If you aren't in our area or haven't heard, we were SNOWED upon in Missouri! Bill calls me the "snow queen" because I just LOVE to LOOK at the snow. I marvel at it every time! An added bonus was that my big boys were home. For those who do not know, we enrolled our big boys in school this semester. Our curiosity about our local school and my desire to have some one-on-one time with Joseph contributed to our decision. The leap from homeschooling to public has been a little much for mommy, but knowing it is temporary is getting us through. If the Lord wills it, we will be enrolling them in a "part-time" private school next year. They go to school 2 days per week and do the rest of the work as homeschool. Anyway, the snow brought them home for almost an entire week. I thought I'd post some snow pictures. The big boys (including my husband) love to be in the snow. As you can tell from Joseph's pictures, he prefers to see it from the kitchen window like mommy!!
Joseph is doing great! I finally broke down and tested his language skills. As a Speech therapist, I couldn't resist. I tested him on his 21 month-day and he scored at 17 months. It made me relax a little. He seemed more delayed than that to me. I know, I just need to be more patient. He had so much gross and fine motor to learn about that speech took the backseat, I think. Besides, with brothers and mommy catering to his every whim, who needs to talk, right?? It's just ridiculous, really:) Our new favorite game is to chase our brothers around the kitchen and dining room squealing all the while!! Big brothers pretend he's a monster and "you will melt from fiery lava if he touches you"... so it is fun for all! Yes, my house is a rowdy frat house, but I love it!!
Just to give you an idea of what Joseph is like, he is BUSY, BUDDY!! He gets into EVERYTHING! At first, this was annoying to me because of the messes he makes. There are moments that it continues to be annoying and we go for the playpen. However, most of the time it is hilarious! He is FULL of joy and curious about each and every item in his little world. We call him our "pixie" because he runs everywhere and he is so tiny that it looks like he kind of floats with his feet barely touching the ground! I wish I had a video to post of what I mean... I'll try to work on that. He sleeps with his Diego doll EVERY naptime and EVERY night. When it is time for nap or bed, we say, "night night". We put him in his crib with Diego and he curls up with him to go to sleep. I snuck in a few hours after I put him to bed and found him in the position above in that picture. He looked like he was holding hands with Diego!!! He kisses all people, animals, and yes.. objects at times. This makes him a FAVORITE at church because he will lean in and nuzzle familiar folks like his teachers and friends. He has kissed dogs on the mouth, other children, and numerous stuffed animals. Such a little lover! I wonder if it is because his mommy can't stop kissin' on him! My grandmother from Alabama stated it best when she said, "He's added something to our lives that we never even knew was missing." Well said.
Yes, we are still alive and well in Missouri!! Sorry about my shameful lack of posting! We have an OFFICIAL ADOPTION!!!! On November 18th, 2010, his real name was proclaimed by the judge and he was declared legally and forever ours...sort of. Our hired attorney did not know that the judge HAD to see the original Hague certificate (not a copy) in order to do the adoption. Therefore, after seeing the mortified looks of horror on the faces of parents and grandparents present, he agreed to go ahead and proceed, but pended it until we brought the original to him. We did our thing, took the pictures, celebrated, and then mommy and daddy beebopped it back to the courthouse with the original that afternoon.My dad wore a USA flag tie that he said he is going to put in a box and save until Joseph turns 18! How thoughtful is that??
Word to you other mommies... BRING ALL OF YOUR ORIGINAL DOCUMENTATION!! We trusted this attorney too much, I guess. We were also able to get a Social Security Number even though we were told we would have to wait until the birth certificate. The SS office said we didn't need that, so he already has a number. That means we can claim him on the taxes for this year! Hooray! Great news since EVERYTHING gets put on hold during an adoption.
All in all, this Christmas finds our family healthy, happy, official, and thankful. We are thankful for the adoption of our precious gift in Joseph. We are even more thankful for the gift of the Christ-child. Without Him, we couldn't be adopted ourselves. MERRY CHRISTMAS!
I was properly chastised today by a friend reminding me of the neglectful lack of blogging I have been engaged in!!! Life with 3 boys is nothing short of "warp speed". We do have MUCH news to report and new pictures, of course!! First of all, JOSEPH IS WALKING!!! It was a few lunging controlled falls in August. Now, it has evolved into sure-footed, all-terrain, running (unless he stops to explore an item of interest). So, in case some of you ISRC mommies are counting... he was just shy of 16 months when he started taking steps.
Clothes are now a big issue-- or should I say a "small" issue?! Summer was great because shorts can be...well...short on him. I could buy 9 month size and they would fit. BUT, the weather is cooling off and that will no longer fly. We have every make and model of overall for my "no hynie, no waist" baby (seriously, 5 pair at last count). We are also fans of Carters' one piece diddies. My mother in law purchased some knit outfits and sewed snaps to make our own adjustable waist. Did everyone know that they don't make the really cool adjustable waist clothing until 24 months? Yep, it's true. If you have a skinny baby in America, you are just going to have to get creative. I have sewn unsightly "tucks" in the waists of all of his other pants hoping that the shirts will cover. Oh well. He's so cute, noone is looking at his clothes!!
I have had questions about homeschooling with a busy Joseph. It has really been pretty fabulous, actually. We are tackling second grade, kindergarten, and emerging language skills during our days. Baby gates are saving my life. I block all of us into the kitchen/morning room area and we get to work. It takes a little more time to get through, but it is developing patience in all of my children. They sometimes have to wait for me to get something or do something for a brother before I can get to their need. I really feel like we spend more time interacting with Joseph now that we are "doing school" because we all stay in one room together. This summer, we were always up to something! Like any honest homeschool mother, I will admit that I have my moments of dreaming of the big yellow bus, but we don't feel ready for that just yet!
Last, but certainly not least... WE HAVE A COURT DATE!!! November 18th is the day that Pallab, FNU (final name unknown?) will become our Joseph Pallab F.... officially!! Are we ready to be DONE??? YESSSSS!!!!!! This process has be the longest thing I think I have done in my life. It hasn't been the longest chronologically speaking, but mentally and emotionally it takes the prize. Would we do it again??? Just look at these pictures that a dear friend took yesterday and see if you can find the answer in the eyes of our miracle?? (We weren't dressed for pictures, BTW... I know Thomas J is wearing a Superman tee shirt... gasp! I am adequately mortified:) Our boys are God's gift to us. They are all so "fearfully and wonderfully made"... one of them just happened to be made in India!
I remember reading a post from another "adoptive mom" before we got Joseph. She had an incident where she "forgot" that her child was adopted and gave family medical history information for him. It was hard for me to understand how she could have not remembered that he was adopted. Well... I get it now!! My 7 year old was asking why he was small for his age and his brother is tall (they are 2 years apart and very close in size). I explained "heredity" to him and how he was taking on characteristics of my side of the family while his brother seemed to be favoring Daddy's side of the family. I almost said that it looked like his brother, Joseph was going to be taking after the smaller side of the family, too!! OOPS! I caught myself and smiled in my heart. Then, I explained that Joseph has different heredity, but that he would likely be closer to his size than to my taller guy.
The other thing that I have been pleasantly surprised about is how friendly and accepting our town has been! Whenever we go out, I have had so many sweet, beautiful comments. I have been braced for rudeness, but haven't really had any incidents to report. The only "annoying" thing is that we do get stopped A LOT. One day, I was having a difficult grocery trip and came home wishing I had a sign that read, "There's nothing to see here. Yes, he is very cute but I am just a mom trying to get my groceries and go home!" Of course, I want to reflect positively on adoption. I try to be friendly and vaguely answer questions when appropriate.
Lastly, just wanted to post some summer pics. Yes... we have been swimming A LOT!!
Now, we are going to try to enjoy our last few weeks before we re-start our homeschool year. Sniffle, sniffle that the summer is winding down. Enjoy, everyone!
Okay-- so it isn't the post on citizenship that I had promised, but I just had to share my birthday surprises with everyone! Bill and my Mother In Law went in together and purchased a NEW CAMERA for yours truly! Get this... it is waterproof up to 10 feet and "SHOCK PROOF" up to 5 feet meaning I can drop it!!! Here is a picture I took of the boys in the pool. I know Joseph looks a little bit dazed. I promise that he had fun that day!!
THEN... my mother and grandmother purchased the shoes I have been salivating over since I first saw them! I have very high arches and these shoes feel WONDERFUL on my feet. AND I think they are so cute with the sparkles on them. They make me feel like a little girl! The shoes are supposed to shape up your tooshee and legs. I'm not calling Sports Illustrated just yet.
They also gave me a big bag of clothes. I AM NOT A SHOPPER, but these ladies purchase almost all of my clothing making them my very own personal shoppers. I always love what they pick out and the best part is that I don't have to shop for it.They are a huge blessing to this busy mom.
My family and hubbie went out of their way to make this Birthday so very special. I love them all so much!
On the adoption front, we have officially retained an attorney to help us with the finalization. You know, I didn't give all of this much thought on the front end. It was ALL about getting Joseph home. Now, I wish we had taken the time to educate ourselves on how to go about the business of legalizing stateside. Each state is different, but we feel an urgency to make this bond official.
This stage of the adoption reminds me of our (Christian's) spiritual adoption as joint heirs with Christ. The Bible reminds us of our TRUE identity and that our old selves are buried IN CHRIST. We are ready for Joseph's true identity to be declared and want him to have all legal rights as a son because we love him. Just as we can do nothing to "earn" our salvation, he doesn't have to to anything-- it is all being done for him. So many beautiful parallels of God's grace in adoption. That is one of the millions of reasons we think adoption is a remarkable thing.
I owe an apology to all of my sweet bloggy friends. My blog time has been replaced with collapsing at night. I don't think I realized how much "nervous energy" I was fueled with during the waiting time for Joseph OR... I am five years older than I was the last time I was chasing a VERY BUSY baby around all day. It has not been unusual for my husband and me to go to bed before it is fully dark outside this summer!!! I was going through the trip to India chronologically, but I think I will now just "hit the highlights" because so much has happened since then that I want to post and who knows when I will be able to blog again (at this rate!)
Our flight to Delhi was uneventful and Joseph was a complete dream on the flight. The Dr's appointment was traumatic. They required 6 shots and examined our Rupees much longer than they examined him. The only decent, caring thing the Doctor said was that he needed, "fresh air and a lot of love" and that he should grow and do fine. Then, they proceeded to jab him 6 times while we had to hold him down screaming and holding his breath. We were all crying by the end. BARBARIC is the word for that. INHUMANE also comes to mind... but we survived.
Embassy day was actually pleasant except for the fact that we brought electronics that had to be checked. DON'T BRING ELECTRONICS that you have to check. You will have to wait in a long line in the heat to check them and to pick them up when you are done. It was also funny that we brought a little "star teether" that runs with batteries. This both entertained and confused the security officers. They asked me to take out the battery. YOU CAN'T TAKE OUT THE BATTERY, so we offered to let them keep it. They declined, but wanted to see how it worked, so I had to gnaw the teether in front of them! So funny! We had to pick up his Visa the next day after 3:00. Here is a great picture of Bill with our documents. He was totally our legals man on the trip.
The trip home was LONG, but thanks to an amazing baby and these super cool bassinets, our little guy missed most of it:
We finally arrived home to the United States feeling a new patriotism and contemplating the idea of "citizenship" in a new way. I plan to write a post about that-- hoping this week in honor of July 4th. We just wanted to be on American soil. We sat on the runway in Paris praying that our plane could just leave and land ANYWHERE in the US. We did get to leave that evening 3 hours late to land in Atlanta. We missed our connection and stayed in a hotel, but there were no complaints from these thankful passengers!! Here is a picture of us holding our last tickets that would bring us home:
NOW-- here are some newer pictures. Joseph has absolutely flourished since he came home!! Finding fresh air in Missouri is not difficult to do at all. Here are a few pictures I would love to show that Doctor in New Delhi! How are we doing on the "fresh air and love" thing? I am pleased to show everyone "fresh air"
And lest we forget "Love":
Finally, I want to add that we have had some rather unpleasant "firsts". Upon arriving home, Joseph was terrified of all things wet. Baths were particularly traumatic. What do you do as a mom? I tried everything. Finally, I decided to use the sink instead of the tub. The first attempt produced back-arching screams mixed with new curiosity. By the 9th or 10th attempt, we had success:
Another "first" was the haircut! Very emotional for all involved. We went from this picture taken that morning before getting dressed for the "Cookie Cutter's Kid's Salon":
He was not impressed with the DVD's or Bubbles as distractions. I guess those are for kids who aren't as smart as my boy. He wasn't buying it and had his eye on that lady with the scissors! We have no photos of the actual process. We will just say that it was not a fun "first". The finished product was darling and we no longer have to answer the question, "How old is she?"
We are all doing great and enjoying our summer. God is good and our family is blessed. We now have 3 beautiful children. There is nothing like a house full of rowdy boys..."Sons are a heritage from the Lord...Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them"... Psalm 127
Okay, so I am so slowly unfolding this... sorry! It is finally time to share GOTCHA DAY! Ms. Roy told us to call her at 10:00 am (yes, this makes the third time we have called her- per her requests) to figure out a time when she would bring him to the hotel. I was still praying that she would change her mind and let us come to the orphanage. She did not and said that she was going to bring him to our hotel "around" 12:30 or 1:00. You have to understand India to know that made me nervous. Time seems to be worn loosely there... it is really more of a time vortex, but I was hoping for promptness. That already felt like too long to wait to me:)
When we came back from breakfast, the housekeeper had set up the room SOO sweetly. She folded Joseph's little blanket, decorated with toys, and put some music on! I couldn't believe that he was on his way FINALLY!!
Here we are on GOTCHA DAY.. milling around after breakfast.
We thought we would go ahead and try to get massages while we waited, so we went to the spa. Well, they didn't have any openings that morning, but we got to meet the gal in the spa (Ms. Roy-- isn't that funny?) She immediately asked us if we were Christians and then told us her story... very cool. She had an extra area in her home where she would house volunteers from Mother Theresa's Home for the Destitute and Dying. One day, she even had Mother Theresa stay with her. She wanted to make her a special meal so she asked Mother T. what she liked best. Mother T. responded that she loved "mutton", but would not allow her to make it for her unless she could make it for everyone volunteering that day. This woman proceeded to buy and make mutton for LOTs of people because she so wanted to prepare a meal for Mother Theresa. She said she had to hire a caterer and it was quite expensive, but was such a blessing to her. She wanted to meet Joseph when he arrived and hugged us and prayed a blessing on us. It was precious... no massage, but that was why we went there, I think!!
Needless to say, we went downstairs at 12:15 and fixed our eyes on the door.
Here is a picture of the lobby of the hotel.
At 12:45, here was the sight!!! (sorry it is sideways... does anyone know how to rotate this?)
We were completely thrilled to see our angel for the first time. We also have some great video of me crying like a baby, but I don't know how to get it from camera to blog! Sorry!
Ms. Roy wanted to go straight up to our room, so we went up to our room with ME HOLDING JOSEPH, of course. Here is the blessing in having to meet at the hotel... we had uninterrupted time with Ms. Roy and one-on-one time with our oh-so-shy little guy. It was calm, controlled, quiet, and ALL ABOUT Joseph. I didn't have any other responsibilities or emotions to process. It was PURE DELIGHT meeting our son. Now that I know more of his personality, it was exactly what he needed as well. We met him and snuggled him a few minutes when he began to fuss. Ms. Roy took him and put him down for a nap. I will post the video of that in the next few days, I hope. She patted him and sang a lullaby to him (I guess) in Bengali. The little traumatized angel went right to sleep!
Then, we sat down with Ms. Roy and took care of all of the paperwork. We were able to calmly and quietly ask all of our questions. We were also able to give her the generous donations from our church of diapers, nipples, and over $300 for milk money. We think we heard a sigh of relief when she saw all of the donations! It was truly a blessing to have that time with this remarkable, sweet-spirited woman. She is so gentle and kind.
It was hard to see her go, but she was the conduit to bring us the most amazing gift...our son.
He slept for what felt like an eternity! Bill and I would just stare at him, then look at each other and laugh out loud. It was like, "can you believe what just happened and that he is right here?" The whole thing was this gentle, loving transaction. She stepped out of his life representing the care he received at the orphanage and then we were there when he woke up. He did wake up and was SO SAD. He had no idea what had happened and there was nothing familiar. I felt sorry for him and wanted to tell him it would be okay, but he had to have time to feel it. After a few hours of sadness.. not crying constantly, but off and on tears, he was smiling and laughing. I guess he figured we weren't so bad after all. By evening, we were seeing lots of this...
So-- that was our Gotcha Day in a nutshell. Was it anything like I imagined it would be? NO! Was it orchestrated by Joseph's Creator to be exactly what he needed? Absolutely! I will always regret that I never got to see his "first home". I wanted to see, smell, touch, feel what it was like. BUT- this is his story, not mine and this is how God ordained it to be.