Monday, March 30, 2009

"Bank You, Mommmmmmy"

I hear this no less that 50 times a day. It is absolutely precious. Asa is a very grateful little boy. According to the woman who acts as the live-in manager at the creche, Asa would say thank you to his aunties and caretakers all the time - - when they would help him with buttons, give him food or tie his shoes. When he first came home, he'd say "Mesi Mama" (and still does, sometimes). He has transitioned to the adorable and very dramatic "Bank you, mommmy!" which melts my heart! We try to model gratitude with all of our children since it's just such an important character trait. I'm so happy that our little Asa takes such joy in giving thanks! He loves to thank God in his prayers, too. His bedtime prayer is usually pretty long and fervent, includes some singing, names of children from the creche and some other things I'm not quite sure of. But this is what he says before breakfast, lunch and dinner:

"Bank you, God for cee-ee-al (cereal... Rice Krispies to be precise),
for Papa,
Ahn-ry (Henry the dog, they are best friends now)
and Asa Mackenley.
De De-dus name (in Jesus name)

What a cutie pie. I want to eat him up!! And in other news... Asa hasn't had any of the crying spells that had been common, initially. He is responding well to correction; instead of "disconnecting" and looking away, he makes eye contact and seems eager to understand what we're trying to tell him. And bedtime has been a joy the past two nights. Tonight was hilarious because he kept yelling to Camden (long after Cam had been asleep) "Can-den... I love YOU. Can-den! Can-den! I loooooove yooooou!" Yeah. It made me cry.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

It's Hard To Believe...

That Asa has been home for three weeks! There were times when it seemed impossible to even fathom him actually being with us. And, yet, here he is - sleeping soundly, tucked into his bed in the room above me. Wow.

Over the past two years, this has been a journal about the process, the wait, the frustration and the joy of a Haitian adoption. Now that Asa is home, I hope to give a really honest and accurate picture of our transition in the hopes that it may offer encouragement and insight to other adoptive parents. Many of our experiences might be unique to our own family and child, but there will certainly be some common issues we'll share with other parents of children coming home from an institutional (more specifically, a Haitian orphanage) setting. So....

Right now, things are going really well. By "well" I mean that we have not been especially surprised by any of Asa's behavior, and his adjustment seems to be similar to what we've researched and heard about from other parents. That doesn't mean that we don't have tough moments. But we feel prepared (at least moderately) for the times when Asa feels sad or tests boundaries or acts out. If pressed, I would say that, right now, Asa is joyful, engaging, funny, and cuddly 80% of the time. The other 20% can range from sulky and sullen to sad, angry and maybe even confused. Yes, most of those things are typical for any three year old. But, sometimes, there is unique element; it feels like there is something coming from a place inside him that is quite different from a child who had been parented in a family since birth. And that's the reality which I hope to convey.

Ironically, I wasn't sure what I'd touch on, first (there's so much to write about). But just as I was finishing the above paragraph, I heard the cries of my tiny, little guy coming from upstairs. A few minutes of cuddling did the trick, but I expect to be up there again in another few hours. After about two weeks of sleeping pretty well, Asa began waking up more often though the night. It was normal for him to wake once to use the potty, but he'd usually go right back to sleep. Now, he's waking three or four times a night and the result is that I'll just stay with him in his bed until morning, because he really seems to need the reassurance that I'm there. He wants my arm under his head and he usually maintains a firm grip on me (even in his sleep). This makes for a slightly sleepy & sore mommy in the mornings, but I absolutely believe this is teaching him that we will always meet his needs. Right now, his "need" is to know that he is not alone (just like a newborn who cries at night). It's a lot like "musical beds" at our house these days, because Camden (age five) often opts sleep with Asa on the bottom bunk instead of sleeping in his, up top. So when Asa cries, Camden moves out and I move in. And this works for us, for now. I'm sure it will be one of many phases through which Asa must pass to ultimately feel safe and secure in our family.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Potty Time Fun...

Head, Shoulders, Knees AND TOES!

(and toilet paper with a French accent)

Tuesday, March 24, 2009


This activity was mostly planned as a special treat for Chloe and Camden. When we started the adoption process (before even being matched with Asa) the kids were told that when their new brother came home, they'd all get to build their own bear. Asa didn't really know what to think, but he watched the bigger kids and joined in.

Allyson is a little big for bears, now, so she took pictures and
helped the kids choose their animals.

Asa was fond of the krapo (frog) but eventually decided
on a bear like Camden.

He took the "stuffing" job very seriously.

Everyone had a really nice time.
Daddy even got to spend some time in the Mac store,
so it was a treat for him, too!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Family Pictures...

First Family Photo:

Asa isn't a fan of having his picture taken. It's not often that we'll get a smiling shot unless he isn't aware of the camera. So these grumpy faces don't really represent the goofy, happy little guy who runs around the house singing all day.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Not Much Time...

To update the blog anymore - - it's busy around here! But the kids are in bed, so I can share a little bit about our magnificent trip and how things have been going since Asa has been home.

Jim and I left our house around 3:00pm last Wednesday. The ride to Miami was nice & quiet (we're rarely in the car alone together) so we had plenty of time to just enjoy each other's company. Once in Miami, we checked into our hotel and had a nice dinner date. It was hard to sleep, though, because we were so excited!! We got up early the next morning, headed to the airport and met our sweet travel companions (they were picking up their little boy, too).

An aside: If you are headed to Haiti to bring home your child/ren, travel AIR FRANCE!!! This was, hands down, the best experience I've ever had on a plane. Their rates were less than AA, the planes were new & nice, they served meals and walked the aisle with a basket of toys for children! Awesome!! I could go on and on about how amazing they were. But I won't. Do check them out, though.

We arrived around noon on Thursday and the airport didn't seem nearly as chaotic as it normally does. Retrieving our baggage was quick and easy and our ride out to the creche was uneventful. It was Jim's first trip, though, so he was amazed by every aspect of being in Haiti. Pulling onto the grounds of the creche is always such a cool feeling. It's so beautiful and lush, and you can hear the sounds of the children inside. The little ones all came up to the door as our truck pulled up. Little Asa ran right to daddy and they had so much fun together. We were able to spend time out in the yard, playing soccer and frisbee with some of the older children. Since Asa was coming home with us, he was able to sleep in our room - which was so nice. He was finally all ours.

We knew that Friday would be a short day at the creche. We spent time down the road at the village school and, then, back at the creche where Asa had preschool. After a light lunch, we packed up, said goodbye to the aunties/staff and headed back into Port Au Prince. One very special part of our trip was the fact that we were able to meet Asa's birth mother. I feel like the meeting went very well and, while we'll keep most of the details private for Asa, I will say that meeting her was a memory I will always treasure. I'm confident that she loves him deeply and that she knows we do, as well.

We arrived at the airport early, had time to check in and then sit upstairs in the little cafe. Their toasty ham & cheese sandwiches on baguettes are the BEST, especially with coke in a glass bottle! We were amazed at how well Asa handled the new environment. He had a hotdog and some juice, then spent time coloring. We could tell he was getting drowsy as we were getting ready to board. He fell asleep before take-off and missed all the cool toys & activities that the lovely Air France flight attendant gave us. I woke him up before we landed so he could use the potty but he went right back to sleep and totally missed the landing, too.

Asa woke up as we were riding on the moving sidewalks and he was ALL SMILES. Again, not at all phased by all the new sights and sounds. Immigration in Miami was a breeze. They were so nice and processed us (along with the wonderful couple with whom we traveled) in a matter of 15 minutes or so. We got our bags, took another potty break and headed to our car which was waiting in the parking garage! Asa loves our big, red machine. He wasn't so sure about the carseat at first, but with a tiny bit of encouragement, he got right in. We knew it would be too late to head all the way home to Tampa, but did want to get a little head start. Asa seemed fine in the car so we drove across Alligator Alley and spent the night at a hotel in Naples. It was so cute to see Asa under the fluffy, white duvet.

Saturday morning started with Asa's first warm bath... he LOVED it! We had a wonderful breakfast together (Asa thoroughly enjoys scrambled eggs!) before traveling the final leg of our trip. Within two hours, we were pulling up to our house and were greeted by three of the happiest kiddos ever! Asa was timid at first, but warmed up to his siblings after Camden brought him some big Tonka trucks. He was a total chatterbox within hours.

We are amazed at all the songs he knows... and his ABC's... and his numbers - all in English! Teacher Jean (at the creche) has done a fabulous job of preparing the kids for coming home to their English speaking homes. Asa does speak a ton of Creole, too, which is so precious. I understand a lot of what he's saying and the kids are even starting to pick up some Creole.

The first few days went so smoothly. Asa was taking naps and sleeping really well. He would play happily, but was also very content to just be held by mama & papa. On Tuesday, though, he became more anxious at nap and bedtime. He cries a really sad cry that Chloe says reminds her of a baby tiger. So we hug, cuddle, comfort & rock him, and it seems like he might be feeling a little more at ease; he calms down quicker and wakes up happy. He and the dog aren't best friends.... yet. But we've made progress; Asa no longer shrieks when he sees the dog and our sweet golden, Henry, is really good about just avoiding the new little family member. He's really gentle and intuitive like that.

Every day is full of fun, new firsts for Asa. But we can also sense a little bit of sadness and loss. I'm sure he misses his friends, caretakers and the routine of the creche. It's all he's ever known. The wonderful news is the sad moments are fleeting and his happiness & joy light up the house. Asa seems to really be bonding to us really well; he makes wonderful eye contact, comes to us for comfort and seems to sense how much we love to meet his needs. It's been an exhausting, overwhelming and AMAZING week!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Some Pictures From The Trip...

Jim holding Asa for the first time.

Lunch at the creche.

Getting ready to go!

At the Port Au Prince airport.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Papa and Asa

Are so cute together! When we first arrived at the creche, I told Jim that he should be the first to hold Asa since I've visited four times and Jim had never been before. When we pulled up to the creche, the two and three year olds ran up to the door. I had a feeling Asa would know Jim from all the pictures over his bed.... and he DID! He ran right into the arms of his big, bald, tearful daddy! They have really bonded well and Jim knows just how to make Asa (Asa Mack, Big Mack, etc...) laugh hysterically.

Today is our third day home and Asa is doing SO WELL! He is very talkative, happy and seems to take everything in stride (except the dog, and we're working on that). The kids are having a blast with him and they've come up with so many games to play together. Asa is learning and retaining quite a bit of English, already, and everyone loves his adorable accent. More pics, trip details and video to come....

Saturday, March 7, 2009

We're Home...

I promise to post pictures and details soon. For now, I'll share that everything has gone beautifully and every aspect of the trip seemed to just be covered in grace. Asa is amazing and we're in awe...