We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand. ~Isaiah 64:8

Friday, February 13, 2009

Hello from Accra, Ghana!

We are sweating it out in Accra! You've never really experienced heat until you've driven half an hour in a hot, cramped taxi in a fumey city, with a wiggly, sweaty baby on your lap...LOL!

I'll post more about our trip here, it has been a good one, but with some downs, too. The best thing, though, is that we have our new daughter and she is doing great! Want pictures?

Uploading is slow, so here is a favorite one until we get home...

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Thursday, February 12, 2009

We've got her!

Here we are in Ghana! And here is our dear L:

Isn't she a cutie pie? She's making great progress in so many areas - and really beginning to show a distinct preference and reliance on Erik and I. My favorite thing is her silly grin - always with that little tongue sticking out! Oh, and her squeals of laughter!
We've had our first visit to the embassy (to submit our i600) and now we wait for our visa interview. While we wait we are enjoying Accra.
Sunday we went to church at our Bishop's cathedral (Cathedral of the Holy Trinity - Accra). Monday we had a late lunch out at a local restaurant that gets rave reviews for "western" food (well deserved reviews - we had AWESOME cheeseburgers!). On Tuesday, Erik and I made an outing to an internet cafe. (I know that sounds minor, but come to Accra - with a baby and you'll understand what a major outing that was!) Yesterday, we had a big adventure by hiring a taxi to take us up to the University of Ghana for a look at the Archeological Department museum. Today, we took L to a health clinic to get her last round of vaccinations before she leaves the country. Tomorrow is Friday and our facilitator tells us a bad day for traffic in Accra, so we are sticking close to home, or rather guest house.
We hope to make it out to do some bead and fabric shopping this weekend...and then a trip out of the city into the countryside.
Pray for a speedy processing of L's visa!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

We are very shortly off to meet our daughter. Before we know it, we'll be bringing her home. So many of you have shared this journey with us and I know you are anxious to meet her - and hold her and love on her! We are just thrilled that there are so many around us who love her.

There are some things you'll need to know before we get home. As an adopted child, she'll need lots of time to develop her attachement to us, her parents. It may see odd (especially if you compare it to how parents handle a birth child), but we will for some time need to keep her very close to us - physically and literallly. We will also need to be the only ones who feed her or do any "caretaking" for sometime. These are the things that are part of the attachment cycle for an infant.

If everything goes well, she'll get a good start on the attachement process and then will be able to begin meeting lots of new people- and learning that they can take care of her, too (but that Mom and Dad are the main people). We don't know how long that will take, but it is of utmost importance that she has all the time she needs to get bonded to us.

We also have to keep in mind that she is facing so many changes (sights, smells, tastes, sounds, etc) that we need to keep her world as calm as we can - limiting new experiences until she gets used to just everyday life with us. It may be some time before we are able to really take her "out in the world", and even then it will be limited.

We know all this seems a bit odd, but we've learned through our adoptive parent training how vitally important it is for her long-term health.

From the website Af3verFamily.org - lots of great articles and info for adoptive families and their families and friends. Here's a great list of Do's and Don'ts:

Dos & Don’ts for Family & Friends of Adoptive Parents

1. Offer household help (running errands, preparing meals that can go right from the freezer to the oven, etc.) so the mother can spend more time holding the child.

2. Trust the mother’s instincts. Even a first time mother may notice subtle symptoms that well-meaning family and friends attribute to “normal” behavior.

3. Accept that attachment issues are difficult for anyone outside of the mother to see and understand.

4. Be supportive even if you think everything looks fine to you.

5. Allow the parents to be the center of the baby’s world. One grandfather, when greeting his grandson, immediately turns him back to his mom and says positive statements about his good mommy.

6. Tell the baby every time you see her what a good/loving/safe mommy she has.

7. When the parents need someone to care for the baby for a night out, offer to babysit in the child’s home. (After the child has been home for a substantial period of time.)

8. As hard as it may be for you, abide by the requests of the parents. Even if the baby looks like she really wants to be with Grandma, for example, she needs to have a strong attachment to her parents first. Something as simple as passing the baby from one person to another or allowing others, even grandparents, to hold a baby who is not “attached” can make the attachment process that much longer and harder. Some parents have had to refrain from seeing certain family members or friends because they did not respect the parents’ requests.

9. Accept that parenting children who are at-risk for or who suffer from attachment issues goes against traditional parenting methods and beliefs. Parenting methods that work for many children can be detrimental to a child with attachment issues.

10. Remember that there is often a honeymoon period after the child arrives. Many babies do not show signs of grief, distress, or anxiety until months after they come home. If the parents are taking precautions, they are smart and should be commended and supported!

1. Assume an infant is too young to suffer from emotional issues related to attachment. Babies are not immune.

2. Underestimate a new mother’s instincts that something isn’t right.

3. Judge the mother’s parenting abilities. What looks like spoiling or coddling may be exactly what the child needs to overcome a serious attachment disorder. Parenting methods that work for many children can be detrimental to a child with attachment issues.

4. Make excuses for the child’s behaviors or try to make the mother feel better by calling certain behaviors “normal”. For example, many children who suffer from attachment issues may be labeled strong-willed by well-meaning family members. While being strong-willed can be seen as a positive personality trait, this type of behavior in an attachment-impaired child may signify problems.

5. Accuse the mother of being overly sensitive or neurotic. She is in a position to see subtle symptoms as no one else can.

6. Take it personally if asked to step back so the parents can help their child heal and form a healthy and secure attachment. You may be asked not to hold the baby for more than a minute. This is not meant to hurt you. It is meant to help prove to the baby who his mommy and daddy are. Up until now the child’s experience has been that mommies are replaceable. Allowing people to hold the baby before he has accepted his forever mommy and daddy are can be detrimental to the attachment process.

7. Put your own time frames on how long attachment should take. One mother was hurt when she was chastised by a relative who couldn’t understand…after all, the baby had been home six months. It could take weeks, months, even years. Every child is different.

8. Offer traditional parenting advice. Some well-meaning family members will tell a new mother not to pick the baby up every time she cries because it will spoil her. A child who is at-risk or who suffers from attachment issues must be picked up every single time she cries. He needs consistent reinforcement that this mommy/daddy will always take care of her and always keep her safe.

9. Fall into the appearance trap. Some babies/toddlers with attachment issues can put on a great show to those outside of the mother/father. What you see is not always a true picture of the child. Even babies as young as 6-months-old are capable of “putting on a good face” in public.

10. Lose hope. With the right kind of parenting and therapy, a child with attachment issues can learn to trust and have healthy relationships. But it does take a lot of work and a good understanding of what these children need.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Last day...

- Purchase dog food and cat food - CHECK
- Deliver dogs, crates, food, leads to friends' house - CHECK
- Drop return to Lands End (via Sears) - CHECK
- Enjoy a Starbucks and a croissant - CHECK (hehehe)
- Contact info packages mailed to Mom and friend - CHECK
- Purchase Valentine's Day cards and mail to family - CHECK
- Purchase some extra batteries for camera - CHECK
- Iron and starch my "dressy" linen jacket (just in case we need to dress up) - CHECK
- Clean bathrooms, vacuum & dust, put away laundry - CHECK
- Get cash for trip - CHECK
- Clean kitchen (dishes washed, sink scrubbed, trash out) - CHECK
- Clean out the fridge
- Paint my toe nails (one must have their priorities!) - CHECK
- Enjoy a "date" with hubby (no movie - but a yummy dinner out at our favorite mexican place) - CHECK
- Suitcases in car - CHECK

We are ready to get up in the morning and go! Just ignore the current weather forecast for Charlotte - pray it doesn't delay our flight.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

2 days to go...

Well, today was a good day!

Neither Erik nor I slept well last night (from about 4am on we both tossed and turned...just so much to be thinking about right now). So, when it was time to get up for church, well, I really wanted to just stay in bed and have a lazy morning. While I love my church, sometimes I'm more tired after a long morning at church. But, Erik managed to get me out of bed by bribing me with Starbucks. (One of the perks about our church's current temporary location - we are right next to a Starbucks!) And you know what - church was wonderful and I came home filled up and ready to go!

Our congregation prayed us off on our trip and it was wonderful to get so many hugs and words of encouragement. I know I'm biased, but our "little" church is really a fantastic example of the Body of Christ - so much love and support!

We got to talk to the kids by SKYPE today - and they are all enjoying their first day with Uncle Peter and Aunt Karen. It was good to see them and hear them - especially after we both noted how QUIET the house is. :)

This afternoon we finished our packing. Other than last-minute items like cosmetics and computer, we are all packed! Our large suitcase is stuffed, but still under the weight limit. Whew! We also rearranged the Master to fit in a "Co-Sleeper" right by our bed for L. She'll need to stay close by at night for a while until she has become comfortable and assured that we will be there when she wakes up. I'll probably have her nap in her regular crib so that she'll get used to that bed, too.

Tomorrow, we drop the dogs at a friends' house and have a few errands to run (some items to get in the mail), clean up the house...and then maybe, just maybe, we'll catch a movie in the afternoon. Our last "date" for a while, I guess.