1.30.2012

Dear family and friends


K

Okay, as much as I love writing you, this letter isn’t for you. It is for your fan club aka family and friends.

To Our Very Supportive, Loving, (add adjective to personally describe you), and Impatiently Waiting Family and Friends

At some point, K will come home. At some point, Luc and I will share with everyone what we have decided to call him, but not today. At some point, you will get to see us as a family of three four (thank you Joey). We have truly appropriated your support as we have waited to bring “Lando” home from Ethiopia. We know at times we have not shared as much information as you would like, but we have shared what we emotionally could or were allowed to at the time.  

Many of you have asked, “Can we meet you at the airport?” Yes. Please come out to the airport, we would love to see you, have you want to swarm, but yet refrain from swarming, as we walk with K through the area that separates the baggage area from the gate area. (I am assuming some of you have something in the works for this airport party.)

Yes, I said refrain from swarming. We know you are excited to meet K. We are excited to have you meet him, but under better conditions than coming off 20 plus hours of flight. Yes, there might be a group photo (you know I LOVE my photo moments), but we also need to do what is best for K. (How can you argue with doing what is best for K? You can’t.)

K is coming to the fam with a history. We will be 5th known home for K since he was born in November 2010. That is a lot of transition to deal with for such a young guy. We are taking him away from everything he knows and some great women whom he loves and trusts. We also know, you want to show K how much love you already have for him, without ever meeting him. (Can I just say, he is a pretty cool kid. I know I am biased, but he rocks.)

It is important for Luc and I to be working on that trust from the beginning. I know I have shared with some of you what we have read on the importance of attachment. (I also know some of what I have shared we have laughed over.) At the same time, all of the books and articles I have read, as well as our social worker, case manager, and family coordinator agree, attachment can be very difficult to gain.   

So what is attachment? Great question! I am SO glad you asked. Attachment is the “bond” between a parent and a child. This is something K does not have for us, as much as it hurts to admit. We can gain this attachment with K by meeting his needs (physical and emotional) over time. This is what helps to create a trusting and secure relationship between a child and parents. Traditionally, in a newborn this is easier than an older child, but not impossible. It is important that Luc and I are the ones meeting ALL of K’s needs when he comes home.

I know you are thinking, “Kara, are you saying you don’t want someone else to change that dirty, smelly, disgusting diaper?” Unfortunately, as much as I might like someone else to change the diaper, that is exactly what I am saying. Luc and I need to be the ones to feed, diaper, change clothes, etc for the time being. (If this hurts you, imagine what our Moms have been thinking since we dropped this bomb on them.)

As cute as he is, K has experienced trauma in his life. As much as people like to think about what he is gaining, he is gaining a pretty sweet set of parents and a rocking dog, he has lost a lot in his life. He will be losing his current caregivers (again, those Special Mothers totally rock), language, smells, and rice cereal he really likes. (We have been told the rice cereal in Ethiopia is sweeter than that sold in the US. We might stock up on this. He didn’t care for the carrot/potato stuff.)  We are bringing him into a new environment. Please be understanding. He is scared. We are scared for him.

It is TRES (very) important for K to learn about his new environment, family, and love. The best way for us to form a parent/child bond with K is to be the only ones to hold, snuggle, kiss, instruct, soothe and feed him for the time being.  During this time, as part of the "cocooning" process, K will have structure, boundaries, and close proximity to us that is different than a child who enters a family at birth. Please be assured that we did not make these decisions lightly: our adjustment and parenting plan has been thoughtfully made based on many months of prayer, education, talking with other adoptive parents, and research.

So know you are thinking, “So after the airport, will we EVER see you?” You bet. Please come visit us. We just ask you let us know you are coming and be understanding if we call you an hour beforehand to say today isn’t the best day for a visit. We are also asking you come in small groups (2 maybe 3 people, again this might depend upon the day). During your visits, please understand that until K has a firm understanding of family and primary attachment, we would appreciate you limit your physical contact with him and redirect him to us if he needs/wants food, affection, comfort, and a new diaper. We know this is difficult, K is an awesome snuggler, but it is necessary due to K’s circumstances.  

It is important for other adults to refrain from what is typically considered normal, physical contact with K. This will (for a while) include things like holding, excessive hugging, and kissing. (Again, K is so huggable. This is super hard.) Children who have spent time in an orphanage are inclined to superficially attach to anyone and everyone, which hinders their most important, primary relationship with their new parents. Behaviors that may seem benign, such as being exceptionally charming or indiscriminately affectionate, may actually be examples of a hurting child who is unable to distinguish between the roles of parents and strangers. (Again, K has had many caregivers.) By setting physical boundaries as the adult, you will help K learn the difference between you and us. Waving, blowing kisses or high fives are perfectly appropriate and welcomed!

Summary:
Okay, so this was pretty long. If you need a summary/review, please do not hold K, feed him, change his diaper, or overly hug him. Come see us in prearranged small groups.

Again, we thank you for your support over these past two plus years as we have waited to bring home our Lando. (No, we are not naming him Lando.) We still have some waiting to do, but he will come home. To quote one of my favorite 4 year olds, “Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but someday” K will come home.

Love,
Kara and Luc  

1.24.2012

You Are Loved

K

Today you are 14 months. 14 months!!!!! In two days it will have been 4 months since we first saw your picture. I look at that first picture every day and it always brings a smile to my face. I love how shiny your bald head is in this picture. (In these 4 months you have since gotten hair.) Your facial expression just says, "Okay, I am ready to go." We are ready as well Little Man.

You have a cousin, L, who really wants you to come "home on the plane." I have been told L talks to your picture every day and when she goes to Grammie's house walks over to one of your pictures and says hello to you. (She was very upset you wouldn't be at J's birthday this past Sunday.) Your Aunt Meg sent me this text yesterday. "L just did something so sweet. . . please don't cry. . . she had an eye lash on her finger and made a wish for [K] to come home to Aunt Kara and Uncle Wuc on an airplane." I am told she wants to give you a hug.

K, L's wish is the same as our wish, to bring you home. Praying we hear something soon.

Love,
Mom 

1.22.2012

The Search: Your Hat Collection

K

So this marks the beginning of the 7th week since we passed court. We are so praying we hear something from Embassy this week. Plus, they are open all 5 days this week.

I always start so hopeful at the beginning of the week and as it goes on, it fades. So tonight begins the "routine" that has developed since being submitted to Embassy. The Embassy opens at 7:30 am in Ethiopia, which is 10:30 pm here in Illinois. I go to bed around 10 pm with a prayer for their work day as they go through the files of orphans and interview people connected to them. I pray for you, the other children at Hannah's Hope, children waiting to be referred, birth families, the staff at HH, those waiting for referrals, and for those who have received a referral and are in a new stage of the waiting game. I check my email for the first time at 5:30 am here, which is 2:30 pm there. I pray again. When I get to school, around 7:35 am, I check again. It is around 4:35 pm in Ethiopia. The Embassy's offices closes at 5 pm, there is still time for something to happen, more prayer. This time I also pray for peace for your Dad and myself. I know it is slim, but I check again before lunch, miracles can happen in 25 minutes. I pray.

So before I tell you about your hat collection, I need to show you a picture of your dog, Joey Ramone. He got a hair cut on Friday and wanted to show you how dapper he looks. He goes into your room everyday and lies down. I like to think he knows you should be in there and is waiting for you.

So your Dad loves to wear baseball hats. He has a lot of them, all in different stages of cleanness. The first hat I ever recall him wearing was a red Yankees hat, backwards, as he sat outside of Watterson Towers, at ISU, waiting for your Grandparents to pick him up to meet your oldest cousin, on his side, for the first time. He wore that hat a lot during college. (You will never see him in anything associated with the Yankees.)

Last school year, I was in Indy shopping with Mademoiselle Sarah. While we were wondering the mall, I found your first hat. At the time, we didn't know if you would be a boy or a girl, but I fell in love with this hat for you. So this isn't the best picture, but it is a faux fur "fargo" hat. I am so hoping it fits you!!! I know you have a head that measures in the 90+ percentile for your age, but I think you will look super cute in this hat. Bonus: It will keep you warm. The wind can be pretty fierce here in Illinois, so a good winter hat is important.

Your second hat marked an important milestone in your collection. It was your first birthday present we received for you from someone else and it was your first baseball hat. I know this will be the first of MANY White Sox hats for you. (Your Dad has multiple as well.) It is also the first of many baseball style hats you will have, let alone a hat for a Chicago based team. You will have hats for the Bears, Blackhawks, and Bulls as well. You will have a hat for every Chicago team, but the one that is on the Northside of the city. Some of your family members might get you one, but you don't have to wear it. They are a 4 letter word. . .


Around this time your Dad began to get an idea. He wanted to get you an awesome coming home hat. We searched, we found one we liked at Von Maur, but didn't get it at the time. (Psst: Your Grammie bought this hat for you.) We love this hat! At the same time, we knew this wasn't the homecoming hat we were looking for. We do not want it to be crushed in the suitcase, which is a possibility. Plus, your Dad had other ideas. This hat is your "commissioner" hat. K, next hockey season, you are the commissioner of your Dad's fantasy hockey league. In this hat, you will get to control the draft, trades, and those other commissioner tasks.  

Another hat that has joined your collection. It was a possibility for a homecoming hat, but your Dad wanted something else. . . I do like the fact it is "wool-like."
When we met you in December, your Dad knew the type of hat he was wanting would be the perfect homecoming hat. It was just a matter of finding it. We began looking before leaving for the first trip, but didn't search too hard. Once we were back, the search began in earnest. We were searching for a scally cap for you. It was difficult. We looked in every store we went to, to no avail. Finally, we found one on Saturday. It isn't wool like we wanted, but it is a scally cap. I think you will look cute in it.

In other news, we celebrated your cousin J's 6th birthday today. It was at Chuck E. Cheese. Your Great Aunt Kim can't wait to take you there.

Love,
Mom

Please join us in praying for:
-KJ, our first referral.
-The amazing people at HH. The children waiting to come home and their caregivers.

-The G family. They joined us on our first trip and are on their way/there now to pick up their children.
-The C family. They joined us on our first trip and had the same court date. They are still waiting to be submitted to Embassy. Praying that Monday is their day.
-The families waiting to see their child(ren) for the first time, whether in person or the first picture.
-Our case at the Embassy and for other cases there as well. We also pray for those submitted to Nairobi and the families connected to all cases in this stage of waiting.
-Of course K. His well being and health at HH. We know he is in great care.

1.16.2012

the car seat

K

Today I did something I have been putting off since November. I have walked past it multiple times a day, yet I would see it and do nothing. I kept telling myself I needed to get on the ball and do something with it, but I didn't. It was easier to keep walking. Your Dad and I would comment every once in awhile about how we needed to do something with it, but we didn't. Joey would bark at it sometimes, but that didn't get us moving any faster.

Until today. I finally decided I needed to do something about it. I opened the box to your car seat. Yep. We got one car seat back in November and like every good Mom, it came in from the car and was placed in the sun room. Like every good Mom, I have walked by the car seat multiple times a day and just looked at it thinking I would do something later about it. At the beginning of the month we ordered a second car seat. We had it delivered and it went into the sun room. I know, great Mom skills.

Well, taking advantage of the day off school, after running errands, I came  home and stared at the box. I looked at it and thought, "If we get the call tomorrow to go back to Ethiopia and have to leave yet this week, are we going to have time to figure out how to install and actually install a car seat?" The answer was simple, "No." So Joey and I decided we were going to tackle the car seat. (Okay, we didn't literally tackle the car seat. I opened the box and got it out. I stared at it. Joey sniffed it. I moved it into the living room while reading the directions, Joey barked at it. He knows car seats don't belong in the living room.)

Why the living room? I wanted to figure out how the buckles worked and the "auto" adjusting harness straps.  (Yep. The one we ordered was a step up from the one we registered for. The harness straps adjust without removing anything. Your Dad and I thought you might like that. Plus, we are lazy and didn't want to deal with it on two seats.) Plus, I had an image of us in the airport parking lot trying to figure it out while family and friends stood there either offering suggestions or laughing. Luckily your hockey monkey was willing to help out again. I am thinking he took going in and out of the seat, adjusting straps, and buckles a lot nicer than you will take it.

So after mastering how the harness works, at least I think I have it mastered, the car seat went out to the car. It was time to find the latch system things. It was a little difficult, but I got it.

So your Dad and I are starting you out rear facing. We know you are over a year and above the minimum height and weight, but it is about safety.
 Your seat is reclined to the proper angle. I had it latched into the seat before I remembered to recline it, so I had to unlatch it, recline it, and then latch it again. Lesson learned before we put the other seat in your Dad's car.
 So I am thinking it wouldn't be safe to have your hockey stick in the seat with you, but hockey monkey was okay with it. Note the chest buckle is at arm pit level. The harness straps are also at or below his shoulders. 
So I am not sure about the height of the mirror, but here's your mirror. It lights up, plays music, speaks multiple languages, and has a timer. What more could you want?

The US Embassy is open only three days this week due to Martin Luther King Jr Day and an Ethiopian holiday on Friday. In about 7 hours and 30 minutes they open for the week. Praying we get word to come get you in these three days.

Love,
Mom

PS- Hockey Monkey is still out in the car seat. This way I can practice when I go out to the car. I promise I won't leave you out in the car.

1.12.2012

snow

K

It is snowing!!!!!!!!! It is the first real snow of the season, I don't count the dusting we had on New Year's Day, and is a nice heavy wet snow. Joey had a lot of fun when I got home from school playing in it. He tends to forget he isn't a puppy in the snow and runs, jumps, and leaps all over the place. He loves snow.

So this week marked 5 weeks since passing court, three since being submitted to Embassy. I should be happy we have had movement. I should be happy we have been submitted to Embassy (another family from our travel group hasn't been submitted yet). We have had movement, they have attempted to contact someone connected to your case, but it isn't enough. I want you home.

Every morning I get up and check my email hoping Embassy has contacted us during the night. They haven't. But, I think to myself it is only 2:30 pm in Ethiopia, there is still time. While at school, I check before lunch, thinking the work day is over, it might have happened after 2:30 pm. So far, no luck.

Little man, this waiting is hard. The email may come tomorrow. The Embassy is observing holidays on Monday and next Friday. The email may come tomorrow.

Love,
Mom  

1.07.2012

Melkam Gena!

Melkam Gena (Merry Christmas), K!

Today in Ethiopia it is Gena (or Christmas). If your Mom could actually write in Amharic, it would look like this, መልካም ገና. But your Mom can't, but she knows how to copy and paste. So last year for Gena, I made my first Ethiopian meal. I fixed injera and Alicha Minchet Abishe. The injera was horrible, but the Alicha Minchet Abishe wasn't too bad. The injera making has improved over the past year, but would be better if I had an injera maker like they do at Hannah's Hope. K, I don't foresee me getting one of these any time soon.
So at one point I had hopes of getting to celebrate Gena with you in Ethiopia. How cool would that have been? Well, that didn't happen, so your Dad and I did the next best thing. We drove to Chicago to eat at Ethiopian Diamond. During the drive we talked about all of the great things we could order. The first decision we made was ZilZil tibs. I want to say this was our first choice each, from there we just started listing favorites. We really wanted shiro. Mmmmmm, shiro. 

As we got close to Chicago we laughed about the way Daniel took us last time.(Daniel is our Garmin. He also prevents arguments in the car. Daniel rocks.)  It was crazy. He took us on the Dan Ryan, State Street, Ohio, Michigan, Lakeshore Drive, and then Broadway. On the way home, he took us from Broadway to Lakeshore to 55 south. Yep. We decided we would ignore Daniel, no matter what he said and go Lakeshore Drive. I love driving along the lake. My favorite part is when we get to the buildings in the Goldcoast area. Beautiful. We saw the sign for the Chicago History Museum, your Dad said we should go. I told him we have been there. I talked about the Chicago fire exhibit, he didn't remember it, the music exhibit, he didn't remember it, Mrs. Palmer's dresses, he didn't remember it. Finally I reminded him about the little boy "going" on a tree in the park. He remembered. 

Eventually we got to Ethiopian Diamond. We wished our waiter Melkam Gena. He was impressed we knew it was Gena. We looked at the menu to try to finalize our decisions on food. We went with the Tour of Ethiopia. We selected for it ZilZil tibs, Doro tibs, lentils, and dinich alicha. We couldn't substitute the shiro for any of our veggies. (super sad there) Of course, we also got sambusa. mmmmmmmm sambusa. 
{This is what we ate in Ethiopia, we didn't take a picture of today's meal.}

K, I know you don't know this, but you celebrated Gena with us. As we ate, we had your picture up on the table. We talked to you during the meal. We made plans. We remembered that a month ago today, we held you. A month ago today, we got you to smile for the first time. K, it has been a hard month. A month ago today, we left Ethiopia. We so want and need to go back to Ethiopia, so we can bring you home. Plus, we need to introduce you to Ethiopian Diamond. Our waiter and waitress loved your picture K. :) We have had them both before, I think they will like you joining us there.

Following lunch we headed to a place we have never been before. We have heard people talk about it and its awesomeness, but before today we have never experienced. I am referring to Buy Buy Baby. From Ethiopian Diamond, Daniel took us on an interesting route to get there. We saw parts of Chicago we have never seen before. (Don't worry, they were good parts.) We got to Buy Buy Baby and were overwhelmed. It has everything. Although Gena usually isn't celebrated with gifts in Ethiopia, we got you some stuff. Most importantly, you got something I told your Dad you couldn't have until you were older. This isn't exactly the one we got you, the back doesn't say anything, but it is close. . .

Cutie, I am so praying we hear from Embassy this week to come back to get you. It is time for you to come home.

Love,
Mom

K, your Dad wanted me to make a correction. "Rose" is on the back of your jersey. It is an authentic D. Rose jersey. 

1.03.2012

This is THE year!

K

So this is THE year. The year you get to come home to your Star Wars room, your dog Joey, and us. I know you are probably thinking, "Mom, I am kinda liking Hannah's Hope. It's nice here and I know it. Plus, this is at least the fourth place I have lived." Well, your Dad and I really want you home with us. Look at this cool bedroom waiting for you.
 Your Blackhawk Hockey Monkey is holding your place on the changing table. He was in the stroller, but he also wanted to test out the changing table. So I didn't get it all in the picture, but in the lower right corner is the glider. I am thinking we will be reading a lot of stories in it over the years. Little man, you better like books. You have a library waiting for you.
 Your library and crib. This isn't all of your books, but the first rotation of books. As you can see, R2D2 is your librarian. He and the turtle were both wanting the position, but the turtle was a little on the slow side. :)
Okay, it isn't safe for you to sleep with stuffed animals, but these guys are keeping your bed warm. K, crib sheets are difficult to put on. I am hoping you don't go through multiple sheets in a night. But to be on the safe side, your crib has double sheets and mattress pads ready to go.

Today we got another email from Embassy. This one was not as exciting as the last one. They are requesting additional information about you son. They sent the email at 5:11 am my time and by 6:26 am Almaz had already responded with where in your documents the information was located so they could do their interview. We are praying this is the only additional information they want K. I know after passing court I said I wanted to be another exception for AGCI, but I was referring to you coming home super fast. If the Embassy doesn't like the information they get from the interview, they could send our case to the field office in Nairobi, Kenya.

This possibility and the Embassy's request was why B from AGCI called today to talk with your Mom. I no longer get the knot in my stomach when I see B's number on the phone, thinking she is calling to say we lost your referral, but a new type of knot might be starting. I no longer want to be an exception for AGCI, I just want you home.

So how did I celebrate this movement in your case? (Cause, it is a type of movement.) I packed your bag. This is going to be your Dad's carry-on bag for the trip. I got everything in it that I could get into it. You have your diapers, wipes, formula (most of it), bottles, drop-ins for the bottles, clothes, Earl the Blue Elephant, socks, a car, book (I know, only one, it was difficult), onesies, PJs, and I am sure other stuff as well. Right now this bag weighs 20.2 lbs. According to Ethiopian Air, the carry-on can weigh 15 pounds, while with United/Lufthansa it can weigh 17.6 pounds. If we take out the wipes and put those in our hoodies' pockets, it can weigh the needed 15 pounds, if they decide to weigh it. (We saw Ethiopian Air weighing passengers' carry-on bags as we left Ethiopia, so your Mom is being a little on the paranoid side.) The rest of your stuff will have to go in my carry-on and/or the checked bags. Don't worry K, there will be more than one book in Ethiopia. Plus, we gotta get your sound giraffe there.

So tomorrow I go back to school. I was really hoping I wouldn't have to start the new semester. I am thinking your stuffed goat might have to make an appearance at school so I don't have a gloomy face throughout tomorrow's in-service.

Love,
Mom