Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Location, Location, Location

I have several photo shoots this weekend, so I took a little time this morning to scout out my locations. 
And I thought to myself, 
"How in the world did I get so lucky
to live in a place so beautiful?" 

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

On this Day Last Year

One year ago today we were in Ethiopia meeting our boy for the first time. I got a little bit teary several times today just thinking about it. 
It surprised me a little bit that I felt emotional about this particular anniversary.

Perhaps that lump in my throat is the memory of the painful 5 month wait that followed that wonderful week in Ethiopia.

Or maybe it's because he's just not that little anymore.

Or maybe it's the realization that - at this point one year ago - I had NO IDEA just how many things this
little one would add to my life.

And maybe, just maybe, I get a little bit teary eyed because sometimes I still can't believe he's really here.
And as for Mr. Briggs?
On this anniversary he is particularly thankful for his bike
and for sunshine.

Monday, March 5, 2012

For What It's Worth

If you're in the process of adopting,
and if you're anything like me,
you are probably spending hours on the internet looking for advice
and trying to learn just what it might be like to bring your little one home.

I do believe that adoption is normal, but it just isn't as common as brining home a tiny newborn from the hospital. And while other moms are talking about healing episiotomies, chapped nipples, and size 0 diapers, it's easy for the expectant adoptive mom to hear nothing but crickets.

So, for what it's worth, I'd like to pass along a few things that really, really helped us as we learned how to be a family these past six months. They haven't been a perfectly smooth six months, but these few nuggets of information have really made a difference.

1) Keep your child's world small. Before we brought Briggs home, some friends suggested to us that we keep him home with us for the first two weeks with NO VISITORS. While this proved difficult for our friends and family, it turned out to be the best.advice.ever. If you quit reading this blog post right now, I could already claim to have given you a million dollars worth of advice in just this one tip. Your new child has got to relearn what home means, what safe means, what comfortable means. Let him learn about the most important place (home) and people (his parents) first - without a thousand other distractions, faces, and stimulations. Honestly, if you've got the time to extend this two weeks into three or four, do it. After we incubated for our two weeks, we introduced people to Briggs slowly and on his turf. We hosted all of his admirers (and he has a lot!) in our home so that he could get to know them in a place where he was already comfortable. Your child has his whole life to visit others and explore your town, take it slow.

2) Set expectations for your child as if he was born on the day you arrived home with him. For example would you hold your 1-week-old almost constantly? Would you let him fall asleep - and stay asleep - in your arms? Then for a while, this too should be okay for your newly-home toddler. Would a 4-week-old still sleep in the same room with you? Would he still wake up in the middle of the night to be fed or rocked? Would you spend extended periods of time just gazing at your new baby? Then shower your newly adopted child with these same affections and privileges. I would say that many of Briggs's needs and behaviors were very "infant" up until about three months after we had been home. We indulged many of these requests until he very simply and naturally outgrew them. For example, even though he was 16-months-old, the first time he slept through the night was at 6 weeks home and right at 3 months he began sleeping through the night every night.

3) Take charge from the very beginning. Again, in the spirit of treating your child as you would a very new baby, take charge of doing things for him. For us, it was important that we not let Briggs hold his bottle or feed himself with the spoon. Although he was capable of these things, it was our way of communicating to him that we would take care of his needs. Also, have a plan for discipline. Unlike newborns, even newly-home toddlers are naughty. This really caught me off guard, but it was important that Mark and I set boundaries from the very beginning and that we be on the same page as to what those boundaries were and how they were to be enforced. The book Love and Logic really helped me with this one.

4) And finally, don't force the food issue. I expected to blow Briggs away with all sorts of yummy sweets and fruits and pastas and crackers. Do you know what he wanted? Bananas. Bananas and his bottle and rice cereal. And that was it for about two months. It worried me at first, but then I realized that food is so closely connected to comfort. While everything else around him was so strange, he was finding some kind of comfort and familiarity in these three foods. So we went with it. And you know what, he came around.

We aren't a perfect family and I don't think that Briggs is a perfectly adjusted child, but I do hope that there is an adoptive mommy out there that will pin or print or tuck away these bits of advice and that they will be a little bit helpful one day.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Six Months Home

During the first few weeks that Briggs was home, Mark and I often found ourselves looking at each other and saying, "This is really weird." 

But like all new parents, we pressed on to learn and grow and adjust while providing the best possible care we knew how for our little guy. 

It seemed like everywhere we turned, someone was telling us, "You'll feel normal again after six months." or "After six months, seems really settled down for us." 

And you know what, they were (pretty much) right. 

It's been just over six months since we got the B-man home and we are starting to feel a bit more calm. We are settling into a routine and a rhythm. 

And while caring for this wild man is still very very hard, 
Mark and I now frequently look at each other and say, 
"This is really fun."