Thursday, June 26, 2014

Sentencia!!!!

    We woke up this morning at a ridiculously early time, seeing as we didn't have any plans until the afternoon.  We were supposed to be picked up at 1 for the second half of J's embassy medicals.  A certain 3 year old girl who sleeps in the little bed in the same room as me, has decided that sleeping is for the birds.  We've now gone for multiple days with crazy wake up times and very little napping!  (Some of this, I will admit, is due to our being out and about, but 3:30am is NOT 'Good morning, I'm awake now' by any means.)  Yesterday, she was back down for a morning nap before 8!
   Anyway.... since we'd been up for awhile, had a good breakfast and just relaxing, I got in the shower a little later then normal to get ready for the day.  While in the shower, there was a knock at our door (repeatly) as I tried to hollar..."I'm in the shower, just a minute".  But my brain could not put the words together in Spanish and the woman who works to clean the rooms (and does multiple other tasks) speaks very little English.  So, when I heard her come in (and she told me she'd come in) I hurried and finished up, so I could throw some clothes on and see what in the heck was going on.  When I opened the door and saw her I had a brief moment of   "oh no, something bad has happened", but then she got this big smile on her face and handed me the phone.  It was Claudia, the hotel owner, saying Soraya has been trying to call and I needed to call her right away, she had important news.  So, I grabbed the Soraya phone (it's really the only person I use the in-country phone to call!) and dialed her up.  And.....voicemail.  UGH!!  I waited a minute (as I'm continuing to get ready) and then she called me.
I could tell just by her voice she had something good to tell me and sure enough....

We got SENTENCIA!!!!!

  She said I needed to come 'right now' to meet her so we could sign the papers.  It would take too long for her to drive all the way to pick me up, so Claudia would call a taxi and tell them where I needed to go and she'd be waiting for me there.   It took me a few seconds to process what she'd said and then I became a crazy person.  Scrambling to get ready, switching gears from 'just headed to the Dr.' to 'headed to sign the paper that claimed my girl as officially and legally MINE....forever.   I threw our bag together (of course it would end up being a long day since we still had the Dr. appoint in the afternoon) and changed into nicer clothes.  Got J ready in record time (Martha, the woman who works here, was awesome and kept checking to see what I needed to help get out the door!) and went downstairs to wait for the taxi.  I was shaking.  I could not believe that we were really moving through the process this fast.  I had a few moments that I thought I must be dreaming and would wake up any second.    
   I am not sure if I may have been a little more happily anxious then even going to meet J for the first time.  Riding in the taxi seemed like an eternity (it was really only about 1/2 hour) and J fell asleep!  She must not have realized how exciting this moment is.  When I saw Soraya standing on the sidewalk waiting for us, I kept telling myself, "don't cry, don't cry, don't cry"!!  I was barely out of the car when she was hugging me and so excited!!  (Yes, there may have been some watery eyes). We raced a few blocks to the division of family services office and arrived with plenty of time to get the paperwork completed before they closed for lunch at noon.  

   
    
    Soraya read over the decree to me, we double checked every place our names were listed, birthdates, passport numbers, birth certificate information and then once we decided all was good, I signed my name on one tiny line of this thick stack of paperwork and that was that....

                                  

                                        


She's.all.mine.  
Officially, 100% legally, My Daughter!

We had to stop at La Casa so Soraya could file some other paperwork for another family and it was so great walking in there and everyone was so happy for us.  The lawyer gave us big hugs and the woman who runs the home was so thrilled.  They kept telling everyone who walked by..."They got Sentencia today.  She's legally her daughter now!"  They were all genuinely so happy.  It's really nice to have worked with a facility, staffed with individuals, who truly care about the children that they work with and their new families.  

 Like me and my Josie girl.

The newest face on the wall of...'found a forever home'.







Wednesday, June 25, 2014

A week with no plans

  I mentioned in a previous post that we have had our first full week with no scheduled plans.  No appointments, no meetings, no pre-scheduled outings (or just for fun lunches!)  At first I was a little unsure of how an entire week with no real schedule was going to play out.  My initial thought was, 'Uh-oh', but very quickly I realized what a treat it was going to be for us to just get to be together and enjoy J's beautiful country and some time as just us.  

   So, what DID we do?  Well, we created some Mama and Josie adventures.  We spent time simply hanging out. We played, A LOT. Someone loves the silliest toys (and things that can be thrown).  I've started saving the cardboard egg cartons, TP and paper towel rolls. Also containers with lids.  She loves to fill them up, I put the lid on, she pulls the lid off and dumps it out, only to fill it up again and repeat....over and over and over!

We took our daily (or maybe every other day) trips to Carulla for groceries.  It's just easier to only get a day or two worth of food at a time and it gives us something to do! 

We watched Colombia with their first two matches in the World Cup. And listened to the city go CRAZY at each 'Goooooooooaaaaaaaaaaal'.  We had to get matching jersey's so we could fit in around here!


    We attempted to walk Ciclovia again on Sunday and I had originally thought we'd go all the way to the mall, but realized just after starting out, that it was election day here in Colombia and so, no Ciclovia.  So, we just settled for the 'Wal-mart' like store called Exito.  Things are a little cheaper there, so it's a good place to grab diapers and wipes!  Sometimes when you go, they hand the kids a sucker at the door as you walk in.  I guess they think it keeps the kids happy while the parents shop.  There is also a great little pastry kiosk by the entrance. It sure is a good thing we do a lot of walking here, otherwise, I'm sure I'd gain 10 pounds during my stay!
  There is a little mall closer to us, that has a few little rides and kiddie area on the lower level. They also

have a few different food kiosks that have a variety of different types of food.  J loves to ride this certain little train and it's only $.50 for a token so I buy a couple and we hang out there for a few minutes.  She really enjoys just sitting on the different rides even if they're not moving. We walked over a few times to ride the train. AND we actually tried out two of the other rides with tokens.  She was not sure about Pinocchio, but the clown car was a hit.

    A new family arrived very early a week ago Sunday and had their encounter day last Monday.  The little boy they are adopting is from the same place that J was.  And we've been told they did a lot together.  I finally got to meet him last  Monday afternoon and it was quite entertaining watching the two play outside.  I would LOVE to have been able to read Josie's mind when she saw him and while they were together.  She definitely seemed to recognize him and I think may have been a little confused at moments, as she just stared with the 'I'm not sure what to think right now' look.  By day two, they were playing like siblings.  It's so funny to watch them.  He likes to 'scold' her and she likes to tease him a bit.  They really do act like brother and sister, best friends one moment and 'yelling' at each other the next.  He is really sweet and J loves to watch him run around and be silly.  Sometimes, I wonder if she thinks he is her own personal entertainment.  They have their own form of communication.  The adults have no clue what their little grunts and noises mean but they carry on their own little conversations pretty well.

      We spent A LOT of time outside playing with all of the families here right now.  It's really nice to get to chat with the other parents.  Sharing adoption stories, how things are going, what's been tough, things that work that someone else wants to try.  It's also nice to be getting to know the other parents, like, where do you live, what do you do, things that we have in common.  And it's especially great for all of the littles to get to play.  (I am working on a separate post about how nice it is to be staying in a place with other families.  I really am not sure how people survive these 8 weeks without the support of other adoptive parents and their kids!)
    
While we were driving to the pediatrician's office a week ago Friday, we passed through the old downtown and saw some pretty great churches/buildings/parks.  It was nice to get glimpses of the old buildings from the car, but even better to get a driver and head back that way and be a little 'touristy'. We spent the weekend doing some major exploring.  (There will be a separate post about our weekend excursions!)

    There is a nice park in the opposite direction of the mall/grocery store that we usually visit, so we ventured a bit in that direction.  (And I didn't get lost!). The strip mall there also has some little rides, so of course we had to try those out!  We have walked over a few times and each time a little too early.  I need to head over for a later lunch to try a chicken place that is supposedly quite tastey!


We finally stopped at this little bread place that we pass quite regularly and smells delicious!  Sweet bread for breakfast, cheese bread for lunch and layered rolls for dinner...I think yes!  After you visit once, you must return for more!  I've discovered a variety of foods that J likes and will eat, that are also mushy enough for her to 'chew' and swallow.  Thankfully, bread is one of those that she loves!   (Eggs, oatmeal, yogurt, pureed fruit, bread, soup, rice and beans.  It's kind of a rounded diet, right?) 

   A couple of our walking outings took a good part of a day, but thankfully the bunny LOVES riding in her stroller and hanging out in the Beco.  She's also a really great stroller and car napper!  Bonus for any future trips.  Overall it was a quiet and easy week.  Perfect to prepare for the busy weekend and a new week full of Dr. visits, appointments and sightseeing trips.  




Monday, June 23, 2014

'Sophia' the first

     First, I have to share how happy I am to be staying in a place with other families and such a 'home-like' atmosphere.   This place and the people here are simply wonderful.

    J received her very first invitation yesterday.  An actual paper invitation on our door to her very first birthday party.  A First birthday party for one of our new friends from downstairs.  J's new friend Sophia, who's parents are incredible people and I'm sure we will be keeping in touch throughout our girl's lives, gets to celebrate her first birthday with her family!  Birthdays are so exciting and it's so special that Sophia's parents get to have this celebration with their new daughter. 
   We were super excited to be invited to the birthday bash and also get to share in the experience of celebrating a first birthday.  J and Sophia are a few years apart chronologically, but developmentally are pretty similar and they are the only girls here right now.  I have had the pleasure of getting to chat with the birthday girl's parents quite a bit and they are such amazing people.  (We all actually went to the market yesterday and enjoyed a 3 hour 'dinner' with some great story sharing.)  I love that within this whole adoption process you get to meet some great people who really understand. 

   Anyway, we spent the morning playing and then walked to the mall (our favorite place!) for some tastey Ajaico soup for lunch and to pick out a present for the birthday girl.  Josie wanted to play, touch, poke, pick-up, squeeze, etc. EVERY toy that she could while we were hunting for just the right gift.  I knew the theme of the party was princessy.  Princes Sofia to be exact....how fitting is that.  Sofia the first for "Sophia's first".  Her mom must have had a great time choosing those decorations!  We also know that the birthday girl loves bubbles and she and Josie have a lot of similarities in their play and choice of toys.  So, we picked out a pretty fantastic princess bubble gun.  And then I chose 4 toys that I thought the birthday girl would really like and let J choose.  She picked a teddy bear taggie type blanket.  Perfect for the little thing that loves to put everything in her mouth!  (I think J thought it was for her as she pulled the bag onto her arm and carried it around the rest of the store!)
   We took a short (and I mean very short) nap before party time (no grumps allowed at a birthday party!).  And then after changing into party clothes, we headed downstairs for the festivities.  Such fun decorations, all set up for a sweet girl's first birthday. All of the families staying here now were invited, so all of the kiddos had a great time playing.  The birthday girl's Mama has family here and so a few of the cousins also came.  The owner of this hotel (who is also pretty great!) had gotten a cake and also had a gentleman who brought a harp to play for the party.  It was so neat to have the traditional music and the birthday girl LOVED watching and listening to him play.  There was dancing and balloon animals, cake and juice, princess balloons, party hats, pizza and presents, and more music and dancing.  The kids all seemed to have a great time and it was fun for the parents to all get to hang out together as well.

 

    Josie loved the music.  She played with the littler kiddos for a bit and then wanted to dance!  She had her first taste of pizza (the cheese and soft crust were a hit....but no crunchiness and NO meat or veggies!  I guess she's a bit like her Mama...plain cheese is the way to go!) and her first piece of birthday cake.  Which she devoured. 

My sweet girl loved playing balloons with the birthday girl and some of the older kids (who were very sweet with the littler ones) played 'catch' and danced a bit, too.  J tends to hang back and take things in.  She really enjoys watching the bigger kids from the safety of Mama's lap (or hands if the music is playing and there is dancing to be done!)   She loves playing with Sophia and another younger little guy here who are bit quieter and move at about the same pace.  She really does enjoy her buddy Diego as well, but Diego is a busy little guy and wanted to be right in the action with the bigger kids!  (It's so fun to watch them all get to experience so many new things!!)  I loved watching my girl take in all that was going on around her and get to enjoy her first birthday party with her first group of friends.




   It was such a fun experience, getting to be a part of this darling baby's first birthday celebration.  I know we will have this memory for a lifetime and hopefully these new friends for a lifetime, as well!

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Two weeks

I truly can not explain how much this child changes me on a daily basis and how much she is changing!  It has now been two weeks since I met my darling bunny girl and walked her out of that orphanage forever.  And wow, what a whirlwind of two weeks it has been.
    We were pretty busy with meeting and appointments for the first week and a half but have finally had the chance to just relax over the weekend and have no scheduled 'appointments' until Friday.  Whew.  What are we going to do with ourselves!
    I must be 'real' here for a minute and say that I initially had a little moment of panic when we parted ways with Soraya on Friday with "Okay, we have nothing until next Friday, so have a great week!"  My brain paused for a second and I thought, "uhhh, an entire week without anything scheduled, what are we going to do!?!"  No meetings, no appointments, no lunches, no planned outings.  I'm not tired of being here at all, nor am I bored or in that 'ready to get home' stage.  (Not that I won't be happy to be home, I'm just not 'homesick' so to say).  But it was a little odd not to have that constant person who can answer questions, help get things done and make sure that everything is running smoothly.  Not that anything was going to go wrong this week or that I wasn't going to absolutely enjoy simply getting to be with my daughter.  But I still felt (feel) so new to the town (though I am enjoying learning so much about Bogota and Colombia) there is so much I am still unsure of.  I know that people are just a phone call away if I need anything at all, and the reality is we will be just fine and we will spend the days exploring and playing!  And it will be great!
    We have done some exploring and plan to do more.  (A another family arrived on Sunday and they had their encounter day today.  The little boy they are adopting lived with J.  From what we've been told their son and J spent a lot of their day together, so we're planning on some exploring time together since the kiddos are already friends!)  I've love to go the La Candelaria region and explore the old buildings and walk around the square.  On Sunday we're heading up to Usaquen to explore the market.  I'll let you know how are adventures end up! (And hopefully have some good 'tourist' pictures!) 
    It really has been so nice to just have a couple of days to just be us.  J is getting a little healthier everyday  (though we're still doing regular, multiple times a day/everyday breathing treatments) she does seem to be improving slowly but steadily!  And with that, I'm seeing so many more of her funny little antics showing through.  She is really quite funny (and I know I'm partial, but even the other adults here crack up at her!).  She is so expressive!  Faces, gestures, and now, noise!  She's getting more vocal every day! We are actually working on 'callarse, por favor' and 'no gritar, por favor'!  (Be quiet, please and no yelling, please!)  She babbles A LOT.  Her only real word is 'No' and she uses it very regularly.  She actually says 'no' or shakes her head 'no' even when she really means 'yes'. ("Do you want a bath?"  "NO!" as she tries to climb in the tub with her clothes on!)  She does babble, 'Mamama', but I don't see a real connection to those words being me...YET!  
   We are working on some signing.  Mostly, 'Please' to start off.  She points and grunts or yells as her means of communicating (simply because she's never been taught otherwise!)  So, we're starting off with please as kind of an all encompassing word.  "Please, I want more", "Please, I want up", "Please, I need help", "Please, I want to do that again", "Please, I want that", etc.  She is such a smart little thing and has already used the 'please' sign a bit on her own, but we're still working on it being a constant in her vocabulary!

   I'm so proud of how brave she is.  She is getting stronger every day, wanting to pull up and climb on things.  She reaches up for me to take her hands and wants to stand with everything...me, the couch, toys outside, her chair, her stroller!  I'm still on a hunt for shoes that fit correctly as I'm sure that will make even more of a difference in her standing and pulling up (at least while we're here).  I'm pretty sure once we get home and have a PT eval, that she's going to need at least SMO's, but correct fitting shoes certainly won't hurt in the mean time!
    She still loves to cuddle and I love that she just loves to be
held.  She is such a snuggler and will bury her little head into my shoulder and just lay there completely content.  And I am so relieved and overjoyed that she feels so safe with me.  I lay down with her at naptime (she goes to bed just fine, but we've both missed 3 years worth of 'snuggling to sleep' time) and she will scoot her self over so she's completely squished into my arms and just stare.  Sometimes, I can't look back because it brings tears to my eyes thinking that she's missed out on so much and she is simply just soaking in every second of love and affection that she can.
    Last night while we were out playing with one of the other families, the dad made a comment that they can see such a difference in my girl.  He said it's so amazing how much more active she is and social and (not that she wasn't happy before) but he said "her happiness is so much more".  It really hits home that someone else can see how much my sweet bunny is growing and changing in just two short weeks of having a Mama.  I am so in love with this little bundle of joy and I guess love is just what she needed.

From the first day of being with Mama....

  video
....to beginning to understand how incredible this new life is...
 in just two weeks!





   
   

Saturday, June 14, 2014

I'm officially legal now!

One of the requirements of hanging out here in C for so long, is that non-C citizens, must get a Colombian ID, otherwise known as a Colombian Cedula.  Because I'll be, and I quote, 'doing business' here, I must have a proper Colombian ID.  It's supposed to happen within the first two weeks of your arrival into the country.  We'd planned on getting mine last week, but well, I got J that day instead!! (no complaints here!)
So we got picked up by the in country rep, bright and early Monday morning and went to the Migracion Office downtown.
Side-note:   I am SO blessed to have such an AMAZING in country agency representative.  She has gone out of her way to assist with things because I'm here alone and because, after a week of getting to know her, it's just how she rolls.  She's an outright generous person and I can't imagine working with an agency that didn't have such an awesome rep!!


Back to the Cedula....After a bit of time in traffic, (I am amazed that there are not accidents every 10 minutes here! but my rep is a fantastic driver and I have always felt very safe in her car) we got parked and in true fashion, Soraya got us to the front of the line and we were put on the 'expedite' list.  I thought I had the needed items, but it turned out (after Soraya helped me fill out the application) that I was missing a photo and a copy of my visa stamp.  So, we walked down the street, where she ran into this place and made a copy and then we found the 'photo booth'.
We were cracking up at this make shift photo center.  The woman simply had her printer, that would connect to her camera and a paper cutter, piled on a chair with an umbrella and a sign.  You walked a couple steps away to a bus stop, where she hung a white 'curtain' on the inside of the bus stop wall and there you stood on the side of the street, at a bus stop, and got your picture taken.  Soraya was laughing so hard at me as I tried do to the 'please don't smile for the picture face' and she also took a picture of me getting my picture taken just to proof the craziness of this event.  Her words..."Only in Colombia".  And I totally agreed.  (She asked if I would ever see this on the street in New York or Chicago and I commented that you'd only be getting your picture taken, like that, on the street if it was for something illegal!!)

Once we had all of the needed items, we went back to the Migracion office and again, straight to the front of the line.  (It's funny, she just goes to the right people and says/asks the right things.  If I had had to take a taxi and do that alone, I probably would have been in line for over an hour, JUST to get the application!)  I was sent up to the processing area where, because she is already a citizen, Soraya was not allowed. But most of the difficult part of the process was done.  J and I waited for a few minutes upstairs until someone called my name, took my picture and for the 26th time, I was fingerprinted!  Another couple of minutes after that, I was called again, paid and given my receipt.  It apparently takes about 3 days for the ID to be ready, so we made a plan to come back and pick it up today (Friday) since we'd be out and about anyway for a pediatric appointment for J.

Again, some traffic...with an amazing driver...parking, Migracion office and right straight to the front. (I just should not be surprised that things get done when she's 'in charge'.)

And voila....I'm official!!!

Hey, now that I've got an official Colombian ID, maybe I'll hang out for a while longer.  The place does begin to grow on you.  (just kidding...well, about staying longer.  The city has started to grow on me a bit.  And the people are pretty great!)  I now have a out of the country place to vacation if I ever feel the urge.  Maybe Josie will need to visit the place where she was born when she's 5? And 10? And 12? And 15? And...

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Integration

Today was a pretty big day!  The driver picked us up about 10:30 to meet Soraya at La Casa at 11:30!   Since, I am staying a bit on the north end of town and the rep and ICBF and La Casa are more south, we were picked up by the driver, and just met her there.  After our first meeting, she took us for a quick lunch and then to the notary and then to our final meeting.  The driver picked us back up at the rep's house and brought us back to the hotel.  Soraya is a pretty busy person and we are about 45 min drive from her house.  She has gone out of her way to make this process run so smoothly while we're here in country so I'm absolutely fine saving her a trip and using a driver instead.  Plus, he's a super nice guy who speaks English and is very willing to answer all of my many questions about Colombia and Bogota and the culture!
   I had written a little about Integration in a previous post, but basically,  this was our first, 'official step' of the in-country process after the initial Encuentro. It was a meeting that is set up by ICBF for them to basically check-in on how the bonding process is going. What is going well and what difficulties a family might be having.  I met with the psychologist that was from the orphanage where J was living (her psychologist actually) and we talked all about Josie and how she was doing.  I was able to share some of the great things of the past week and some of the things that have been a little harder or things I just wasn't sure about because well, I really don't know her.   

I sure do love that smile!
    It's quite a bit different than bringing home a newborn.  J is a little over 3 years old.  She has spent most of her life with these people, following their schedule, eating/drinking meals they have prepared, doing activities they had planned.  Her expressions and little nuances are things that they are familiar with, things that are already a part of her, that now I get to learn.  Of course, there will be changes and additions and especially given that she is getting so much one-on-one attention, she is changing and growing in positive ways that she couldn't over the past three years.  BUT as much as an orphanage is not a place for a child to grow up, these people loved her, they cared for her day in and day out.  They cried when I picked her up last week.  They miss her.  And I'm sure a little part of her misses them.  Even though she is blossoming so much outside of that place, it is ALL she had known!
   
 I was able to ask more questions about J and her schedule, and things that have come up over the past week, while we've been bonding.  Things that I had forgotten to ask during our encounter and things that I think will be helpful for her day to day living.  The psychologist shared more about her history.  Which, I don't feel is something that needs to be shared here, but some things about her short little life bring tears to my eyes and make my heart sad whenever I hear about them. She is such a little fighter. 
    
   We will be going to visit the home where J had been living in another week or so.  I have a few things for the people who took care of my girl for her first few years and a few things for the other kids and most importantly, I want  them to see (and the psychologist agrees) how happy and loved she is....as my daughter.  I want to be able to personally thank them for caring for her and for loving her to the best of their ability so she could survive her first three years and so, I could find her and bring her home.
    It was a little interesting watching Josie react to being back at La Casa and seeing those people.  She didn't seem afraid or nervous, but wanted only me for the first 10 minutes or so.  (Which I think made the psychologist a little sad.)  But, I think after a few minutes J realized that I was staying put and started to warm up a little bit.  She did get a little bored/fussy toward the end, but the meeting began at what should have been lunch time and then after lunch, a nap.  Since we were going to eat and then had other places to go she really was off schedule and only ended up with about a 20 minute nap in the car from one place to the other. Which made her even more snuggly/clingy at the second meeting.  And I'm not gonna complain about that one bit.  It certainly made a good impression on the staff that the child that I'd picked up only one week ago, wanted nothing to do with any of them and only wanted to snuggle in her Mama's lap!! (seriously, they were quite pleased with her bonding!!)

    It was a very informative meeting, with laughter and tears, and ended very well as they are quite pleased with how things are going and we ARE now going to begin the court process.  Our lawyer will take the paperwork and present it to the courts by the end of the week, to be filed and 'heard'.  This is a big step.  As I mentioned in a previous post, there are a variety of courts, some good, some not so good.  The not so good doesn't mean things won't happen, it just means they happen very slowly and sometimes with more info requested.  The good means things usually happen quickly and nothing else needed.  I, of course, am praying hard for a good court.  (And would appreciate any prayers you want to send specifically for this!!)  I'm confident thought, that no matter where we get assigned, I have got some awesome people on this team.  I have a rep who gets things done (and quickly!) and a lawyer who has been very pleased with our process and how well J is doing and will work hard to make sure things move.  In the mean time, we wait.  Even if we get a good court, it will still be a few weeks, but a good court could mean 5/6 weeks whereas a not so good could mean 6/7.  I am enjoying my time here, but would really prefer 5/6 more weeks, not 7!
    Soraya (in all of her awesomeness) reassured me that she has friends in all the right places!  One of those being a woman (who just happened to walk into the same little place where we were eating) who used to be over all of the judges and still apparently has a influence.  And is also good friends with my agency representative.  I really do believe that God puts the right people, in the right place, at the right time.  (That being said it may be His plan that we are here for 7 more weeks, and if that's the case then we'll ride it out!)  I will be sure to update and let you all know once I find out.
   I don't really have any pictures of our meetings today.  It occurred to me after the fact that I could have asked Soraya to take one after our meeting that we'd officially passed Integration, but it was such a business type meeting that I didn't even think about it.  We did drive through some amazing scenery on our way to Soraya's house though, and I did try to get some photos from the car.  And there are always pics to be had of my darling girl, just being herself!

 Soraya lives kind of on the side of a mountain.  It's a really good neighborhood and there is a part of the drive that you can literally see across the entire city to the smaller mountains on the west side.  The amazing thing is that even though it seems like you're viewing the entire city, this is really just a very small portion from East to West.  Bogota is HUGE!  And you really can't even see the mountains on the West side, when you're down in the city.  I asked and she said that yes, there are still moments that she looks at that view and is still impressed.




 This is one of the little villages on the side of the mountain, that I see from down in the city and it is so tiny from down there.  It's a lower class little village, but still some colorful houses.  And it was neat to see a bit more 'up close'.  (Even though some of those houses are still a ways away!)

 Look closely near the yellow taxi in this picture.  (Which was taken out of the rear window of the car!) And yes, that is a cow laying just at the edge of the road.  They belong to someone who lives on the mountain and the livestock simply 'roams free'.  I had to do a double take!


Because I certainly can't get enough of this face, I imagine you want to see her too.  We were playing catch with a balloon (another favorite thing!) and I was relinquished to the floor so the princess could have the couch to herself.  Those are some super happy hands waiting for me to throw the balloon back!  She was so silly and happy after such a long day, even with only a 20 minute nap!  Doesn't everyone go from Lotus pose to the splits while playing balloon toss!?!
 




Tuesday, June 10, 2014

One week...as a Mama.

   Today is our one week 'anniversary', so to speak.  I picked up J one week ago today.  And wow, what a whirlwind of a week it has been.  She's still a little under the weather, so we haven't been out and about too much with any real sight-seeing, yet (minus our walk to the mall!).  It's been nice to just be together and get to know her.  Some moments it seems like it has been much longer then a week, but others seem like it was just yesterday that I was anxiously sitting in the little waiting room, knowing that any minute someone would be walking through the door with my daughter.

     Gosh, I love those words....My Daughter.  I thought I was so prepared for this feeling of becoming a Mama, but I admit, it is the kind of love that is simply not explainable and I really don't know how anyone could be fully prepared to love someone so much.

Sucking away on that tongue!!
  Her personality blossoms each day.  I do think she is thriving on so much undivided attention.  Sometimes, though I think she gets a little overwhelmed.  It almost seems comforting to her, for me to simply let her hang in her bed for a few minutes and let her soak things in or to let her play alone on the floor at times.  She has a habit of sucking her tongue.  Like a baby would suck a paci, but she uses her tongue.  I have found it to mostly be a comforting habit.  She does it when she's tired.  And I've discovered when she's a little unsure or anxious about something or someone.  I try to keep an eye on that when we are interacting or when we're out and about.  It's a good cue that she might need some down time or is just unsure of where we are or who we're with.

    For the most part, she will still go to anyone.  I do think she recognizes me as someone 'different' (and better) than say, the random taxi driver that brought us to our last appointment.  But at the same time she had no qualms when he picked her up out of her seat as I was gathering my things.  She does give looks to people when she's not sure and has, a few times, laid her head on my shoulder when a random stranger talks to her and she's unsure about them.  I will take that as a positive sign, that even though I don't think she understands (yet) that I am Mama.  I do think she has gotten to the point that she feels safe with me.  And that is a good first step.
 
In LOVE with that red balloon. 
   It's been nice learning her 'noises' and faces.  I have slept a little better the last night (or two) now that I'm familiar with what seem to be 'normal' sleeping noises.  Even though I still hear her 'growling' and tossing and rolling in her sleep, it doesn't really wake me up completely as I know now, it's just something she does. She babbles a bit, especially if she's 'reading' something.  It's so fun to hear her 'talk' to herself.  She blows raspberries when she gets really excited, accompanied by some hand waving.  I can tell she really likes something if that's the reaction.  And she has an amazing....'Awe' face.  Lights, noises, bubbles, music.  Those are a few of the favorites that get the 'awe' reaction!  I think the girl could blow bubbles all day (while sitting in the bathtub, with music playing in the background....throw in a disco ball and I'm sure she would think she could spend the rest of her life that way!!!)

   We have Integration tomorrow.  Our first, 'official step' of the in-country process (after the initial encounter of course!). This is a meeting that is set up by ICBF for them to basically check-in on how the bonding process is going. What is going well and what difficulties might a family be having.  I also get to ask more questions that may have come up over the past week, while getting to know J.  (Or those that I forgot to ask during our encounter...ya know, I was not preoccupied or anything!!)  If ICBF decides the match is going well, then we get to start the court process! Hooray! Sometimes they do set up a second meeting if they feel it necessary, but I think they will be happy with how she is doing.

    I'll let you now how the meeting goes and if we're going to be officially on our way to getting assigned to a court!  And that's a BIG assignment to pray for.  Some courts are more in favor of adoption, some not, some work quickly, some take their sweet time...and you simply get assigned a court by a draw.  There is no way to 'choose'. 
   So, if the Integration meeting goes well, please be praying we get assigned to a good and quick court!! 


Saturday, June 7, 2014

Adventures in the city

We have had the passed couple days free.  No appointments, no place to be at a specific time.  It was nice to just 'hang out'.  J's schedule is pretty regular.  She was on a specific schedule when I picked her up and so I try to stick close to that.  The only major change has been waking up.  She used to have to get up at 5am, as there were many children in her group that all needed to be changed, fed, bathed, etc. to start their day.  Now, she sleeps as long as she wants!!  (And the girl can sleep!!)  She sleeps soundly through the night until about 7:30 (or so) and then wants to just snuggle. (With no where to go this morning, I just brought her into my bed and held her and snuggled. And we didn't get out of bed until 8:30!!!)  You hear no complaints from this Mama, that I 'had' to snuggle with my girl for almost an hour before she was ready to start the day!
We'll see how this goes over when we get home and actually do have to be up and about in the morning!

She LOVES playing outside, which we usually try to do in the morning, when there are a couple other kids out. And she LOVES her bath.(Yes, I have mentioned this before, but baths are a BIG deal!)  I'm so glad she likes the water and cannot wait to see what she does at the beach (and the pool!)  I imagine she's going to be a little fish!!

We ventured to the grocery store on a drizzly afternoon.  She does so well in the stroller and is very patient while I wander up and down the aisles trying to find the things on my list.  I have picked up SO MUCH Spanish in just the short week that I've been here.  I pretty comfortable reading things (at least signs, labels, etc.).  I still feel a little odd speaking it, just because I know I butcher things with my 'used to be Chicagoan now turned Southern - American accent'.  I do feel comfortable 'finding' things in the grocery store and even had to ask someone where milk was!!!

This was our walk back, with 1/3 of the people as morning.


J's first Ciclovia!!
Today, we hit the big mall.  On Sunday's here in C, they have something called Ciclovia, where they close off certain streets for people to walk, bike, run and just be able to spend time out with families.

 There is a road that is just a few blocks from here and leads all the way to UniCentro, a bigger mall with a more store choices and restaurants.  It's about 30 blocks, but as long as the weather is nice, it's not a bad walk. We went in search of new shoes, but no such luck.  Silly girl has little, but wide feet.  Also, since it was my first attempt at walking to UniCentro, I wanted to be sure to be done in time to walk back while it was still Ciclovia.
Mmm, that's some good hamburger!
UniCentro..big mall, lots of stores!
(They reopen the streets late in the afternoon.) We could have tried a few other stores, but we did enjoy our time walking around and had lunch at El Corral.  The best hamburger place in Colombia.  I was told "even better than in the US".  I admit it was a darn good burger! J enjoyed it too...maybe I need to make hamburgers at home..one more food to the list!  

The views are so great.  The mountains stretch all the way from one end of the city to the other on the East.  In some parts there are little villages up in the mountains and in others it's simply trees and rock. I did get a little glimpse of the Monserrate.  It was super far away, but just cool to know that's what it was.  I hope to get to visit it while I'm here.  There are a couple of ways to get there that might be okay with the kiddo.  I'll certainly post about it if we make it there!

It's tiny and a bit blurry, but that's it Santuario de Monserrate.


Someone spotted a dog.  The couple (with the dog) walked along side us for quite sometime and J kept point and looking up at me, pointing and looking.  She loved it!! I hope she's that excited when she meets Chloe!!






One week later

It is crazy to think that just one week ago, I was flying across the country and arriving in the same city as my darling girl.  Only to wait a couple more days before finally holding her in my arms.  It feels like so much has happened in this past week, yet, it's only been one week!!  I guess, the biggest event of my life happened, so maybe that's why it feels like it's been so busy!!!  A new little addition will do just that!

   We have had 4 days together now, getting to know one another.  Me trying to figure out her needs/wants/likes/dislikes and her trying to figure out who in the heck I am and what in the heck is going on!!  Our beginning was a little jumbled as J came to me sick.  We went straight from the home, to the dr, then to the pharmacy to get meds.  We get to use a nebulizer three times a day, but she's so good about it.  We gather a few books or bubbles or an episode of Dora on my phone! And she just chills.  We sit on my bed and I hold her in my lap and it's funny, she knows now when it's time for a treatment and will scoot herself back to my pillow to get into position and point at the machine.  Such a smart thing!

    She is learning to sign please and more.  We do a pretty good job with please (or rather por favor!) and 'more' is kind of just like clapping.  But she will nod yes if I ask her if she wants more of something.  Or today she just took the initiative and signed please when we were blowing bubbles and I stopped for a minute.  Did I mention how smart she is!?!

   She LOVES her bath.  And by love, I mean, if I could let her bathe 10 times a day I'm sure she'd think she's in Heaven.  I have to keep the bathroom door shut or she will scoot herself in and try to climb in the shower stall.  Such a goof!

   We've been experimenting with a variety of foods.  She doesn't really chew very well.  Even though she does have a mouth full of teeth.   She does better with pureed foods or very soft things..like eggs and oatmeal.  Before I picked her up, I had lunch at the agency representative's house (who is amazing by the way!!) and she sent home a little to go container of ajaico soup for J to eat (since we'd be getting back late so I wouldn't have to worry about cooking!) And she LOVED that.  It's one of the things that is supposedly on the 'learn to cook' list here at the hotel, but I may have to get the rep to help me out sooner then later.  The girl is a picky eater.  I've tried pureeing a variety of things (I've got a blender here in the room) and so far bananas and apples were the favorite.  So, we eat eggs, oatmeal, bananas, apples and yogurt.  Oh and Aunt Annie's chedder bunnies...I can't forget those.  The first 'crunchy' food that I've gotten her to try and actually eat!  (I can't blame her, they are tastey!) And even though she doesn't eat a wide variety of things right now, she tries to be very independent in her eating.  As in, give me the bowl and spoon and I'll do it myself kind of independent.  She still does need a lot of help with most foods (and hasn't mastered the fork) but I love how she tries so hard!!!


    She doesn't know how to suck.  No sippy cup, no straw.  She drinks out of an open cup with a lot of assistance.  I offered a bottle (I had brought one just in case) and she chews on it to get the water out.  Sucking is going to be one of the first OT/PT/Speech (yep, covers all the bases) goals that we start on.  Like, tomorrow.  She is getting enough liquids in, but it takes awhile and it's quite messy. Gotta get that sucking motion down!!!


    She is already getting so much stronger with her standing.  Not independently yet, but will try to pull up and likes to hold the stroller and 'walk'.  And is regularly reaching for my hands to pull up to her feet and 'dance' or bounce.  I love seeing her progress in just a few short days.  I can't imagine what she'll be doing by the time we get home and then even further once we are home and have so many more outlets to use!!!

 
  She is so funny.  She has such an amazing personality with such silly facial expressions.  She loves bubbles, lights and music and will give the most genuine 'in awe' expression regularly when playing with any of those favorites.  It's so wonderful watching her experience so many things with such honest emotion.  She does have her dislikes as well.  She does not like getting her face or nose wiped (but has no problem putting her face in the tub water?!?!) and she does not like having to 'be done'.  She will say 'no' with meaning when we have to come in from outside or I have to take her out of the bath.  She also has quite a 'look' if she's unsure of a person or object.  It's a very noticeable sideways, "who or what are you? and how am I supposed to react to you/that" look.  

   I can already see such a difference in her in just a few short days.  I look at the picture of when we first met and then I look at her today and it's such a different little girl.  I love the little grin I get when she first wakes up and looks up and sees me.  It's an 'oh, I kind of like you' sort of grin.  A grin that tells me she is comfortable and hopefully knows how much she is loved.



  

What a difference a year makes

It has been one entire year from the day I sat in that little room in an orphanage, waiting to meet the most perfect little girl. One year ...