Brady, Gigi, Juliana

2018’s Graduates

May I present to you the 2018 graduates of The Full Plate household…

Gigi has now completed Kindergarten at her local center-based program Deaf program.

 

5th grade graduate from our neighborhood elementary school, Juliana…

Rounding out the crew, and SO very glad to be kissing middle school goodbye, Brady…

That is the only pic he would allow.

–FullPlateMom, who is so happy that they are so happy, but so sad that time moves so fast.

Deafness, Gigi, Isabel

Showing Me The Signs

Happy National ASL Day!  To learn a little more about why exactly today was chosen to be National ASL Day, check out this site.  Be sure to watch the video on the first page.  It isn’t subtitled, but the transcript is below.  The signing is wonderful, and I didn’t know the explanation for why today was chosen.

Two years ago, I wrote a post about the resources we were using to learn ASL.  We are still working os hard to learn.  I am proud to say though, that two years, later, Gigi has become our teacher.  I was so worried about the day she would surpass my abilities.  That day has come and gone, and we are living through it.  I am working hard to keep up with her, but she is also teaching me new things daily.  She is so very culturally Deaf.

Gigi has her own Deaf mentor.  She comes every Friday night to hang with Gigi, and every Monday morning to play with Isabel.  This gives the girls individual time to be with someone whose form of communication is their form of communication.  They thrive on it.  Last week, Isa and her Deaf Mentor spent the entire hour doing puzzles.  The Deaf Mentor, who has no access to sound, just like Isa, thinks just the way Isa does, in a completely visual way.  It is amazing for me, as a hearing person to watch.  She could anticipate what Isa was trying to sign so much faster than I could.  She understands how her mind works.

I used to think I would be so bothered by this, by someone else understanding my daughter better than I did.  I am not bothered by it at all.  Instead, I am so grateful.  Without this woman, who thinks the way my baby does, her world would be that much more isolated.  Instead, I am so grateful.  I am so grateful for all the Deaf people who have stepped out to help my girls.

I am so grateful for the language that allows me to communicate with my daughters.

–FullPlateMom, who is happy to show you the signs she knows.

Adoption, AJ, Ally, Bowen, Brady, Cam, Cate, Colombia, Gigi, Isabel, Jax, Juliana, Tess

One More Day–Day Thirteen

Today, to take our minds off the fact that we only have one day left before we bid Joe and Isabel farewell, we decided to head to the science museum.  It was one rainy afternoon in Bogotá and the kids were super excited to visit Maloka.

Then we went and ate familiar food.  Cam never complained once, but after two weeks without anything typically American, he was ready for something familiar.  So, we ate Burger King.

We came back to our little Bogotá abode and there was a beautiful cake waiting for us.  We celebrated our last night in Bogotá with our friends at Zuetana.  If you’re looking for a place to stay in Bogotá, Claudia who owns this guest house, is amazing.

I am processing so many emotions about leaving that I don’t even know how to put pen to paper, or in this case, fingers to keyboard, to get them out.  I am leaving my daughter behind.  My fragile, malnourished, daughter.  There just aren’t words.  The bottom line is, I wish it didn’t have to be this way. I wish we could all just stay in Colombia and be with her until it is time to come home.

Alas, school is calling, literally, for the other kids.  So, tomorrow at 4am, we’ll rise to make the long trek home.

–FullPlateMom, who misses Isabel already.

Adoption, AJ, Ally, Bowen, Brady, Cam, Cate, Colombia, Gigi, Isabel, Jax, Juliana, Tess

Back to Bogotá–Day Twelve

We’re now 48 hours from leaving Joe and Isabel behind to finish the adoption process.  On Friday, at the absolute crack of dawn, 12 of us will head to the airport and the other two will head a few hours down the road to La Mesa.  La Mesa is a smaller town about three hours outside of Bogotá.  It’s supposed to be warm, beautiful, and, a retirement community.  It’s the Boca Raton of Colombia.

Joe will be there for about a week to go to court and, hopefully, be granted a Sentencia.  This is the piece of paper that declares Isabel our daughter.  After that, he’ll head back to Bogotá to get her passport, her visa, and then, they’ll come home.  We anticipate he’ll be living here in Colombia for 2-3 more weeks.  I will be at home, alone, with the other 11 children.

I’d be a liar if I said I wasn’t scared.  I am totally scared.  I’m scared of managing it all at home, and I’m scared of letting go of this process.  I feel Joe is ill equipped to handle it.  Not the diaper changes, and the parenting without me, he does that all the time.  I’m talking about knowing the ins and outs of when to push and when not to, when an ethical line is being crossed, and when what is being asked of you is routine.  It will be a steep learning curve for him.

Leaving Pasto today was so hard.  Tess cried big giant tears as we left the house on the hill where we had been staying for the past week.  The owners became like family to us over the last week.  Monica, one of the owners, helped us with the children, acted as a tour guide for us encouraging us to get out and explore Pasto and the surrounding areas, and she made us the best Colombian treats (my children now all love aqua de panela).  But, what we cherished the most, was that Monica spent so much time telling us about our daughter’s homeland, and her culture.  We know so much about Isabel’s birthplace, because Monica was so willing to share with us.

The guest house she and her husband own is absolutely beautiful.  It is attached to their family’s home.  Monica checked on us multiple times per day.  People thought we were crazy for staying in what we, in the United States, would commonly refer to as a hostel during a time that would be so unpredictable for our family.  Adding Isabel to our family wasn’t easy, but the people who surrounded us became part of her story.  Even some of the other people staying in the guest house with us became part of Isabel’s story.  AJ told Joe he loved having people come in and out and stay in the guest house with us because they came from all over, and he had the opportunity to ask them about their part of the world.

We will miss them terribly.  I promised Tess that we would be back someday, to the house on the hill, in the place we first met Isabel.Love has made us brave, and that bravery has blessed us immeasurably.

We will carry it on during the next few weeks as we live apart, and leave behind the country we love.

–FullPlateMom, who isn’t feeling so very brave right now.

Adoption, AJ, Bowen, Cam, Cate, Colombia, Gigi, Isabel, Jax, Juliana, Tess

Paperchasing in Pasto–Day Ten

Today was spent out and about on the city streets.  We needed to paperchase with our Colombian attorney.  Signatures, notarizations, all the most boring parts of adoption.
The kids were troopers, and I only had to put the fear of God into one of them once.  I can usually just shoot them a look to accomplish this.  That was the case today.  Not too shabby.

Once we were all done with five long hours of this, we rewarded the kids with dessert first from the corner ice cream vendor, and then we found Chinese food in Pasto!  They have been so adventurous with their eating, but it was so nice for them to have something familiar tonight.

Tomorrow is our last full day in Pasto.  We will spend it shopping and packing up.  Then the whirlwind toward home begins, for me, and Joe will move on to La Mesa.

Again, I’m Scarlett O’Hara-ing that, and enjoying all the mango I can get before I have to leave.–FullPlateMom, who doesn’t want to go!

 

Adoption, AJ, Ally, Bowen, Brady, Cam, Cate, Colombia, Gigi, Isabel, Jax, Juliana, Tess

Hiking In the Mountains of Rural Colombia–Day Eight

We are staying in an amazing hostel where the owners live in the adjacent unit.  When I told people that we would be staying in a hostel during our time in Isabel’s city, they thought I was insane.  This is a huge home on a giant hill, with a locked gate at the bottom of the stairs, and then again at the top.  There are two sides to the home, one where the hostel is located, and the other where the owners live with their son.  They are an amazing couple with a 7 year old.  The hostel is clean, and beautifully decorated, and our stay here has been wonderful.

We were originally going to have all 6 bedrooms in the hostel, but each day there has been someone knocking at the door begging for a place to stay for the night.  Each time we’ve given up a bedroom and the backpacker that has stayed has been amazing to our kids.  Our kids are getting to know about different parts of the world from the experiences of these people who have stayed with us, and they, in turn, have gotten to set aside some of their preconceived notions about Americans.

Last night as one of the owners sat with us to have a cup of aqua de panela, she told us about a little town, just outside the city, that is easily accessible by bus.  We’re already staying in a hostel, with a stranger in the next room, with our 12 kids, one that we adopted three days ago.  People think we’re insane.

Let’s do it.

So, we did.  We rode the bus to Cabrera.

We packed a picnic lunch and ate on the steps of the church.

We quickly learned an important lesson about stray dogs in Colombia.  They enjoy ham sandwiches, and also, they’re persistent.

We decided we would eat as we walked.

Cam and Ally are really enjoying carrying the little kids on their backs.  No one asks them to do it, they just offer, and Cam couldn’t care less that the carrier he is using is covered in rainbows and unicorns.

Gigi fell asleep on Ally’s back and she quickly covered her to protect her from the sun.  “We’re at a high altitude here.”  We sure are.

Honestly, I don’t think I’ve ever hiked in a more beautiful place.

We got to the top of the mountain, and began to hike back down.  First, we got a pic at the peak.

We decided that since the ham sandwiches were a bust, we would stop at the small restaurant in the town square and eat a little late lunch before we rode the bus back.

The Ecuadoran man who owns the restaurant was so kind.  He found out that we have a tiny fan of everything meat, and he had some carne asada made just for her.

Gigi and Ally gobbled up all the corn with cheese.  Yes, cheese.  It was a soft cheese that was spreadable all over the ear of corn.

I have never had such wonderful yuca in my life.  It was so perfectly prepared.

We are trying to see as much of the area as we can before we have to leave on Wednesday.  Everyday is an adventure.

Tomorrow a social worker will come visit us in our little house on the hill.  She will decide whether or not we are good enough to be Isabel’s parents.  If her report is positive, an exit letter will be issued allowing us to leave the district with Isabel.  This will begin the next step in the process, going to court to officially make her a member of our family.

That part will occur without me.  The thought of leaving is killing me a little.  So, I’ve decided to Scarlett O’Hara that for now, and think of it another day.

–FullPlateMom, who can’t wait to see what tomorrow brings.

 

 

 

Adoption, AJ, Ally, Bowen, Brady, Cam, Cate, Colombia, Gigi, Isabel, Jax, Juliana, Tess

El Mercado–Day Seven

Today was a slower day, we decided this would be the plan so that the kids could all have time to get to know one another.  Right now, we’re in the phase where we’re all in disbelief that we are now 14 strong.  It feels odd.  Making yourselves into a family doesn’t happen overnight.  We are giving ourselves permission to feel like strangers, because, we are.

We decided that our only activity would be visiting the local market and trying to find familiar foods for Isabel that would comfort her.  We have committed to eating like Colombians while we are here.  So, mid-day, my motley crew headed to the market.

The streets of Pasto aren’t easy to navigate.  They’re like the busy streets of many large cities around the world.  So, the tiniest of our crew ride on various backs.  Tess, Gigi, Cate and Isabel all ride in a carrier.  When a brother or sister gets tired, piggybacks are the solution.

The kids commented that, for the first time, it really felt like we were in Colombia.  No one around us spoke english.  I had to really stretch myself to speak to people.  The accent here is a little different.

We bought all kinds of beautiful fruits and vegetables.

The people were so kind.  We managed to avoid an international incident when Gigi tried to sample the goods.

She’s too cute to go to jail.

–FullPlateMom, who loves her some Gigi.