Blogging about my trip to Ethiopia isn't turning out so easy to do. There is just too much to say and by the time I can blog at night while the kids are sleeping I'm DONE with emotions for the day. So, I'm just going to give an update for those of you who have been checking this blog for anything new.
We've been home 11 days now. Things are actually going pretty much how they are supposed to be. We are all adjusting, sometimes getting on eachothers nerves, but most of the time things are okay. We are trying to be really consistant with certain boundaries like speaking nicely and obeying Mom and Dad, and letting other things go for now like being a super picky eater and wearing articles of clothing that don't fit and shouldn't be worn together.
Some of the fun/funny things over the past 11 days have been watching the kids learn to ride bikes, taking Leul to soccer practice, watching Mateo absolutely adore having a big brother, seeing the surprised look on Leul's face when a voice came out of the speaker at the B.K. drive thru and he said "That thing talk?", trying to explain to Hana that when you order something on the internet it doesn't just come right out of the computer screen, and seeing my bio girls the second morning after being home walk into my bedroom with what I thought was very wet hair only to find out Hana had fixed their hair that morning using her hair grease! We had one day where Leul was really frustruated and said he wanted a new family. Although Mateo loves having a brother he very nonchalantly replied, "Okay, let's go to the airport and send him back"! (We did later explain to Leul that he's stuck with us as his family and he won't be sent back no matter how mad he is)
Some of the not so fun things:
Constantly reminding the kids that we need to speak in a kind voice to eachother. For example if one sibling is in the way of the other, rather than saying could you please move, they will instead say "Move!" in a really irritated voice. This is an issue with all the kids that has become magnified since Leul and Hana have come home only because there are now 6 kids shouting rather than 4. In a way it's been good because everyone is getting lots of practice saying things the nice way, it's just exhausting to deal with all day.
Some kids have this weird idea that everything in the world must be even! If one child gets a swimsuit, it doesn't matter if the other child already has one, they still sulk because they think "If they get something, I should get something."
One of the new kids is a very picky eater, and I'm not talking they don't like American food, they don't even like many kinds of fruit.
One of the new kids gets mad very quickly (although every day the anger spurts get shorter and less frequent and I'm very thankful when they're mad they are just very silent rather than physically harmful)
Olivia is a little clingy these days
Due to nightmares I now have children sleeping on my bedroom floor every night
Leul doesn't really appreciate all of Olivia's touching. Usually I hear him saying "Please stop
(although there has been a few times when I've seen him hugging her or giving her a kiss on the cheek)
All in all the new kids don't really act out any more than the old ones do. I think it's just that when the new ones act out I feel a lot more pressure and stress because I'm constantly having to explain a new rule like why we don't eat icecream for lunch, or why mom can't stand outside all day watching the kids ride bikes, and then there is usually some sulking that follows. With the other kids I can just look at them and tell them to get over it and move on and they actually do move on right away, Hana and Leul like to sulk awhile first! There is a part of me that is constantly on guard waiting for the next fit to be thrown and it's tiring.
I'm not saying these things to be negative. There are a lot of good things going on in our house every day and I'm trying to list some of them tonight, I just want to be real. I want to be able to look at this one day and see how far we've come and I want others who read this blog who might be adopting to have a real picture of what it might be like. So far all the negative things are small things I expect will fade with time and consistant parenting.
Some surprising things:
Mateo wants to follow Leul and do whatever he does, but even when Leul gets to do something Mateo can't Mateo doesn't get mad. He just says, "Yah, Leul can do that because he's older"
I feel a lot of love for the kids. This is surprising to me because even with my babies I don't bond right away and it's common for the love feeling to take awhile when adopting older kids, so I didn't expect to feel so much love for them right off the bat.
Hana is really good with Ariana and even Leul plays with her and has given her hugs and kisses.
Neither of the kids is shy at all around our family. There was never a stage where things felt uncomfortable or wierd. They just fit right in.
So far, other than Olivia being clingy, there is no jealousy between the kids as far as fighting for my attention. The bio kids don't feel put on the back burner and Leul and Hana don't get all jealous when I'm hugging on one of the other kids. I was prepared for the jealousy thing but it hasn't happened yet.
Isabella (age 7)has become a mommy number 3. Everyone knows Angelina (12) is mommy #2 but Isabella has never cared to take that on until now. She speaks to Leul and Hana in a wannabe Ethiopian accent (I think she figures they'll understand her better!) and says, No Leul don't do that, or Please stop doing that Hana, or sometimes just a loud Leul!. This hasn't been that great for her bonding with Leul. I don't think he really appreciates this little girl he just met telling him what to do, but we are working on that!
Some of the good things:
I love both of the kids' personalities. Leul is a total comedian and a pistol, and Hana is fun and compassionate.
The kids don't ask us for a bunch of stuff
Hana and Leul are both pretty obediant even when mad or sulking
Both of them have apologized completely on their own after doing something wrong
They both accept my physical affection very well and also seek it out
Leul is a great soccer player, the other mom's called him a Ringer (thanks to my neighbor I now know what that means)
Hana can read well in English which means homeschooling will be a tad bit easier with her
Both the kids feel comfortable talking about their lives in Ethiopia
All the seats in our Suburban are filled which is something I prayed for years ago
Leul eats like a champ
Hana is right in between Isabella and Angelina age wise so sometimes she plays with Isabel and sometimes with Angelina and neither one of them gets left out all the time (also much of the day the kids all play together)
When Leul is sad or mad, he will usually talk about it and tell me why
Both of the kids have a reverence for God
They have called us Mom and Dad from the beginning
I am amazed at how much of the time the kids are happy. 11 days ago they left everything and everybody they know to fly 22 hours on an airplane and live with a family who has a completely new set of rules and lifestyle than what they are used to. The week before leaving they revisited the homes they grew up in and said goodbye to the family they love dearly knowing it will be years before being able to see them again if at all as some of their family members are living with HIV in a country where medications aren't readily available. My heart truly breaks everytime I think of it and yet it rejoices when I'm driving in my Suburban looking in my rear view mirror and I see 7 beautiful children God has given me the joy of raising. The sound of 7 kids making noise in the car is priceless to me. I'd rather listen to that than music anyday. I don't know what I'll do when they grow up and the noise is gone.
I know this post is all jumbled and my grammar stinks, but it's as much as my tired brain can get out for now.