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!