Thursday, January 30, 2014

New Family, New Names

If the new names of our three boys have been confusing everyone, they confuse me, too. :) Jake has gotten on to me more than once for not fully converting. When they first arrived, I quickly noticed that when a kid is running off helter skelter and I called his new name, he didn't respond until switching to the old. Pragmatism took over!

Now that I'm trying again, half the time I'm too absorbed in the urgency of the situation to remember to use the new name. In a discipline moment or back at Casa de Amor, I don't feel it's a good time, either.

Sometimes we use both names together.

The boys occasionally use their new names amongst themselves, mainly during chore times throughout the day, since those are the names on their list! 

Jake usually uses their new names.
One of these days, I'm going to fully convert, which will probably help the boys go 100%.
When asked their name in public, they always give their new name with a big grin.

Slowly but surely.....!

First, a bit of history...

Luis Jesus arrived to Hogar de Amor II with me, on my 25th birthday, Child #25 in the houses at that moment. I had to leave a church rehearsal a little early to be able to pick him up from Cochabamba's Archbishop building downtown, from the office of a psychologist friend there. My first impression was what a sweet, easy-to-love little boy he was. I was excited to meet him and he was excited to meet his new friends. His birth dad was with him that day, but by the next year had disappeared permanently.

Luis Jesus' first birthday with Hogar/Casa de Amor on July 16, 2007

Arrival to Hogar de Amor: May 24, 2007 (age 3 years and 10 months) 
Joined our family December 24, 2013
Length of time in HDA II, III (Alseths), then back to II: 6 years and 7 months 

I still clearly remember the moment when I looked out our very first baby home (the building my family and I had built way out in Anocaraire during our Hospital of Hope days) and saw Rosa stepping up onto the porch with little Angel in her arms. He craved love and attention and was often very sad. His seeming depression, coupled with his malnutrition, led one of our original caregivers (no longer with us) to comment she was afraid he wasn't going to make it. But he eventually began to thrive!

A rare happy picture from Angel Isai's first days with us
Arrival to Hogar de Amor I: March 28, 2005 (age 19 months)
Back with relatives: September 11, 2006
Back to Hogar de Amor I: December 17, 2006
Joined our family December 24, 2013
Length of time living in HDA I, II, relatives, and prospective adoptive families before adoption: 8 years and 9 months

I also vividly remember where I was when I got the news of Marcus. I was actually in Texas for a couple of weeks visiting two of my sisters (the rest of my family was still living in Bolivia). Rosa had called me long distance just to ask if we had room for a little boy, and to say that the Alseths were willing to take him. From my grandparents car in front of my aunt's new house, I answered yes. Then I couldn't wait to get back to Bolivia and meet our newest!!

A timid Marcus David days after arrival to HDA III and the Alseth Family
Arrival to Hogar de Amor III: July 10, 2008 (age: 4 years and almost a month)
Joined our family December 24, 2013
Length of time in HDA III, II, and one prospective adoptive family before his adoption: almost 5 1/2 years

One of my favs from way back when!
(Jesus and Angel, best buds. Who knew they'd get to be brothers forever?!)

New Names!

Joel Jesus Beaty
Joel: "The Lord is God"
Jesus: "The Lord is Salvation"
Michael Angel Beaty
Michael: "Who is Like God"
Angel: "Messenger of God"
Samuel Marcus Beaty
Samuel: "God Heard" 
Marcus: "A Defense" (his birth mother chose the name Marcus after a missionary pastor from the US that she respects)
I love the pattern Jake chose (can you detect it?). We actually decided on their names months before we decided on Sophia's names.
Yesterday, January 29, we had our third and final court hearing, yippee!! Next week the judge's final sentencing will be issued, shortly thereafter birth certificates with our names as parents (and the boys' new names), and then we'll be able to continue with getting their Bolivian documents. 
The new Beaty Family is quickly becoming official! :)
(Baby Sophia was with Grandma Thompson)

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Baby Sophia, Three Months!

As time has ticked on, I've wondered how I should write this three month post. Am I supposed to write about how she is now while currently three months old, or what I remember up until January 13 when she turned 3 months?! I think I've struck on a combination...   

 Posing for pictures in the outfit Jake's students bought us many months before Sophia was born 

 Our wild-eyed baby, playing with toys

Around 2 ½ months, Sophia became much more social! I love how she follows us around the room with her eyes/head and breaks into a big grin to see our faces. By “ours” I include her three big brothers. She realizes they are part of her adoring family!

A week before she turned 3 months, my parents and sister Emma (now 15) arrived! It was pretty neat to get to introduce them to our new family and see them hold Sophia almost non-stop. (Which she really got used to, of course. It was the third day after they left before she realized she could indeed nap alone!)

Mom showed us how much Sophia loved being read books, an activity I've kept up with her every day since. She LOVES that interaction and will generally listen as long as we’ll read! 

After getting caught one afternoon in a torrential downpour that lowered the temperature, the Baby Home tias loaned us this cute "snow suit" 

I thought Nana Thompson would enforce a strict regimen of “tummy time” while here, something we learned the importance of with my special needs sister Sarah, but she knew that Sophia hates it so there was none. :) I still aim for some every day, but it’s hard to find an awake, happy time when she also hasn't eaten within the past hour.  

 Tummy time!!

The first days of January, I felt forced to give her three small formula bottles of 1-3 ounces three different very rough evenings. Looking back at the weight chart, that must have been a growth spurt, but at the time I was seriously worried that my milk supply wasn't keeping up at all. It felt like admitting defeat even though I was still nursing every 3 hours on average. That got us over the hump, but then she began getting VERY upset at night when she was tired and cranky and just NOT in the mood for the work of nursing. We’d stick plastic in her mouth and she’d suck like crazy, wanting an easy feed. It was so frustrating to deal with that every. single. night. Till past midnight. So I stopped topping off with formula or even my pumped milk in a bottle, upped taking all the galactagogues available to me (carrot juice, chia seeds, alfalfa, papaya, oatmeal, etc.), and began fenugreek when my mom brought some down. We’re doing very well now, something I no longer take for granted!

Wearing a gift from a friend in Tennessee 

The very day my family arrived, January 6, we turned a corner with nighttime sleeping. My Mom said it was because she was now 12 weeks, I thought it was due to getting enough food. Whatever the reason, she began going to bed between 10 and 11:30, waking anywhere between 5 and 7am to eat, then GOING BACK TO SLEEP!! I had started to decide that the “sleeping through the night” that she’d done since one month and one day old wasn't actually that great. She would sleep from anywhere between midnight and 1:30am till 5 or 6 or occasionally 7am…but be awake 2-3 hours on either end of that, often wanting to eat every hour. Mainly, there was no schedule. Ahh!! That was getting hard.      

 Another picture made for friends in Texas, thanking them for the silver rattle and sweet pillow

Also while my family was here, mom started flipping through a book she found on my shelves and encouraged me to look at it. I read “Secrets of the Baby Whisperer” (by Tracy Hogg, a British woman) years ago and remember being able to easily match up the current babies of Casa de Amor with her descriptions of five types of babies (Angel, Textbook, Touchy, Spirited, Grumpy). Taking the “Know-Your-Baby” quiz for Sophia, lots of things came together to discover she’s a “spirited baby” with all but one characteristic of a “grumpy baby”. There we go!

Spirited baby: born knowing what she does and doesn't like, very vocal, often screams, wild in the bathtub—flailing about and splashing (a fun aspect!), and the two enlightening explanations for two concerns/confusions I’d had: “Often needs swaddling to get to sleep, because flailing arms and legs keep her up and overstimulated.” (She has slept exactly one night and very few naps without being well swaddled, something I had expected her to grow out of by two months, as my Casa babies have. It is an ESSENTIAL with her!) 

And secondly, “If she starts crying and the cycle is not interrupted, it’s like the point of no return, and her crying leads to more crying until she’s reached a fever pitch of rage.” EXACTLY!!!! We quickly realized she “crying it out” and calming herself down does not happen with her, no matter how much other mothers swear it is possible and even necessary. That’s just not the way she’s wired!

The grumpy type description details frequent meltdowns and impatient, upset feeding times. (No kidding! She wants immediate gratification when nursing, not tolerating a slow let-down). The world must come to a stop when she needs attention. (The author also mentions that grumpy types run off babysitters. So glad that Kaley is still with us!!)
With mommy on a rainy cool day

With daddy

 Love those eyes!!

I've often asked myself how I got such a demanding, high maintenance baby who so resists a schedule, when God knew we were adopting three children at the same time. But now I just as often wonder if He did that so that she would not be overlooked in a busy household. As I wrote a friend recently, the boys are REALLY easy compared to her, something I definitely wasn't expecting. I was used to babies. That is, till I met my own! Jake has told me more than once that God specially chose Sophia for me as a challenge, to stay dependent on Him and humble.

Loving our new outfit from Tia Kaley!

Monkey time

It is rewarding to parent our “spirited baby”. We love how talkative she is during content times, and when she’s happy, she’s HAPPY!!  

 All dressed up for the day my family arrived

Yeahhh, so... That's probably enough pictures for just one post!! Till next time, friends and family! :)

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Brotherly Love

All my efforts at blogging since my family left have led nowhere!! I think it has something to do with schooling the boys in the morning while Jake is back at work, and a baby who often decides that staying up all afternoon and evening is cool!

So until I can get my act together and put up some real posts, I'm throwing up some of the MANY cute pictures of the past couple of weeks.

All last year I wondered if the boys would be resentful of the baby (and more so once I met her!), but those fears were entirely unfounded. I think that's one benefit of them having the Casa de Amor background that they do. Not only are they used to sharing the tia's attention with other kids, they love babies and were always excited when I had a baby from the Baby Home with me. More and more, Sophia responds to them and they can often keep her happy an extra 5 or 10 minutes until I can get to her. She's one blessed baby to have so much attention!

If we think this is fun, can't imagine when she's sitting...walking...talking!!

Sophia with big brother Michael (he kept saying she looked like an angel in this white outfit, actually our first baby gift, given by Jake's students)

"Smile, Baby Boo Boo! Mommy, she's smiling! Take the picture!!"

 Sophia, Michael, Samuel

A common scene at diaper changing time 

The boys took charge of my camera last week and I had a whole set of cute, eye-level pictures of them with the baby.

Coming Soon: Time with the Thompsons, and Sophia at 3 months!!

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Go Team Beaty!!!

Back on the blog with a parcel of pictures!! There are quite a few, but there were no bad pictures this day and I couldn't choose!

We made a trip to the Cancha recently to obtain family soccer uniforms. The boys couldn't wait to try them on!

 They love their baby sister...

...and she loves them!!

Take 1...

...Take 2!

The best part!!

Jake loves showing up at our neighborhood court with his own team!


Sunday, January 5, 2014

Settling In

The boys have already been with us nearly two weeks! I’m now going to take a detour from the usual posts with lots of pictures and share more details about how things are going.  (That's why there's been a lull on the blog. This one took a lot longer to prepare!)
I think several people are sharing in our family adventure via this blog, and I don't want to make it seem like it's all perfectly peachy all the time. Family life will always have it's ups and downs, even as perfect as the pictures can make it seem! It’s pretty dramatic to triple one’s family size in 10 weeks. Every day we learn more about each other and how to modify things to make our new family work.
First of all, I have to give a HUGE thanks to Jake!!! Things would not be going nearly as smoothly without his help. (And there’s one of the reasons I can blog at all, to answer the questions of some!) Turns out that the timing of the boys’ arrival during Jake’s vacation time from school was a godsend!! He goes back in a week and I’ll have all of the kids to myself in the morning. (Not a problem in itself, but since the baby I often sleep in when we’ve had a short night.)   
Jake is constantly in the kitchen after meals, helping whichever son has the duty of washing dishes. He plays with the boys outside every afternoon, unless it’s raining and then they play inside with their games from Christmas or do something else fun with him, like look at his picture on his computer. He has taken the lead in teaching them English, and they love learning from him. When I’m busy trying to feed or get Sophia to sleep at night, he takes over the bedtime routine (what you could imagine, plus assigning happy/sad faces on the chore chart, reading their Bible and discussing it, then praying to finish the day).  Just like in the early weeks with Sophia, he has again started to work his magic touch in getting her to sleep when nothing else works. And yesterday he even finished organizing our 180+ books by the Dewey Decimal System!!  
I think the addition of the boys was hardest for Jake, understandably. Interestingly, it’s been less of a change for me than when the baby arrived. There's not much difference between little free time and little free time. :) Sophia, being a rather demanding and disorganized baby, got me used to a way more flexible schedule beginning October 13. For Jake, this all began on December 24 with the arrival of the boys. (It reminds me of what I read as a little girl in an article about a family with 12 children. The father made the comment that “Two children take all your time, and 12 children take all your time”, and it’s true! I guess Sophia counts for two!!)
The boys have done VERY well transitioning. They are really great kids. Sometimes Jake bemoans that they still need so much training, but they have actually been very responsive to our directions and the constant “This is the way we do this in our family.” Of course, sometimes Jake and I have to convene to decide how IS it that we do something in our family! At times we let things go, just for now, because it would be so overwhelming to tell them how to do or say something every few minutes.
Almost all of our challenges center around Angel. We totally expected that, but some days we have to remind ourselves that it will get better, that he’s young enough to change and to feel secure enough to not have the need to put others down. 

At first he was the only one who pushed us to have constant fun activities, buy sugary treats, watch 5 movies a day, let them stay up very late or get up at the break of dawn, etc., etc. Maybe he’s just learned to watch out for himself, and he’s not shy letting everyone know what HE needs - or thinks he needs.
We read an article in a homeschooling magazine that my mom brought us about how adopted children lack trust, and how much that affects them, particularly in the area of discipline. With Angel having been rejected twice by family members and twice by couples who thought they wanted to adopt, it’s no surprise this is an issue with him. But like Jake says, he’s not all out “testing” us, to see if we’re really serious about adopting and loving him. He really has been responsive, and when he's happy, he's HAPPY!

His negative comments were starting to get to me at first, but I’m learning to take them better and be more understanding of why he says what he does. I’ve realized that when he asks, “Why does Sophia cry so much?”, to not take it as a criticism, that he is actually worried. He loves her and doesn’t want her to be upset.
All of this constantly makes me think of the differences between balanced family life and the very child centered “Casas de Amor”. I think my current opinion is that it’s fine and necessary to be so completely focused on the kids and their entertainment, constant meals and snacks, and outings at the homes. The kids have come from hard backgrounds. They don’t have a family. To be able to make the homes really great places for kids is a blessing!
But in a family, the truth is there’s not a cook in the kitchen all day making yummy meals and snacks on an exact schedule. There’s no round-the-clock tia caregiver awake and ready to play and tend to every need. In a family, mommy sometimes needs a nap or to sleep in because she was up with the baby so many hours, or to retreat and nurse the crying baby in a quiet place even if she planned to play games with the kids. The kids “get” to go on tiring long shopping trips, because there’s no accountant to make all of the purchases for us. And yes, a quiet Christmas Day spent at home just playing with gifts and eating nice meals can be fun!
The boys have insisted that they are tired of soccer and only wanting to take swimming lessons now, but the other night they watched some guys playing soccer in front of our place and started longing for soccer again. Jake reminded them that they would have to choose one or the other, at least for now, and Angel reminded HIM that they got to do BOTH with the hogar!
These are just things our oldest three will have to get used to as they learn normal family life, where sometimes the parents' or baby’s needs take center stage and everyone has to flex.
Regarding the homes, previously we had thought that we would need to create a distance between them and everything to do with their former life at Casa de Amor. However, since the very first day of our official visits with them as part of the adoption process, we have seen that this is not as necessary. The boys have lived in the homes anywhere from 5 ½ to nearly 9 years and really love the tias and other children, their family all that time, and love going back to the houses. It is tough to answer the questions of the other children “why not me?” or to have little Daniel hug our legs and say, “I wanted to be your son!!” but Jake has noticed that it seems better that we still visit occasionally rather than dropping out of their lives completely, as if to punish them.  
Other very good moments we’ve had:
~ When the boys pray before meals or bedtime, they almost always include, “Thank you that I now have parents”. So sweet!
~ After every meal, at least one of them begins insisting to know which chore they have, ready to do it! (Jake has created a great rotating system where each boy has a set of assignments for the week before rotating.) 

~ Since December 11, our second day of official "visits", all three boys call us "mama" and "papa" almost without fail! Yesterday one called me "tia" again but I chalk that up to being with other Casa de Amor kids and so he forgot. It's particularly neat when they call Jake, even in the middle of a stream of Spanish, "daddy". He told them that's the name he really wants to be called and they quickly picked it up. ...After a lesson of practicing saying "apple" to get the pronunciation of the "a" down, which has led to a little family joke of saying "apple daddy". (I've asked to NOT be assigned a fruit, ha! Luckily "mommy" is the same in Spanish and English.)
~ Speaking of names, we had to go to the US Consulate on December 26. The guard at the door asked the boys to write their names on a piece of paper. They did one by one, and I wish I had asked for it later as a keepsake, because they put their complete new names! Their full name here consists of their new name, their former first name, Jake's last name, and my last name. My last name was spelled different ways, but they pretty much got all the rest right. They are fast learners!
~ After one rough go of Angel starting but not finishing his math placement test online and being sullen with Jake the rest of the afternoon, he took it very successfully a few days later. He really is good at math!
~ I'm still figuring out meals and quantity and all that. The days when they all congratulate me on a great meal are fun... The ones when they sit quietly moving the food around, not so much! Angel talks so much he take a while to eat no matter what, but Marcus usually takes longer. Jesus can really put it away! One night when I just looked at him when he asked for thirds, he found a clever way to woo me over, explaining "Mommy, it's just that your food is SO GREAT, I want to eat a LOT of it!!" Ha!
~ They have done a GREAT job of staying in their rooms until the exact minute we say we’re starting our day. I've been very impressed - and grateful!! So glad I found a clock that actually works for their room (more of a challenge than you can imagine in Bolivia)!
~ Jake has pointed out that Jesus is excellent at soccer and Angel a determined swimmer, and I think Marcus is the best comedian of the family. He has quite the imagination and is often thinking ahead to potential hilarious outcomes!
~ One of the very first days of visits, Marcus counted the number of family members, then looked at me and declared, "And the mama will have more kids!" A couple of days later the boys were in the car with me and asked if we were going to have more kids. I said I thought so, and in fact, we might adopt again. They immediately pointed out that there's an extra bed in their room, just perfect for a "niñito" (little boy)! Then they started calling out names of children still in Casa de Amor that we could adopt. I was touched by how excited they were about the idea...but told them we need to wait a bit before getting MORE kids. ;-)
~ We also had an excellent first meeting with the court staff (psychologist and social worker) last week as part of the adoption process. I think of the many times Angel has told me how he told the court in the first failed adoption "No" when asked if he wanted to live with the couple. He just never jived with them. So to hear him confidently say YES with his big grin was pretty exciting for me! And of course the other two enthusiastically said yes. Again they were asked their names, and one by one they gave their new names, grinning shyly at each other. I loved how they answered the psychologists' questions, like which school they will go to next year. The boy closest to Jake leaned over towards him and adoringly answered "Our dad is a teacher, so he will teach us!" They were very affectionate with Sophia too, as usual.

As part of the evaluation process at the court "interview", the boys were asked to draw a picture of "a family", not using stick figures. We loved what they drew so much that I asked them to do it again for me once we got home. You can see their family drawings here.   
The family drawings, in birth order

Love how the much beloved cat Rusty is in every picture, and that this one is complete with the baby bag! (And see Jake's glasses perched on his head?) 

I'm not sure what provoked this conversation, but one day at dinner, the boys started discussing responses if someone points out that their hair color is different from their parents. Each one started calling out possible answers Jake and I could give: 

"They are just my sons, and that's that!"
"Their hair is dyed!"
"We like dark hair!!"

Love it!!

Angel made up our bed the first two mornings at our house, completely without being told. I was so impressed!!

I have lots of pictures to post now, it took me so long to get this post written, but my family arrives tomorrow for a visit so we'll be busy!! :)