Sunday, January 23, 2011

Six Months ... and still counting

I commented many months ago, that I was looking forward to the day when I would not be aware on a monthly or sometimes even daily basis that Kenen has not always been with us ... looking forward to the day that our new normal would have become so much a part of us that we would wonder where the time has gone, and how we could have ever existed without him ... wondering if I would ever stop counting how many months he has been home.

We are still counting ....

We had our 6 month post-placement review with our social worker a couple of weeks ago, and she was amazed and pleased with all of the progress that he has made since she was with us 3 months ago.  This was good to hear ... and good to be reminded of the many things that have improved.  However, 3 months ago, things were more difficult that we could have imagined.  So things are better ... but I am still aware of the very long road we have ahead of us. 

After 6 months:

* He speaks English extremely well. Still confuses words on occassion, and asks "what's that" a lot, but he definitely speaks clearly, in full sentences and understands most of what we say (when he wants to.)
* He likes to hear himself talk, and when it is just the 2 of us home during the week, he talks and asks questions non-stop. I have to say "no more questions" ... often, as he repeats the same thing over and over.
* He has 2 friends in our neighborhood that he plays with. Even was invited to play at Cassidy's house. And invited to Enzo's birthday party. He knows what a friend is, and asks to play with them almost every day.
* He does not play well without me sitting right next to him, interacting with him. This makes it very difficult to get anything done during the week while everyone is gone. So I am working hard to teach him that his job is to play, and that Mommy has other jobs to do in the house. Though, of course, I do play with him ... often.
* He is still not eating a real variety of foods. I give him the same thing every day for lunch. 2 tortillas, black beans and sour cream. At dinner, he needs to try to eat what we are having ... though I usually still supplement with a hard boiled egg.
* He has started going to story time every week at the library. He is not shy. Calls out answers even when he doesn't know them.  Though I'd say he is pretty developmentally typical compared to the rest of the group. Funny thing last week, was when kids were asked who wanted to come up and help her make the letter "M" ... he jumped up and down shouting, "me, me, me".  She picked him, he boldly walked up, and then said, "What's "M""? 
* He will start swimming lessons this week. He will not be afraid. I am most concerned that he will decide that he already knows how to swim and will just jump in when the teacher is not looking. He has told me more than once that he knows how to do everything.
* He is still sleeping in our room ... this does not please me ... I just need to get oldest son's room ready to receive middle son as his new roommate.  Then K will have his own room where everything in it will belong to him. I think this will be very good for him. A place to call his own ... and I would like to have my room back.
* He still has trouble expressing his anger in appropriate ways, though this is getting much better. If I say yes to everything, then he is quite happy most of the time. However, that is obviously not a realistic way to live.
* He loves to play games, and does well with the rules most of the time. His favorites are Uno Attack, Candyland, and Sorry.
* He goes to Sunday School at church every week, and loves it. Sits through the grown up service afterwards and surprisingly, does quite well.
* We are visiting the pre-school that I hope he will attend next fall in a few weeks. Mommy is VERY excited for this prospect for him.
* He is still a great sleeper .... thank you, God!

Kenen's personality is intense, energetic and exhausting. We are learning to enjoy him more and more, and continuing to grow in love for him.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

A Priceless Christmas Gift

One of my New Year's Resolutions is to work on my scrapbooks more this year ... not necessarily get caught up, just make progress.  As I am going back 5 years, looking at pictures of my children ... pictures of Ethan when he is younger than Kenen ... I am struck again by all that we missed of his life.  He had 3 1//2 years without us.  There will be no baby pictures ... no pictures of him crawling or his first steps. 

He seems to remember things about his life in Ethiopia, and will occasionally come up with a comment or story, but someday he will want to know about his birth family.  Our agency, AWAA, does an amazing thing by videotaping interviews with the person who is relinquishing the child, and then giving each adoptive family a DVD of that interview.  We felt blessed to be able to see Kenen's birth dad ... to see and hear the pain in his voice as he explained why he could not care for Kenen.  I knew that seeing the pain in his first dad's life would be a gift to him some day.  However, we knew nothing about his birth mother except how she died.  I had hoped that some day, I would be able to fill in more pieces of the story so that Kenenisa could have a sense of his life before he became our son.  I prayed that some day we would have a chance to find his family, but had no idea how or when that would happen.

In a most miraculous way, it happened without me ever leaving the comforts of my warm, home.  My dear friend, Jennifer Bridges, has been in Ethiopia with her family for a 2 week trip to serve the people of this beautiful country.  I did not ask for her to look for Kenen's family.  I knew she had many important things to do while she was there, and a very busy schedule.  However, she asked for a few details ... and said ... just in case, we happen to go there.  I truly had no expectations.

Last night, she and I had a long FB chat where she retold the most amazing story of finding Kenenisa's birth family on Christmas Day in Ethiopia (which is on Jan 7th).  Of things falling into place in clearly God orchestrated ways.  Of driving along dirty, bumpy roads, till the people who were guiding them said, "get out of the van, he's coming".  She still had no idea who "he" was, until they said that Kenenisa's birth dad was coming to meet them.   There are too many amazing parts of this story, but just know that so many pieces of the puzzle have been filled in.  And contact has been made that will allow us to re-connect with him in the future, if we choose.  (He even gave them his cell phone number ... how crazy is that?)

His first dad told her that he had been praying for Kenenisa on Christmas Eve.  And what a gift it was to have her there the next day to share about his life in America. It is a priceless gift for us as well.   I can't wait for the day when it will be time to share it with our son! 

Thank you, Bridges Family .... for truly being a bridge between Kenenisa's two families.

Saturday, January 8, 2011


Over the holidays, we finished our re-adoption of Kenenisa.  We considered waiting to have the formal court ceremony with the judge, but decided against it.  While I know it would have been cool to hear the judge say that he is our child as if born to us, I also know that it would have been very confusing for Kenen.  He already asks a thousand questions a day about the most mundane things.  Trying to explain the judge, courthouse, adoption, just seemed like opening up a new set of questions that he would not be able to comprehend.  Kind of like that moment in the movie The Blind Side when the boy says, "I thought I already was part of your family."  So we did it by mail, and received the Certificate of Adoption a couple of weeks ago ... then last week we received his new birth certificate from the state of Oregon ... and we are expecting his social security card any day now!  He was legally ours when the adoption was final in Ethiopia last June, but we had to go through a bit more paperwork so that he is recognized as a US citizen.  Our last step is to get his US passport ... not that we're planning on going anywhere.  This should take care of any issues he will ever have traveling, and will conclude every bit of paperwork needed to show that he is irrevocably an Elder, and will always be ours!

In other news, we also had our 6 month post-placement visit from our social worker.  We've really only been home a bit over 5 months, but the review just has to happen in the 6th month.  It was an encouraging visit, and our SW said that she saw great progress in every area, and that she was very pleased with how things were going for us, despite our continuing struggles.  There is something about hearing an "expert" say that we are doing well, that is helpful because there are still plenty of days when I feel like we still have so far to go ... which we do.

So on top of doing all of the normal holiday stuff, it feels great to have finished so many of these important things.