Family, six days old

How is it possible that it’s only been six days? We arrived home on Sunday night, and now it’s Saturday, right? It feels like it’s been a month!

So what is it like to go from zero to three children, with a major language barrier, jet lag and culture shock? AN ADVENTURE! Though, while it sounds insurmountable, it’s actually going better than I expected it to. I attribute this to the kids being outstanding. And to us getting wise advice from fellow adoptive parents. As far as benefits to bringing home three at once, the main one would be Alex, our oldest. He’s eager to help, he speaks to his brother in Amharic which helps alleviate some of both of their frustrations, and he’s great with the baby. This morning I taught Alex how to break eggs into a bowl without getting any shell in them. He has learned generally how to set and clear the table. He puts away toys. He teaches us words in Amharic and works hard to learn English. He likes to vaccuum and water flowers. If we were to just bring home Eliana and Melkam it would be a completely different, and MUCH more difficult dynamic. I’m so grateful that we worked past our fears and accepted this older child! If you are considering it, but are apprehensive, take this as encouragement to go out on a limb.

Now he’s not perfect of course, and we find that both of the boys are capable of a shocking Ethiopian rudeness. The scowl and that famous one-shoulder-shrug in the heat of the moment is infuriating. Here’s an example: One of the kind and very professional flight attendants in business class on Lufthansa offered Alex a drink. He snarled up his face, wagged his finger at her, and shouted “NO!” and with that, dismissed her and went back to what he was doing. Charles and I were stunned speechless, regaining composure only to offer a quick apology on behalf of our son from another planet before she moved on. Alex was oblivious. I’m sure he assumes it’s ok for boys to behave like that in the rest of the world.

The hardest thing for me is that the kids reject comfort, even when they are hurt or scared or upset. I hope this will pass as we prove ourselves trustworthy in their eyes, but in the meantime it might kill me. You’d understand if you saw how unbelievably adorable Melkam is, and what a little guy he is. Everything in a mother’s body wants to hug and hold that little boy and he aggressively rejects me.

Melkam had an accident on each of the three flights we took home, wetting through his clothes and onto the seats. As a result of this experience, and confirming with AAI that he indeed has a history of bed wetting, he’s in pull-ups during naptime and bed. The introduction of this idea was met with a major meltdown. He scream-cried for 20-30 minutes. I sat and rubbed his back (at least some kind of touch he would allow) and prayed for him. I think the emotional outburst helps him process much more than the insult of wearing pull-ups. He’s had two more similar outbursts this week, but once he has yelled it all out, he calms down, accepts help and rejoins the group. I think he’s doing great.

Thursday was bike day. We have bikes for the boys, but they were both too big. In fact, the smaller of the two was too big for Alex even. We were able to get a little tiny one from our neighbor for Melkam, and we traded the medium-sized bike with another friend for a smaller one. Alex was finally happy, and another neighbor had some training wheels that fit, so Alex was VERY happy! He had been so frustrated watching his little brother tool around the sidewalks on training wheels while Alex struggled.

We visited the police station and took advantage of a new program they have where they are giving away free bike helmets. Very nice helmets too! The boys both chose red ones. Melkam likes his so much he wore it around the house most of the day yesterday.

Here are some photos:

A chilly walk our second day home

Ok, not really THAT chilly, but the boys LOVE their new Spyder parkas from Grammy Manning (with help from Auntie and Uncle!)

snack time on the porch

Bike happiness

Popo time for Ellie!

Helping sweep the porch just as friends arrive bringing dinner. Note the bike helmet on Melkam.

8 responses to “Family, six days old

  • Kendra aka The Meanest Momma

    I am loving reading about your adventures with the kids. How is Noah doing with the new family?

    And is Eliana in fact potty trained, like the note said?

  • Kristin

    Thanks Sissor, for everything you write and the photos you post. I’m so wishing I could be there right now. I’m sure I’d be really helpful adding three more kids to the fray…tee hee. Anyways, love you guys and so glad to keep getting updates.
    Yes, I agree with Kendra–more info. on the potty training, please! I’m so curious, having done infant potty training on 1 of my 3 kids–and that is the model, places like Africa. I’m really curious how it’s working. We have the same potty for Simon, by the way. 🙂 Don’t use it much anymore since it doesn’t work as well for boys–if you don’t get your boy parts in just right you pee all over the floor. Tee hee.

    • kkmanning

      Kristin and Kendra, Yes, Eliana knows how to use the potty, but she was sort of trained to a schedule and that’s not working so well here. At the orphanage they have the same schedule every day, so the little ones learn to go on a schedule. At our house we are busy with the older boys too, and we actually leave the house to go to the park, the store, church, on a walk, etc. So when I remember, I put her on the potty on schedule, but that is only happening about once a day (rather than the 4 times a day they do it at the orphanage: 6am, 10:30am, 3pm, 7pm). She has only peed for us in the potty so far, but she’s pretty accepting of being put on it even if nothing happens.

  • Lisa Gerber

    Awwww, Nonesie!!!!
    I’m curious as well how he is doing with all the added excitement.
    What an adventure. It sounds like you are all handling it very well. I’m sure it isn’t easy!

    • kkmanning

      Hi Lisa! Noah has been amazing, he seems totally relaxed about the new additions. Maybe he’s just happy that we are home more often and that we have three little people who drop food during meals. He follows us around, he curls up in the baby’s room when it’s time for her to nap or go to bed and comes downstairs sometime later after she has fallen asleep. I don’t know if he thinks he’s guarding her or what? It’s very cute though! Alex likes to walk him (he enjoys being in charge of things), and Noah doesn’t even mind having a little boy on the other end of the leash dragging him around and yelling commands at him. He’s happy to be going on more walks and being with his pack. And actually, Alex really loves Noah and is great with him. It makes me love and appreciate my dog even more…and at times to yearn for the simplicity of dog ownership vs. parenting!

  • michelle hagelin

    It breaks my heart that the children reject comfort, but I guess it is to be expected because they just have not been in that type of environment before. I pray things continue to get better for you and the kids learn to trust and accept your affection.

  • Kristie

    Congratulations Rebecca! You survived the process and your family is beautiful. Hang in there on the rejection. It does pass but it takes time to earn the love of children who have been traumatized. When it happens it is the most beautiful thing in the world! So worth the wait!

  • Bonnie Nieuwstraten

    Oh KIm, those first days home are SO crazy, and exhausting and beautiful. Write it down, take pictures, no matter how tired you are. It will all change so quickly. There is so much change for all of them, and for you. Praying that you will be filled with grace for them, for yourself and for your husband. Let the house go…enjoy the moments…..and then sleep, if you can. Grace processed all her grief in her sleep and was up every hour. Also, she has been in pull-ups at night since she got home, even though I know she didn’t have or need them in ET. Weird, but I just have to not stress about that. Your family is beautiful and I’m sure that you’ll be famous around town soon. Everyone in town seems to know my Grace! It makes me laugh~

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