To keep track of progress, set backs, accomplishments and struggles I’m starting to document monthly how things are going post adoption. Once again, this is more for us rather than for others-so it's crazy detailed but I know I'll enjoy looking back on it a year from now.
We could not have survived the first month without the help of dear sisters and my mom along with our church family praying for us and bringing us meals! It has taken so much of that planning, shopping, prepping and clean up time and put it in these weeks so we can focus on just being together as a family.
Month 1: 4/1/18
It was surreal and very anticlimactic how we gave the orphanage the adoption decree and walked out the gates with Samira. It reminded me of when you leave a hospital with a tiny new baby and are flabbergasted by the fact we are in charge of keeping this helpless thing alive. Just like that, we walked out the gates and into our new life with four kids! Here we are literally about the leave those gates--luckily we kept her awake long enough to say goodbyes and we stopped in the church on the grounds on our way out and just as we were praying for her to have peace, she clunked out. So, she missed the exit but was able to say her goodbyes.
One month in and there is always a dirty diaper (one of these kids has to be potty trained!!—and I’m the world’s biggest procrastinator for that job) and someone is always touching me—so much touching and grabbing. I think we haven’t had 4/4 crying at the same time but we have had 3 of 4 all at once. If you sat near us in church you can see we are feeling outnumbered!
Language: Samira mostly heard Amharic in the orphanage but did have some exposure to English by the nuns who ran her orphanage. Sister Carmella spoke very good English while we were around and with English speaking visitors, I wouldn’t expect much otherwise though. Her nannies said she hadn’t said any first words. Now she says Hi, Mama, Dada, Bubba (Asher claims) and all done--so words are coming slow but she has been signing. We taught her more, please, all done and Amen right away and she picked it up super fast—maybe in less than a week? It was so helpful to eliminate a lot of grunting, whining and legs kicking. All her communication was new to us—so at first we were just trying to learn her needs let alone help her communicate them. She will babble a lot and especially when she’s waving bye bye at the door while someone drives away or the kids are outside—she will kind of go bonkers yelling things. Dinner times can get crazy too—it seems like she tries to keep up with the big kids’ noise level—it gets loud around the table!
Physical Development: We haven’t been to the pediatrician yet so we only know her measurements before we left Ethiopia. Our first few days we didn’t even know she could crawl or stand up but when we’d put her in her comfortable environment with her buddies and nannies –she could! She would crawl and walk along the wall or stand holding onto something. She didn’t seem to know she could walk along furniture like around a coffee table or couch when we got home. When we got home she did hardly touch her feet to the ground so maybe that was some of it! Now she is crawling even from room to room. At first we thought maybe she didn’t have the stamina for much crawling because she’d go a little way and then just collapse on her belly and cry. It definitely seemed like certain muscle groups were really weak. (abs, arms, legs) She’s learned to climb and loves to go up and down a step or stool. Now that she learned she can walk holding our hands she loves to do it. Something that was new when we got home was this eye roll thing-or looking up so all we see is the whites of her eyes. We can't figure it out if it may be a bashful thing (people looking at her/giving her attention) or just averting from the eye contact but it does seem to happen around new people and also while we pray. (hoping that's an eye closing thing she thinks she's doing not an eye roll!)
Sleeping: Praise the Lord she is sleeping through the night!! This has been amazing since we were pretty strung out not sleeping for weeks and dealing with jet lag. She seemed to adjust well to the time change but regressed a lot from her sleeping patterns in Ethiopia. Bedtime is usually at 8 and she generally sleeps past 7. She likes to nap two times a day if it’s possible-usually a mid morning nap and a later afternoon one. If I can hold her off sometimes we do one nap midday. She does sleep with blankets now although at first she didn’t seem to like them and would get all twisted up and mad. Her nannies said she would throw any blankets off. Now to get to sleep she will pretty much lay down and play around until she falls asleep as long as I’m in the room. Sound, light and noise doesn’t seem to bother her so I fold laundry, clean up or get ready in our bathroom while she falls asleep. If she stands up or whines I’m now able to shush her or say “night night” or just pat/rub her back without having to pick her up and she seems to know and lays back down. What she can’t fall asleep to is Lawson running in and out of the room slamming the door (a problem to tackle another month) I’m really happy that she feels content enough to fall asleep just knowing I am around and not needing to be held or rocked to sleep every time. The ergo also works like a charm to get her to sleep if she isn’t having the crib—and on my back too!
Food: She is a good eater and a big one if she likes the food. She was well fed at the orphanage and we think maybe used to being fed all day long! Now we pack up food and put it out of sight after a meal so she doesn’t see it—because if she does, she thinks she needs it. Signing has helped with meal times-signing more, please and all done. Her favorite thing is carbs-pasta, rice, bread etc. She didn’t have much, if any dairy or sugar in her diet before. Turns out she likes those though! Her favorites are scrambled eggs and bananas-she eats them daily. She can out eat Lawson and Asher on most meals. If she is eating something happily and something better comes along she will drop that so fast and beg for the new thing. It was suggested that we don’t let her go to sleep drinking a bottle and she used it mostly as a pacifier anyway so we’ve mostly eliminated bottles. She eats good meals so doesn’t need the extra nutrition from it and has started drinking cows milk. We found a sippy cup she likes to drink from to transition from the bottle. The first two weeks we gave her a warm bottle every night and morning. She sits in a highchair to eat which is big progress too! The first few days we had to hold her while eating and even standing up. Gradually we were able to sit down while eating and then eventually put her in a highchair. It’s nice she can munch sitting in there and be in the middle of all the activity especially in the morning we can have her in the kitchen while everyone else is eating, making lunches and getting ready. Beside munching on a chunk of bread or cracker it doesn’t seem like she knew how to feed herself. She still doesn’t really pick cut up food up off her plate to eat-either we have to feed her or put in on the fork for her, then she will eat it. She started out a very neat eater-would wipe her mouth with her bib or puts any extra food hanging out of her mouth in it but I think since I give her free reign of the food on her plate or tray that has made things messy! She doesn't put too much in her mouth and will wait until she's fully done with a bite before being ready for the next one.
Attachment: Mom is her favorite person and we seem to being doing fine with this—she always needs to know where I am in the house and I can’t leave the room without her having a meltdown. This has made progress every week though and things are getting better. I wear her a lot in the ergo and she falls asleep on the back in it a lot if it’s nap time. Troy has to work harder at it but she loves playing with him and they do fine if I’m not an option (gone or out of the house) I take those breaks gratefully for them to work on their bonding! We are still the only people who have held her but we just need more history with her to prove we aren’t going anywhere. We will continue to solely meet her needs so she learns we are her parents she can rely on. She is way more touchy feely than at first. If we’d reach out to touch or stroke her hand at first she’d pull it away from you. We also couldn’t hold her facing out at first. Now she will voluntarily touch us while we play on the floor with her. Now she actually wants to constantly be touching me if I’m in reach!
Sibling relationships: Lawson and her struggle to get along and I can’t turn my back on them. He is having a tough adjustment to sharing attention of mommy and having to wait to have needs met. (both of them really) He also can’t seem to control his actions and does things to her that doesn’t help her love him so much. He can be sweet and rub her head or say hi and be interested in her but when it comes to sharing mommy they have issues. There is some jealousy there when I hold one so sometimes I have to hold both. Harlyn and Asher on the other hand have been dream older siblings—they seem to know to take it slow. Harlyn is so eager to do everything with and for Samira we’ve had to restrain her some. Asher is very sweet and is increasingly doing more with her. She definitely has responded well to them and is fond of them. She thinks they are pretty funny sometimes and tries to do her share to be as loud as them!
Seeing the big sibs with Troy has probably also helped their relationship—seeing them go crazy about him has helped her want to get in on the fun too.
Going out: She seems to thrive on lots of activity, noise and people or at least it doesn’t phase her. Whether that’s because her orphanage environment got her used to that or that’s her personality—we don’t know that yet. We’ve done a few grocery trips and outings to church and such and she’s done really well. She panics anytime anyone else is getting out of the car and she hasn’t been unstrapped yet but she is adjusting to the carseat better than I expected too. She is probably more upset about not being held more than anything. The big kids in the back are good entertainment though. This Easter weekend was her first trip to the grandma's houses and meeting extended family.
Playing: At first she didn’t know how to play with toys and didn’t really do anything with them. She’d be occupied more with a tassel on my purse or a cup or something while travelling more than anything. Now she will play with them and even play down on the ground, crawl around and go to other things too. She plays with magnet toys on the fridge while I’m in the kitchen and likes this push cart we have. Lawson and her do have fun with that—one rides and the other pushes. She started walking more with the cart to push too! She knows peek a boo and now will pile on daddy with the other kids too. I’m sure she is soaking up loads from just watching the other kids play. She does like to be outside but it is tough being chilly yet and her not walking.