Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Pictures :)

First birthday party!

First Halloween:

Just looking cute!

We have a walker!

Here are some pictures of our sweet girl!

Long Overdue Update

Better late than never, right? As I write this, my sweet baby girl is asleep upstairs in her crib for a nap. I sat in the comfy rocker in her room and held her as she drank her bottle, then accepted a sloppy wet kiss as I told her I loved her, before laying her down in her crib with her blankie and baby doll. And I still, after almost four months, sometimes can't believe I am able to do those things or that she is really here. To anyone reading who is deep in the throes of paperwork, or waitlists, or embassy slowdowns, or any of the other thousand steps that make you want to just pull your hair out and give up somedays...hang on. This day will be here for you as well. And just like I found with labor, when the child you have waited on, and prayed for, and missed from afar is home, you forget how bad the process was that got them there.

We were very, very fortunate in that Gabby was taken such good care of in Ethiopia. We took her to an International Adoption Clinic in early November, and the doctor was blown away by how amazing she is (we, of course, already knew that!). She said her attachment was going great, cognitively she looked great, developmentally she is mostly on target, and physically she is perfect. It was nice to get that reassurance from someone who has seen thousands of adopted kids, even though we were pretty sure of all of that already. She is a little delayed in her eating skills and fine motor skills, mostly from a lack of exposure and experience. We qualified for First Steps, Indiana's early intervention program, and she gets Occupational Therapy for an hour a week to work on these things. We started this in November and she is making speedy progress on the fine motor skills. Because she hadn't played with toys much at all, she didn't get how to use a finger to push a button, or open/close parts of toys, etc. She's becoming a pro! Her new favorite toy is a princess microphone that plays songs, and we listen to her push the song buttons dozens of times a day :)

Since she's been home, she's also learned to wave, clap, play peek a boo, give kisses and hugs (especially to her baby dolls-it's seriously adorable), feed mommy bites of her food, and shake her head to imitate a horse's whinny (the only animal noise she cares about). The big news is that she is finally a walker!! She came to us already crawling like a champ and cruising furniture, but took her sweet time building up confidence to take steps by herself. She took her very first steps in mid-December, and has finally become a walker. She still crawls from time to time, but walks the majority of the time, though still very wobbly. She also just figured out how to stand up without first crawling over to something to pull up on. It's amazing to see the lightbulbs coming on left and right as she learns all these things. She has started using a few words: mama, uh-oh, yay, and hi. She says dada, but we're not convinced it's really directed at Chad yet.

Things she loves (in no particular order):
-her brothers...oh, she adores them and they SO adore her. I'm kind of amazed that after several months home, her newness hasn't worn off for them yet. I think it might just truly be love, not novelty, that has them treating her so well. Now if only they would treat each other even a fraction as nicely!

-Gymboree...we started a play and learn class with her about two months ago, and she loves it! She has her class, and then some free playtime later in the week, and she has so much fun. If she's cranky getting into the car beforehand, all I have to do is tell her we're going to Gymboree and she cheers right up. It's so funny!

-mommy and daddy...of course! She is with me almost every minute, and I'd say she has completely bonded to me. She gets upset if I try to leave, even for the bathroom, she seeks me out just to check in and cuddle with me, and she knows that I am the fulfiller of her wants and needs. What's been more wonderful for me to see is the love she has for Chad. She LOVES him! If he comes home from work and doesn't immediately pick her up, she is very vocal about how unjust that is!

-toys...she loves the microphone I mentioned earlier, her baby dolls (she has more than a few!), and balls of all kinds. She still mouths things more than I think is average, but she's learning how to actually play with things now too. She also loves dancing to music now too, which is super cute.

We're still working on eating. After some trial and error, we are pretty sure she has some kind of milk allergy, so we've switched to soy milk and that seems like a good move. She loves certain foods-yogurt, cheese, banana, blueberries, but little else. She LOVED meat when she first came home, and now she won't touch it. At least she'll eat the Greek yogurt packed with protein. She's a sleeping champ, for the most part, and after we realized that she was done with a morning nap in early November, she now takes one good 2-3 hour nap in the afternoon and sleeps for 11-12 hours straight through at night. We are very blessed in the sleep department!!

What else...? We love her more than I ever could have imagined. She is so smart, beautiful, funny and fun-loving. She is pure joy. She is ours, and I can't imagine life without her!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Created for Care!

Okay, so I know...I don't post for forever, then I promise a post, which is totally a lie, and now I finally pop back on only to try to persuade you to buy things. Bad blogger! (I just slapped myself on the wrist, in case you're interested!)

I want to share real quick about the Created for Care retreats and merchandise. I am so blessed to be going to my first retreat in less than two weeks, and I can't wait! These retreats are for adoptive mamas and anyone with a heart for adoption. My adoption BFF, Sarah, and I are taking a road trip to a beautiful lodge north of Atlanta to enjoy a weekend of fellowship, worship, education, and relaxing. Does that sound perfect or what?

One of the best parts is how reasonably priced the whole thing is. It's run by volunteers who donate tons of time and effort. This year they are selling some absolutely adorable merchandise to help offset costs, and I wanted to share their store with you all, just in case someone else wants to buy something super cute. I've already bought the PJs!!

Here it is: I am lusting after the brown bag, but trying really hard to be good. We'll see how long that lasts!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Quick Update (and a promise for more soon!)

I don't want anyone to think we've fallen off the planet, so I wanted to post a quick update that things are going AMAZINGLY well! Gabby has adjusted better and faster than we ever dreamed, and we are all getting along fabulously. Honestly, I must say to myself two or three times a day that I can't believe how lucky we've been. There are so many things to update on...her big first birthday party, Halloween, her visit to the International Adoption Clinic, all of the skills and tricks she is learning. I promise that will come soon (along with pictures!). Life with three kids is a whole lot busier than I was prepared for, but I really want to get back into the blogging swing of things, so I'm putting this at the top of my to-do list!!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

We're Home!!

Truthfully, we've been home for almost a week, but man, life is busy with a new baby in the house! No one told me how much more work a third child would be...I'm pretty sure that's a secret moms of three or more keep to themselves to fool unsuspecting moms of two who are contemplating expansion of the family.

I don't have more than a minute (because I'm exhausted, and sleep outweighs pretty much everything right now!) but I wanted to tell you how amazing our sweet girl is. She is doing WONDERFULLY! She's adjusting even better than we'd hoped for so far. She seems to realize already that Chad and I are special people in her world, and prefers us to everyone else...this is all we had hoped for by this point. She loves her big brothers. Griffin can make her smile and laugh all the time, and he has been an amazing helper. Cooper says he likes her, and plays with her a little, but has been mostly indifferent-it's been a big adjustment to give up being the baby!

The things we're working on right now are eating and sleeping. Given the huge changes she's undergone over the past week, she is doing great at sleeping. She wakes up anywhere from 1-5 times a night, but seems to be getting a little more consistent at only waking once or twice. Naps have been harder, and very inconsistent. We are trying not to let her cry, so we've been rocking her to sleep, but a lot of times she wakes up when we try to transfer her to the bed. In the long term, we'd love to get away from that, but for right now, we just want her to feel loved and secure. She loves her bottle, but we're having a hard time with solids. Although she ate them at the transition home, we've had trouble finding foods she likes, and a way to feed them to her. For right now we're relying mostly on the bottle, and continuing to offer solids to her. I figure as we settle in and she gets more comfortable, she'll eat them more.

Other things we've learned about our Gabbers: she LOVES bath time, HATES having her diaper and/or clothes changed, hates the car seat, loves being tickled, loves the Exersaucer, loves to be held, and is smiley pretty much all of the time (seriously), unless she is tired or hungry. We are so blessed!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

She is coming HOME!!!

Finally, the words I have longed to write for 7 long months, since the moment we first saw her face! Our baby girl is coming home. We had a scary few days over the weekend when I realized that we in fact never did have a newspaper ad run, and I worried that the document we did submit was not going to be enough. And of course it was the holiday weekend, so we had an extra long time to wait! I had to take a little sleep "help" Monday night, because I knew I would be up every hour checking my e-mail for a message from the Embassy. I'm so glad I did take it though, because I slept for a solid eight hours and woke up to an e-mail bearing the much hoped for, prayed for, cried over subject line "Hennessy Family, Cleared Case"!! My birthday was the next day, and I can say without a doubt that is the best present I have ever gotten.

Our Embassy appointment is scheduled for September 19th. On top of finding out that we cleared, we got two other great pieces of news. First was that my good friend Jessica cleared as well, and her appointment is the same day. We have been chatting back and forth since January, and I am so, so excited that we get to bring our girls home together. We've even arranged to travel from DC to Addis and back together. The other piece of great news, the icing on the cake, is that because of how our embassy date fell, we were able to get in on a sale Ethiopian Airlines is having for BOGO tickets!! I can't believe it. Chad was very nervous about how much our tickets might cost for this trip, since we didn't have very much notice. He had prepped me for the idea that if they were too expensive, I'd have to go alone, which I was dreading. So now not only did we clear, but we are paying WAY less than we did less trip, and traveling with a good friend...God is in the details!

We booked our tickets this morning! We'll be in Ethiopia for 5 days, and I'm excited to see our daughter's homeland again. Even more important, I can't believe I will be holding her in my arms FOR GOOD in about 200 hours!! (I have to say, calculating that has brought on new, greater panic as I work on 4 different to do lists, plan for the boys to be taken care of while we are gone, and get us ready to leave!)

Even as we celebrate and run around like chickens with our heads cut off getting ready, my heart breaks for my friend Ashley. They keep hitting delay after delay in their efforts to clear the Embassy. They live only two hours from us, and our girls were born 6 days apart, and Ashley might be one of the sweetest people I have ever met. It's not fair. So please, if I haven't exhausted my prayer requests, would you keep the Baker family and their daughter Zoe in your prayers?

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Ethiopia-Day 4

It's been so long since we were there, I worry I've forgotten so many details, but I really want to document our first trip, both to share and as a record for Gabrielle one day. So...on to day 4!!

If you remember back to our previous day in Ethiopia, we had arrived back at the guest house just in time for the power to go out. I had debated taking a sleeping pill to see if I could finally get a decent night's sleep, but thought that I was so tired I would surely sleep well. Wrong...

At about 12:45 am, the power came back on and so did our overhead light. I woke up to turn it off and couldn't go back to sleep for two hours. I finally fell back to sleep only to be woken up at 3:30 by chanting coming over the loudspeaker of the church next door. The prayers continued every 30 minutes for the rest of the night. Chad and I both wanted to die.

However, there was no time for wallowing in was the whole reason we had come-court! We went downstairs for breakfast and chatted with Woudneh while we ate. We asked him if there was anything we needed to bring for court, and he told us no (remember that!). We took quick pictures with the babies since we were all dressed nicely, and then headed to court at 8 am. After driving through Addis, we arrived at the courthouse at 8:40 and made our way through the streets, metal detector, and then up to the 4th floor. As we arrived at our floor, JW off-handedly asked Woudneh, "We didn't need our passports or anything, right?" Woudneh's face sank and he told us that yes, we would need them. Woudneh stayed back at the courthouse to try to stall our appearance while we drove back with our driver. He was so awesome, totally flooring it to get us there and back as fast as possible. We arrived back at the courthouse at 10 am and were told we hadn't been called yet. I had to go to the bathroom so bad, and we found one I could use, but it was the MOST disgusting bathroom ever. You do what you gotta do, but I'm glad to never see that one again! We had raced up the stairs, and I felt weak and shaky. It was hot and crowded in the room, and I worried I would pass out, so I found an empty seat and looked around. The room was filled with such opposite ends of the spectrum-all these white families there to adopt, and so many Ethiopian people there to give up the rights to their children. It was a sad room to be in, especially because not even the adoptive families were happy, as they weren't passing court (no MOWA letters). The window blinds fell off the wall at one point and hit an Ethiopian was an interesting experience.

After a little while they called both us and the Godwins back. It was a small room, maybe 8"x16", with the judge's desk at one end, chairs for the families on the other end, and a long desk for her assistants in the middle. We were the furthest away from the judge, and it was difficult to hear her, especially as there was construction going on outside. She asked 5-6 questions, then told us that we didn't yet have MOWA's recommendation, so she couldn't approve us yet. It was what we were expecting, but still disappointing.

We left the courthouse and began to drive to Ambo, a town about 2 and a 1/2 hours from Addis where the Godwins' daughter was from. We were driving through the busy streets when we witnessed our first car accident. The driving there was the craziest we had seen anywhere we've ever been, and we had asked about accidents, but never thought we'd see one! A truck and a motorcycle collided, and the motorcycle driver was injured. I was so impressed with Chad, who immediately hopped out of our van to see if he could help. They brought water to the man, but a huge crowd had formed so they left after that. Woudneh said the other driver would bring the man to the hospital himself, and then pay him off to keep from going to jail. Pretty exciting stuff!

We continued on to Ambo. We stopped to eat at a hotel, where Chad had a “fish sandwich” and Jana had a “cheeseburger.“ JW had a club sandwich with beef and egg in it. Then we went on to Bright Vision Orphanage. We got to see all the kids and hold the babies. The director is very young, 26, and Muslim (Muslims are typically anti-adoption). They have a nurse and clinical room, but no medicines or supplies. Chad spoke with local doctor to get list of what is needed, and we are going to try to get them. We had another coffee ceremony, but it was not as good, and once again I had to get Chad to drink mine! The toddlers all try to pee on tiny pots. We took pics of all the kids there to send to parents because all the kids are referred. We passed out candy to the kids and workers (this was the first time it occurred to me that the workers probably don't get candy a whole lot either, and they were so grateful and happy to get a piece). It was a nicer and newer facility than Gabby's orphanage, and with only 10-14 kids, but they had less supplies.

We began the two and a half hour drive from Ambo back to Addis. It was around 3 pm, and Woudneh told us we might be able to shop when we got back. He had also been trying to arrange a visit between the Godwins and their daughter's birth mother. It began to rain on the way back, and all of us napped a little bit, read, or listened to music. We were all exhausted, and for the first time did not stare out the window at the countryside. We got into Addis and went to a part we hadn’t been to before, so we assumed it was to shop. All of the sudden we heard Woudneh say, “Oh, she is here,” and the van stopped. We thought we were getting out to shop, but instead a young woman and an older woman got into the van with us. It was the Godwins’ daughter’s birth mother and her employer. Very awkward. The Godwins were completely caught off-guard, but did a great job asking all the questions they had prepared. We stopped to get pictures of her with them. It was starting to get dark after that, so we decided to go straight to eating dinner instead of trying to shop a little. We ate at an Italian restaurant. Chad had lasagna, and I had cheese pizza. We stopped at a gas station to get drinks and cookies, and laughed hysterically while Woudneh tried to teach JW and Chad to speak Amharic.

It was about 8 or 8:30 when we got back to the transition home. We went upstairs to try to Skype, but the kids and Sue had gone to the Children's Museum. We met JW and KC and watched The Hangover downstairs while we ate snacks-we really ”partied it up” on our last night in Ethiopia! We headed up to bed around 11 pm. This time we both wised up and took sleeping pills, and got a really decent 7 hours of sleep. One more day to go!