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They’re Ours!! Adoption Finalized!

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1 year, 9 months and 8 days after meeting our three youngest children for the first time they are ours! Adoption complete! What does this mean for our family?

  • No more home visits!
  • We get to make all decisions regarding our children (without counsel from The Team)
  • We are free to travel anywhere and anytime with our children, without special permission and notes
  • No one can take them from us. No changed minds, or family members suddenly appearing
  • We all have the same last name! We are now the Le Chevalliers!
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Size Matters…

Well, I am sure many of you are not surprised to hear that baby-girl will be joining our family. She is still with her foster family, because when we got licensed for foster care we were only licensed for 2 children, so we have to be re-licensed with the state for 3 children. We thought nothing of this, by this time we are  very familiar with all the paperwork  involved in fostercare and adoption, so we took it in stride.  Until we got a call stating that our house was too small? WHAT?

I was really surprised. Culturally, yes our house is small, but we have never paid much attention to cultural norms. Our house is about 1200 sq feet. We have a living room that is mainly where the family gathers, there is plenty of room for all of us to play, read, and watch TV here. We have a large table in the dining room where Georges and I work, the kids do art, home work and of course this is where we share our family meals. These two spaces are where we spend 80% of our time TOGETHER!  We have a Backyard that is about double the space of the house. We have Georges studio, a gardening shed, chicken coop, and our veggie garden. This is where we spend the other 19.9% of our time. The kids love exploring and playing outside.

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Backyard with view of Georges studio

The kids pretty much use their rooms for sleeping, getting dressed and ‘storing toys’. This is just fine with me. If they want to play with a toy, they bring it into the living room, to be with everyone. This has developed on their  choosing.

They never play in their rooms. Not because there isn’t enough space. Both L&D have loft beds. Or, apartment beds as we like to refer to them in our home. They sleep above, and then ‘their’ things are stored underneath. This is their personal space, in a shared room. We plan to get T his own loft bed in the next few months, he’s 5 and ready for his space. In the girls room, bug has her space, and toddler bed, baby girl has her crib, but doesn’t really need her own space yet.

Why do we want so much space? Is it for all our “stuff”? I see it as one more deterrent to spending time together as a family.

2007 = 970 (2,521sqft/2.6 people)
1954 = 125 (1,000sqft/8 people,)
1950 = 289 (983sqft/3.4 people)
1947 = 208 (750sqft/3.6 people)
1845 = 150 (150sqft/1 person)

What if we had a  large McMansion? Would we have been approved right away?  Personally I think this is less conducive to a close family. With family members spread out, throughout the house and possibly spending little time as a family unit.

Not to say that this will be an ideal situation when the children are a little older, As their little bodies take up more space, and more bathroom time, and ‘retreat’ time takes over in their teenage years, yes, we will need a little more space. But I will try to keep it at a minimum, and try to hold strong to our ‘No Screens in the Bedroom’ ideals.

Oh, and in the end Social Service agreed that a happy loving home was the most important thing, and the request has been sent to the state for them to approve baby-girl.

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*Heart to Heart is The Best Way to Wear a Baby!

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I mentioned a few posts back that T*Bug have a younger sister. She is now 10months old. When she was removed from her bio-mom and placed in another foster home, our caseworker talked with us about our obligation to arrange sibling visitations.  T*Bug had just lost everything and everybody, including their baby sister. Not only did they miss her, they had concerns for her. Where was she? Was she ok? So this was an obligation that I had no problem fulfilling.

Our caseworker mentioned that we did not have to meet at the social service department for visitation. We were welcome to meet anywhere, and that we could even arrange to take baby-girl for an afternoon each week, and spend time as a family together.

I liked this idea, because the idea of going to the SS office and sitting in a sterile room for an hour and having the kids try to ‘force’ this hour together was not appealing. I also didn’t want to have to take T*Bug back to the SS offices. They have bad memories of the offices and going there might be confusing for them.

We are now in our fourth weekend with baby-girl, she is fitting into our family weekends nicely.  I think it has been good for T*Bug to be with her and L*D are bonding with her as well.

I have to admit that after I take her home, for the next 24-48 hours I miss her. I carry her in a babysling  when she is with us. I am a huge advocate of ‘baby-wearing’. Georges and I carried L*D for the first year that they were home with us. I think it was great for bonding and attachment with them. So, now I use the same sling to carry baby-girl. My hands are free to wipe snotty noses, tie shoelaces or give extra hugs to the other four. But this has the added benefit of bonding time. We have gotten to know one another, baby-girl and I. And here it is…I am falling in love. Every Saturday…there she is cuddled up in the sling, heart to heart, we breathe in unison.

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This weekend Miss N is going out of town, so baby-girl will be dropped off after school on Friday, and I will take her home on Sunday afternoon. This will be an interesting weekend, not because we will have her all weekend, but because it’s a busy weekend, filled with soccer games, Lola’s 7th birthday, Kadampa Center, and I have a women’s circle that is meeting this weekend (not to mention my usual weekend chores…laundry, clean house and grocery shop for the week.)

With all the chaos a fifth child will bring to our home this weekend…I will be happy to have my second heartbeat back, it’s easier to breathe with two breaths.

*Heart to Heart is The Best Way to Wear a Baby! This statement isn’t intended to say that it’s the number one way to care for a baby, but instead to signify how great it is! Try it, you’ll like it.

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Love Comes Softly…

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I have been thinking about this for awhile and I am finally ready to put my thoughts into words.

I watch the TV show Parenthood occasionally,  when I remember it’s on and I actually have time to watch. There has been a story-line lately that has touched a nerve. Not so much in a bad way, but it is still unfolding. The story-line describes a young couple that ends up adopting a a school-aged boy from fostercare. The  mother struggles with bonding with this child.  At one point the Mother even questions their decision to adopt the child, as she finally admits her frustration “He doesn’t love me”.

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Now…for my 2cents. I think many (not all) bonding issues arise when there are unrealistic expectations. Every adoption story is different as is every parent and child. Many prospective adoptive parents have expressed fear that they may not bond, or even be able to love a child that they are not biologically connected to. The good news is…yes you can, BUT,…it may take time.

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Many Mothers express how it was ‘love at first site’ when their newborn was first placed in their arms. If you follow this idea, then it can lead to frustration as an adoptive parent. Most biological parents have 9 months to dream, nest, bond and yes fall in love with this child. Most have names chosen, rooms decorated, celebrations had and with the miracle of science most even know the sex of their child, as well as having detailed photos of the child snug in the womb.

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Adoption can be very different. Our experience with L&D enabled us to create a bond and fall in love over the 10 months it took to bring them home. Our agency sent monthly DVD’s, photos and allowed us to send care packages. We watched each DVD over and over, memorizing every smile, every gurgle and every coo. We felt we knew L&D before we ever held them in our arms.

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Think back to when you met your partner/spouse was it love at first sight (don’t confuse love with lust here 🙂 ). How much more do you love this person today compared to the day you met them? How much more do you love your child today than the first time you held them? Love is a journey…it comes softly.

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I Have a Dream!

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Every year we celebrate Martin Luther King day with a baking project. We go out to the chicken coop and get a few white eggs and a few brown eggs. We talk about diversity and how on the inside the eggs are exactly the same, and the birthday cake we bake with these eggs is still just as sweet!

Last year we made cookies and decorated those instead of making a birthday cake. We ate a few, then we visited the fire station and police station to give plates of cookies to those that work to help protect us everyday.

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This year, our chickens have slowed down with producing eggs and I decided to come up with a different lesson. I used a mixture of red and green apples for applesauce  in the same way I used different colored eggs for the birthday cake. The kids enjoyed it, and we took our time coloring pictures, and watching videos of MLK Jr.

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This year was even sweeter, because 50 years ago, Dr. King stood on those Washington DC steps and said “I have a dream….”, today we watched President Obama stand on those same steps and accept the responsibility of his 2nd term as our US President. Happy Birthday Martin Luther King Jr.!

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“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”- Martin Luther King Jr.

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They Came Upon a Midnight Clear

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It was the Friday before Christmas (just 4 days away). I was rushing around getting ready to go to D&L’s Christmas performance and party for school when I got THE CALL. Even though we have been preparing for over a year, how can you really be ready? Boy? Girl? How many? Ages?

It was a 5 year old boy, T and his 2.5 year old bio-sister Bug. We accepted. Not much was known, and our usual case workers were on their way out of town to celebrate the holidays. At 3:30 they brought them to us…two sleeping angels. Little bug didn’t move from the couch for over several hours, her sadness filled the room.

I can’t imagine what these two little people were going through. To be taken from their family just days before Christmas, and put into a home that smells different, sounds different, the food is different, rules are different…NOTHING is familiar.

We spent the first night eating frozen yogurt, looking at Christmas lights and getting acquainted with each other.

By the end of this first day we saw smiles and heard laughter…everything is going to work out just like it’s supposed to.

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The Gift of Memories

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When L & D were toddlers, like most kids they had a difficult time with the concept of time….”Is my Birthday tomorrow?”… “Are we going on vacation today?”… “When is Santa coming?”.  So early on I came up with an idea to help them figure out time through visual cues.  At Christmas I strung a line of mittens. I filled each mitten with a surprise, much like an advent calendar. Each day we took down a mitten and opened the surprise. This was also a great tool when they were learning to count.

In the past years, I have mostly added candy or a small toy to the mitten. I am not a big fan of candy or using candy as a prize or gift, there are so many more options available. With that said, I despise all the little plastic, useless toys that fit perfectly into the mittens.

As a parent, I am learning and correcting my parenting skills, approach and traditions constantly. But, the one thing that has held steady is my philosophy, goals, morals and beliefs that I feel is important fort them to learn.

The commercialism of the holidays saddens me.  I have never participated in the madness of Black Friday.  I love that time with my family too much to waste it, just to get a ‘good deal’.  A few years ago, as an antidote to Black Friday, I chose that day to stay home with L&D and use that time to make presents for friends and family. L&D now look forward to this.

This year I am challenging myself with the ‘garland of mittens’. There will not be candy or cheap toys. This year, only memories. Each day L&D will open the mitten to find a new adventure, that brings us closer, and and adds to our treasure of family memories. After all, When they are adults, will they say “oh I remember that chocolate kiss, that was such a memorable moment”, I doubt it. But I hope they will say “I remember driving through the neighborhood, sipping hot coco and looking at the lights with my family”.

I challenge you to do the same with your family, whether you have small children, grandchildren or just a partner that brings you joy…take this time to create some great memories.