2 MORE TO LOVE

* twins * adoption * princesses * recipes * life*

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Raw

Ok, warning, deep stuff in this post as it is a bit of me in the raw ( like the whole blog isn't!) and it is LOOOooooonnnnnngg.

I almost didn't write any reply but the mother in me feels as though she is protecting her pack, so to say. If you go the to post "lab woes", previous to this one, and look at the first response under comments you'll understand what this post is about.

I feel the need to reply to the comment and since it was posted anonymously I have no other means to reach this person than here. I also want to respond in the case that there are others whom feel the same way. First off, I want to thank you for your concern for my older two children and to let you know that I really hope you have been reading into things on my blog a bit differently than what was meant. Second off I feel the need to set a few things straight:

I never, EVER, once went into adoption as needing "to save kids from poverty, and pain". There are so many children in need, how would you know where to start and would you be doing it for reasons of raising a healthy family? If all you want to do is save children, invest time and finances into charities that do so, don't bring an orphan into your family. This is simply the means that my husband and I have used to expand our family. When faced with the option of a difficult pregancy and the idea of me not being able to provide for our birth children during that time, we both revisted our earlier dreams of adopting a child or children that needed a home.

The birthday party is not being done at my birth daughters' expense but rather as a extra-special treat for them. I am sure you read it wrong as this is their first one, before or after adopting. They are big sisters now and that comes with big changes. We discussed finally having a party and agreed on some very basic ground rules (the number of guests and amount of "fluff" that would transpire.) They are as excited as anything about the party and it is about all they can talk about since the decision. Where I come from not everyone has a big party every year and I do not see how finally doing a party for them is at their own expense? Besides since when does throwing a huge party every year with themed cakes, plates, napkins, games, etc. mean that you love your kids more than the person who chooses not to or perhaps can not afford to do so?

The relatives are allowed to hold the babies and love on them and kiss on them and talk as silly as they want to them. However for a short time (approximately 6 weeks) we choose to be the only ones to feed, diaper, and bath the babies as we prefer to be the ones to comfort them when they are upset. Not some strange idea on our part to hog the babies or selfishly hold onto them and exclude others, but suggestions from attachment specialists. This is not to deprive them of family, to deprive the family of them, or to make them different from our birth children. It is to make them feel more like our birth children in the long run. (In fact the older two are more than welcome to help out and they love to help with diapers, as long as they aren't stinky, and to hold bottles... the babies bonding to them are almost as important as the babies bonding to my husband and I.) Trust me I have two grandmas chomping at the bit to do a bottle and bath with these guys and I can't wait to have them let loose so I can spend more one on one time with my older two. We actually did this with our older two, not on purpose like this, but I nursed and both grandparents were uncomfortable with that decision so for awhile they kind of kept their distance until they realized they can help care for a nursing baby.

The Easter Egg hunt in question involved HUNDREDS of kids from the ages of 3-7 all running around and screaming during theatrics done before the hunt would even begin. It was a mess, with no order, and I simply admit of myself that I can not handle large amounts of other peoples children like that. That experience has put a bit of a fear into me of large brithday parties, especially where I am responsible for others' children and the happiness of my own (it is their birthday) all at once. I know how to handle my kids, what makes them tick, how to calm them down, and comfort them. This is something that changes with each child and I won't even pretend to know this about anyone else's child. The birthday party is being planned as to keep me from stressing while providing the girls with a bit of the birthday party little girls dream of. The whole family has been through changes and it is a bit stressful trying to adjust to a new normal, as my husband calls it. A party with 7 young girls (my 2 princesses and 5 others that I know and trust) I can handle and I am so sorry that you didn't read into the sarcasm expressed at the end of the birthday party post.

When we decided to make adopting the twins a go we had to decide a few things that unfortunately were not things we thought about before. When starting this journey we had planned for an acutal adoption date of this coming summer. The idea of adopting twins so soon was one we had to fiscally look at to see if it was possible. We were assured we would arrive home before the new year and therefore the tax returns would help to pay some of what we had not yet saved, so yes I was stressed about tax credits (the adoption credit of $10K per child, not simply another dependant) as they were part of how we financially planned to pay for the adoption. Tax returns, I believe, are mentioned in two posts that are posted under much stress and added finance. The main cause of that stress, more than anything, was missing my older two (a re-occuring theme if you have followed along.) If you recall, my Christmas wish was for my girls to come to me since I could not go to them.

Princesses is a loving term I use for my children, not the pampered, spoiled, and snotty image it may procure, but that they are everything to me...all four of them. It is a term the older two prefer right now as they are at the age of fascination with Cinderella, Barbie, and all girly things in between. I am amazed as each day goes by at how much love can mulitply in the heart. I have the same love for all my children equally, no matter where they came from. It truly is amazing that love isn't something that is just grown in the womb!

My blog is not a need for attention or selfishisness. In fact it is here for long-distance family and friends to read, for fellow adopting parents to read and hopefully learn as I did from other blogs, and more importantly it has evolved into a journal for my children to have when they are grown.

I also want to say that it wasn't simply a "God moment" that has drove me here, but moment after moment and day after day. In my profile it is stated first that I am a follower of Christ and that is part of who I am as much as being a mother to these four precious girls or being a wife of my husband, so yes God is included in everything I do. Adopting these girls was not something done on a whim, or jumped into lightly. I believe whole-heartedly that these twins are part of God's plan for our lives and to that I will make no apology. The turn of events that has happened from the beginning of this process to the very day I arrived home is nothing short of a miracle to our family. My older two are so in love with their litte sisters and I am so proud of them for jumping right into their role of big sisters. I have been meaning to address how it seemed like God disappeared from my posts while in Vietnam, be assured I did not change or forget my faith and relationship with Christ while gone, but did not share that part for the reason of being tagged for censorship while in a communist country. I have heard first-hand accounts of those who have received a visit from the local police to their hotel room after posting what they call "propaganda" in an email, let alone to a public blog. I was there to adopt the twins and did not plan on doing anything to endager that. Even in emailing to friends I typed words differently than normal and omitted words/letters as to keep from being suspicious of wanting to turn the entire country to the Christian faith. I can not tell you all how frustrating it was to not be able to post how deeply I felt at the first sight of the twins that God would entrust them to me, and how unworthy I felt. How upset I would get not being able to daily post how people could pray for me and how God was working through my days. I accounted for much but was unable to give God credit where due.

As far as neglecting my older two, that is a pretty high charge. You are not here for the time we spend reading, the building of hamsters out of puff balls, and the making a lasagna for daddy to eat. I may not journal the early morning hours spent doing paper dolls while the babies sleep near by as the older two just want to be near them or the time we spend working on party invitations, making books, dancing to music in the kitchen, putting glitter in our hair, and all the things that we mothers do with our little girls. I don't include all this mainly because it is an adoption blog and also because my life is so full that if I included it all it would be more like a daily newspaper than a blog! If my older two start acting like they need mommy time, I know it is time to turn on the bouncy seats or find a soft blanket and let the babies play with each other a bit as it is always at the front of my mind that I am a blessed mother of four princesses! If the babies cry for a few minutes while we finish up the last paper-doll, that is ok. If the babies spend some time alone with each other, rather than with mommy in their face all day, that is ok. I have a household of 6 to run and not one person in this house is treated any differently than the other. Adopting two children, in our case twin babies, out of need for attention is not what this mother is about, though perhaps wanting a larger family can be percieved as selfish I feel the charge is unjust.

I am so sorry that you have read my blog and derived things so incorrectly. In the future I will try my best to communicate more clearly and to let it be know when there is a hint of sarcasm (even my husband sometimes asks "is that serious or joking".) Hopefully this post clears any unease you or any reader may feel at my writings, especially my children when they read this in the future. I assure readers that while at first I was a bit ruffled from this response, I will not delete or discourage discussion on here. It is my hope that it was posted in honest concern for my children and I can not fault that.

To the poster of the comment: I hope that your fears are calmed and that I have responded respectfully. I apologize for any confusion my communication style may have played in this. I end with not only asking God to bless just your family, but you as well.

Jenn

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Lab woes

As lab-work is coming back things all look good, HOORAY!

BUT they lost one of Chloe's samples....this is the girl that screamed and screamed and screamed and it took all 4 lab techs to get blood out of her little veins. I am dreading the thought of returning for another draw and hope to do it today as to delay the trauma to both her and me. I just hate the thought of them trying to stick her again and am not sure how to swing the other 3 while holding her down for a couple hours. I suppose it is time to call all those people who have offered to do "anything they can to help." 5 minute warning to not answer your phone gals!

I'd take a whole roomful of screaming 6 year old girls every day for a week over this doom.

Jenn

*edited to add that the latest blood draw went so smoothly that even the techs were amazed! Two pricks, three tears, no screams and we were done. The culprit of this somewhat more tolerable offense? The blood lab did not lose as in misplace a sample, they simply froze one too many. Go figure.

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Sleep and Stress

I was exhausted after monday's photo trip and yesterday being my first day on my own with all four princesses. So, needless to say when the babies went ot sleep at 7:30 (yes I am trying to adjust that to a bit later) I jumped at the opportunity to go to bed early as well. The husband was getting the older two ready for bed and gave me the go-ahead. Imagine my surprise when the first stirrings from our little beauties wasn't until 2:30! 7 HOURS OF SLEEP, AT ONE TIME!!!!! I can tackle to house today with all the sleep I got, that is in between princess meals, clothing and diapering, and thebirthday party preperations.

The older two are having a joint birthday party on Saturday with 5 of their friends invited. I feel like I am lazing out on the whole birthday thing, and this is really the first party Little Bits has ever had (turning 5) while Twinkle Toes has had one. Understand. we have birthdays, but it is grandparents and not the "little girl dream parties" that every girl desires. The pressure has been mounting as the children grow older and attend parties of friends. I am really just not into the whole "theme" and "gift bags" and hoards of screaming little girls running around type of mom...not just with the adoption being completed, ever. If there is one stress or even fear that I have it is hoards of screamig kids of which I have no control. One time, I ruled myself silly for the stress/fear of it all and decided to help out with our church's Easter egg hunt, I was physically ill by the end of the day and knew I could never do it again!

However I knew my girls' little hearts desired a party as they have been planning it for months. With the adoption and attention split now, I figured it was a good year to cave in BUT on moms terms only! I was able to guide them into picking 2 friends each that I know and like for them to play with and they were able to convince me of one more that would feel sad being left out, 5 total (gotta love my girls, they really do think of others and it is nice when it shows up!) We picked out plates, cups, and napkins online (it was pretty cheap too!) The cake has been ordered (I usually do my own as homemade cakes are so much nicer than grocery store cakes, but lets be realistic here), a cool Christmas gift will provide 1/2 hour of entertainment (ballet instruction video, Barbie-style), invites have been sent including directions to dress as a dancing princess, mini pizza making materials have been purchased. All we have to do is survive the two hours with no tears and life will return to normal. I can do this, it's for my girls...I can do this it's for my girls...I can do this it's for my girls.....


Ok, everyone laughing at the above stress you are reading seeing as how I seem to have started my own pack of screaming little girls can quit now. It is so different with you own children and you know it! I'll post pics of the festivities after I survive the day, if I don't I am sure my darling husband will as he is super-dad/husband.

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Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Beauty

What really is beauty?

beau┬Ěty
1. the quality present in a thing or person that gives intense pleasure or deep satisfaction to the mind, whether arising from sensory manifestations (as shape, color, sound, etc.), a meaningful design or pattern, or something else (as a personality in which high spiritual qualities are manifest).


We went yesterday to get our first photos taken. The place we like to go is WONDERFUL with children and now I am even more impressed as they are just as great with babies! Imagine a photography studio that doesn't cringe when you walk in with 2 five month old babies and their two older sisters, rather they get all excited and start digging through the bins to see what to use. The babies for some reason shed that "deer in the headlights" look that they tend to get when I get the camera out and turned into smiles and charm. My older two waited fairly patiently while the babies were oogled over and even sat for a couple of good shots themselves.

Then the best part is that this place is in a mall with a wonderful play area (only one entrance/exit to the area, a whole other topic to be discussed at a later date.) So while we wait for them to touch up the photos and create our own little slide show, the girls get to play, the babies get to eat, and Grandma gets to shop...life is good. Oh and I can not wait to post some of those photos (can I do that so long as I give credit to the studio?) as they are so sweet. I am no good at communicating what I want in a photo session and figure that is what they do for a living, let them do it. I bring m kids, brush their hair, let them know if there is a specific pose I need/want and let them do their job. It always works out well, and this time was no exception. It was wonderful to sit in the front window of this store, play with my older two, and to overlook a couple photographers go nuts over my babies as people drifted by smiling at the beauty inside the studio window.

Funny thing too, I ran into a friend who is also adopting from Vietnam and lives in the same part of the state as I do. Small world and I can not wait to see her little sweeties and have a few play-dates.

So, back to the topic at hand, is beauty the precious faces of my twin baby girls, or any baby at that? Is it the adorable little sweaters we put them in, the cute little looks that are all their own? Is it the love and relationship between sisters, seeing them grow closer as the days pass? Is it the process and gift of both birth and adoption?

For such a small word, beauty carries quite a bit with it.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Clearing the air

As I go back through my trip accounts, I want to make one thing clear. My agency did nothing unethical or illegal.

Sound silly to some, but others who read the online boards and know how crazy international adoptions can be, it means the world. I am sure some were reading and thinking, poor Jenn...she shouldn't have switched agencies. I am sure others were emailing don't use X agency, that family is having all kinds of trouble. If you hear of an agency that has had NO problems, I'd be a bit afraid of why as things are still new in Vietnam and both governments are trying to find the right way to do things.

Yes things went awry, yes it might have been handled differently, yes I had hoped for easy-peasy. BUT it happened how it did and it really was an unfortunate string of events. Our facilitator did the best she could do with the amount of families she had (7) in the two different provinces that were nearly 5 hours appart. She did NOTHING that would be percieved as unethical and was very adamant about doing things by the book...I respect her greatly as I know she was under much pressure to follow the footsteps of many other agencys, especially when we heard the timeline for embassy appointments. I hope that I never pressured her to do something wrong, and I don't thing that I did.

To those families researching agencies or thinking of international adoption: it is an unstable world that has constantly evolving issues and concerns. All of this is to hopefully protect the children. No one wants to hear that their child was purchased from his or her parents with the promise of a better future for baby and the equivilent of a years income for the poor family. It is child-trafficking...plain and simple. It is so hard to wait, it is even harder to be "stuck" in a foreign country. Though I wouldn't call it stuck (I already miss Vietnam, it is an amazing place), but it is how I felt. The Vietnamese government was making changes that delayed us enough, but then to get caught-up in the back-log of families at the embassy and the internet and communication issues on top of that, ugh! It was very trying and I want to make sure that I communicate well that our agency did nothing wrong through all of this.

There were many factors that affected our process. Had we been in the south, I would have been home at least a week earlier, at least. Had our G&R not been moved, I would have been home at least a week earlier, perhaps more. Were it not for other agencies making appointments before G&R's I might not have been sniffling tears back as I packed a suitcase on Friday morning wondering if I will be going home as I would likely have gotten my appointment earlier. As adoptive parents I can not stress how important it is for us to know the process in our country, to be prepared, and to keep an eye out for things that aren't right. If your facilitator is doing one thing shady, what is to say other things aren't being done properly and where do you draw the line? A good facilitator is key. To some a good facilitator is one who can get things done quickly, to me it is someone who does it right. I would certainly use our agency again, especially now that our facilitator has even more experience.

For our family reading this, no that last line does not mean we are doing this again...but you know us, we won't rule anything out until God tells us to!

Signed,
one who had to clear the air of the dust she might have stirred and the dirt that others try to throw

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Dr Visit

The girls "appear" healthy, happy, and well developed considering. Our pediatrition was super-pleased with how they reacted to him (smiles and giggles after the first few cautious "who are you and where is mom" moments.) They are eating a fair amount for their size, but he wants us to keep only on formula with the exception of one evening cereal feeding. He's concerned to start solids as they do have some catching up to do. They were ON the bottom line of average on the growth charts, which again made him happy. In the two weeks since their clinical visit they have gained a whole pound each, and are now Aubrey 11.5 and Chloe 12.5. I'll have chubby babies before I know it! Even though everything appears good, we still need to do a round of about 16-18 tests on them to check for various diseases, disorders, and illnesses. All but two of these require blood (urine and stool...by the way, I love the little bag they use for baby urine collection, wondering why it is big enough for 2 cups of fluid though???)

So we go acrossed the street to the hospital and proceed to wait. We didn't have a lab appt. so we knew we would wait, but it started getting unusally long. Finally the lab guy comes out and explains that since these blood draws are on such little babies he was working with the lab to make sure he knew exactly how much blood to draw so it would be a one time deal, no returning since we didn't have enough or missed something. Can't argue with that right, besides, the babies had already formed their own little fan club while sleeping in their car seats, waiting their turn. When it was our turn, this mommy was a bit un-prepared for how hard it is to find veins in little Asian babies. IT WAS MISERABLE!!! The poor lab guy was doing everything he could, even building little heat boots and mittens out of hand-warmers to help pull veins to the surface. Finally, Miss Nuk was first, he found a vein he was comfortable with and went for it, got the blood he needed and was done. I switch babies and he comments Miss Thumb is a little bigger so hopefully she'll take half the time. WRONG, we had to endure 3 pokes. He would get the vein, but it would not produce more than one cc. Poor thing was upset, I was almost ill (we left to go do all this at 8 in the morning and now it is 2:30 in the afternoon) and my babies have been SCREAMING. Lab guy was sweating and missing his lunch as well. Finally all four lab tech were in there....one to hold the arm still, the other to help me hold the rest of her still, Him taking the blood, and the other one to massage the arm to keep the blood flowing where it needed to. Sorry anyone trying to get labs done yesterday afternoon, we screwed up the scheduling pretty bad! To top it all off, her urine bag sprung a leak, guess she sweated off the adhesive a bit. After eating and napping the babies were as good as new (as long as lab guy didn't get too close.)

We were done, so we headed to a Chinese restaurant to get some quick food before hitting the road home....turns out it was run by Vietnamese. The babies were tickled to see faces that looked a bit familiar and to hear the language that soothed them for so many months! Small world, huh.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

sleep

I slept last night.

As in, normal sleeping hours for Ohio. I actually slept past 4:30 in the morning. Now, mind you, I was up for bottles and pants, but I slept. The fear of illness was looming as I couldn't imagine jet-lag could be so bad, but now I am back to thinking jet-lag. Yesterday it got so bad I simply crashed. For three hours I napped with the babies, their entire and extended afternoon nap. I got nothing accomplished past noon yesterday, nothing. However before noon I was able to do some laundry fold and organize the babies clothes (did this before we left, but with 3-6 clothes and they simply aren't that big yet, so a re-organize was needed due to the generosity of baby-cousing who donated her old duds.) On a side note, baby cousin is getting so round and chubby, she is about a month younger than these guys but deffinately bigger. I LOVE IT! Chubby babies make the world go around as far as I am concerned. Here I am getting excited to see the beginnings of rolls on my twins' legs.

Tomorrow is our first Dr. visit, so don't expect an update until later from me as it is an early morning appt and about a 45 min drive. Looking forward to what Dr. B has to say about these two little angels. Also a big long list of questions, glad they have us scheduled for 2 hours.

Check the slide show and I'll let you know who is who in a day or so, post your guess in comments. Sorry for the randomness, got a baby wanting to help type! Don't forget the families still processing in Hanoi

Jenn

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

attachment

The big "A" word.

Any comments/advice is wecome. I notice that after our 2 weeks together in Vietnam, the twins prefer me over all other...a good step I am sure. So in our arrival home we have set a few "groundrules". The husband and I are the only ones to feed, change, and comfort the crier. Is this enough? Is it too harsh? Grandma's all aound are itching to feed a baby and rock a crier, but we have so far been firm...as I said any advice is welcome. Also, whenever possible, husband is administering care, especially with only having this week off.

We had our roughest night yet last night, but we are getting close to having a schedule so in th end it will be good. I fully expect this time next week to be posting how they sleep the old Vietnam standard of 11 hours with one or two bottles in the night.

Did I mention that attachment advice is welcome?

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

A family

We have in our household now what my husband calls a "new normal". It isn't well established yet, I am sure it will evolve, but I can see the beginnings of it. For instance:
  • I am now a morning person....yep, you all heard me right. I lovebeing up before everyone else after the babies 5:30 bottle. Not that early some of you may say, but for me it is about 2-3 hours earlier than I used to be up and moving. It's quiet, I can accomplish things quickly without interruption, and I like seeing the sun come up. We will see how long this lasts but I am making it a goal to keep it this way.
  • We also now know that going to the grocery store is NOT a family event. We used to get two carts, each take one kid and split the list. No more of that, the older two have no idea how to handle the freedom of walking around a grocery store as the babies are now in the cart. This is something that will need worked on one older girl at a time, not as a family on our way to my parents' Christmas. Lesson learned.
  • I am finding, too, that babies clothes may be tiny, but they multiply like rabbits in the hamper...laundry is now a perpetual project and gone are the days of saving it all for one big laundry day. We now will just perpetuate the "what is in the wash" thought day after day.

These are just some examples, but wow have our lives changed. A part of me mourns for the days that seem so long ago, but that is only a small part. Our lives are full and blessed and there isn't a moment that I don't find myself amazed at how our family is just picking up and going with it. Who would have known we would be so flexible? We are making some changes, though. Having the older two in the same bed just is NOT working out. It has been 2 months now and I feel like we have tried everything from seperate blankets to noses on the wall until we are falling asleep standing up. I think we are going to break down and get bunk beds. We knew it would be an issue, hoped it would work out and it isn't. Our house is pretty small and the girls' 2 bedrooms are the smallest rooms in the house. Storing the antique bed they sleep in will be hard as it was given to the oldest by a very dear person to me (whom one part of her name comes from) before she died. I like seeing it and cleaning it and knowing it will be in good condition for her some day, storing it is a bit scary to me......BUT sleep is the key to survival and that key is being threatened. I really think that if they can't touch each other we won't have problems.

That also will solve the problem of stuff. Babies come with gear, Christmas comes with gear, the older two's birthdays here close to the holidays come with stuff...our house is bursting at the seams with stuff and we have already downgraded our stuff. We will be going through this week and ridding ourselves of things we no longer play with and clothes we do not wear. We will be purging old papers and trying to find a system of storage. This will helps us work in the new stuff. Bunk Beds in their room will allow them to keep their toys in their room (no floor space to play there now) and free up the front room for use. We don't like being surrounded by stuff and something has to be done.

Did I mention the husband is taking this week off of work. New year means new round of vacation. He is pretty new at his job, so he doesn't have a lot....I was surprised he kept it off after not returning to Vietnam as the little time he has needs to last us all year. He really wants to work on the afore mentioned "stuff" though and is very anxious to bond with the twins. They arepicking up on him quite nicely though, and will soon realize he is a push-over for his girls! They love to play with his whiskers and are not afraid to look deep into his eyes, I think they are trying to figure out what his role is.

One last thing, I notice that the babies are much more receptive to those with dark hair or a darker complexion. I didn't think much of it, but I was odd man out over in Hanoi, now they are probably wondering who all these strange looking people are. Interesting, for sure.

Please still pray for those families still trying to come home!