Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Update- Overdue & Picture Loaded

One year ago on May 22nd- This season of Teg's life officially began. The Kebele, similar to your local or county sheriffs office, gave his father permission to relinquish his child and helped him make an adoption plan. 

Many adoptive families will SWEAR to you that anniversaries of the traumatic events somehow play out in the child, as a trigger. I always assumed it was hooky, junk science, or self-fulfilling prophesy.  If these past few weeks are any predictor.. I was wrong. Things are going on in his head and playing out in new ways.  He is double checking this relationship in as many ways possible.  Perhaps time really is the only thing that can give him comfort? Mimi (a woman in our travel group) said she imagines that the change in seasons... and seeing them come around again and again may be what gives them comfort and the sense of time. I like that idea but...  I don't know.

I do know, that even though he's been here four months (what sometimes feels like forever and sometimes feels like yesterday) He was in the orphanage almost twice as long. As comfortable as I may think we are... As frustrated as I can get that he doesn't GET this concept of family or forever... I have to keep remembering that this is just a blink of an eye to him. He still wonders when he'll be leaving. Sometimes doing all he can to 'please' me and sometimes doing all he can to push me away.

And yet-- it feels like we've turned a 'corner' somehow. His joy is more deep seeded. His confidence growing. His bond to me- noticeably more secure. (that is only to say.. better than before.. not as a definitive point of "being secure")

I must remember to be patient! He is 3 and the 3 year old behaviors are in full bloom. Add in the controlling nature of a traumatized child and.. well... this lady reminded me that this 'controlling' is in response "to his deep seated need to feel safe and secure". Patience has never been my strong suit.

It is also my strong suspicion, that the concept of "Hurry" "Hustle" "Move it along" may have completely escaped the Ethiopian population or at least my son's gene pool.  While in Ethiopia, I thought "what a lovely thing". Being here, and trying to get him out the door to go swimming, while he stops to say good bye to his baby-doll (thank you Diana), trucks, Thomas the Train, Sunglasses, Elmo, Shoes, turns the TV on and off again, decides he needs water, and then to pee..... Not only drives me nuts!!... but some days, reminds me that Ethiopia has got a thing or two on us.

I got brave and cut his hair myself. I admit to being obsessed with it. He actually enjoys me 'doing' his hair - despite this photo

Quick updates on on he's doing-
Sleep: This seems to be the question we get most often. He no longer sleeps on top of me (although he will, from time to time fall asleep there). He does still sleep in my bed and is only, this week, comfortable being in the bedroom without me for a few moments. Heaven forbid, I have to pee!!

Skin issues: Lotions, cremes, Vitamins, Minerals and sunshine contribute to his color improving greatly. Yes! We do use lots of sunscreen.

Biting/Hitting Mommy: Huge improvements. He was even PO'd at me twice on Thursday and neither time did he even attempt to take a chunk out of me. For him, it was about pushing me away and if i got pissed or showed any sign of needing to get away from him- it only encouraged him to do more. So I make sure he knows he's stuck with me and I'm not going anywhere. It sounds and looks ridiculous. So be it. I'm bite free and my son knows we are stuck with each other.

Most recent frustration for me:  He, intermittently, won't do what I ask him to do. He knows what I ask- and gets --- that look.. you know the one.  I wonder sometimes if it is just another substitution for the biting---  likely it is--- and it totally pisses me off! And that's his test I suppose. Call it mommy fail #854.

Medical update: He was evaluated by a team of evaluators at the Development Center at the hospital.... 2.5 hours of him playing games in his big boy pants and a bunch of women paying attention only to him. He was in HEAVEN!!  Bullet points- Doing great on speech/language but slightly behind regular 36 month olds but he earns extra points for only hearing the language for months. (honestly- it's one of the things he is self motivated to improve upon.) His gross motor ability has improved so much, that he has no interest in many things they test for fine motor and OT. They also suggested waiting till fall, for re eval and enrollment in Head Start or Pre School. He's is in the 75%ile for head size, 50%ile for weight and 25% for height. What that means is... he's got a noggin on him, and can still wear 18 mo pants.  Oy.

With Memere' being so sick and passing away- Nana stayed with her, taking care of her pain in her last days.  He has noticed her (Memere's) absence and cries about it now and again.

With Nana tied up, that left he and I back together again every moment of every day 24/7 for about 5-6 weeks. To lessen the "I can't stand to be near you anymore factor" - we hit the road, traveling and visiting. New people and new places seem to motivate him to try new words and new foods. Broccoli, Asparagus, Mushrooms, Salad, Fried Clams, Calamari, Oranges, Hamburg and Steak are now seen as acceptable table foods (still prefers Noodles, Pancakes and Rice). He's also initiated trying new drinks of "juice" (gatorade) from time to time. Prior to this week the only acceptable thirst quenchers consisted of milk, water and coffee.

Soccer Buddies being safe in the parking lot

This past week, he started staying a couple days with some close friends who have a son a year older than T. They get along pretty well and he adores Ashlee (the mom). I needed some time to get caught up on some things (filing taxes, filing for unemployment, filing with the State to recognize his adoption, looking for a job, resume... ya know... minor details {sarcasm} ).

We need these breaks. I need these breaks. He needs these breaks.

He is very comfortable and happy to be with Ashlee and family and is very happy when I come to pick him up! WOW! Big difference from trying out preschool 6 weeks ago!  In fact he practices more of the 'secure attachement" things (like looking me in the eye) on the 'break' days.  This corner we are rounding feels good right now.

Mom is beginning to see the light again and is motivated to keep moving toward it.

Photos from our recent adventures!

Lunch with new and old friends on the hill downtown Bar Harbor! Beautiful Day!

For our own little Birthday Celebration, we headed for an overnight to Southern Maine with Ashlee and her son. First Stop: Bounce Zone!

Next stop- Crescent Beach! A long walk in the woods ending on the shore! 

Let the Rock throwing begin!

Next: Back to MDI and Sand Beach!! FUN and Cold! Squeals of laughter.. till he fell completely in!

After falling in he spent the day looking like... well... this.

We ended the day on the top of Cadillac, where he posed.

Then RAN!!

Then posed as if he'd just run a marathon. This was all acting folks really. No small children were injured to produce this photo.

Then we had a more traditional Birthday Celebration with the Cousins. 

They gave me his vehicle that takes him from room to room throughout the day... seriously... if he's in the bathroom but has to pee.. rides this to the bathroom. Obsessed!

Here's another of his bday gifts! I love spending time out here with him in the morning!

He loves having friends over in the evening!

And looking at the moon!

Next Stop:: Vermont!

Ahbotee!! If two year olds have BFF's this was his while they were in care at the orphanage. His mom is another single mom and traveled at the same time as us. It was an amazing and touching visit. He was talking in his sleep about this for over a week!

Other than that: Just Killing Time Riding the Wagons! (No there is nothing wrong with his head and it is not symbolic of anything. He just wanted a band aid there.)

More Throwing rocks

Carrying around my Zabba (blanket. New development and only in the mornings, thus far)

Climbing my first Mountain! (Bald Mt)

Making my first trip to CAMP!!


Oh- and Throwing Sand. He's getting pretty adept at it. Mom calls it 'scalp exfoliation'.

If you are still reading along... check out the length of these shorts.

These are swim trunks in a size 2t... He, understandably, calls them pants.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Seriously past due- another extention??

I'm trying to write this months update. Really I am. I have notes and pictures saved... but the words are not there yet. For the time being- please still love us both and savor the eye candy...

Oh-- did I fail to mention his recent cooperation with taking photos...  We paid a lady $100 to take our pictures on a beautiful day with the gardens all abloom... and he ran from the camera the entire time!

From a distance, not so bad.  Yes- get used to the length of the 'shorts'. Appearently all shorts are 'capris' length on my 50%ile height son.  I did manage to find a decent pair of 18mo ones that weren't 'babyish' that fit him fine.  But.. these are not them. These are 24 mo.  Yes my son is 3 years old.   Love you all and I promise to write again very very very soon!  I swear.. if he stays asleep it could be posted tomorrow!! WOW!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Frock o do...

A long long long time ago (long before meeting or even seeing my son) I toyed with the idea of locking my sons hair.. that is... if i was referred a boy) (let me rephrase that- I was dreaming and looking at the POSSIBILITIES of hair care).  And then I got thinking about a little girl and got lost amongst the lotions, butters, braid patterns, equipment, treatments, masks, ........ yes I could go on.

Then I met my Son. He has this really really soft coiled hair. Very soft defined coils. You could say- it is coiley. (some of you will now commence a knowing snicker)

It is also- light in color. At least lighter than all of the kids that were at the care center that I met the week I was there. It is likely attributed to his malnourishment history, but it may just be lighter?

At one point his hair was a blondish red. Later on- after months of care and treatment- they shaved his hair and it started growing to look this

This picture from the first week home- you can see his very defined coils. (and that malnourishment is not an ongoing concern...)

Those coils are still there... and sometimes... they just "POP"- like the day of his BDay party

And yet, they are slowly getting buried. Buried by frizz .. as noticed here

And here....

They really are still there- but it's not the first thing you see. In fact- I started grabbing all those "fly away" bits and putting little finger curls in them. And that actually looks nice- but not practical for an everyday thing (FOR CRYING OUT LOUD-- I'm still not showering every day! lets not add another item to the childs grooming routine!)  The once go-to daily spritz of water/jojoba/conditioner mix is no longer working it's magic of regrouping those flyaways.


I got curious. and... started go. ogling and u-tubing and well...

I bastartized all go.ogle instructions and violated all u-tube warnings and trimmed up my 3 year old sons frock o' do.

Apparently I was supposed to use a rat tail comb to section the hair (i imagine precisely) twist it and snip the ends.  I'm completely paraphrasing some really long detailed instructions. So as you can imagine- it probably wasn't what I was supposed to do and I just made it all up as this research was conducted way too late in the evening.

Being that he was remarkably cooperative- i have no rat tooth comb- and precise is not a concept I've ever mastered...

You may see him wearing a collection of "hat wear".

Nah- just kidding... actually- these photos I took after combing out his hair so the coils are less 'together' but- it actually looks pretty much like it did a few weeks ago. I think I need to keep up on it- and get some professional help but ... not too bad for a first go round.  Maybe a B-

What do you think?  Any pointers?

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Mothers Day?...

I went to bed last night and realized... oh- it's my first Mothers Day tomorrow. I thought about all the celebrations and joy I felt for friends who get to celebrate this day, for the first time this year, after longing for it for so long. "WAIT!... one of those people is you! You idiot!" And... suddenly I didn't know what I was supposed to think or feel.

For so long- this day was to celebrate the Mothers of my life. My own- my SIL (mother to 4 boys... gulp!)- my Godmother and my Memere. Recent memory tells me I searched for a new vegetable starter for mom to plant- a picture, note, card or new recipe for my Godmother and some candy or gum for my Memere.   Candy and gum are one of the few pleasures she's had these past few years.

Those top two fingers gone- she kept on smokin with the last two-- rings now cut off

This year- Memere lies curled up, unconscious for a few days now, on 'comfort meds'. She lives with my Aunt about 300 yards behind me. I've seen her and spent time with her often over the last few years. Slowly- she has endured physical pain after physical pain. Losing one finger. Then another. Breaking one vertebra then another. More often than not- I pray to "God to let her escape any more physical pain- please Lord. Let her find comfort in your Grace and Mercy. "  She is the last. The last of her generation. The last of her siblings. The last of her outlaw inlaws.

On this mothers day- It is my first without my Memere. The woman who practically raised me for the early years of my life. The first time I didn't go see her.  She continues to be slowly passing away.  I've said my goodbyes to her and she does not need me nor want me there.

My son- knows what dieing looks like. He's seen it too often- up close and personal in his short life. The look on his face. His actions around her. He knows. He knows too much for a 3 year old child.

But this day isn't just about my Memere. She's moving on right?

Not knowing what to do- think or feel- was like... a lightbulb somehow went off-- this is one of "those days"- the ones you are supposed to plan out. "There is no one else, going to do this stuff Sh!* head! You have to do this stuff!"

I didn't. I'm a single mother, to a 3 year old toddler, who has no idea what Mothers Day is and planning out a special day would mean there is someone else that needs to be included in his celebration... and THAT, celebrating her, I can't screw up- and I haven't enough information to do it properly.

In spite of the 4 hours sleep he received (and me slightly less) he woke up raring and ready to go. (me, not so much) But after an hour of being awake I realized that this could very easily turn bad- and if I spent the entire day- NO'ing this and Stop'ing that- it wasn't going to be a happy day for anyone. So today- I intentionally- sort of, let it all go. Let him have a day with minimal intervention by me. Instead- I did a little purposeful parenting- you know- all that stuff I studied and planned on before losing my mind arriving back in the states. And it was a great Mothers Day.

Today- I celebrated my son.

I snuggled with my boy. Instead of talking at him from over my shoulder, or running from one place to another- I stopped and looked at him. (ok- not EVERY time- but-- vast improvements) We went swimming, to remind each other that my hands are safe hands and trust, laugh and have fun! (Yes, I also knew it would ensure an early bed time) And because I had no intention of doing more cleaning than necessary, we went out to dinner (an infrequent treat- as you can imagine) and my boy rode home with a balloon tied to his shoe and a milkshake in his hands. He was as happy and content as it gets. Add in the 30 seconds it took for him to fall asleep after he got in bed, and this mother is indeed, happy and content.

After swimming- we eat... and watch trains

Today is hard for lots of people for lots of reasons. Today my mother is losing her mother. For those of us in the adoption community- we are so in tune to the loss that occurs for every celebration- that it is difficult to just enjoy the burnt toast and runny eggs without feeling the weight on your heart, the burden to be deserving, the tears for those lost- some we'll never know. It is hard on those waiting and wanting, with every fiber of their being, to celebrate this day- and yet know, satisfying their need means loss and devastation for another mother. We carry that double edged sword close to our hearts, purposefully, gently and respectfully.  Because- if we don't- who will?

It is supposed to be a day of Celebration! And I think I did a worthy first shot at it. But, I have traveled this road of adoption and I too have been changed. I have to admit- I'm not ready to fully celebrate - and I'm not ready to fully mourn- and do not feel worthy of "Mother- state" yet. So today- I celebrate my son. And tomorrow- I'll do it again- until I'm ready to celebrate her and mourn her right along side me.

ETA: As I published this post- Memere passed.

Thursday, May 6, 2010


When they flew me from Ethiopia to Maine.. they said there would be snow. So much snow I might get buried in it. Well- I had to travel to Vermont 3 months later just to see some.. jeez

Tuesday, May 4, 2010


We took another quick journey. Not really an adventure- except the unknown reactions of our boys reuniting.  They were in care - together- the whole time. As single mom's in the same travel group- adopting 2.5 year old boys- we leaned on each other often.

The two of them at the guest house in Ethiopia

The things these two have made it through together. The things they have seen. I imagine these two sticking by eachother. Both smaller than most of their playmates. Teg, sickly and weak and carefree. "Mo" quick, strong and compassionate beyond his 3 years. I imagine- they were each others constant .. safe ground.

They are the same age and from what I can remember, in Ethiopia- they were the same size (although Teg was gaining weight quickly!!)

The pictures don't do justice. There was lots of squealing (Teg) and lots of kisses ("Mo"). He recognized us right away. Teg was in a bit of shock- but the squealing of joy commenced upon getting him unbuckled from his car seat. There were in eachothers arms for hugs immediately!  From then on- it was as if they'd been together all this time and we were just in the way!