Remember yesterday where I said yesterday was our best day? Well, I was wrong. Today was!!!!
Today was our Integration Day. For the past week we have been in a "probation" period called Integracion. It is a time for us to get to know the kids and vice versa and to decide if we need more time before making our final decision to say "yes" to the kids. So today is kind of special since it is the day when we say we want the kids for sure, they want us, and ICBF is happy with the match. It is also a time for the kids to give their goodbye gift to their foster family and for ICBF to sign off on the paperwork so it can be submitted to the courts.
We knew today might be filled with mixed emotions so we planned a tight schedule with no down time before the meeting at 2pm.
After breakfast, and laying out everyone's clothing for the meeting, we headed to the pool for several hours. We have hardly ever had any problems when we are at the pool, so it is the place we like to be to keep tantrums at a minimum. Around noon, I headed back to the apartment with Cindy, Jonathan Jake and Quinn since they were tired. Fortunately they were doing some construction on the parking lot and had a front end loader on a trailer that mesmerized the kids out on the balcony for about 45 minutes.
Lunch went surprisingly well without any food problems to speak of. We put on a Dora video to avoid wandering children while Brent and I got ready and had the kids dress one by one to avoid mayhem. I had Luisa all dressed in the adorable outfit that I had brought specifically for today when she decided she didn't want to wear that. Instead she wanted to wear a white skirt and pink top. NOT what I preferred but I realized that was my problem with having an expectation. I also had a cute headband with a flower clip that Melanie made to go with the other outfit and she wanted nothing to do with it. She started pulling her hair back in a half pony tail which she never wears her hair like that! Cait walked into the bathroom with us and it was then that I realized she wanted to look like her big sister Cait. Matching white skirts, pink tops and pulled back hair! So precious!
Once we were at the ICBF office things went very well. We were asked to tell what we were feeling after a week with the kids, how the week had gone, how each child was responding and ask any questions we had. Also they asked the bio kids for what they thought of their new siblings. We hadn't prepped them ahead of time but surprisingly they each said the same thing even though they didn't hear each other's answers. (The chicos were playing in another room for a while so the bio kids had been back and forth between them and us.) At the end of the meeting the ICBF worker talked to the chicos about their thoughts. They were super happy and positive about wanting to go to the US and be part of our family. In the course of the conversation, some new information came out about their past that we and the social workers had never heard before so that was interesting and heartbreaking too. Makes me want to hold them closer with knowing the difficulties they have lived through. They also explained to Luisa and Jonathan that they couldn't go back to their old foster family even if they wanted to because they already have new children at their home. Apparently, Luisa had already been told this by her foster mom. ICBF is sure to explain this to the kids as it helps them to stop looking backward and start looking forward. And surprisingly it does seem like their attitudes changed during that conversation. It seems like they needed the finality of the meeting for them to relax and know that their place in our family is permanent and not up for discussion. A sense of relief washed over their faces when the ICBF person commented that everything is final and we are all a family now.
As soon as the cars arrived back at the apartment, Brent and the kids went back to the apartment and I went to the hospital with Gloria to try to get my ear checked out. They ended up giving me an IV of antibiotics with a prescription for another 10 days of pills. The hospital was very modern and the doctor actually spoke a fair amount of English. Getting home was an adventure, though. It had been raining hard all afternoon so several of the main roads had been blocked off due to flooding and, as Gloria says, "because of the mountain coming down"- ie. mudslides. Traffic was insane and Gloria#1's driving was even more insane. She is a precious, darling woman, but I don't think she can see very well in the dark and rain and slams on her breaks every 5 seconds. I know God was protecting us because after about 15 near death experiences, we are here still! We drove around for almost an hour to get to a pharmacy that was well lit and had many people around (since we were out after dark) but when we finally got there, they were closed! Another 20 minutes and she found another pharmacy which happened to be only a block from our apartment! HA! They didn't have the antibiotic I needed so we headed down the strip mall to a second pharmacy and they finally were able to find it! Whew! Only problem is, during the time in the hospital and driving around, my left eye kept getting more and more sore. I am praying it is just from the ear infection and is not Pink Eye!
While Brent was here at the apartment, he said that the kids were wonderful. A few NORMAL kid issues, but no real tantrums. In fact he had a very positive discipline time with Jonathan. He had asked Brent for Jugo (juice- that's the only thing he'll drink other than Coke!) but Brent told him that before he had jugo he had to drink a small amount of water. He whined and complained but Brent put the glass down in front of him. Brent said that if he dumped the water out, Brent would make him drink the whole glass of water. I think there was some gagging and spitting out of the water and a short trip to the bedroom, but he finally obeyed and drank the water and then cheerfully had his juice! Success! Sounds like such a stupid thing to go toe to toe about, but it is a huge issue for him and we are trying to wean him off his sugar addiction slowly.
Brent said that Cindy and Jonathan were in rare form of silliness tonight. I'm sure, since it was a daddy night. Those are always fun and crazy for the kids.
So, if you've made it through this far, you will realize that we had NO TANTRUMS TODAY! NONE! ZILCH! NADA! Everything was all normal kids stuff! Amazing- especially on a day where we were fully expecting some regression. God is good. He gives us peace in the midst of the storm. Even if tomorrow is horrible, I am grateful for the grace that was evident today.
Today marks the start of the beginning of the second part of our process. On Monday, all our paperwork will be submitted to one of the courts in Medellin. We will find out which court and then we just wait until the judge reviews all the information and calls us to sign the final documents! It still could be a few weeks though.
I can't help but get the Steve Green Hide 'em in Your Heart Kids song out of my head...straight from scripture...
Let us not grow weary
In doing good.
In due season we shall reap. (repeat)
If we don't lose heart (If we don't lose heart)
If we don't lose heart (If we don't lose heart)
In due season we shall reap!!