Saturday, September 17, 2011

We have loved taking hikes on the trail near our house. I love this picture!
After one of our hikes it was warm so we let the kids get in the river. So fun!
For Cindy's birthday, Grant and Jake make her a princess litter- like in the old days! They are so creative! She loved all the attention and bossed them around just like royalty! LOL!
All Cindy wanted for her 4th birthday was a Cinderella dress. She was so excited to get that and a lot of other homemade presents from her brothers.
Jonathan was so excited to get his own nerf gun like his big brothers. Oh, the battles that ensued!
Since Jonathan's birthday was the month before we became a family, we told him we would celebrate a belated birthday. He HAD to partake of the Colombian tradition of the mom smashing the child's face in the cake after they sing. He loved it! The girls decided they didn't want to continue that tradition! Ha!
  • At the Harford County Farm Fair, Luisa told us that her foster family had a cow just like this. It was her favorite.
Playing dress-ups is the little kids' favorite pastime!
Cait was moral support for her friend, Gwen, as she got her ears pierced. Then they had fun trying on very high heels in the shoe store!

Cindy loved meeting her newest cousin Tirzah- A REAL BABYDOLL!
Quinn's box was a fighter plane..
So, I found this huge stash of big boxes along the side of the road. The kids LOVED making all kinds of vehicles and houses out of them. Entertained them for quite a while this summer!
Almost all the cousins on the Trautman side- a few babies were sleeping...
4th of July- we finally got the sparklers to light!
The boys and their cousin Andrew all decked out with marshmallow guns Uncle Dave brought over..umm..yeah..thanks soo much Dave... still finding marshmallows all over the place!  Just kidding!
Cindy had a great time riding the miniature horse at Abuelita Muzzy's house
Jonathan and Muzzy (abuelita!)
Luisa finishing the top of her very first birthday cake! Pink cake, Pink icing, and pastel sprinkles! She was in heaven! 
So, I have become a horrible blogger. Unfortunately I only find myself blogging when something big is happening in our life. I find myself not feeling like it when life is good and mundane. Well, I guess that it is a good thing everything is going good here, right?

And things have been wonderful. We have been one big (9 people) happy family since May 6th and home in the US since June 2nd- 3 months home!!! In so many ways it seems like they just arrived and yet at the same time it feels like the kids have always been a part of our family. We are all learning and growing and figuring out what our "new normal" looks like.  Frankly, Brent and I are continually in awe of how well things are going. We had prepared for attachment issues, tantrums, controlling behaviors, and a long transition time since we were adopting older kids with lots of trauma in their past. But God has been so good. He has graciously given us blessing after blessing which we don't deserve. He has healed brokenness in ways that I never imagined possible.

The children we received in Colombia are completely different than the children we have here today. We RARELY have to deal with temper tantrums and the food issues are no more challenging than with our bio kids. Though we have found that they like Mexican food more than Colombian food! HA!

About a month and a half after we got home we experienced one week of a setback with difficult behaviors. It really drained me emotionally, I think, because I was unprepared for it. In Colombia we were all psyched up for all the drama that comes with older child adoption, but then the first month or so home was so easy that I let down my guard. When things got difficult again I started to wonder if the new honeymoon at home was really over and this was our new normal- yuck. I felt really discouraged and sad. BUT, thankfully, we think they were just testing the boundaries and seeing if anything had changed. It only lasted about a week or so and since then things have been wonderful.

We had a wonderful summer full of "firsts". First cookout, first amusement park, first 4th of July, first time hiking, first time visiting grandparent's houses, first trips to the library, first doctor/dentist appointments, first Sunday School classes, and so many more. We swam in the pool a LOT, ate more watermelons than we can count (surely Jonathan is going to turn into a watermelon!), and have learned that hot dogs need to be on the dinner menu at least once a week.

We have loved learning more of their personalities and habits though I feel like we still have  a long way to go. I think once English is the primary language we will understand a lot more. Right now we are hearing a lot of Spanglish! The kids understand almost everything we are saying in English, but they are still speaking Spanish (or Spanglish) 90% of the time. This season of language acquisition is so fun. We get a lot of laughs throughout the day as we hear "muy hot" or "You I like?" (translation: do you like??)  Cindy and Jonathan are definitely picking it up the fastest being younger, however Luisa can read so she can often figure out English words by sounding them out. 

In the midst of all of the language transition, I think we lost Quinn. Because of age, he ends up having the most interaction/play time with the chicos and has almost completely gone to speaking in Spanish since there are 3 of them speaking Spanish and only him speaking English! In fact, we have had multiple instances where he has forgotten a word or two in ENGLISH! LOL! He pretty much only speaks Spanish around the house and even on his narration for school the other day, he was saying it all in Spanish until I reminded him that I couldn't understand what he was saying! He is so far beyond Brent and I!

The thing that really cracks me up, though, is to hear them bicker or argue in Spanish! And this is with all 7 of them! They have totally accepted each other as typical siblings; they love each other but fight like normal too. Except it really is hard to keep a straight face when I hear my English speaking kids fussing at their siblings in Spanish!

The kids are very open and honest about their past for which I am thankful. They are pretty matter of fact about things and don't dwell on it. It saddens me to hear so many of the stories of the abuse they experienced, but there are many happy memories entwined in the midst. I am so thankful that Luisa can remember so many details so well. It has been a gift to know little things like when Cindy was potty trained, how each of them got different scars on their body, the color of one of their favorite dresses, which foods they loved or hated in Colombia, songs they remember singing in school, silly traditions they had, friends names, stories of aunts, uncles and cousins they had in their foster families, the story of how Cindy climbed out of her crib and fell, and other little things like those. I am choosing not to dwell on all the lost time we have missed with them but be grateful for the bits that we do know. Those will be the stories we tell and retell through their lives.

Two weeks ago we started back to school. I am homeschooling all 7 so my day is pretty long so far. We are still working out the scheduling kinks as I figure out how to meet everyone's needs appropriately. I took the chicos all the way back to the beginning and started with preschool type work just to solidify what they knew and to figure out where the gaps were. So far, Luisa is flying with reading but we needed to really back up with Math.  Jonathan is sooo anxious to read and is faithful to practice his letter sounds. He always is disappointed when I say school time is over! He is picking up learning very easily because he is so motivated! Cindy is starting to learn some letter sounds and recognize numbers, but mostly she is just happy to do school like the big kids.

Yesterday we started with our first day of homeschool co-op. It ends up being a long day and we are all tired, but they love the classes. The older kids are doing World Geography, Nature Study Sketching, a serious Drawing and Painting class, drama, and Grant is taking intermediate guitar. The little guys are doing World geography, Art, Science Experiments and a Lego Club. Cindy has all kinds of preschool classes during the day which she enjoyed.

Shortly after we came home everyone (except for Cindy and I) started up Karate again. The older kids were glad to be back to the routine and friends. Luisa and Jonathan are doing surprisingly well even though they don't understand a lot. Luisa is one tough little girl with strong muscles and a determined will. When Jonathan first came to us, his fine motor skills were severely delayed. He couldn't hold a pencil, couldn't open our front door- basically had no strength to speak of. Swimming in the pool, some strategic toy options to strengthen fine motor skills, riding bikes, and karate have all helped him to improve dramatically.The difference now is amazing. He is most proud of being able to hold a pencil and write like the big kids!

So, there you have it. The past three months of boring mundaneness all summarized! Hopefully it won't be another 3 months before I get around to remembering to do another post! I'll try to upload some photos in the next post.


Tuesday, June 28, 2011

3 (and a half) week Update!

Ok, so my lofty goal of doing a weekly update on this blog has turned out to be pretty laughable! I have hardly any time to sit down, much less think through what to type on a blog post!

Everything on the home-front is going amazingly well. After all the drama and tantrums in Colombia I fully expected coming home to be even worse but it has been just the opposite. Yes, we have still had a few tantrums but they are short lived and FAR apart! We are so thankful for that! The kids are doing a great job catching on to our lifestyle and habits. I have been trying to be vigilant about starting off with the manners and rules that I have fallen lax with our bio kids through the years. It's been good for them, too!

In an attempt to not paint an unrealistic picture, we have struggled trying to make our family not feel like two separate sets of kids. Our bio kids have not had the greatest patience with their new siblings and the first week or two we had LOTS of discussions about being inclusive and not exclusive. Although we haven't fully arrived at the goal, I am beginning to see glimpses of compassion and acts of graciousness. It is a good growing process for them all. The bio kids are learning how to love people when the other person is not easy to love. They are learning what it looks like to "die to the flesh". They are becoming more aware of the idolatry of self that is bound up in each of our hearts. So, although, it is emotionally draining continually dealing with correction and discussion discipline, the Lord is giving me an eternal perspective in the midst of all the drama. He is using this time to smooth off the rough edges of their character and mold them into His children who look and behave like Him. For that I am thankful.

We've had a full 3 weeks so far. Lots of visitors that have welcomed us home with loving arms. Lots of meals- so many we can't fit more in our freezer! I have been so blessed by seeing how in each step of this adoption process, the body of Christ has stepped in and collectively helped bring these children to their forever family. We love each of you!

In addition to lots of visitors, we celebrated Luisa's 8th birthday. We chose to keep it very low key. The kids had received lots of gifts from family and friends in the week or so previous so we tried to keep the celebration muted (just our immediate family) to decrease the sensory overload. She chose hamburgers and hot dogs for dinner and then she helped me bake a PINK cake with PINK icing and lots of pastel decorations for the top. She got an art supplies kit and several blank journal books from us- which is right up her alley. If you could see the massive amounts of paper and markers, crayons and play doh this child has stashed in bags and boxes all around her bed you would be amazed! She is going to be so fun to buy school supplies with! LOL!

The kids have been doing well attending children's church each Sunday. Caitlin has gone back with them the past two weeks so Brent and I could hear the sermon, which is so nice of her. Jonathan is even starting to participate by answering questions (not sure how he's understanding the story, though! LOL). Cindy has been going to the toddlers class alone and is doing great, although everyone says she doesn't talk! Not the Cindy we have at home! This kid is hysterical. She already has quite the sense of humor. And she is still her Daddy's girl. They have a unique bond, which is so awesome! I love to see Daddy's girls!

We've visited the park, took walks by the river, gone to our Sunday School picnic, had a campfire with marshmallows (they'd never seen them before) and gone to my mom's house to see their miniature horses.

Yesterday we took our first long road trip to a little amusement park in Pennsylvania called Knoebles. You pay by ride so it is cheaper for us to do as a big family! We prepped the kids ahead of time that they were not allowed to ask for any food or games or they would have to sit on a bench and not ride on the rides. (We had a picnic lunch and plenty of snacks so they didn't starve!) They didn't ask a single time!! So we surprised them with a treat of popcorn at the end of the day. They loved the rides and especially the one where you get totally soaked. That was quite the hit!

English is coming slowly, but it is coming. They are very interested in learning and often ask us to quiz them on the English that they know. The doctor suggested that Cindy (and possibly Jonathan) see a speech therapist so we will check into that soon.

Overall, everything is busy, but good. I am just trying to keep up with everyone and all the cooking, laundry and cleaning. Brent is back to work full time now, so we are starting to fall into a routine- albeit a loose one! At least everyone is doing their morning chores before breakfast with no problems! That makes life much easier on me!  I'm still a little panicky about how in the world we are going to fit homeschooling into our day, but hopefully once that time comes life will be a little less chaotic and I will have a firmer grasp on how to best manage things.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Home Update!

We've had a bunch of people begging for an update now that we're home! So I'll try to fill everyone in!

Travel on Thursday was very uneventful, thankfully. The taxi driver was so wonderful and stayed with us as we checked in the airport and all the way up to immigration where he wasn't allowed further. He was extremely kind and even got teary-eyed when we said goodbye. I was so thankful for him as it took a LONG time to get through check in. I guess 9 people, with a bunch of legal paperwork and 11 bags to check is a lot to get done. I was glad we allowed the full 3 hours ahead of time.

For families awaiting travel from the Bogota airport here's how it happened for us. We flew Avianca, so I don't know how other airlines are...
We got a Porter to help us carry all our luggage in on a cart and then while Brent and the taxi driver waited in line with the kids, the Porter took me to a window to get an exit tax-exempt stamp since we had been there less than a month. It was not for the chicos, but the rest of us. Then I got back in line with the rest of the group!
First you get into the Avianca line that says to go to the US. (There is another line for Europe and South American Countries.) When we got to the first set of people who were checking us in, I had to give all our passports and show (not give) a copy of each of their new birth certificates and sentencia. Our attorney had already prepared an envelope with those things for us, so I wasn't scrambling to find them. They gave us baggage tickets to stick to our luggage with our address- so filling out 11 of them took a while. Then we were sent to the real check in desk where we again showed the passports, birth certs, and sentencia. Keep them handy! LOL! The lady asked for the "permissions" and I didnt' know what she wanted but thankfully the taxi driver explained that they needed our documents. We left all our checked baggage with her and got our boarding passes.

The taxi driver then took us up the escalators (to the right of the check in desk). Upstairs we went to the left toward immigration. It is smack in the middle of the huge corridor so you can't miss it. First you go through security and then wait in line for immigration. We didn't have to wait for more than 5 minutes in line before we got to the immigration officer. There are about 10 counters set up and there was someone directing us to which one to go to. I think we had to go to the one specifically for people traveling with minors. This was a good 20 minute procedure. He had to look at each person and compare it to the passport (actually both times before they did that too, so don't send someone to the bathroom!). Then I gave him the copy of the birth certificate and sentencia (authenticated!) to keep. He was doing some kind of paperwork on his side of the counter so I'm not sure what that was all about. We were quite the spectacle with 7 kids sprawled all over the floor listening to music on their Mp3's or resting their heads on their backpacks! We got quite a lot of stares and a few of the other immigration officers just couldn't resist asking about all our details! LOL

Once you are through immigration, you head toward your gate. There are lots of stores for shopping or restaurants. There is security again at the actual gate. There are NO bathrooms or drinks allowed past the security. We asked about taking water in for the children and they allowed us to if it was unopened water. But I would check first before doing so. We were allowed snacks also. Thankfully we only had a short 15 minute wait before boarding the plane, but if your wait is going to be longer, you  might consider delaying going through the gate security until just before boarding so you still have food/drink/bathroom facilities!

Flying home was easy with the on board entertainment system. I don't even think they had to get in their bags for toys!
Once in Washington DC, we followed the masses of people to a shuttle that took us to immigration where we waited in another long line. It moved pretty quickly though. Our immigration officer took our big, fat Top Secret Envelopes and opened them. I was so curious about what was in them! It is only just photocopies of all the documents that were given at the Embassy! How anticlimactic! I had a handful of the same things in my backpack! LOL!

After going through another security for agricultural products (apparently coffee beans count!) with a grumpy officer, we were finally free! As soon as we passed through the doors we heard the screams and clapping of all our family and friends there to welcome us home! The kids clung to us for the first 20 minutes or so, but then the ice got broken when someone pulled out an uno game and crayons and coloring books. All the cousins crowded around and played! We stayed there for a while and since the kids were doing so well, we decided to all drive to a McDonalds with a playground for dinner. Gotta introduce these kids to the most American food, right! LOL! 

The playground at McD's was perfect and it really allowed the chicos to get comfortable with their cousins and new family members. By the end of the evening they were hugging and kissing on everyone! I'm so glad we did it even though we ended up getting home late.

At home they were so excited to see everything! They went from room to room squealing and oohing and ahhing over each little thing. Then, we introduced them to the playroom in the basement. Oh, boy! You'd have thought they were in heaven. Dress ups were the ultimate hit! We told them they could either have a bath or play- and they chose to play! Of course! Finally around 12:30am everyone headed to bed.

The first two days home were like another honeymoon. The kids were doing amazingly well. Luisa and Jonathan both learned to ride a bike by the 2nd day!
On Sunday we felt confident to brave going back to church. They did well, although it was totally overwhelming for them. So many people chattering in English and wanting to touch and hug them. Cindy wouldn't leave Brent's arms but Luisa and Jonathan did a good job saying Hola to people. I stayed with them in Children's Church and I think one of us will have to alternate each week until they get comfortable.

The next few days have proven to be a little more challenging as they try to figure out if the rules in the US are the same as in Colombia. A few more tantrums, but NOTHING as bad as they were in Col. Ultimately the kids are doing phenomenal. When I step back and consider what they have gone through I am absolutely floored at the progress they have made.

I am definitely finding that we need to speak more  English. Believe it or not, but we've gotten pretty good at getting our point across in Spanish but I feel like it might be holding us back from progressing with them. So for now we are trying to say every phrase in both Spanish and English. They are very interested in learning, thankfully. They especially love it when a word in Spanish is the same or very similar in English! LOL!

They love Sadie, our dog. She is loving life with all their attention and with how often they spill their food! LOL! Brent and I are completely exhausted at the end of each day (thus the delay in posting on the blog!). It is mentally draining to keep up with their activity and be 100% on top of everything all day long. I'm sure that will slow down once we get into a better routine, but for now we are crashing into bed each day!

Ok, that's enough for now! Thank you all again for all the wonderful support you have been and the encouragement you have given. We have been humbled by how greatly you all have loved on us. You have blessed us immeasurably. We love you. Thank you for being on this journey with us.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Day 26

It was a quiet day today (well as quiet as it can be with 12 kids under age 13) at Hotel Paris. Everyone played together fairly well. No major tantrums. Yay!

In the morning we were finally able to get in touch with a Pastor of a church here in Bogota. Brent had been emailing him and we had hoped to attend church with them, but it never worked out. Thankfully he was available to visit for an hour or so this morning. He was super friendly (everyone is!) and was a huge blessing for us to meet. 

At 2:30 Sylvia picked me up to go to the Embassy to pick up the visas. I needed the receipt I had been given (fyi) in order to get in the embassy. It was a quick and painless visit and the man was super friendly. I received 3 fat manilla envelopes that are taped shut with a special signature over it. These are the super important papers that everyone says DON'T OPEN! Otherwise it voids the entire adoption- or so I'm told.

Then we drove to the translation office. We had the sentencia and new birth certificates translated in Colombia since it is cheaper to do it here. These are needed for the readoption in the state of Maryland.  That was a little crazy. First they didn't have the documents ready and we had to wait half an hour. Then I found mistakes on 4 different documents. Names were spelled wrong and Brent's passport number was wrong twice. Thankfully, they were able to fix them on the spot. It was supposed to be a 10 minute trip and it took almost 2 hours!

Back at the hotel, I finished packing the bulk of the suitcases. Cindy has been on a "Papi Only" strike so he ended up entertaining her most of the time so I could get stuff done! We said our goodbyes to the staff who have been so sweet. The main cook is hysterical and jokes around with us (mostly Brent) a lot. We left them all some salt water taffy from Ocean City. Then we took photos with them and the other family. Our kids are going to miss their new friends so much. I can't explain how much of a blessing it has been to be with the other families both in Medellin and here in Bogota. It forges a bond that is irreplaceable- especially as we commiserate and help each other through the daily tantrums and parenting issues! LOL!

Tomorrow we leave the hotel around 5:30am and arrive at the airport at 6:30, but our flight doesn't leave until 9:30ish. So hopefully we will be able to entertain everyone for that long of a time!  I am so excited that this day is finally here! I'm counting down the hours! So are the kids! I can't tell you how many times I answered Jonathan's question about how many more hours until we leave! LOL!

Even though the title says Day 26, that is only how many days we've had our chicos. We've been in country 28 days....

Tonight is the end of the beginning and tomorrow is the beginning of the end!

As I sit here thinking about our past month in Colombia, I am so overwhelmed by the outpouring of love and support of our family and friends. We truly couldn't have survived this time without all your emails and FB comments filled with encouragement. Sometimes they were words of excitement, empathy, scriptures to uplift, stories from home to distract- everything! And each one was sent at the perfect moment. Just in the minute it was needed. I love it when God does that!

And for all the family and friends who have blessed us so much by driving us to and from the airport, shopping for us, cleaning our house, fixing us meals,  watching our dog, donating money, giving us hand-me-down clothes or furniture- you are the hands and feet of Christ. You have shown the love of Christ to us and to our family in bountiful ways. It has brought us so much joy to watch the body of Christ in action. Each of your deeds have been in obedience to the prompting of the Spirit and it has brought glory to Him.

This whole adoption has been all about Him from the beginning. He has set the example of a tender loving Father who rescues us- sinners who are lost and in despair. He has been our guide as we set out on this journey. At times it has been difficult to be patient and I'm sure the future will hold MANY more times where we are on our knees praying for help. But it is a comfort to know He IS and HAS BEEN and ALWAYS WILL BE in control of it all.

I hope that keeping up with the posting while in country has been helpful not only for our close family and friends, but also for the adoption community at large. I am so grateful for the other families who have chronicled their time in country. I feel like it made our time here more predictable. And I've gotten a ton of ideas and help. If anyone reading this is going through the Colombia adoption process and has questions, please email me. I'd be happy to help as much as I am able!

***Even though the title says Day 26, that is only how many days we've had our chicos. We've been in country 28 days....Adoptive families are always searching the timelines of other people so I wanted to clarify!

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Day 25

After a few rough days, today was back on the upswing! We only had a few short issues of disobedience, but nothing long and major! Progress, again! At dinner I even said to Luisa that she hadn't had any grande pelea's today! (big fights) And that I was so proud of her! Her eyes got really big and she grabbed my hands and squealed "baile!!" (let's dance!)  Then tonight at bedtime I was mentioning to Brent (in English) about our conversation and she understood enough of the words and she said, "Manana, yo tengo no grande peleas!" (Tomorrow I won't have any big fights!) I told her "THANK YOU!" and she replied (in English) quite emphatically, "YOUR WELCOME!" We all cracked up at the whole thing! Hopefully she is right and we will have another good day tomorrow!

This morning Sylvia, our Bogota agency rep, picked up the chicos and I and took us via crazy cab driver to the Bogota ICBF office. It was pretty busy, so I didn't end up meeting with any ICBF people. We just sat outside the office door and checked the accuracy of names and birthdates in order to get the super special ICBF letter that is required for HAGUE. Then I filled out a survey asking how our adoption process had been. It all took about 10 minutes.

Then we were off in a cab to the US Embassy. I showed the kids the US flag for the first time. They were excited to see it! There was a LONG line of people waiting to get into the embassy, but Sylvia marched right up to the front and talked to the embassy worker and in we went. We dropped off the visa photos, application, and their passports at a front window and then sat to wait. It was a very long wait! The kids immediately had spotted the little concession stand when we came in, so I let them each pick out some chips and juice to pass the time. I had brought some little new toys and that entertained them most of the wait. I ended up running into the same family that we had met in the Colombian Consulate in Washington DC when we went to get our visas. What are the odds of that! They had their two new children (12 and 11yo) and were there dropping off their paperwork too!

Finally after about 3 hours of waiting, we were called up to the front window to turn in the last bit of paperwork- the copies of their old and new birth certificates, sentencia and legal proceedings. Of course, at this moment the kids had had enough of waiting and started fighting with each other. They also decided they wanted to play with all the office equipment at the front window. It was a little stressful trying to talk to them about not touching or fighting, but not push them into a tantrum, and also try to answer the questions the embassy worker had while using a phone on the wall to speak through the window! LOL!

We went to a second window to pay the bill (yes, adoptive families, you can use a credit card!) and to a third window for a short "interview" which really wasn't an interview at all. All I had to do was sign my name and the kids names a few times. The kids were at their breaking point and, of course at one point Luisa whined "No quiero el nombre Trautman! Yo soy Luisa Fernanda Tangarife!" (I don't want the name Trautman, I am Luisa Fernanda Tangarife!)
Oh, boy. I thought for sure I'd be interrogated and hassled at that point, but the worker only laughed and asked if I knew Spanish. (I guess she was wondering if I understood what Luisa had just said.) I told her "a little". She just laughed again. LOL! I guess she wasn't too worried about what Luisa wanted! Then she said that tomorrow only I needed to come pick up the visas. No need to bring the kids because they don't like it here! HA! She totally understood! She must have been a mom too.

We got home just in time for some lunch and then I headed back out to the Avianca office with Sylvia to try to change our flights. What a fiasco. We had been told on the phone that if we went to an actual office that they would change our flight code to an adoption fare and we wouldn't be charged a change date fee. So we explained that to the girl in the office and she agreed to change the fare. I was so excited! It was going to save us about $3000! Then she happened to get a phone call from the main office in Unicentro and she was told by someone there that they are only allowed to offer adoption fares if we were residents of Spain! WHAT? That's crazy! But she wouldn't budge. So after 3 hours in the office, back to the hotel, and then back to the office, we ended up having to pay the whole amount. What a ripoff. But it was cheaper to do that then buy new tickets. That would have cost us over $10,000 (which we wouldn't have done...).  Oh, well. It's just money, right? God has no problem supplying all our needs, so I'm trusting that we won't need that $3000 once we get home.

Since Brent had been with the kids for several hours, they all needed a break so we and the other family took a walk before dinner. The kids had so much fun. We played little games the whole way to keep their attention and taught them all the hokey pokey. I'm really going to miss this family! They are awesome!

Once we got back, we heard some sad news. There was a husband and wife who arrived two days ago to adopt a 5month old baby boy. They got him yesterday, but he has been sick and on oxygen. They were told he was doing better, but when they gave him his meds today, he turned blue and almost stopped breathing. They rushed him to the hospital where he is now on a ventilator and may possible need surgery to remove scare tissue in his trachea that is impeding his breathing. We are so sad for them. They are an emotional mess. He is their first child and they've been waiting for 3 years for him. I would ask that everyone at home please pray for his healing and their comfort during this time. It is so scary for them.

The evening ended well. It is nice to have a bit of relief from the intensity of the past few days. I'm still pretty sure that our homecoming will be a challenge again, but it looks like we just need some time to reestablish boundaries each time there is a change.

I will go with Sylvia tomorrow at 3:30 to pick up the Visas. Then we'll pack everything up and on Thursday morning we will head to the airport for our flight home! We should arrive at Dulles airport around 3:30pm, but who knows how long immigration will take. (Thankfully, we were able to get a direct flight so we don't need to worry about trying to fit immigration into a layover! That sounded stressful to me! Too easy to miss a flight if immigration takes a long time!) But, it is exciting to think that they will become US citizens right then! 

Several people have asked if it is ok to meet us at the airport. YES!!! We miss you all so much and we can't wait to see everyone! And we can't wait for you all to meet the newest additions to the Trautman family!

Even though I'm excited to be home, I'm going to miss Colombia. Actually, I'm not going to miss Bogota, but I will miss Medellin. I haven't cared for Bogota as much. So much pollution and smog and the people haven't seemed as friendly. Of course, we haven't been here as long, so it might be different if we were here for 3 weeks, but I could go back to Medellin in a heartbeat. I loved it there!

Monday, May 30, 2011

Day 24

Oh, boy.... this stomach bug is nasty. Poor Quinn was sick until just before lunchtime. He felt better and played for a few hours and then it hit again. Then after lunch it hit Jake. Both of them look horrible. I'm feeling pretty worried about it going through everyone just as we are trying to pack up and fly home. That is going to make travel very interesting...especially if Brent or I get it. The boys are totally zonked out. I don't know how we could do it...

This morning was another LONG battle with Luisa. She woke up still mad from yesterday, looking for a fight. We told her that she was not allowed to come down for breakfast if she was still acting angry. Well, that didn't go so well. She totally missed breakfast and only finished her tantrum at noon. She screamed so much that she has lost her voice completely. BUT, we didn't have any other issues the rest of the day even though we had a zero tolerance policy with her.

Jonathan had a great day. He loves to antagonize so he gets scolded or disciplined frequently for annoying other people, but thankfully no tantrums.

Cindy was a total Papi's girl today. Since I spent the morning with Luisa, Cindy and Papi had tons of fun together. She loves it when he sneaks up behind her and scares her. She screams bloody murder and than yells, "otra vez"!!! (again!!) She didn't even want to sit with me at mealtimes. She begged us to move her highchair next to papi! I love it! So adorable!

Today was  little challenging trying to keep the bulk of the kids in the whole casa engaged and entertained (some of the parents are sick now too), but trying to stay with the sickies upstairs in the bedroom. I feel like Brent and I floated back and forth all day. We kept trying to change activities to keep them from getting bored. In the afternoon we brought out the punching balloons and they loved those. I think the cook and housekeeper had never seen one before either? They asked if they were American balloons! LOL! They both asked to have one and they both laughed hysterically trying to blow them up!

We are a little frustrated with the paperwork end of things here. Ever since the several staff members of Gladney got fired, there is now no communication between them and our guide here in Bogota. In Medellin, we felt so taken care of and that the guides/attorney were on top of everything. Now, here, we feel totally left alone and unsure of what is going on. Before, our guide or attorney called us every night to check on us. Since we have been here we haven't heard from our guide unless I called her- finally this morning. And then, she didn't even want to talk to me- only to someone here at the hotel since I guess she felt more comfortable with the language barrier. So really there is little to no communication happening. Apparently, the guide is saying that the letter that we need to get from ICBF is either not done yet, or she didn't feel like going to get it today. We're not sure. That means we only have a two hour window to go to ICBF and the US Embassy to drop off paperwork. I have a horrible feeling that we aren't going to get both done tomorrow and it will push us back from traveling another day. 

We are really ready to come home. We need some stability in our life and this bed and breakfast is NOT conducive to older child adoption. There are waaaay too many distractions and limitations on parenting. I'm thankful for not having to cook or do laundry, but right now, even those are things I wish I was doing in my home! Hey, I'd even like to have my own puke buckets instead of having to ration the two trash cans out to nine people! LOL!

Day 23

I'm writing this the day after because I just didn't have enough mental energy to write last night. Yesterday was rough. The bulk of the day was tantrums, broken up by a few bright spots. Brent took most of the tantrums during the day and I took the evening. I must admit that by the end of the day both of us were feeling pretty discouraged and down. Thankfully, God, in His perfect timing, allowed grace to pour over us in the form of encouragement from our new found friends here. They have been here with their 3 new children for 7 weeks so they were able to offer us refreshment and words of strength last night. Once the kids were in bed (both families had a rough bed time! So thankful we're not the only ones!) the four of us sat on the sofa and talked until late at night. I am so grateful for God giving us another solid Christian family to bounce ideas off of and just to empathize. He knew we needed it.

Well, on to the bright spot of the day! Both families walked to the parque grande (big park) after lunch. They all had a super fun time even though it was full of big puddles and mud. Of course, they couldn't help getting totally wet and filthy, and we just let them go. We figured we'd just pay for the laundry service afterward. It was worth it because they all played hard and were tired by the end of the trip.

The driving here in Bogota is even worse than in Medellin. The cars do not yield to pedestrians. In fact I think they try to see how close they can get to you! It was a little crazy to try to cross the streets with 11 kids, but we made it in the end!

In the evening it was pizza night. Luisa missed out on it due to another tantrum, but the rest loved the delicious homemade pizza. Afterward they turned the salsa music up loud and the cook and waitresses and the kids all danced and fooled around! I missed it but Brent said he got some of it on video. It sounded like it was so fun!

In the middle of the night, Quinn woke up vomiting. Poor guy. He stayed in bed with us but none of us got much rest. Lori, the other mom, is also sick, so we don't know if it is a bug that is going to travel through all of us or something food related. I REALLY am praying we don't have to do the stomach bug right now! Tomorrow we have to go to the Embassy and we hoped to travel home on Wednesday night or Thursday morning. But that is all going to be challenging if we are all sick. Please pray for us that we all won't get it!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Day 20 & 21 &22

Ok, here is the post I started last night trying desperately to stay awake, but it didn't work...As you'll see, two hours of sleep isn't enough for me!! I fell asleep in the middle of typing and woke up in the middle of the night drooling on my laptop! LOL!
I am so bummed that I couldn't blog last night! But it has been a whirlwind two days!

Yesterday morning (it feels like a week ago, really!) I got a phone call from Gloria, our translator, that an appointment for Luisa's ID card was set up for us. We had 10 minutes to get dressed, gather all the documents and be outside the gate to wait since the appointment was in a half an hour and we were a 45 minute drive!  Brent stayed home with the  6 others.

Apparently, there are elections getting ready to happen for their congress (their equivalent) so this office was super busy and wasn't going to allow us to come. Thankfully, she pulled a few strings and got us in to the office. We met Nora in a parking lot to get the new Birth Certificates with "Trautman" written on them. She also gave me some precious 8X10 photos of the kids from about a year ago that she snagged from their file at ICBF. Boy, I can't tell you how much of a treasure they are! What a gift!

We raced over to the ID office (not sure what it really is called!) and after waiting for a while, Luisa was able to get fingerprinted and a new card.  She was a little grumpy because she had started running a low fever and didn't feel good.

Then, we raced back to the apartment where Brent had Cindy and Jonathan waiting by the gate so we could go get their new Colombian passports. We met Nora and her assistant Edwin at the passport office (right next to the court) and they walked us through all the details of getting new passports. The man was so sweet. He even let all the kids get fingerprinted after they saw me do it!

Then it was off to the Notaria office (notary) so that I could sign a document (I think it might be another power of attorney) so that Nora can be the one to request the children's file from ICBF. Problem was, they needed Brent to sign and he was still back at the apartment with the bio kids. So the other Gloria raced over to pick them up and brought him to the Notaria. While we were sitting there, Gloria called to the other contact person in Bogota and she set up our kids Embassy Doctor appointment for the next day- in Bogota!!That meant we were leaving ASAP!

Brent took the kids back to the apartment to swim and I went with Gloria #1 to the Avianca Airline office to buy our Medellin to Bogota tickets. Unfortunately we had to take a flight that left 5:50am or else the prices were double! We ran through Exito to pick up snacks for the plane and made it home around 4pm. I knew I had SO MUCH to do. So Brent kept the kids in the pool so I could start packing.

I was totally disorganized. We had planned to travel Sat or Sunday so I wasn't prepared. I started throwing things in the suitcases just to get going. We had several people stop over to tie up last minute issues...The apartment person to collect our rent, Gloria our translator who was able to take most of our food, and then Nora and Blanca came over for an hour or so to give us the copies of all the birth certificates, sentencia and legal proceedings.

Cait and Grant were gracious enough to stay up until around midnight to help us pack but they are exhausted today! Luisa was sooo anxious and excited that she couldn't stay asleep. Finally we had to put her on the floor in our room so she'd go to sleep. I think we ended up getting 2 1/2 hours sleep!

In the morning, Gloria and a rental van came to the apartment around 4am and we were off to the airport. kkdkm

ok... this is where I fell asleep last night!...LOL!

We made it through the airport in Medellin easily and quickly. Said our goodbyes to Gloria! We'll miss her! She is a hoot!
 The kids LOVED the airplane! It is such a short flight (half hour) that they barely got to do any of the fun stuff I'd packed in their bags. Between a graham cracker snack and a drink, that was about all they had time for!

Sylvia and Jaime (her husband) picked us up in their van plus a rental van. We drove to the adoption hotel we are staying at- called Hotel Paris. MANY other families have stayed here and loved it. And we were very excited because some friends I'd been communicating with via email were staying here with their three newest additions to the family! They have been here 7 weeks (Bogota courts are SLOW!) and they've been anxious to have some English speaking people staying here!  It has been so fun meeting them and discussing the process and adoption transition issues.

We arrived at around 8am, so we had breakfast here at the hotel/bed &breakfast. We have two bedrooms and then there are common living rooms, common dining room, a swingset out back and an additional little casita (small house) that is full of toys for the kids to play with. The kids loved all the toys and so far are getting along well with the other children. There is another family that is visiting with their previously adopted kids that are from Finland and another family with a new daughter but I can't remember where they are from...

Yesterday, the kids played in the morning with all the toys. Then around 1:30, Brent took the chicos to the Embassy Medical Visit. I was worried that they might possibly need some vaccinations and there was no way I was going to be able to restrain them for multiple vacs. Last time was a traumatic experience- for me! LOL!
Thankfully, they didn't need any vaccines and everything went well.

There is a document that the Medellin ICBF has to send to the National Bogota ICBF before we can go to the Embassy. It was supposed to be delivered via fax to the Bogota ICBF yesterday (Friday) but when Sylvia called, it was not ready. So that means that we can't get it until Monday. Only problem is that the US Embassy is closed for Memorial day, so even though we can get the paper from ICBF, we can't take it to the Embassy until Tuesday. Bummer. It puts us a day behind. We were all psyched to go home on Wednesday, but now we are thinking we'll have to leave on Thursday (unless we take a late Wed. flight...which we'll see...)

Today, we had hoped to go to Monserrate, but it was pouring when we woke up. Also Quinn had been still running a fever and I wasn't sure if he'd be ok. So we hung out while the kids played all morning. After lunch the other family took us to Unicentro Mall. (It looks exactly like one of our malls at home. Just all in Spanish.) Our guys had never been to a large shopping center before, so they did surprisingly well. I think having the other children there (who have been LOTS of times in the past 7 weeks) helped them to know what to do. Or what not to do!

We went to a bookstore and I got more coloring books. The kids go through them like crazy! The other family is planning to homeschool so it has been fun talking about education and other homeschool stuff! Then we went to Whopper King (kinda like Burger King!) for ice cream. It was mass chaos to get everyone the flavor they wanted (11 kids were there! Our 7, their 3 and an extra girl who lives at the hotel) but I think under the circumstances we did pretty good! At least we didn't lose anyone!

Since we've been here, I feel like we are seeing some regression with the chicos. I don't know if it would have happened even if we were in Medellin or if it is due to the upheaval with a new location and new rules and new everything, or what. We have had multiple tantrums since we got here. Some short, some long- though not like the 3 hour one in the first week we had them! Praise the Lord! I anticipate that coming home is going to be full of more regression. It is going to make things challenging, to say the least...  at least here, we don't have to cook or clean and we can easily take the time to see the tantrum to the end without feeling like everything else is falling apart. I am really looking forward to being home, but dreading it at the same time...

It is much colder here than in Medellin. I think today was a high of 63 degrees and in the low 50's at night. I miss Medellin! LOL!  Oh, well, we'll be back to spring/summer weather in a few days!