Monday, November 29, 2010

A Glimpse.....

Last week was Etienne's 4th birthday. I prayed diligently for several days that his behavior could be improved at least for one day. We didn't want to have his special day filled with time-outs and discipline. God is good. Etienne did exceptionally well for any child. He even managed to survive the Thanksgiving holiday by showing some self regulating when he got overstimulated. Any change-even having someone for dinner-typically seems to send E into RAD mode. Not for his birthday or Thanksgiving! Here is my grateful E list: - Etienne can turn anything into a toy. He is never, ever bored. -E is always curious. He thirsts to understand everything (I am sure that some of you know the challenge of this blessing!!) -E isn't picky -Etienne will rub my back or my arms to sooth me when we are having a bad day. -Everyone, I mean EVERYONE, is drawn to him. I have notes from volunteers that remember him as a baby. Strangers talk to him. He engages people. -His eyelashes -Etienne's love of his brothers and sister. -He is learning to pray - He is great at make believe.

Monday, November 22, 2010

I cooked plantains today for Molly's class. She did a persuasion paper on adoption, and being National Adoption Month, we joined her today (no pics allowed). For those who aren't haven't had them, plantains are a staple in most developing countries. They look like a long bananna but on the inside have the texture and taste of a sweet potato. With butter, sugar and cinnamon, they are yummy! I've gotten a lot of crazy reactions since becoming a Rwanda mama (for a zillion reasons). When I say I am cooking Rwandan chicken or discovering East Africa recipes, I get even more mixed responses. I don't really get why becuase when we chose international adoption, we knew that whatever country God led us to our children, that that country would be "ours." We are now Rwandan-Americans because our kids are. Doesn't that seem logical than that we would want to embrace the culture? There is a lot of newer research out there looking at children adopted into transracial families and long term well being. Overwhelmingly, the kids who were acknowledged that they were different had more self-confidence. So the "love sees no color" thing doesn't actually apply. In other words, if we always pretend that E and Zeke are exactly the same, if we don't talk about their differences or their Rwandan culture, that will encourage them to be ashamed of their obvious differences. "If mama and daddy never mention that I'm black maybe that's weird or maybe I shouldn't let others know where I'm from..." I think it's a tricky balance of treating adoptive children equally, but also differently, from biological siblings; and I may not be doing it right. But I do love research based evidence and plantains.

Monday, November 15, 2010


Friday night we had our first big snow of the season and all the kids were out enjoying it. I snapped a few shots of Zeke, overjoyed, catching snowflakes in his mouth. About 5 minutes into it, he began to cry. We brought him in as he cried and cried. Ryan and I were laughing at our little Rwandan's dislike of cold. He cried through a warm bath and then wanted wrapped, head to toe, in a super soft blanket. I rocked him to sleep, enjoying the snuggle time Saturday morning, Blake took Zeke down the sled 2 or 3 times; they laughed and giggled, loving every minute. Then Zeke began crying again. Really hard. We brought him in. He took a warm shower with me and then, crying, wanted Daddy to hold him really tight for a good 30 minutes. We looked at each other, thinking this wasn't just a 2 year old moment. Something wasn't right. Ah-ha! I pulled out our old binder from our home study class and thumbed through post adoption issues. Maybe this was a sensory issue? Sure enough. I get really conscious of not labeling Etienne and Zeke's behaviors to "because they are adopted." I don't want to label them and I am completely aware that mothering is not easy, regardless of your child's starting point.....that said, I also completely know my boys struggle bigger battles then Molly and Blake had to at their ages. Sensory processing disorder occurs when a kiddo (or adult) can't seem to process sensory messages coming from the environment in a smooth and efficient manner. Children with sensory processing problems often feel confused, afraid, oblivious, assaulted or angry when confronted with sensations that other children their age take in stride. These emotions may in turn play out in their behaviors. It can be a processing disruption from touch, sound, taste and vision. The disruption occurs in kids who have had extremely stressful experiences or beginnings in their lives and their brain needs time to learn to organize the senses as it receives them. BUT the brain is constantly learning and GOD ALWAYS WINS. In Zeke, as I refreshed myself on the sensory stuff, I realized he does a few of the following things besides his sensitivity to temperatures. -gagging on foods -tripping and running into things -talking CRAZY LOUD. Saying "what? what? what?" -when he is upset, he definately prefers to be swaddled and held really tight. We didn't realize last winter when we were swaddling him all the time that this action really helped with his senses being overstimulated. I found an article in which an 11year old said this "when I go outside in the winter, it feels like I have fiberglass in my clothes." Ouch! I don't write my blog to really be a resource guide, but rather a "don't do what I did" kinda source. I am going to read up on how to help his sweet brain to process a bit better. We are going to be more patient to Zeke's little idiocincricies, and keep getting him hats. He loves, loves, loves his hats. And now I know why!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Seeking experienced mama advice....

So here's the scenerio: Your adopted 3/4 year old-ish son (home 10 months when this starts) is potty trained. Has been since being adopted. Then you go out of town for your anniversary and he decides the honeymoon phase of being adopted int his family is over. You work hard on the bonding, resorting to silliness, babying, allowing diapers, feedings, etc. Then, 3 months into the madness, you learn that he is 100% using the potty for everyone else in his life. Goodbye, diapers! No more "big boy" privledges. So on a usual day, you are playing all morning at the park, come home for lunch and remind him to use the potty. He flat out refuses. You remind him that there are consequences to pottying his pants.....10 minutes later, he has peed himself. Do you: 1. make him clean himself and laundry up. Then resume day. 2. spank him, then carry him around the rest of the day 3. put him back in diapers I honestly want feedback on this. I am tired of the people in our lives that "don't get it." I really do want our amazing family, both biological and through adoption, to help me on this...

Thursday, November 4, 2010

What to do, what to do....

Last Friday I joined a dear friend to help out with a slumber party over the dinner hour; I was gone from 5:30 to 8:30. Mama is never gone over the dinner/bathtime hour and when I came back I had learned that Etienne had pooped his pants.Gggrr. We have had him in diapers because during the summer he had regressed and our stand had been, "if he needs to be a baby, we will work on bonding." Fast forward to Monday. I mention this to Laurel, (everyone needs a Laurel), our beloved sitter/nanny. She's been coming over 1 or 2 days a week since the messy beginnings. Laurel says "Actually, I haven't even had to help E with pottying since probably before summer." WHAT?!?!? Again with the no mama instinct. My growing adoptive mama instincts are that Etienne is peeing/pooping for us because he is still trying to get that we are his parents forever. My old mama instinct is mad!! He's playing us, right?! Side note: Laurel is amazing. She is in college and she has committed her time, energy and heart to nurturing my kiddos on the days I play midwife. She loves God and she takes everything with prayer. I seriously tear up when I think about trying to work if God hadn't given her to us. Thanks, LaLa. Anyway, I am not going to share yet our plan this week because I don't have confidence that it is right or not. I just want, long to have Etienne's heart completely but I don't want to play the fool. Wet pants or diaper? TBA...

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

The "sparkly-eyed smiley face"

A year ago, most of my blogs were about the struggle with our little Zeke-baby. For those who may have forgotten, Zeke literally screamed from the time we got off the airplane until October 23, 2009. That day, he decided to be loved. Our baby hasn't turned back since. Many days, when I have no mama instinct for what step to take next with Etienne, I hear Zeke's little Barry White voice and see his smiling eyes, and I know we are in God's hands. Zeke is constantly yelling (in a happy, silly voice), while trying to keep up with his brothers. If he isn't bossing them around, he is in Molly's lap or in the time out corner. The little boy has his siblings wrapped around his pinky. Molly calls him her "sparkly eyed smiley face," which is totally him. He is joy.