Isabel

Isa Rising

When we adopted Gigi, we all wore shirts that said ‘We rise by lifting others.’  Yesterday, I commented to Tess that Isabel was doing so well, that I finally felt like we were on solid ground.  She has gained so much weight.  She is using so many new signs.  Tess said “She is rising, mama.”

We are in a good space.

We didn’t start out that way.  Isa deserved some privacy as we all lifted her up.  She needed a family to rally for her and make sure she was okay.

She is doing great!  We got the news that, for now, she won’t need heart surgery.  No hip surgery either.  She is headed to a summer preschool program in a couple of weeks!  We are ROCKING THIS!!!

–FullPlatemom, who can’t wait to see how far we rise.

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, Isabel, Jax, Phineas

Spring (Break) Renewal

We spent a quiet, but not uneventful, Spring Break at home.  We had plans to travel to the Motor City for Spring Break, but Isa burst onto the scene, and it is best for her to have some time to get used to our routine at home.

She and Jax both celebrated their birthdays on March 27th.   Jax chose dinner out at a buffet, because what could a pre-teen boy love more than all-you-can-eat pizza?  Isa isn’t really sure how to ask for something special, so we did what we thought she would love and Joe and I practiced some Colombian recipes for her.

I did my very best with empanadas.

We ordered all the Colombian sodas that the kids loved during our time there.  Joe made Colombian rice.

Isa loves pretend play, so we bought her a ‘grocery store’, but named it ‘Isa’s Bodega.’  She has ice cream and lattes for her customers, as well as fruits, veggies and maybe a loaf or two of bread.  

We found out shortly before Isa’s birthday that her heart defect is FAR less complex then her adoption file seemed to indicate.  She has a hole in her heart, but the damage that was done to her lungs by it seems well managed by the medications she was given in Colombia.

Her hips are another story.  What we were told might be Cerebral Palsy (CP) might actually be untreated hip dysplasia.  That makes me sad, but knowing that her heart defect isn’t as severe as we thought is comforting as we move forward figuring out how to fix this.

We celebrated her first Easter with us.  The kids rose super early for an egg hunt.  It was snowing here though, so it was all indoors.

Then there was actual egg dying.  Isa was pretty fascinated by this.

The days here are quiet as the winter rolls out and spring rolls in.  These last, cold days have brought a whole lot of hardship for some other families in our lives.  Our hearts hurt, deeply, for those families, one in particular.  It is so hard to watch other people suffer as we are just enjoying a new life, together, with Isa.  I feel tremendous guilt about what I have, versus what they have now lost.  The quiet is, in part, out of respect for their loss.

We are seeing changes in our careers.  Joe is a Spanish Interpreter.  Recent anti-immigrant sentiment, and mass deportations, are making his job difficult in many, many ways.  A change may need to happen.   My job isn’t easy right now either.  We are a delicate balance here in this house of many.  Uncertainty, when you have this many people depending on you isn’t a good feeling.  I don’t know that I’ve ever felt the weight of quite so much on my shoulders.

I remind myself that we were made for times like these, but that it is still hard to live in these times.  The stress has nothing to do with Isa herself.  I wish that there could be more joy in her arrival and less worry about the future of the family in general.  I can only hope that she doesn’t feel the stress of all of this, that none of the kids do.  I have guilt about that too.  It’s just how I’m built, for guilt.

The quiet is necessary right now.  We are embracing it with new family traditions.  Traditions that we hope provide connection.

In the quiet moments, we worked our way through the first book in the Harry Potter series.  A new wave of children is so excited to read the illustrated version.

Our puppy is now old enough to try the local dog park, although he is still sure he is human, and therefore, has no use for other dogs.  The kids find great joy in his fluffy silliness.

Most of all, we’re just leaning into each other, and figuring out where the new normal will land us, as we travel this road, together.     –FullPlateMom, who is learning to love the quiet.

 

 

Isabel

Introducing Isabel

We’re keeping it low key over here.  Pajamas all day as we play, snuggle and brush off the jet lag.

For all of you who prayed us home though, I had to come and introduce you to Isabel.  She is amazing.  She is so fearless that she fits right in around here.  Her warrior sisters are supporting her every step of the way as she adjusts to her forever family.DSC_4287Thank you to all of you who brought food, donated money, plane tickets, and who will support us as we walk right into heart surgery.  That will be our next adventure.

We’re ready, and we’ll walk through it together.

DSC_4278–FullPlateMom, who is ready for everything.

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!