Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Much Better

I am feeling so much better. I really appreciate every one who reached out in a comment or on Facebook after my previous post. And as always I especially appreciate those who are praying for us. I loved Melissa's comment on that post about how it is up to us to open up dialog; I completely agree and found that linking the post on Facebook really did just that. For me, it is often easier to write out my feelings first as opposed to trying to open up this type of dialog in person. I knew many people were not asking anything because they thought it might bother me. So I knew that it was up to me to let people know. One thing I learned during our long battle with infertility is that most people don't know how to support you or what you need; you have to let them know.

As a follow up on asking about the adoption process, one thing I didn't say before, but I know is something that many adoptive parents feel and something I most definitely felt myself when we were in the process for Joshua, is that the question, "When?" may not be the best thing to ask. This tends to be the question most often asked, but it is the one that is most difficult for us to answer. Usually, we have an estimated time frame, but it is just that an estimate. And usually it doesn't change much so my answer will be the same each time I am asked. When you are feeling frustrated over the wait or finding it particularly difficult it is hard to keep answering the question of when.

I also wanted to clarify what I said about pregnancy. I think it was clear to most people, but just to make it absolutely clear, what I was saying was in NO way about having a problem with pregnancy. I was simply contrasting my experience with that of other expectant moms. What it was really about was feeling sad over missing Jonah, triggered mainly by him turning one. We have missed a year of his life. Developmentally, Jonah is much much further ahead of where Joshua was at one year of age, which makes me feel like I am missing so much more of his life. This, coupled with the fact that we have another 7 or even 8 months more before we bring him home, had me grieving the loss of the parts of his life we are missing. I know we will have so many more "firsts" with him, but I think it is healthy and natural to grieve and let go of the parts we have missed.

I also felt like I neglected to acknowledge all the amazing support I have received in the past and could be receiving now from adoption forums and Facebook adoption groups (these hadn't started yet when we were in the process for Joshua). I spent a ridiculous amount of time on the adoption forum when I was waiting for Joshua, but now that I am a mom I am not able to spend as much time on these boards giving and receiving support. I know that as the time nears for us to travel, I will probably be on them more, but it is also nice to feel supported by those you see in your daily circle.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Feeling So Alone

Alternatively titled, "Crying in Church Every Sunday has Resumed." I hope this post doesn't come off too whiny, I am just feeling very sad and alone right now in regards to our second adoption. It is very rare for anyone to ask me about Jonah or ask how I am doing with the wait to bring him home. And it just makes me feel so alone. I wish people would ask me about it.

I can't help but contrast my current experience with that of a number of expectant moms around me. Their pregnancies are an ongoing topic of conservation, and rightly so. After all, a new life is coming into the world and their family is growing. That is something very exciting and is absolutely cause for celebration.

But our family is growing too. Yet no one asks me about it, which makes me feel like no one cares, like the way our family is being built is unworthy of celebration, that is is somehow "less than."

I realize that a growing belly gives a visible reminder of the upcoming event, and therefore prompts conversation. And I realize that no one has had the intention of being uncaring or hurting me. I write this post, not to criticize, but to say I need support too. I too want to celebrate what is happening in my family.

The thing is there are a lot of differences in growing your family by adoption versus the traditional way. I don't have a growing belly - other than when I let adoption stress get the better of me and start stress eating ;) - to remind me that my family is about to change. The new life, in our case, is already here, growing up half way around the world without us. We have no due date, only a hope and a prayer of when he will join our family. These things are very hard and make the adoption wait absolutely agonizing at times.

So if you know someone that is waiting to bring home a child by adoption please reach out to them, celebrate with them, joyfully anticipate the arrival of their child with them. Let them know you care, offer a word of encouragement, and most of all pray for them (and let them know you are praying). And if you know me, please ask me about Jonah. I have 2 sons, one is Joshua, and the other is Jonah. One has been home almost a year, the other will hopefully be home some time next year. Both are cause for celebration and both deserve to be joyfully anticipated every bit as much as a child that joins a family by birth.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Update on Jonah/Care Package #4

We got an update on Jonah yesterday morning!!!

At 12 months old, he weighs 22.2 pounds and is 30.3 inches tall. This is a slightly different height and weight than what was stated when we received the updated pictures, so not sure which one was correct. He has 4 upper and 4 lower teeth.

RiYoon has 240 cc (about 8oz) of formula three to four times a day. He eats cooked rice, soft bread, fruits, yogurt, and cheese

Toilet is good, 2-3 times a day. :-) Good to know.

He likes taking a bath and has a bath 1-2 times per day.

He takes 2 naps a day and sleeps from 10 or 11 pm to 8 am.

Development (this is given in the form of a checklist - these are the items that were checked):

  • Walks without support or walks alone 1 to 2 steps
  • Says "No" meaningfully :-)
  • Says "umma" or "mamma" (meaning food) meaningfully
  • Uses single-word sentences
  • Shows understanding of words
  • Gives toy to familiar adult spontaneously
  • Displays frequent tantrum behaviors
  • Imitates adult behavior
  • Plays ball cooperatively
  • Turns pages of a book
  • Puts 3 or more objects into a container
  • Brings spoon to mouth
  • Holds and drinks from a cup without spilling

In the remarks section, it says that RiYoon is doing well under the loving care of his foster family and that he is a "sweet and adorable boy." At his Doljabi (1st birthday party event), he chose the pencil. Looks like we will have a little scholar on our hands! It also says he likes to listen to music and he likes the book we sent.

And some of the best news, his foster family took special pictures at his Dol, which are being sent by DHL!

Yesterday, I also mailed off care package #4 which he will get at his next well baby check, most likely in August.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Adoption Timelines

I put a new page on top of my blog detailing both Joshua and Jonah's adoption timelines - for all you timeline stalkers! :-) It also lists the steps still to come with Jonah's adoption.

Also, does anybody know if it is possible to take some of your previous posts and put them on a separate page?

Care Packages

I know other adoptive families are always looking for ideas of what to put in a care package so I wanted to do a post on what we have sent so far.

We have already sent Jonah three care packages and we are not even half way through our wait. This was how many we sent Joshua in total. At that time, we were only allowed to send 2 care packages during the entire wait so I had to space them out and try to time the second one for his 1st birthday. Then our agency changed the rules as the wait continued to increase and allowed families to send more packages so I was able to send Joshua a third package prior to the submission of our paperwork. As it turned out, we could have sent more since we got caught in that unprecedented 13 week wait for EP approval last summer.

But anyway, here is a look back at what we sent Joshua for care packages one, two, and three.

And here our Jonah's first three care packages. Our new agency allows us to send a package every time a family travels. I am working on a few remaining items for care package #4 which will be brought over next week by a friend I met through blogging. I ended up sending Jonah many of the same items as Joshua because we bought duplicates of a few items for Joshua's packages that we didn't end up needing.

 I couldn't fit the blanket in this one, so I ended up saving it for the second package. The "Lil' Bro" onesy is the match to the shirt Joshua was wearing when we made the announcement about Jonah. We put that same picture of Joshua in the photo album.

 We sent Joshua this same recordable book, but this time we found this translation on the Holt adoption forum.

A little liberty was taken with this last part of the translation. Where it says, "I love you round and round the world," it was translated to say, "Even though we're on opposite sides of the world, we love you." I am so thankful to Family Yapsalot for sharing this translation - what a blessing!

This was Jonah's 1st birthday care package. I wanted to put in one of those full size Sophie the giraffe teethers, but space wouldn't allow it.

I was in a hurry to get the package sent off so I didn't have time to get the card translated like I did for Joshua. Hopefully, they can still read my really bad Hangul writing. Pretty sure I have the Hangul writing skills of a first grader, if that! :-)

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Happy 1st Birthday Jonah RiYoon!

Jonah's 1st birthday was this past Sunday. Joshua and I were in Florida for a bridal shower for my future sister-in-law and to visit my family. It was Joshua's first time meeting his aunts, uncle, and cousins, as well as his first time on an airplane since we brought him home from Korea. He did wonderfully! I think he was actually better behaved than he is at home. He LOVED his cousins.

On Sunday, we went to the beach and wrote a birthday message in the sand for Jonah. I found myself more sad in the weeks and days leading up to his first birthday than on the day itself. My heart was also very heavy thinking about his birth parents. We plan to have a family celebration with Korean food and cake this weekend so that John can celebrate with us.


On Monday, we received updated pictures of Jonah with the birthday care package we sent. He is currently just over 20lbs and 29.9 inches. By comparison, Joshua was 30 inches when we brought him home at 16 months, but weighed 30 lbs! It also looks like Jonah is standing independently and most likely has started walking based on the lack of weight gain. Hopefully, I won't get myself in trouble, but here is Jonah's blog debut:

Love his smile and he looks so sweet with the lovey we sent. I am hoping and praying for 1st birthday hanbok pictures and a more substantial update that might give us more insight into his personality. That is one of the hardest things for me, not knowing what my new son is like at all. I want to know what he likes and dislikes, know whether he is outgoing or shy, basically just know who he is. However, I am very grateful for the pictures we have been receiving. We have gotten many more pictures than we got with Joshua, so I am grateful. We have gotten pictures every month since February with the exception of April.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Still Here!

Wow, how did I let over a month go by without posting anything. I have wanted to sit down and write many times, but haven't been able to due to busyness, fatigue, or simply lack of motivation, which is frustrating to me because I actually have a lot I want to write about. Not to mention I am way behind on posting pictures. :-)

If you think of it, could you please pray for me about this. I have many posts written in my head about our struggles after Joshua came home, more about our adoption transition, and where we are now. Yet I can't seem to write about it.

A number of factors have contributed to the lack of posting. March, April, and May were particularly busy months with lots of good things happening between visitors, birthday celebration, and our adoption finalization. But in addition, starting in May, I went through what has been to date my most difficult parenting time. We have definitely had more difficult times that were adoption related, but this was more typical parenting struggles.

It started with Joshua's 2 year molars beginning to make an appearance. Teething overall has been really hard on him (and me).

Then separation anxiety hit big time. He would cry even harder than he cried the first night home with us when he was grieving for his foster family. This completely shocked me and freaked me out. I started researching adoption and separation anxiety and found an article online about it. What was interesting to me was that in the article, separation anxiety started at exactly the same amount of time home as Joshua, 8 months. I couldn't even leave Joshua with John without a complete meltdown. I had been attending a women's Bible study in my neighborhood where we would let the little ones play in the next room or sometimes a teenage girl would watch them in the upstairs room while we held our study. However, once the separation anxiety hit Joshua would not leave me during the study at all. Once he flipped out so much when I tried to get him to go upstairs that I ended up having to leave because he was inconsolable. It was really hard because I don't leave Joshua at all and so I only get a break when John is able to give me one. I was so upset the day I had to leave Bible study that I called our social worker for advice. I needed advice from an adoption perspective, not completely unhelpful comments about "how he won that one." Our social worker advised that because of his history we should cater to the separation anxiety more than we might if we were parenting a child from birth. She advised that I only leave Joshua with John or places where he was comfortable. She wasn't sure about whether church nursery would be okay or not and suggested I might need to stay in there with him. He had been going to church nursery for 4 months at this point without a problem, so I decided to keep trying. He has lots of friends in the 2 year old classroom and the same lady (also an adoptive mom) works in the nursery every Sunday. Since I never leave Joshua with anyone else, I decided I had to hold firm in 2 areas: leaving him with daddy and once a week at church nursery. I believe John and I need that time together each week. And I also believe Joshua needs to see that I leave and come back. From what I read it said to make a quick good-bye, but to always make sure you say good-bye and not sneak out; tell them mommy will come back; and to leave something with them. I started leaving Joshua a picture of me whenever I went somewhere and left him with John, which John said really helped. Gradually, as we kept to this routine and held firm in the 2 areas, the separation anxiety has lessened. The last 2 weeks at church we have had zero tears when we dropped him off at church nursery!  Now maybe a date night can be in our future. :-)

At the same time as the separation anxiety, Joshua began having major sleep disturbances and I had no idea why. This is what makes me say it was one of my most difficult parenting times so far. It was the not knowing what's what, what is him being 2, what's teething, what's separation anxiety, and why was he suddenly not sleeping well. And most of all what should I do about it all. At first I wasn't sure if a bed or nap time needed to be adjusted because he was waking up really early in the morning. He often does this when he is teething, but then he would compensate by taking a really long nap. Only this time, his naps too were getting shorter and shorter. Then he started having nightmares where he was crying in his sleep for a good part of the night. I read that some children can have separation anxiety disorder which affects their sleep and wondered if maybe this was the issue. Then the night terrors started. I actually made the sleep issue my prayer request at community group. Our group leader ended up getting my prayer request and asked us about it the next Sunday at church so I told him more of what was going on. I believe that solving this puzzle was a direct answer to prayer. Joshua is suspected of having asthma due to the breathing issues and wheezing that happens every time he gets sick. Allergy issues often go hand in hand with asthma and because most people have really bad allergies in Tucson, our PCP put Joshua on 2 types of allergy medications. That week it finally occurred to me that one of these medications could be causing his sleep disturbances and nightmares. So I googled the second medication he was put on, figuring it must be the culprit since it was the most recent addition. I end up finding tons of scary stuff about this medicine and sleep problems so we decide to take him off of it. Only the problem continued even after that medication would have cleared out of his system. We wonder if maybe it was the other medication and so I google it and sleep, and once again found lots of scary stuff. John suggests we try to give it to him at nap time and 45 minutes into his nap Joshua has a night terror. Right then and there we decide to take him off that medication (hint: it starts with a "Z). Wouldn't you know it, Joshua goes right back to sleeping through the night, no more crying half the night in his sleep, no more early wake ups, and no naps. It actually makes me very angry. Doctors throw these very powerful medications out with little to no warnings about their potential serious side effects. I found this blog post, which exactly mirrors our experience.

Anyway, that was our saga. It completely exhausted me. That and the over 100 degree temps EVERY SINGLE DAY - I do not love you Tucson. It has me in a bit of a summer funk. You can't even go outside except in the very very early morning (as in before Joshua is even awake) or in the evenings. I have realized that being stuck inside is not good for my mental health and I need to get more proactive about finding some indoor activities for Joshua and I during the week.

Another part of the funk is the wait for Jonah is starting to get to me. The constant search for information on forums and adoption groups has once again seized a hold of me. He turns one on Sunday.

On a more positive note, it was 10 months ago today that we arrived back in Tucson to begin our lives together as a family of three. It is hard to believe we will celebrate our first Family Day in 2 months. The first 7 months or so didn't fly by, but man oh man how these last few months have flown. I seriously can not believe it is already July.