Monday, February 27, 2012

Lessons from our first week together

This week has been a wonderfully busy and joyful. There is an air of newness for all our children as they discover more about each other, living in a larger family and of course our new little ones learn more about life in America. Here are some things that have been extremely helpful to manage the chaos that is going on:

1. Preserving some of the familiar
We have spices and condiments that the children are used to in Ghana. I learned to fix a couple of basic recipes that I know they will eat. This seems to bring them so much comfort as  much has changed. They are slowly trying new foods, but this is ALL at the pace. We also know a few basic phrases in their native language Twi: "are you ok?" and "come here" are the most used. I love to be able to check on them in their native language as they will give me a quick "yeah yeah" when they are ok and a head shake when something is wrong.

2. Schedule
Our son does better when he knows what to expect. In Ghana he had a predictable day with school and meals and all that has changed. Since he knows a little English, I usually hold one finger up and tell him what comes first. Then I hold two fingers up and tell the next thing. I usually stop at three and one of them is always a meal. Initially he was unsure if we would continue to feed him, so this was reassuring.

3. Attachment
I know attachment is a lengthy process but I try to discover opportunities whenever possible. Today we played games that encouraged eye contact and staying close to Mommy and Daddy. In the case of siblings, we also try to have times when they are playing separately as they tend to ask each other for help instead of a parent. We use phrases like "Mommy will help you" and "Daddy will keep you safe" to reaffirm when we help them with a task. Agyeiwaa loves to be carried and each day I carry her while completing regular tasks around the house. She is immediately calm and relaxed.

4. Siblings
I have been especially aware of paying attention to Emmi and Jake while their new siblings demand a lot of our attention. They are at school during the day, which makes taking care of Kofi and Agyeiwaa during the day easier. Once they are home though, we have made sure to find one on one time with each child daily to make sure they are not concerned about all the changes. Since their new siblings have an early bed time by choice, we take an hour to do something familiar with them such as read a book, play a game or watch a tv episode.

5. Avoid over stimulation
When I first moved to United States, I was old enough to make the choice to move here and I also spoke English pretty well. But even then, I was absolutely exhausted each day from all the new sights, sounds, language, noises, food, culture and thinking about every sentence that came out of my mouth. For my children, I would think the same is true, except they didn't choose to come here, they don't speak the language well and they are much younger. Therefore, we try to keep the environment as simple as possible. No TV, very little music, familiar food and simple schedule. We have not gone on outings (other than the Dr office and Kofi went to the grocery store with me) and we have only had one visit from family. We want them to be absolutely comfortable at home before we introduce them to new things and people.

6. Have fun
This is the time we have dreamed about for so long. Seeing our children in our home is such a surreal feeling as we have known them only in their environment in Ghana. We have had such sweet moments as they discover new words, come to us for hugs and as they fall asleep in our arms.

This is what has worked for us during the first week. We mess up, we get better and we learn together.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

First day in America!

This morning, my four children finally met each other. On Valentine's Day, our house was full of love!
After traveling through the night, arriving at a strange place with snow and a bunch of obrunis (term for white people in Ghana), I was amazed at how well the children did today.

The first thing Kofi saw in our garage was a bike, and that is all he wanted to do. I thought he would stay outside for 5 minutes and get too cold. He ended up going outside 3 times today (other times he did have gloves and snowpants) and learned how to ride his bike. I was so proud of him and happy to see he doesn't mind the cold weather.

Agyeiwaa stayed inside and had no interest in the snow. She spent her first day playing with balloons, exploring her new room with Emmi and carrying a purse with a toy puppy in it. She wasn't crazy about our cats, but by the end of the day she let them get close.

By early evening, both children started rubbing their eyes. It was time for baths, prayers and bed time. Kofi was glad to have Jakob to share a room with. Agyeiwaa fell asleep while we were snuggling. I have checked on them a few times to makes sure they are ok. And to make sure I wasn't dreaming. They are really here!!!

Saturday, February 4, 2012

They are coming home!!!!

The last couple of days we have tried to figure out the best plan for our third trip to Ghana. We have price out flights for various dates and every time there seems to be a road block: no available humanitarian flights, change of airline, price, availability of caregivers and many other considerations at home.

We finally got a reasonable plan in place and our children are coming home on Valentine's Day!!! It wasn't intentional, but the day that is all about love will be extra special this year! This gives us a little buffer in case our visas are not printed (it has happened before) so we can change our flights in ample time.

Our family would appreciate your prayers for the final leg of our journey. I am still in disbelief we are this close to having all our children together. 10 more days!!!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

With good news come decisions

Our visa interview was a success! Our POA in Ghana was able to take our children (who apparently were too excited to sleep) to the Embassy before 7:30am and attend their visa exit interview. We were given a print date of February 10th which means that we can travel any time after that with the children.

So with any good news, come decisions. We have to decide when to travel, how long to stay, who is going and what we will do while there. In some ways, I am fatigued with entire process and just want our children here. In some ways, I would like to stay in Ghana for little bit longer and experience new things. There is a wedding that we could attend and I would be honored to do so. Shorter trip would help our "post-adoption budget" as I will not be working for a while. But what does God want? Praying He will make it abundantly clear.