Wednesday, April 30, 2008

School Bus Update

Jacob rode the school bus to the zoo with great success yesterday. He has been telling me non-stop about riding it and not being afraid. He is very excited that the bus brought him back to the school stating several times, "School bus bring me back Mommy." He is now asking me for about the hundreth time, "Ride school bus again Mommy?" I am glad he had so much fun. Unfortunately for him, we live within walking distance of the elementary school, middle school and high school so bus rides will probably not be an everyday occurance for him. That is unless we move in the next 16 years.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Returning To Work

I have decided to end my family leave early and return to work next week. E is leaving sometime this weekend, most likely Friday. Jacob loves his new daycare and is now attending full-time. Since I will be home alone, I might as well save my vacation time.

I was hoping to have another placement next week. It sounds like that will not be happening now. My social worker has spoken to me about another placement but it will not occur for at least a few more weeks. I am also concerned about some of the details of the case. If that placement does not occur, I will receive another one soon. In the meantime, I am returning to work so that I can use my vacation time later if I need it.

Riding The School Bus

Jacob is very excited. His first day of preschool/daycare went really well. He had so much fun that he ran to a teacher when I arrived stating he wasn't ready to go yet. The teacher told me he started just in time for a trip to the zoo today. She also stated the kids get to ride on the school bus!

Jacob is very excited about riding the school bus. He told everyone he saw last night that he was riding the bus. E decided to tell him that the bus was going to get lost and he wouldn't be able to come home afterwards. I assured him the bus would not get lost but it must have still bothered him. He woke up at 3 this morning telling me that the bus got lost. I calmed him down and he went back to sleep. At school this morning, he didn't want me to leave. He wanted me to take the bus with him. The teacher assured him she would sit by him on the bus. That seemed to calm him down and he went off to play with her. I am sure he will have a great day at the zoo (even if it is only 40 degrees outside right now).

Monday, April 28, 2008

New Activites

Spring is here and with it brings new activities. Jacob and I are both looking forward to a Spring and Summer full of fun and adventure. As you can probably tell from previous posts, I love warm Spring days. I enjoy watching the world wake up and the plants grow and flowers bloom. Now that I am a mother, I get the privilege of watching the world through my son's eyes. Watching him learn and discover the world is one of my favorite parts of motherhood.

I decided to cut down on my vegetable bill and teach Jacob about how food is grown and plants thrive. We have started by planting just a few peas in hopes that they sprout soon. I remember growing peas as a child and how wonderful it was to eat them fresh off the plant. In a couple weeks when I know the threat of frost has passed, I plan to plant some green pepper plants and tomato plants. Now I just hope they grow and produce wonderful treats for us. Maybe Jacob will actually eat his vegetables if they are fresh off the plant.

Jacob started a new school today as well. I officially moved to dayshift at work today. I am still on family leave but I set up his start date based on my work schedule and before I knew when I would be starting family leave. I decided not to change his start date in hopes that I can remain on good terms with his daycare and they will be willing to work with me and my sometimes crazy home life. He is there now and I am sure he is enjoying his first day. I told his teachers to call if he seemed upset and the phone hasn't rung.

E is leaving us this week. It turns out she just was not a good fit for my family. She wasn't happy and neither were we. I now know why adoption social workers are hesitant to adopt out of birth order. Human Services is now talking about placing a 14 month old boy in my home. He would probably arrive later this week or sometime next week. I was told not to stop my family leave early and that if this boy is not placed here another child will be soon. The next child will be at least one year younger than Jacob. That way I don't have to worry about the child being a threat to Jacob's safety. I do wish things had been better with E. I did not make the decision to have her moved easily. I know that she will do better in a home where she is an only child or the youngest child by several years. It is with great sadness that I let her leave to find the family where she can thrive and be the happy carefree little girl she deserves to be.

On a brighter note, I start softball tonight. Well, I am suppose to start tonight. It is currently about 40 degrees and misting. We are scheduled to have practice tonight if it doesn't start raining. I'm not crazy about being outside today but know that I need to attend practice. Especially since I haven't been on a team in about 15 years. Our first game is next week. I am eagerly waiting.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Dumb Comments

I know a woman who often makes very dumb comments to me. She means to be helpful but just does not seem to understand how wrong she is. She has a daughter just a few years younger than me and I think she tries to give me good parental advice. The problem is that I am 30 years old now and don't need advice from a "mother" figure. Don't get me wrong. I don't mind advice and opinions. I just get tired of some of the hurtful comments made around me and my son. Here are a few of my favorites:

1) Why don't you just have a baby of your own? You could walk into a bar and get almost any man to volunteer to help you.

The scary thing is that she was serious. She has made several similar comments since then stating that I just don't understand because I have never given birth.

2) You have such a beautiful son. Why would you want to have another child and risk him?

Ok. So does she really think that having another child will make my child any less beautiful or well-adjusted? I am sure there will be adjustments and some jealousy issues but I doubt is will make him ugly or less able to function in society.

3) Don't you just want a child of your own?

Exactly what makes Jacob not mine? He loves me. I love him. I provide for him, kiss his injuries, hold him when he is sick, encourage him, teach him and do everything else a mother does. He is mine now and forever. What really angers me is when she (or other people) say this in front of him. When I state that he is mine and how he became mine doesn't change anything, she states I just don't understand.

I live in a very diverse community. Most people don't even look twice when I pass them with my caucasion foster daughter and my African American son. People don't even look twice when both children call me Mommy. The only people who ask if my son is from Ethiopia are other parents of Ethiopian children and occassionally an Ethiopian American we pass on the street.

I know how lucky I am to live in this community. To live where there are a lot of single mothers by choice, multi-racial families formed through adoption and through marriage and where people are generally accepted despite the make-up of their families. We have experienced a few instances of bigotry and racism but it is not very often.

That is what makes the above comments so frustrating. I want my son to be loved and I am glad when people are friendly to him. I just wish people would think more about some of the comments they make. The lady who made the above comments is someone we have to see often and need to remain on friendly terms with. I do correct her when I hear these types of comments and I do watch to see how Jacob reacts. I tell Jacob he is my son forever and that I love him everyday. I tell him that I am so happy I was able to adopt him and that he is going to live here until he grows up. I hope he hears these comments the same way I do. As annoying comments from someone who is very ignorant in adoption and family issues.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

African Children's Choir

I really miss Ethiopia and Africa. Last night, the African Children's Choir was in town. I had seen them perform a song on American Idol last year and knew I had to see them live. I hired a babysitter (my 2 year old just would not sit still for 2 hours) and called a friend. The show was beautiful.

If you aren't aware of the choir, let me tell you a little about them. They take impoverished children from several different countries in Africa. They take them on a tour around the world where the children perform and study. When they return to their countries, the choir puts them through school with the hope that they will then help others in their communities.

Children are our greatest assets and these children are no different. Our children are our future and they are our greatest hope for peace, love and prosperity in the future. Africa's children are no different. As I sat through the concert, I thought how wonderful it is that I have a son from Africa. I thought about the huge blessing he is in my life and the blessing that those children are to their families and friends. I get sad when I think about the people who love Jacob but had the strength to let him go. I can never say thank you enough to his Ethiopian family and caregivers.

In a perfect world, everyone who wanted children would have them and everyone who had children would be able to care for them. There would not be poverty, abuse or neglect. This world is not like that. People often ask me why I don't have a child by birth. The answer is simple. There are children in our world who desperately need homes and love. They have done nothing wrong except be born into families affected by extreme poverty, abuse, neglect or other reasons why their parents are not prepared or able to care for them. Biology does not determine family but love does. It makes more sense for me to adopt a child than to spend the same amount of money to give birth to a child without the guarantee that the pregnancy will ever be successful. I love my son and to be allowed to have another child in my home and heart will be a blessing that words cannot describe.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Waiting For Children

I had a conversation yesterday that I just have to shake my head at and think how right this woman is. I will call her G. G has a wonderful daughter and desperately wants to have another child. I know exactly how she feels. The pull to have the children of your dreams only grows stronger with the passing years. This woman is unable to adopt for political reasons for at least four more years. With increasing wait times in most programs, she will probably wait at least 6 years to bring another child into her home.

This isn't what amazes me. I remember being in a huge hurry to bring my son into my home. I am one of those people that will quietly ponder an idea (especially if I believe it may be controversial) and then just make a decision. Once that decision is made, I don't let go of it very easily. When I began the process to adopt Jacob, all I could think about was that child that I wanted so desperately. I read books, watched movies, attended classes and shopped. I searched all the waiting child lists I could find hoping to find my son. I think on some level I knew my son was on a waiting child list. I do regret that it took me three plus months to find him (he was on the list for seven months waiting for me).

I knew when I met Jacob that I want another child. I have spent hours trying to decide how to bring that child into my home. Do I adopt an older child from foster care? (I now know that answer is no). Do I save every penny I can for an infant from another country? (That is what I plan to do now). I have made the decision and now spend time worrying about finding the money and timing the adoption. It needs to be completed after next May so that I can use my car payment for daycare. It needs to be completed and finalized here before December 31, 2010 so that I don't lose $6000 in adoption tax credits. It needs to be the right child for my family.

These are the thoughts I have as I try to work towards adopting a second child. It makes this woman's attitude even more unbelievable. Instead of concentrating on how long it will be until she is able to welcome another child into her home, she concentrates on the blessings she has. She is grateful for the daughter she has and states if she never has another child she knows she is blessed. She states that she knows in her heart she will adopt a child in a few years and is patiently waiting until the government tells her she can. She states she is using this time to try to save up money for the adoption and to make her life better.

I have to admit I am not that patient. I am anxious and eager to get the money saved so that I can get the process started and the official wait for my child. I worry that my child will appear on a waiting child list like Jacob did and I won't be ready for him/her. I anticipate adopting an infant girl but I was sure Jacob would be an infant under 12 months also. I learned during his process that I need to be ready when God sends my child to me. That he/she may not be the child I picture in my mind but God will let me know when I find him/her. The day is coming that I will hold him/her but that day is most likely at least two years away. I need to try to be as patient and understanding as G.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Learning About Culture

Discovering traditional Hmong clothing

Enjoying some Ethiopian Food
Many adoptive families believe it is important to teach our children about their birth cultures. I believe this is important and spend a lot of time talking about Ethiopia, showing my son books and pictures from Ethiopia, playing music from Ethiopia and eating Ethiopian food whenever we go downtown. We have been busy this week learning some words in Amharic. Although I wish I could teach him more and incorporate more of the holidays and traditions into our lives, I do the best I can as an American mom who has only been to Ethiopia once for a very short visit.
I also believe that children should be taught about many different cultures and belief systems. Of course, Jacob knows our beliefs and is being raised as an American and Christian. He is also being raised to honor, respect and appreciate other cultures. My hope is that he will grow up to be a more tolerant and well rounded adult who enjoys learning about our differences and is accepting of them.
The children's museum has a special exhibit this month teaching children (and adults) about Hmong culture. We were able to wear traditional Hmong clothing, see their money, cook "meals" using the rations available in camps, see traditional Hmong story cloths and many other fun things. At 2 1/2 and 3 1/2, I'm not sure E or Jacob really learned much but it was a start. If nothing else, it was a fun afternoon and a good beginning.
We left the children's museum and headed down the street to eat some doro wat, chicken peanut stew and injera. All of these are common foods in Ethiopia and foods that I ate while there. Injera is a very unique tasting flat bread. It has a kind of vinegar taste to it and does take a few tries to get used to. I was amazed to find that E loved it. I tend to eat a little of Jacob's and then eat rice. That is the only "americanized" change I make. I am getting used to injera and enjoying it more than I did a year ago. Maybe someday I will be able to stop ordering the rice.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Remembering Amharic

I have been trying to help E learn some Spanish words as well as teach her about her Mexican ancestory. As I was reading a Dora book and making E repeat some of the Spanish, I thought about Amharic. Amharic is the language spoken in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and the language spoken at the orphanage Jacob lived at for 11 months. It is not the language his birth family spoke (Ethiopia has over 80 spoken languages) but it is the official language and one he knew.

Jacob probably knew quite a bit of Amharic when he came home. I only recognized a couple of words but I know he said many more. I did not believe he remembered any except cah cah (it has the meaning most of you will think of). The only other word I recognized in Ethiopia was Wusha. This means dog and he would become excited and yell it whenever he saw a dog. I hadn't heard him say it in months.

Tonight I found some basic Amharic words on the internet. I decided to begin studying them and see if we could incorporate any of them in our daily lives. I asked Jacob if he knew what Wusha meant. He yelled "Doggy! Wusha!" I tried a couple of other words and he could easily pronounce them but didn't know what they meant. E had a harder time pronouncing them and Jacob could say them better than me. I think the language is still familiar to him although he doesn't understand it anymore. I would love to know how many words he does know. I am very happy he still remembers a couple.

As I try to raise money for another adoption, Jacob and I will work on his Amharic. It would be nice if he could say ahmahseganahlo (thank you) when he returns to Ethiopia.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Amazing Conversations

If you ever want to have a weird and fun conversation, talk to a 2 1/2 year old. It is so fun and amazing watching him discover his world and improve his language and coversational skills. Just a few months I was amazed if we could even have a two or three sentence conversation. We had the following conversation outside yesterday.

Jacob: Mommy, I see the sun!
Me: Yes. I see it too.
Jacob: Fix it Mommy.
Me: Fix the Sun?
Jacob: Yes. Fix it. It's broken.
Me: I don't think I can fix the sun. I can't reach it.
Jacob: Yes. Fix it.
Me: What's wrong with it?
Jacob: It needs a nap.
Me: Oh. It will take one tonight when it gets dark outside.
Jacob: Oh. Okay.

Sometimes all I can do is shake my head and try not to laugh.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

It's April 15th!

Most people groan when they see this day on the calendar. Not accounting families. This is a day of celebration. It is the day when the long hours and stress of completing tax returns ends.

My mom is a certified public accountant (CPA). When I was a child, my mother only worked during "tax season." Tax season lasts from January to April 15. April 15 meant the end of evenings and Saturdays without Mom. It meant the end of daycare and short tempers from both Mom and Dad as they dealt with the stress of long work hours and raising two children. Most importantly it meant the return of "normal." Normal was having Mom available whenever I wanted something and being able to choose which parent was most likely to say yes to a new toy or trip to a movie.

As an adult, I still celebrate the end of tax season. I send my mom a small gift (flowers, candy or something similar). I know that she is available if I need a shoulder to lean on and answers to questions. I know that she will be more patient when listening to my latest "great idea." Jacob gets to play with Grandma again and everyone is looking forward to going to the park and zoo together.

So for all you accounting families out there. HAPPY END OF TAX SEASON!

Monday, April 14, 2008

Reassurance Needed

Reassurance needed right now. It has been a difficult week and I think I am beginning to wear down. I know that I am doing my best. I have friends who have given me great advice and the social workers seem pleased with what I am doing. I just wish I had a magic wand to solve all of the behavioral and emotional problems I am seeing. Since I don't, I can only continue to try.

I am still working on ideas to raise money for another adoption. So far, I plan to have a garage sale and bake sale next month. I wish I had some kind of easy craft project that I could put together quickly and sell but that is not my area of expertise. I do know that the kids and I can bake cookies, brownies and other goodies and sell them. I have found tables for holding our goods, a couple friends with some items they want to sell and a coffee pot to make coffee to sell. I am now hoping for good weather and a good turnout. I plan to sell most of Jacob's clothes that are too small and some of the toys that he doesn't use and that I won't want to use with the next child. I also plan to sell my old digital camera. It is only a year old but is fairly large. I bought a new one that is easier to take with me (it fits in my pocket) and I really don't need two cameras.

Once I go back to work in a few weeks, I can start to work some overtime again. There will be more available now that I am on dayshift. I can't work as much as I did while raising money for Jacob's adoption but I can work some. I just need to make sure that his needs are met at the same time which means that he has enough time with me and we are able to still enjoy our lives together.

I just wish I had a crystal ball to tell me that I would be able to find the money I need for the adoption and that everything will work out well. I trust in God and know that if He wants me to adopt again, it will happen. He has never failed to help me find what I needed in the past and I know He will not fail me now.

Spring Is Here!

Finally, something to scream about. Spring appears to be here. The tulips are growing and will be blooming soon. The hostas are coming up and the rose bush is beginning to show signs of life again. I love this time of year when the earth begins to grow again.
I realize that it is not warm enough for Summer pajamas but as a mother I must choose my battles wisely. Jacob insisted on wearing the above pajamas. I put an extra blanket on his bed and told me to let me know if he got too cold. Apparently, he does not get cold as easily as I do. The above pictures were taken the next morning about an hour after he got up. I guess as long as he stays indoors he will be fine.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Good News On Homestudy

I began researching home study agencies and prices. I believe I found the agency I will use. I want to talk to a friend who used them but am pretty sure I will use them. I have met people who used them and were very happy.

Now, if only I had the money. I need to raise at least $4000 to start the adoption process. I know I won't raise that at the garage sale next month but maybe by next winter. The garage sale can't hurt though.

I started asking people about how foster care would affect the home study. After receiving an answer I did not like (read not what I was hoping for), I finally just called the home study agency. The SW there stated I would need to sign a form promising not to have any foster children in my home when I travelled to bring my new child home. I could still do emergency care and respite but would have to promise not to have a long-term placement when I travel. Since that won't be for almost 1 1/2 years after I start the home study process, that won't be a problem. I was just hoping to be able to continue to improve my parenting skills and experience some different behavioral and special needs while I waited for a referral.

A referral is still a long way off. I am hoping to adopt from Ethiopia again. Every year there are rumors that Ethiopia will stop single parent adoptions. I know my agency fights it and that the post placement reports from single parents really help. I allowed the agency's Ethiopian director to videotape my son and me when he was here last year. I have done what I can to help keep the program open. If for some reason it closes to single parents before I adopt again, there are other countries I will consider. Either way, I do plan to adopt a child again in the next couple of years.

Comment Moderation

I just wanted to let everyone know that I turned on the comment moderator. I received an attempt at a virus yesterday. Thankfully, my virus software recognized it and stopped it immediately. I don't want to take a chance on anyone else getting it though so I decided to moderate the comments as well as put a couple other protections in.

I still love reading the comments and welcome any. I will be sure to approve any that are not damaging to my computer or anyone else's.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

That Type

I was at a friend's house with E and Jacob today. My friend, S, runs an in-home daycare and has 5 children of her own. Her youngest four were there including her 3 month old daughter, C, and a 3-month-old boy she was watching, B. I was holding B when Jacob came over and we had the following conversation.

Jacob: I want one of those (pointing at B).
Me: You think we should have a baby?
Jacob: Yes. That type of those (poiniting at C).
Me: You want a baby like that one (pointing at C).
Jacob: Yes. That kind.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Growing Pains

E moved in yesterday. So far I think I have said, "Take turns." " He/She had that first. " If you can't play nicely, go to your room and play." "You are not Jacob's mom. You cannot tell him what to do or discipline him." about a million times.

Things are already beginning to improve. I have begun to set some ground rules and each child has been disciplined at least once. I am continuing to ignore E's tantrums and she appears to be learning quickly that I will not react to them. Both children are pushing and hitting less as they are aware that it will only lead to more time outs. When E does not play nice and becomes bossy, Jacob and I play in another room. It doesn't take long before she decides she would rather play nicely than play alone.

I know that the next few weeks are going to be challenging. I also know that it already is easier on me emotionally than when Jacob came home. I am less hesitant to ask for help and more creative in finding ways to take breaks. I also know that things will continue to improve and that is all I can hope for right now.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Moving In and Enjoying Spring

The weather was beautiful today. The high was in the mid 60's and the sun was out. It was the first time this year that we have been able to play outside without jackets. Jacob picked up his own clothes today and managed to have everything weather appropriate and matching! That was our first sign that it was going to be a great day.

E came over in the morning and we spent some time with her and her current foster moms. They brought E's belongings over which took two trips in the SUV. I spent about two hours sorting through it and trying to determine what we would use now and what was too small or too big. I also separated her toys into toys for her room and toys for the playroom. Those may get changed after she has time to find her favorite toys and decide what she wants upstairs.

Jacob, E, her current foster moms and I all went to the park this morning for about an hour. The kids all had fun and did really well. We had lunch at a local resteraunt and then went home. Jacob took a nap and I tried to organize the house. E went back to her house after lunch.

E is coming over tomorrow. She is going to church with us in the morning and then over here for the afternoon. She moves in on Monday but is excited and ready now. I know the next few weeks will be full of transitions but at least everyone has a good attitude about it right now. Hopefully, that will continue after the honeymoon period ends.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

The Computer is Fixed

No, I didn't fix the bad USB port. Yes, I feel foolish. I called the computer repair store and asked them what it would cost to fix it. They asked if the ports on the back of the computer were working. Ports on the back!!! I had completely forgotten about them. Now, I can begin taking new pictures and posting them again.

Here are a couple of Jacob on his new tricycle. He actually got it from his great-aunt last year but wasn't quite big enough for it. After growing over 8 inches, the bike fits now.

Children Are Hard On Computers

Computers are definitelly not made for young children. No matter how many times I tell Jacob that the computer is not a toy, he is always trying to play with it. So far he has written with black permanent marker on the monitor (thankfully below the screen and not on it), spilled something on the keyboard that makes the shift key stick and now jammed pennies into the USB ports. I have some wonderful pictures I want to share but need to get the USB port fixed first.

E is moving into my home on Monday. I need to get the port fixed soon so I can upload pictures of her and Jacob. I can't post pictures of her here but I can email them to close family and friends. I also want to make a photo montage of her time in our family and need the computer for that also.

It will probably be a couple of weeks before I have the money to fix the computer. Until then, I will keep you updated without the fun pictures. There are some coming though so please be patient. Now, to unstick that shift key.....