Monday, December 22, 2008

Just Imagine

6 weeks have come and gone. I can hardly believe it. It has dawned on me over the last couple of days (and nights, ouch), that I thought things would have been different by now. As quickly as the 6 weeks have gone, the "honeymoon" is over ... and I'm just plain tired. I guess somewhere in my vast parenting skills .... I just assumed that we'd get Malachi home, treat him like a newborn, and have the same expected results as my other children. (Well, except Sam ... he was a mystery.) I thought if we just gave him lot's of love, responded to every cry like there was a desperate need, got him on a sleep/eat/play schedule, that he would mold into this perfect child that they write books about.

Okay, so maybe I didn't really have THAT unrealistic of expectations. In all honesty, I didn't know what to expect. But I didn't ever think that 6 weeks in, I would feel every day that with every step we make forward, we often take 2 (or 3) back. I didn't imagine he would still be scared to have me out of his sight (or put him down for that matter) 6 weeks later. I'm making this all sound horrible. It's not. Like I said, I'm tired. All the cute things Malachi did upon his arrival aren't as cute as they were at first ... but perhaps, dare I say, sometimes just kinda annoying. Things like throwing his bottle, or hitting his siblings (or chucking toys at them ... the kid has got an arm!), or pulling my hair while he eats, or his idea of a meal, or his cry that moves from low octave to high in seconds, the way he cries when a stranger even looks at him, and the way he won't let go of my hip. He's still really cute, still really playful and joyful, and still makes us laugh all the time. I'm just tired. I've looked around and realized that 6 weeks later, I still don't know how to cook dinner again, or get the laundry done, or the bathrooms clean. (Good for me, all the books tell me none of that stuff is important anyway.) I still don't know how to be a friend again, or to teach my kids, or to serve again. My, how life has changed since my desperation in our waiting for him to come home.

Now that the whining is out of the way .... let me say a few more things. I ended all of that with - "My, how life has changed since my desperation in our waiting for him to come home" statement for a reason. I still so vividly remember all the feelings that would attach without ending prior to his arrival. The ones of fear for his health, sadness for his life, wonder of the first 7 months of his life, heartache for him being alone, heart wrenching for him not being with his family. These feelings haven't ended. Now I just get to be the one holding him, trying to put all the pieces together ... of his life, of our family, of my mommy heart. I count it a blessing, and joy, and honor to be the one God chose to do this for little Malachi. He has blessed me beyond belief in just 6 short weeks. Perspective is something I'm never very good at. (Anyone surprised? Didn't think so.) But this time around, I know that Christ alone is daily granting me with the perspective I need to continue in this ... especially since all my mommy potions and tactics aren't working this time around.

This is what runs through my head on a regular basis now that he is home:

Imagine yourself as an Orphan. Imagine how many nights you go through your days and nights with cries that NEED response, only no one is there to respond. Imagine being left for who knows how long, probably in the middle of the night when no one could even see you, by someone that was supposed to love you the most and keep you safe. Imagine being so hungry you didn't even know what to do with food when you got it. Imagine forming habits that don't come naturally to most children - habits that are needed for survival. Imagine being found by strangers. Imagine being given to strangers - a lot of them, who happened to be caring for 75 other kids. Imagine doing that again, only with 50 kids in their care. Now imagine it one more time ... this time being given to funny colored strangers who speak in "alien" and with just 3 other kids around. Imagine having attention for the first time in your life. Imagine realizing that you hold a power to make people smile. Imagine everyone that passes you wanting to hold you, and kiss you, and touch you. Imagine eating only new foods. Imagine having someone trying to break you of all the bad habits in attempt to show you love and family and stability. Imagine being scared to go to sleep because your life has proven to you that what is there when you wake up is a mystery. Just imagine.

I do. A lot. And then I realize that my imagination is my sons reality. And my heart breaks for him all over again. So I pick him up again, I kiss him again, I tell the friend who wants to hold him that they still can't, I don't try to make him shake hands politely with a stranger, I tell his siblings he doesn't know better when he smacks them, I pick up his bottle (again, and again, and again...), I keep trying to find foods that he will like, I keep waking up with him for hours on end in the middle of the night when he's too afraid to go back to sleep, I keep whispering at the end of everyday - "I love you, and I WILL be here when you wake." I keep praying his soul gets it.

There is a song that Aaron wrote (well, he sorta stoll some of the words from this one really cool book.... ) that came to my head over an over the last few weeks before getting Malachi. I kept thinking it was strange, as it wasn't all that comforting to me at the time. The song went away for a while, then returned one day amidst a fit that Malachi was having. Now I understand. He now also hears this song daily, along with my whispers.

Bring Peace to My Soul,
Let your Healing Waters Flow again,
to my thirsty soul.
Earnestly I seek you,
my body longs for you.
In a dry and weary land.
Because your love is better than life,
my lips will praise you.
My soul clings to you ,
you uphold me with your right hand.
And I will praise you Lord,
as long as I live.

This is my prayer for my sweet child who has found a home.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Saturday, November 22, 2008

2 Weeks Home!

**** If you are starting with this post, keep going down, as I've posted many pictures. If you RSS feed and started with the Pictures first, well, here is the catch up post.****
**** Oh, and I fear this may be a really long post. This is what happens when 2 weeks go by. Sorry. ****

2 weeks ago today we arrived home with Baby Man (aka Malachi). I can't even believe that it has been 2 weeks. It sort of feels like yesterday (other than the fact that I'm over the jet lag), and at the same time - it seems like Malachi has always been part of our family. It didn't take long at all for him to become a Britton. I think he actually likes us! He at least most certainly likes the other children! I think I'll do this post bullet style from here on out, because that is how my brain is thinking at the moment. Try to keep up ......

  • Upon arriving home from the airport, I made it through dinner before turning severly dillusional. I made it to about 7:30 before falling asleep (in the tub no less). All I remember is feeling more tired than I ever have felt in my life (even after giving birth), really really cold, and very dizzy.
  • Malachi adjusted to the new time zone within just a few days. The only thing is that he is now waking up in the middle of the night to eat, where he didn't in Ethiopia. It's been sorta hard, as he doesn't want to go back to sleep right away. The last week that has been getting better though.
  • The kids LOVE Malachi. And he LOVES them. Malachi actually does much better in their presence. He squeals with delight every time he sees them coming. They've actually turned it into a really cute game where they leave the room and come running back in together. He squeals and shakes his hands in excitement. Then they leave again - and his face turns sad. They come back ... well, you get the picture. So cute!
  • Malachi is doing really well health wise ... all things considered. His first set of labs came back with elevated liver enzymes. (Anyone know what that means? Me neither.) So we had to go back for more labs. Problem is, they have been having a hard time getting enough blood. It's been torture. My heart breaks for him every time. The 3rd time we went in, I made Aaron go with him as I couldn't handle it anymore. (That and I had to take our other son in for an x-ray at the same time.) I'm glad I didn't go in, as his head is where they finally had to get it from. Ouch. Poor guy. Still waiting to hear the results. We are actually hoping it is HEP A, as that will just go away with no lasting side effects. Oh, and he's got Giardia. (sp?) Know what that is? Yeah, still neither do I. Again though, it is mild, and it is treatable. And hopefully it actually explains why he has been gaining weight so slowly even since being fed normally.
  • Malachi is becoming more and more joyful every day he is home. He laughs all the time, and barely cries. (But when he does, it breaks your heart into little pieces, it is that sad!) He has learned he can manipulate any situation with his cuteness. He has come to really like attention. (I'm guessing he has never had much of it, and he's making up for it now.) In fact, if he realizes that no one is paying attention to him, or we have quit laughing at his jokes (especially at dinner) ... he starts this fake cry/fit thing. It's almost funny, except for the fact that it will turn into a full blown wail if you don't stop it.
  • One of the funniest and cutest things ..... Malachi laughs like a chipmunk. I can't even describe it. It's a noise you couldn't make even if you tried, but you can't help but smile and laugh yourself when you hear it.
  • Finally, Malachi, in my professional opinion, is adjusting so well. He feels safe with Aaron and I (and it shows whenever anyone else tries to hold him, or come to close for that matter). He looks us in the eye most of the time (which took about a week to happen). He's started to fall asleep the last few days in his bed! He says "Dada, Mama, Baba, Ni-Ni, and Hi", and we honestly feels like he actually knows what they mean.
Well, there it is. 2 weeks in one post. I think there was more, but between jet lag in week 1, being sick week 2, waking up at night, and trying to figure out 4 kids at home during the day ... I must have forgotton to store everthing else in my weary brain. (Lucky you!)

Thanks for your prayers as we've adjusted to the new normal. We feel them, and we see them being answered!

Photo's Round 6

Sweet Malachi. How can you not love those eyes ... and cheeks!

Future Denver Nugget???? MAYBE ?!?!?!?! In the meantime, he looks so adorable sporting the Nuggets gear that the Boyle's gave to us. Providence said she thinks he looks like Carmelo ... I don't think she knows who Carmelo is. I don't think I know who Carmelo is. :)

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Photo's Round 5

Some friends hosted a "Meet Malachi" night for us the weekend after we got home. It was so nice to share the end of our journey (and the beginning of a new one) with those who had supported us so much over the last 2 years. We had a potluck dinner, slide show of our trip (which of course involved much babbling from Aaron & I), as well "A Blessing Way" to share with Malachi one day.

Our first family photo of a Party of 6! I can't believe it took a whole week to get this photo. (My sisters will be so disappointed!)

Grandma Brown loved on Malachi the whole time they were here. He took right to her without any problems. Some have said it must be because of her and I's resemblance. She thinks it's because of her singing. :)

My parents were trying to get a photo of them with all our kids. Malachi was cracking up while we tried to gather everyone.

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Photo's Round 4

Malachi with Grandpa! It took about 4 days of being home and seeing Grandpa for Malachi to agree to Grandpa holding him. I'm glad he let him!

Up until our friend Jessie let us borrow her swing, we had to hold Malachi to sleep. This was hard for me, for many reasons. So when we realized the swing did the trick, I was very thankful ... and he's really cute in it!

Sam took a few days before asking, "Can I hold him?" Malachi obviously had no objections.

My good friend Hannah gave me this sling as a baby gift. It's been so nice when my arms can't hold him to sleep anymore. He really enjoys walks outside in it too. He wanted nothing to do with a stroller until about yesterday, so this came in handy. I hope to use it more. Sometimes it just makes him angry though, so I'm trying to figure it all out.

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Photo's Round 3

Malachi's 1st Dr. appoint was 2 days after we got home. He did great! He even cracked a smile for the Dr. He checked out just great! 16 lb 8 oz. and head size : big. :) Dr. actually said it was a good thing that he had a big head, despite the little body. It means that throughout the malnourished phase of his life, his brain kept soaking up any nutrients available ... at the expense of his body. This is good. Body catches up faster than mind. (Unless you're old. :) )

BATH TIME !!! Malachi LOVES baths! (Big change from that first try in the Hotel.) The kids like it especially when I put him in the kitchen sink b/c it's right at their level. I'm come to find out that I can multi-task pretty well after dinner. Malachi in one side, dinner dishes in the other! :)

Sam thought the Ethiopian soccer gear was pretty cool. Now, if only he played soccer. Oh well, he's cute!

One of the challenges with Malachi is what to feed him. He doesn't actually seem to eat much. However, we've discovered that if noodles and chicken are involved, he loves it! He DOES NOT like to be spoon fed, but rather would prefer to make a big mess and feed himself. Oh well.

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Photo's Round 2

Eden & Provi "reading" to Malachi our first night home.

I wonder if he knows Eden can't read yet. :)

Grandma Sharon gets to hold Malachi before heading back to NE the next morning.
(She had already been in town for a few days watching the kids.)

The next morning the kids could not wait to show Malachi all his new gear. He loved it all! (Except the Bumbo seat, which Sam was fine taking over.)

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Photo's Round 1

Malachi's first car ride ... well, in a car seat that is.

Sam, Provi, & Eden making faces at their new brother.

We have amazing friends who rallied together to have a "No Shower Shower" for us when we got home, as well as have the house clean and a full dinner for us and our parents ! WOW!

Provi holding Malachi for the first time!

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Monday, November 17, 2008

The Rest of the Story

I know, I haven't given much information since we got home, huh?? Yeah, sorry about that. I have a lot of kids now, less sleep than needed, company in town .... should I keep going? haha. Sorry though. I know a lot of you have been asking for more ... so, here goes!

The view from our hotel - The Addis View Hotel. (Some view, huh???)

Aaron with Malachi (once I finally handed him over)

Malachi's room at the transition home (his bed is second from the left)

Here he is asleep ... again! (That's what he did most of the time we were there.)

Playing ball with dad....and loving it!

The revealing of the bald head

First bath (now back at the hotel all together!)

He had his own little crib in our hotel room. Clean and cozy!

Just because he's so cute

The "District" where Malachi was found. Instead of street names, the city is built around "landmarks". Our paperwork tells us he was found in the area of this church.

He was found outside a private compound. (Meaning a house with a brick wall built around it, rather than a random hut with a tin roof.) Sorry it's such a bad shot, it was raining, so the pics were taken through the car window.

Traditional Ethiopian Dinner. YUMMY!!! (Um, kidding.) Actually, the lentils weren't bad. The experience of the night was great though. They did this crazy dance thing that made me think I needed a visit to the chiropractor!
This was the orphanage where Malachi spent 3 months after being found. Kids Care.

This was about the only beautiful part of it...other than the sweet children's faces.

Malachi wasn't too happy there. He stayed in the van with Aaron most of the time.

More of Kids Care. I think I'll start to dry my laundry like this..... :)

Off to lunch. Aaron & Malachi really liked the bread!

Time to pack ! Time to go home !

At the Addis Ababa airport. 10:45 pm

One last gathering of (almost) all the babies going to their new homes!

Wanna guess what this is a picture of ??? On our first flight to Germany, we had the bulk head seats. However, since it was an International flight, there are 4 seats in the middle of the window seats. In front of us, we had a bassinet that hung from the wall! Look really close, you'll see his tiny face in there under the blankets. He slept most of the first 10 hour flight! Nice.

Our little world traveler. He did better than me, I think.

HOME !!!! Car seat...what is a car seat??? Why am I strapped in, and who are the little people in the back staring at me???

So there was the rest of our trip. I'll try to get to since we've been home in the next day or two!