Love. 'Drama Vaney found the perfect white all-purpose fabric to use. Auntie Kathy helped me cut the squares. We sent a square to each of our family and friends, asking them to design it to represent their family or themselves and to welcome our baby boy or girl.

We received quite the response! In the end, some squares were created for people by myself, my Mom, and Jer's Mom. I made a grid soon after we discovered it would have to be double-sided. We had 70 squares!! When all of the squares were ready, Grandma and Grandpa Nutt were kind enough to sew the squares together, back it, and bind it. The goal had been to have it finished by my baby shower, which it was! The quilt was displayed at the baby shower. We hung it in AJ's closet until our pick-up trip. It is the very first blanket he laid on as our son (officially) and its what we wrapped him and carried him off the plane in. It was an awesome way for us to welcome our son into all of our lives.

Here are pictures of his Godmothers, Auntie Jodi and Auntie Sally, holding his quilt at the baby shower:

Friday, July 24, 2009

Reflection: Part 4

Our last hours with AJ during our first visit as detailed in my journal (we were only allowed to have him for 24 hours)...

...You woke up for the day around 6am. We fed you and gave you a loved it! Such a giggle monster :) daddy got a great picture of you smiling!

We went down and had breakfast and then chilled out on the upstairs front porch again. You fell asleep in Mommy's arms. We had lunch and then fed you again and went back to our room to relax a bit. We said goodbye to two very sweet families leaving with their children, one from Conneticut and one from Ohio. The family from Conneticut stayed right next to us. Before they left they gave us a spoon and a few extra diapers for you.

We hung out in the room and then you just passed out-and I mean passed out. We had laid you on the bed and you literally rolled over and went to sleep. Mommy captured some great pictures of you snoozing.

We were forced to wake you up around 3pm to make sure you were ready to go when Roberto returned to pick us up, around 4pm. You were not happy with Mommy and Daddy when we proceeded to wake you up. We changed you and you decided to pee on your outfit (yellow shorts outfit with a bulldozer that said "I dig trucks". So we had to change your clothes...and you were not so happy again! We put you in an outfit that Auntie Sally gave us. It was a cute Tommy Hilfiger jogging suit-white and blue stripped.

We packed up your things and got you read to go. We left the room and met Brandon's parents downstairs. Roberto came at 4pm and took Brandon and his parents first, as they had to catch their flight home soon. Then he came back for us.

When Mommy had to put you back in Sylvia's arms, she lost it. The tears flowed and I couldn't walk down the stairs fast enough. Too much to handle. Roberto & Daddy did I great job of trying to calm me down in the car and keep me preoccupied by discussing nonsense. We arrived back at the hotel and Daddy & I went straight to the Internet Room. We had the front desk remove your bathtub and pack n' play. We didn't want to go upstairs until it was gone.

We stayed in there for about an hour-until Mommy calmed down. The we went back up to the room to hang for a bit, only to come back down to the dining area for dinner. We were in bed by 8pm. You had exhausted us!

The next morning we got ready to fly home. We purchased some items from the "Lady in the Closet" and our taxi driver took us to the airport. We left at 2pm and arrived in Chicago at around 1am. We spent a few hours at O'Hare Aiport (not fun) and drove home. Auntie Kathy was up waiting for us. We enjoyed our visit with you very much, we love you, and can't wait until you are home!

Love, Mommy & Daddy

I have to be honest and say that the hardest moment of my life (at that point), was handing AJ back over to the orphange. Here we had just met our son, and only had him for 24 hours. Yet a bond had already started, heck already been created, and it ripped my heart out to give him back. I thought I would be fine, as we had prepared ourselves for that moment. We had prepared ourselves for the short 24 hours we'd have him in the flesh. Yet, nothing could have prepared me for that moment. I was just fine until I made that arm movement to hand him over. I remember losing it, and as I am typing this, am feeling those emotions all over again. I remember walking down the stairs was like an out of body experience. I couldn't see through my tears and Jeremy was guiding me. In that moment, I was given a small glimpse of the extraordinary courage and love AJ's birthmother had for her son. I was only walking away from him for a mere few months...which seemed like forever. I cannot fathom her pain as she chose adoption for her son.

Nevertheless, we do not regret our first visit at all. This experience is why we usually don't have an issue leaving AJ with a sitter or with grandparents. I remember our first night out when he got home was a friend's wedding. People kept asking us if we were ok, did we miss him, etc. Answer: Not really. Because we knew where he was. He was being well taken care of at home, in bed. The biggest part of that: he was at home. We have great memories of our little man and there is nothing like holding your child for the first time. Birth child or not. There is nothing like it.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Reflection: Part 3

Early in our adoption journey, my best friend Jodi gave me a "Write-It-Down Journal". While I do wish I had written in it more, I have found myself reliving memories by reading it. Here is an excerpt from the day we met AJ:

Thursday, March 1st, 2007
The Day We Met

Today will be one of the happiest days in my life. We are finally going to meet you. Mommy is crying already. We arrived yesterday afternoon and have been in quite a daze. We received a positive DNA match on February 6th and booked our first visit trip as soon as we could. Here we are!

We will become three today. Even if that means we have to leave you here for a little while-you still warm my heart like nothing in this world can.

We are staying at a local hotel that is very adoption friendly. There is a beautiful upstairs porch which Mommy is sitting on and writing to you.
We will be picked up at around 10am, along with Brandon's parents to come and see you. Pick you up, and hold you for the first time...

...We were picked up at 10:00am on Thursday. Roberto took us first as he didn't have enough room in his Jeep for all of us. Roberto dropped us off; we went into the hogar and asked one of the nineras for Sylvia, your caregiver. She greeted us upstairs and went to get you. You were sleeping in your room in your bassinet.

Mommy can't even explain how we felt when we saw you. You are so tiny! Sylvia put you in Mommy's arms and I melted. You were a little groggy-but still Mr. Happy Pants :) Mommy put you in Daddy's arms too and guess what? His heart melted too!

We took pictures with you
and then went and took pictures of your amigos, Christina, Timmy, Brandon, and Luis. All of their Mommy's and Daddy's are waiting for them too!

Sylvia gave us a bag with diapers, formula, bottles, cereal, jarred apples, clothes, a bowl, spoon, and your schedule.
We had wondered what happened to Roberto, turns out he went back to the hotel to pick up Brandon's parents and bring them to the hogar too. We all piled into the Jeep and headed back to the hotel.

We took you up to our room so we could get to know you better. You had lots of fun with Daddy.
We fed you your first bottle and then we went downstairs for lunch. We came back upstairs and you fell asleep in Mommy's arms for the first time. You were the most precious sight. You seemed to be teething, so we introduced the pacifier. Someone is in L-O-V-E. We wrapped you in the blanket Drama 'Vaney gave us and just starred at you in awe.

We walked around outside in the courtyard for a while and then met up with some other parents visiting their children. We put you in the Snuggli with loved it!
Mommy took you upstairs to put on your leg cream and put you in your pajamas-which were a size Newborn!! You fell asleep downstairs at around 6pm. Grandma Nutt called shortly after dinner and we took the call in the dining area :) We brought you upstairs and put you in your pack n' play. You slept until 1:30am and then woke up. Mommy gave you a bottle and you went right back to sleep....

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