Sunday, February 28, 2016

Adoption ceremony

After a few postponements, we had our adoption ceremony on Tuesday morning. We brought the girls to Beautiful Gate for the first time since they joined our family, and it was interesting to see their reaction. They have really come out of their shells and begun talking English at home and they are pretty talkative. Once we got on campus, they got completely quiet and clung to my hands. They did not smile, laugh, talk or do anything but cling to me. The night before, I tried to explain what the ceremony was going to be like in order to prepare them, but I don't think they understood. They were scared. I have seen this response so many times in the past with other adoptive families so I cannot really say it caught me off guard, I just felt sad for them.
Our ceremony was great. Lots of singing, a few speeches, several jokes (from volunteers and staff since it was weird to do our roles for us as directors), a few tears, but mostly it was lighthearted. The girls cried when they had to go to their house mother and hear her words of good-bye. She also made it light hearted because she said she was happy they were going to our family since we have already adopted her into our family too. It was a very special day and we have some really great pictures from Grace, so we will always be able to look back and remember this great day.
At the end of the ceremony, the girls were way more relaxed and even began to smile a little and talk to a few people. They seemed to be relieved when the staff started heading back to their houses, but they were able to stay with us. They even played around with us a little in the chapel and became their normal selves again. What a big and scary day for them, but it all turned out nicely in the end. Elijah, Faith and Mercy also had a good time, a little bored during the speeches, but that is pretty normal. It was fun to see their relief too at having the final step in our adoption finished. It feels good to be finished with everything so we can just be a family. One month in and we are doing great. English is coming along, sibling friendships are forming, house rules are being learned, fun is happening, love is growing, and much, much more. There are some definite growing pains, but that is also to be expected. We have finished our month of cocooning and will begin slowly introducing Polita and Nthabeleng to our friends.

Yes, believe it or not, I even gave a speech!

Us with their house mother, Mme Judith.

Us with Terp and Tyler who did our roles in the ceremony.

Not a perfect family picture, but at least this time they don't look scared to death :)

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Becoming family

My new schedule involves waking up sometime between 5:45 and 6:30am and I am pretty much crashing at 9pm. I feel like I have a new born again :) There have been some pretty amazing moments this week like when N wanted to go out and give daddy a hug when he got home from work, but then she chickened out when we got to him. The thought counted. We have a nightly routine that we have done since E was born and it has been so nice to get the girls involved in our routine. We read a bible story, pray and then we give a blessing over the kids. There is a part in the blessing where E,F, and M say a part and P and N have started saying it too. So awesome!!!! 2 nights ago when I tucked P and N into bed, they both initiated a hug and a kiss and then surprised me by saying they loved me. Wow, that is a pretty awesome thing to hear your daughters say.
Our journey has also been a bit rough this past week with some very unexpected issues. There are moments where as a parent, you really need to rely on God's wisdom and strength as you blend your family into one unit. But, I have found that there are far more moments where I just feel so blessed and thankful that I get to walk this journey. I have begun to really have feeling of complete love as I look at my sweet little girls, and they really are beginning to feel like they have always been a part of our family. I love the way God can mold and make families fit together and be close through His grace. It does not mean there won't be "growing pains" on both sides as we figure each other out, but it means that we will all be in this together loving and supporting each other as we live life together. I couldn't think of 6 other people I would love walking through life with than the ones God has blessed me with. I may be tired and a little scatter brained at times, but it is worth it :)

Saturday, February 13, 2016

2 week update

It has been 2 weeks since we adopted. Overall, the adjustment has gone quite well. Elijah, Faith and Mercy are continuing on at the missionary school, and I have begun some preliminary homeschooling with Polita and Nthabeleng. It is good to have a routine, but I am a little bummed that we had missed so much school during furlough, so I couldn't have them stay home for a week or two just to get time to know their new sisters better. It is really neat to see some of their similarities as they get to know each other better. Polita and Mercy do not mind cold water for swimming, but Faith and Nthabeleng did not like the cold pool AT ALL!! Mercy, Polita and Nthabeleng really love the Buddy movies (5 golden retriever puppy movies and we have 4 of them). Elijah and I made some homemade play dough and all of them enjoy making things with play dough. Mercy is running a restaurant today and Polita and I are ordering food from her little menu! Good times!
We are figuring out health stuff as there have been fevers, a sore tummy and a skin rash in the last week with Polita and Nthabeleng. Having a language barrier makes a lot of things a guessing game, but we have managed our way through most of our problems. As sad as it is for them not to be feeling well, it is a good way to get some extra cuddle time. Although, I will like cuddling more when it isn't 95 degrees in my house. I went to the store for some different skin care products today as the skin rash has become quite annoying for my littlest one, and I hope it helps. I am trying to avoid Vaseline as I feel like it clogs pores, but we will see what her skin decides.
I enjoy my days with the girls, but I am also missing everyone at Beautiful Gate. I am their primary caregiver so I need to stay clear of BG for a while in order to help their bond grow with us as well as to help the older kids not get too jealous as they wait for the day they get adopted. Our adoption ceremony will be next Thursday, and so I will get to sneak back on campus for a day.
Tomorrow is Faith's 11th birthday, so we will be having a few friends over for a birthday party. I hope that having a birthday party for their sister will not overwhelm Polita and Nthabeleng. I imagine it will feel a bit strange to see her opening presents, but hopefully they will understand better once their birthdays come along. I got them both a tiny little gift so hopefully that helps, besides not seeing Elijah or Mercy get presents :) So I guess I am saying 2 weeks in and we are doing well, and they haven't fired me yet as a mother.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Family of 7

Well, I am pretty sure that you all know why I have not written in a week. Our lives have completely changed and we are settling in to a new routine. We are the luckiest family in the whole world to have been blessed with 2 amazing little girls. They have been great as they have tried to figure out how they fit into our family. They sleep well, eat well, and play well (beyond normal sibling stuff). We have had a few very heartbreaking moments with many tears or misunderstandings, but we also know that is totally normal. It helps for me to remind the kids how crazy it would be if they suddenly moved in with one of our staff. Yes, on the surface they know our staff, but to move in with them, eat their food, figure out their rules and such, it would be so hard. That makes us all a bit more compassionate, when we can walk a moment in their shoes.
We are on day 6, and I can tell you that today was the first day that we felt like a family. The girls have been really shy around Bryan and Elijah, but today felt more comfortable and less shy. I praise God for that! We played in the sprinkler, ate dinner outside, had some tickle fights, and then played soccer. We were all smiling and laughing and it felt sooooooo good. I know that our journey will have many ups and downs as we figure each other out, but today was a very good day and I thought since I have the energy, today would be a good day to write too!!! Sorry for those of you who have been dying to hear from me, but I have been going to sleep as soon as my last kid heads to bed so no writing. :)
Day two when Polita and Nthabeleng found new clothes and headbands to try on.

Day 4 We all had some fun running through the sprinkler together, YEAH!!!

Day 4 Nthabeleng will only go through water with a helper :)

Day 6 We had a great time playing soccer and Faith was so excited after each kick the girls made, she got them all excited. Enough that Polita let me through her in the air which is something she never let me do at BG!!!!

Day 6 Little does she know that Mommy is about to throw her in the air too, but I know she likes it ;)