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Tuesday, December 4, 2012

It's Official! HE IS OURS!


Well, the day has come, and I can finally say, Jack is our son!!!! :) On November 30th, we went to court and made it official.  Seems like we have been waiting forever for this moment and once we were in the court room, it only took two minutes for it to happen.  The judge asked us to stand and then asked us a series of "yes" or "no" questions.  Questions like, "Do you wish to adopt this child? "Have the birth parents terminated their rights to this child?" and even asking, "Will you raise him to know right from wrong?" It wasn't until he asked, "Do you love him? Do you love him as if he were your own (biological) child?" that I lost it! The tears began to fall down my cheek as I reflected on the last six months and how hard it was to get to this point. There was a time when, we wondered if we were doing the right thing for Jack. He was so sad and hurt from leaving his foster family and country. When we came home, our high expectations of a happy family were crushed with sleepless nights of grieving and just being in survival mode. We struggled hard with bonding and went through a difficult testing phase. In those early months, I would pray every day, that God would allow us to fall deeply in love with each other, and that we would finally feel like a family. I was so happy to finally be able to stand there, six months later, and proudly answer, "yes!" to those questions. I was so happy that God allowed us to be there that day and not only officially become a family, but more importantly, feel like a family! I couldn't believe how much relief came over me, once we walked out of that court room. I didn't realize how much I needed this to be official! It's finally over! A little over six years ago, God placed a desire in our hearts to start our family, and our journey of becoming parents has finally come to an end. Even though it was hard and it isn't anything like I thought it would be, I can look back now and say it was the best way and I wouldn't change a thing! Jack is truly, perfectly made for us! He couldn't be more my son than if I had given birth to him. We are so blessed to call Jack our son and be able to love him and raise him as our own! He has filled our hearts and the hearts of our families with endless joy! Praise the Lord for His goodness!!

Family Day! November 30th, 2012!

 "Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than we can ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus, throughout all generations, forever and ever! Amen." 
-Ephesians 3:20

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Five Months!

Wow! This last month flew by! I cannot believe I'm already writing his 5 month report! Jack is doing extremely well! Every month, Jack seems to reveal more trust and comfort in his life with us. This month we have especially seen a change in his obedience and in his bonding with us. Bryan and I are settling into our roles as parents better too. It's kinda hard to explain, but at first, even though we loved Jack, Bry and I didn't immediately think of him as our child. We didn't know him at all and we were hesitant about how to discipline and even show affection to him some days. But now, it's easy to love on Jack. After 5 months, we feel like we have gotten to know him pretty well now, and well, we kinda like him. ;) Discipline isn't as difficult anymore either.  We actually don't have to do it that much lately. And the best thing is, Jack's constant fussing and whining...every day...all day long, has become almost non existent! Praise the Lord! Instead of him doing it 50 times a day, IT is more like 5 times a day! Now I can work with that! ;)

We did have a tough start at the beginning of the month though. We went up to Georgia for Jack's cousin's birthday party, and we were looking very forward to this visit with our family.  But right away, Jack ended up getting pretty sick.  That same weekend, we also had to give our dog, Rosie, away to a new family because we weren't able to take care of her medical needs anymore. Luckily, we found a great family for her, but dealing with that and Jack's sickness didn't make it very enjoyable. But looking back now, Jack being sick ended up being a good thing because we think he actually bonded more to us because of it. He woke up on my birthday, very lethargic, wouldn't eat anything, and had a very high fever. It was the first time he just cuddled up in my arms and just let out the saddest cry.  Of course, we were out of town, so we ended up taking him to a "minute clinic"  and found out it was an ear infection. We cut our trip short and Jack cried most of the way home. It wasn't until about four days later, Jack started acting normal. Well, better than normal, super happy, smiling, loving on us, obeying us, and no fussing! Reminding me of the good ol' honeymoon days. I guess since we were there for him and took care of him during this time, he gave us a little more of his trust. And he has been like this ever since. :)

We have also noticed he has gotten more attached to us because now he cries hard when we put him in the crib. He usually stops after a few minutes, but you can tell he doesn't like us leaving him in there anymore. He used to love going to bed and would wake up happily until someone came and got him. But now his bedtime routine is his least favorite part of the day. He just starts bawling when we ask him to pick up his toys, because he knows it's time to go to bed.  I told Bryan, "I guess we have ourselves a normal toddler now." :)

We also took Jack to his doctor for his 20 month check up. The doctor said he was looking great and actually thought he was pretty advanced on his language skills being that he has only been here for five months. He's growing as he should and had lost a little weight due to his sickness, but was still 50% in weight, 80% in height, and 50% in head circumference.

Potty training has not gone anywhere yet. He is starting to tell me sometimes when he goes "poo poo" but I still think it's early. I'm probably going to wait to start training him until the beginning of the year after the holidays are over and we are stuck in the house more. ;)

Jack is also starting to get his second molars in, so he has been a little irritable these past couple days, but I feel kinda happy that I get to experience this because we didn't have him when he got his other teeth. So even though I can't say I was there with him when he got his first baby teeth, I can say, I was there when he got his last ones! :)

Some fun stuff he started doing this month is making animal noises.  He picked up on them pretty quick from a book that we were reading. He still doesn't do them all right, but overall, he does pretty good. He has his favorites--most animals pretty much says, "meow." ;) My favorite thing he has started doing is imitating Cookie Monster. He says, "nom nom nom" cause that's the sound cookie monster makes when he eats cookies. :) He still loves to dance, and say random numbers and letters. His favorite show is actually "Wheel of Fortune" because he likes to imitate the contestants as they shout out the letters. It's more educational than Sesame Street! :) He still sings too, and you will often catch him singing, "aw nigh law" which is from his Cars movie. There is a scene that shows cars driving on the highway, and it's playing "Life is a Highway" by Rascal Flatts.  In case you didn't know, the lyrics are, "Life is a highway, I wanna ride it, all night long..." So, he sings the "all night long" part while he plays with his cars. :)

Jack also likes to pretend. He has a little table now and he puts bowls and cups on it and pretends to cook and eat. He also takes his stuffed animals and changes their diapers and put blankets on them. The funniest thing he has done with them is put them in Time-Out.  He takes them to the corner and tells him, "no!" or "stop!" and then leaves. Then he walks back and picks him up, hugs him and pats him on his back, and says, "boy...boy" (which means good boy). :)

Jack loves when his "Da Da" comes home. He gets really wild and likes to wrestle with him. He can also be so sweet sometimes. He likes to cuddle under the "banky" while we watch Sesame Street or read books. He once took my arm and put it around him and said, "Hold you." Melted my heart. :)

We've got more fun stuff coming up!  We plan to go to a pumpkin patch and, trick or treating next week.  November will also be a big month too. We will have our third post placement meeting November 3 on Dada's birthday. We will also have some more family visits and Thanksgiving. And then our court date has been scheduled for finalization on Nov. 30th! We are so excited to think Jack will really be ours in a little over a month!!!

Here are some photos from the last month...

Me and my buddy!

On our way!

Photo session with Ninna and Papa!

Another good one!


Saying good bye to our Rosie. :(

Jack with his Pop!

Hanging out with the boys.

Happy Birthday Cooper!

Jack feeling bad and resting with Dada.

Acting silly with his "hat"

Had to get his basketball when Elmo got his. ;)

Still loves wearing Dada's shoes!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Four Month Update!

We made it to month four with our Jack! Since my last post, everyone keeps asking how we are doing.  To which I would reply, "it depends on which day you ask me." ;) A few days after my last post, Jack, all of the sudden, started acting happy again. Thank the Lord! I was hoping I would be lucky enough to only have a month of experiencing Jack's testing phase, but he didn't want to quite let it go completely. ;) Some days, Jack is here and happy to be a part of our family, and some days he still hurts and tests us.  So, some days are great for us and some days are hard, but at least we get some great days! ;)

After my last post, I also got some great tips from my adoptive friends and how they handle discipline. I received some much needed encouragement and was glad to hear that I wasn't alone again. After a while, we finally found a method that Bry and I were comfortable with and started putting it into practice with him.  As much as we hate having to discipline him, we have found that Jack responds very well to it. We were so worried we were hurting his grieving process further, but after practicing this consistently with him this past month, he really seems to know not just that he did something his mommy and daddy didn't approve of, but more importantly, that his mommy and daddy still love him in spite of it, and that we will always be there for him.  We are always quick to give him a hug and kiss afterwards and he seems to welcome it every time. Afterwards, he is a happy little guy. I'm sure we are still not doing everything right and this method may not always be the best for him in the future, but it works now, and Bryan and I really feel like we have actually gotten closer to Jack from it. Go figure!
We have had a busy month with Jack. I've still been a little scared to bring him out to places, but overall, he has done really well. My family came down for Labor Day and stayed with us. We had everyone packed like sardines in our home, but it was the best time! We spent the weekend hanging out and doing fun stuff like going to a local petting zoo, carriage ride in downtown Charleston, slip and slide in the backyard, and watching Pop's opening Alabama game of course! To our shock, Jack did great being out and about and playing with his cousin Cooper. He actually shared his toys a couple times. ;) Cooper is quickly becoming Jack's good buddy I think. ;) Here is a video of Jack on the slip and slide...

We also took Jack to the beach for the first time. I'm not the biggest fan of the beach (it takes too much planning and sand gets everywhere!), but we wanted to see how Jack liked it. Well, it was clear that Jack did not share his mother’s feelings of the beach once we got there!  We rolled him up in his wagon, and as soon as he saw the waves, he kept saying, "woah! woah!" Once he got loose, he immediately ran to the ocean and took a face plant right into sand and a wave crashed right on top of him! But that didn't stop him! He got right back up and wanted to go out further.  It took all we had to hold on to him as he tried to get out of our arms and swim away! He got water in his face from a few of the bigger waves, and would just wipe it away with a smile. He never cried once--well, except when we took him out of the ocean. ;) The bugs were BAD that day, so we decided to take our picnic to a park close by. Jack sat next to us on a big open field eating his dinner like a good little boy, even though there was a playground full of children 100 yards away. After dinner, we walked Jack out to the pier and watched the sunset under the Charleston bridge. That was a great day! Here’s is a video of Jack at the beach…

Jack got to meet more of his family this month. He met and got to spend a little time with Bry's cousin, Timmy and his wife, Ashton. And just this last weekend, we took him up to Irmo to meet his cousin, Emmy, his Uncle Griff, Aunt Lisa, and Aunt Morgan. He also got to meet his great-grandparents, Meme and Pop Pop. The family threw him a “Welcome to the Family” party and he was spoiled with cake, presents, and love! It was such a joy for us to have him meet his family, and to be able to spend time with these people that were such a big part in praying as we waited for him to finally be a part of our family. I can’t wait to see him grow closer to them and make many more memories.

So what else is new with Jack? 

He is growing fast!  He weighs 27.7 lbs. and has grown a ¼ of an inch in the last month (by our accounts).   

He has lots of funny facial expressions.  He often uses them to try to manipulate us with when he knows he did something he isn’t supposed to. ;)   

We got him a potty, but I can tell it's still too early for him to learn. He just likes to sit on it when mommy and daddy go. :)

He is still obsessed with books and loves his First Signs book. His favorite sign right now, is for baby. He does his own version of the sign, but the way he says, “Baby” is so cute. He is quiet and gentle and gets the sweetest smile on his face when he says it.  His other favorite book is Bee Bim Bop. He asks for “Bop” every night.  

He knows how to stall now, especially when it’s time for a nap or bedtime.  He pulls out all his tricks; on our way to bed, he will stop and look at a picture to point out everyone in it; sometimes he acts like he's forgotten how to go up the steps; he turns the pages backwards in the book we are reading when we get close to the end, etc. ;) Here is a video of our night time routine. You can see some of his stall tactics here:

He has been doing great talking.  He is basically repeating or trying to repeat everything we say now. He is like a little parrot, especially when mommy is on the phone. I never realized how much I said “um,” until I got Jack. ;) He likes to say, “oh, wow!” “ah wight! (alright!),” “Go! Go! Go!” and “ba dog (bad dog).”  “Oh man!” is now replaced with “sooz shee (excuse me), after he burps or passes gas. ;) He also says “sinky (stinky)” whenever I change his diaper or he smells his feet. ;)

He surprises me almost every day with something new he has learned.  He has started singing bits and pieces of the “ABC” song and “Jesus Loves Me.” I always thought I would just start bawling when I heard my child sing Jesus’s name for the first time, but he took me so off guard, I didn’t know how to react.  I hope to get it on video one day. 
He also likes to imitate things he sees on TV too.  He really likes seeing dancing and is a fan of PSY’s “Gangnam Style” song. PSY is from South Korea, so, of course, we encourage Jack’s interest in him. ;) This is Jack dancing to PSY on the Ellen show…

He is starting to get a little picky with his food. Some days I think I am feeding him something he will love and he will just pick at it.  I knew this day would come, I just hope it doesn’t get too bad. Hopefully it will be a short phase. ;) He still eats more than some toddlers I’ve seen, so I'm trying not to complain.

He is still sleeping well, but it isn’t as consistent as it used to be. Lately, he has been waking up during the night crying a few times a week. He also starts to fuss now a little when we put him down. He used to be so content when we put him in his crib, but I think he is starting to get sad now that we are leaving him. So, really it’s a good thing as he is starting to show his attachment to us. He was starting to show this when we handed him off in the nursery, but now he really cries once we enter the building. He is also coming up to Bryan and I and hugging us on his own. This has brought me great joy to see him doing it without us prompting him. He will just come up to us and hug our leg and say, “awe!” He is also showing signs that he wants to please us. He sometimes will try foods when we ask him, instead of fussing. Our biggest struggle with him now is that he will still scream “NO!” at us if we ask him not to do something, but it has gotten less adamant lately. Slowly but surely, Jack is starting to trust us, and I think we will find a very happy and well-adjusted little boy soon. Hopefully. ;) Here are some pictures from this last month...

Loves his backpack!

Tickle time with Da Da.

Pucker up!

Story time with Pop.


Cooper and Jack at Bee City.

Slip and Slide Fun!

Roll Tide!

Charleston carriage ride.

Doing good at Bubba Gumps. ;)

Eating fries with chop sticks. ;)

Da Da teaching Ping Pong.

"Man, I have some BIG shoes to fill!"

He even liked the sand!
Yum! PB&J sandwich.
Go! Go! Go!
Meeting Aunt Morgan on her birthday!
Cousins (and Morgan) at Ninna and Papa's house.

Meeting his great grandmother, Meme.

Meeting his great grandfather, Pop Pop.

Pushing Ya Ya on the swing.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

A (Honest) Three Month Update

Well, our Jack has been with us for three months (13 weeks) now and it's time for an update! :)  Jack has made some major strides this past month, but we have also had some BIG setbacks as well. As much as I would love to only post good things on this blog about our adoption, I feel as though I must be honest. I have said before, Jack had a tough initial first few weeks with us once we brought him home as he dealt with the initial shock of everything and grieved his foster family. Soon after the jet lag wore off though, he began to settle into a routine. He started to understand some of the home rules, began communicating with sign language, and even started speaking a few words. He was sleeping great, pleasant to take out for short or long visits, seemed to play well by himself or with others, he ate well, he obeyed us when we said “no,” and he asked for help when he needed it. Overall, we felt he was doing great!
Well, recently this has all changed!  Jack decided one day that he would wake up in a bad mood and this has continued for the past two weeks!  Everyday Jack has been doing things that he knows he isn't supposed to do, but doing it anyway.  He used to ask for or sign for help, but now he gets angry and throws things instead.  He has been difficult to bring out in public, because his behavior is so unpredictable.  But mostly, Jack just seems overall moody, constantly fussing and unhappy. Bryan and I have been caught off guard by his behavior and still haven't figured out the best way to discipline him in love.  As I have mentioned before, we cannot discipline Jack the same way that you could a child that is already completely attached to their parents. We have to handle him delicately as to not to hinder his bonding to us.  This has been the hardest part for Bryan and me to figure out. Anything I find on disciplining children has to do with older children that you can communicate with. Jack is already behind in his communication because he is from another country, so that doesn't help!  I can't find anything about disciplining a younger child, much less a Christian source of disciplining an adopted child. :( Are you only supposed to discipline older children?! Bryan and I definitely feel like Jack needs discipline, instead of using modes of distraction or us just ignoring his behavior, but we also don't want to delay his bonding process either. If anyone has any recommendations on how they best disciplined their adoptive child, please, by all means, let us know what worked for you!
We are exhausted and overwhelmed most days (which is probably true for most parents raising a toddler). But to me, Jack's behavior was so out of the ordinary that it eventually drove me to search for some kind of help.  Every day, I was on the internet scouring for answers. I was feeling completely frustrated and so alone until God provided me great hope in a blog article, called The Truth About Adoption: One Year Later!  Please, if you haven't read this and if you are planning on adopting an older child, you should definitely read it! Or if you want to know what we have been going through these past few months, it couldn't be any more truer if I had written it myself! God bless Jen Hatmaker! If it wasn't for her bravery in being honest about adoption, I would have continued to feel like I was the only person in the world going through this....

Go HERE to read her blog post.

Apparently, if I had done enough research or talked to my adoptive friends, I would have known this stage with Jack was coming! In her blog post (and many other articles that I have read since), Jen mentions that older adopted children often go through what they call a "honeymoon" period, where the adopted child and his/her parents are on their best behavior and this can last from a few days to up to a few months. Some say they never have a honeymoon period, so I guess I'm glad we did with Jack. ;) Next comes what they call a "testing" period.  During this phase, adopted children test their parents to see if they will leave them. They do this by acting out inappropriately and disobeying, among other things. Many parents of young children probably go through several testing stages too, but with adopted children, the motive is different behind their behaviors. These children have already gone through such great loss in their young lives that they don't know who they can trust anymore. They test and test until they can finally feel safe and free to express love to their family.  It is up to Bryan and me to respond in the right way to Jack's behaviors in order for him to feel this way toward us eventually. And if we don’t get it right during this critical time in his life, he may never attach fully! No pressure or anything! :)
Anyway, we have just had a hard couple weeks with Jack (and probably have a lot more to come), but the whole month hasn't been all that bad. ;) Like I mentioned before, Jack had made some major strides and doing some pretty cute things lately.
Jack is speaking a lot more now! I had been writing down his words, so I could remember to tell our social worker what he was saying. He was really only learning a few words each month, but this month he starting to try to imitate us. It's like he was listening all this time and then he all of the sudden he wanted to try. He doesn't get them all exactly right, but he does get close enough and at least he is trying!  Some of his new words are “Nana (banana), Up (which usually means ‘help’), Jacka (Jack), Bee! (Boo!), Hot, Otz (Socks), Pay (Pray), Wa wa (Water),  MIIILLL!! (MILK!), Buht (book), and Uh…do…TREE!” (One, two, THREE!).  This has made me so happy because I know that once he can start communicating, things won't be quite so hard for him to express himself, and maybe we can avoid some of these tantrums. ;) 
Jack seems like he is more open to learning things now. He likes us to read to him and he often reads to himself, by muttering softly while looking down at his book of choice.  Since Jack loves books now, we incorporated it into his bedtime routine.  First we have bath time and sing songs. For “Old McDonald Had A Farm”, he sings, "Oh Man Oh Man...Eee I Oh!" When he gets out of the tub, we will put lotion on him and say, "massage the leg, massage the arm.." etc. when we put it on him.  He will imitate us by saying "saj da." "saj da." We then read him a book and say our prayers.  He really likes to pray now and often reminds Bry and I to do it for meals.  Sometimes he will pray on his own quietly saying, "umm, ummm, ummm.." then loudly says, "AMEN!" It's so cute!  Jack’s favorite thing to say now is, “Oh man!” He was saying “Uh Oh” when he dropped something or fell down, but somehow it turned into “Oh Man!” We thought this was so funny, so we started encouraging it by saying it too.  Bryan especially thinks it is funny when he says it after he or Daddy passes gas! :P
He still doesn't call us Mama or Dada yet, though he can say it. I think he might be waiting to do that until he has bonded to us. Lord knows I would love to hear him call me Mama, but I don't want to push him. He will say it when he is ready.
We had our second post placement visit a little early due to some scheduling conflicts, but turns out it was great timing, because Jack wasn't in his "testing" phase yet, so we didn't have to address it! ;) We will see our social worker again in October and then finalize Jack's adoption at the end of November or in December! Three more months and Jack will officially be our son!
Jack has been to our nursery at church three times now. With each visit, he has gotten more and more sad each time we drop him off.  Normally this would make most people sad, but it's a sign of attachment, so it makes Bry and me a little bit happy that he doesn't want to leave us. Sometimes, we take him into the service at the beginning, so he can listen to the music. The first time we did it, he had this blank look on his face like he didn't know what the heck was going on. But this last time, he seemed more comfortable. He would reach out his hand to introduce himself during the greeting time, and clapped (almost in rhythm) during the music. ;)
Jack is doing so many new things.  He is such an imitator. He loves his sign language book, because he likes us to show him the signs in it so he can try them.  He likes to copy kids and do exactly what they do. If a younger child falls down accidentally, Jack likes to fall down too. Maybe he is trying to make the other kid feel better. ;) He also likes to pretend.  Sometimes he grabs a bag, (like mommy and daddy do when they leave) and says, “Bye bye.”
He still likes music and his dancing skills are improving. ;) He can walk up the steps with almost no help. He loves watching his Cars movie.  He often asks for “moovee?” but if we put anything else in other than Cars, he doesn’t like it.  “May-ner” (Mater) is his favorite character.  Mommy and Daddy had nothing to do with that. ;)
So, even though we are going through a difficult time right now, God still encourages us every day through moments of joy and gives us glimpses of hope that it will all be worth it in the end! J Please continue to keep our family in your prayers if you ever think of us. We always appreciate it!

Here's some pictures from the last month...

Visiting Magnolia Gardens

Petting the deer.
Playing with Papa's bunnies!
Papa's Tee Pee!
Visiting the Children's Museum.
He loved grocery shopping.
There's a smile!

That's one tired Mama!

That face pretty much sums up this month! ;)