I can't believe that my spunky little pioneer baby is 5 years old. Maren is such a sweet and loving little girl. She loves to walk up and kiss me and tell me she loves me. She definitely makes life sweeter. She had her first friend party, it was a My Little Pony themed. She had a great time!
Sunday, July 20, 2014
Diego has now been home for just over a week. I would have to say that he is adjusting better than I thought he would, but it has still been quite hard. Our biggest struggles have been because of the language barrier. I have a hard time understanding what he wants and he doesn't understand me. This leads to several tantrums and timeouts every day. Some days are harder than others which is to be expected, but things get a little better every day. Diego is a sweet boy and he loves being smothered with attention, especially by his sisters. They dote on him and rarely leave him alone. Addy and Sydnee love to help take care of him, they treat him like a doll. They love to dress him and they will even change his diapers. We've had a few visitors and we have taken a few outings together. Diego likes to get out of the house, but that's when we have the most tantrums. He wants to run free and he just doesn't understand that he can't. Most days if we keep him fed and well rested, i.e. snack's and naps, he does really well. Which is how it is with any kid. Most days, we hang out at home to keep things calm, but I'm struggling with the feeling that this has been a bad summer for my kids. They have had their lives so disrupted and changed lately. I want to keep up with the way things were with day trips and fun outings, but it's hard with Diego. I feel like this is our last week of summer. Addy will have her tonsils and adenoids out on Friday and then she will be down for a few weeks. We haven't even adjusted into a routine yet. By the time Addy will be feeling good, it will just about be time for dance and school to start up again. I'm feeling overwhelmed and some guilt too. I feel like it has been a rough summer for everyone and that I have failed at being a "good" mom. Hopefully we can pack a few fun things into this week and hopefully my kids will forgive me for their bad summer.
Saturday, July 19, 2014
Our flight was scheduled to take off at 9:30 am on the 10th. That sounds reasonable until you consider that we needed to be there 3 hours early. So we were out the door at 6:15. That meant I was up at 4 wondering what I forgot in my 3 hour packing marathon the previous day that I had to buy a third suitcase for. I packed everything pretty tight ( including Arequipa and hot chocolate) so squeezing in the last little things in took some muscle. Rene was just a bit early but that was OK with me, we were ready. The drive to the airport was normal. Rene parked and walked in with us to show us the ropes. First we went to the tax exemption window where we showed that I had a stamp in my passport so that could get another stamp in my passport so that I would not need to pay a penalty tax for not having the first stamp. Wow. Then to the Delta line to check-in and drop off bags. We were able to cut to the head of the line because of Diego. I had to show our passports to several people and the cover of the US immigration packet to one person. Then it was on to the Colombian immigration line. Rene could go no further with us so I payed him 60,000 pesos and said good bye. Thanks to Diego's youth we moved to the fast lane and very shortly we arrived at a desk where a man took our Colombian immigration folder and read a good bit. He also compared the passport numbers and names on the documents to verify that I was me. It took 10 min of wrestling Diego for the man to send us on to security. Security was a breeze compared to the US. Shoes on, liquids are OK and no X-ray, just a metal detector. The duty free area is always strange. This one had the hotties standing in front of fancy perfume shops. That stuff has never made any sense to me. We were destined for the very end of the concourse so we had a long way to go but lots of time, about an hour until take off. We had good seats in row 11 next to a young American lady who had been teaching in Colombia. She was very nice and let Diego climb across her to look out the window many times. Tantrums were substantial but not excessive. Take off was scary for Diego but we made it without a huge deal. We ate lots of snacks (read treats) and I tried to get Diego to watch TV, that did not work. So we wrestled and played until our 6 hours ended in Atlanta. After landing in Atlanta we had about 1 1/2 hours to get to our connection. The long walk to customs was OK because Diego needed to move his legs. At customs we tried to use the computers to go through but it did not work. So we waited in line to talk to the customs agent. The conversation with the first customs guy was brief, he checked my papers then sent us to another desk for Diego's immigration packet. The agent was VERY slow. We waited in line for what seemed like 2 hours, there were only 2 people in front of us. Why is it that we can't take photos of immigration and government functioning? Once we made it to the agent he took his time (moved in slow motion) explained some things and sent us on our way. Wow I just love government. I don't want you to think that Diego sat quietly waiting for me without any complaints. The entire time was nuts. Diego spent most of the time running screaming and showing off. Many of the people were very kind. One US immigration worker held Diego for a bit so I could fill out some papers. Anyway the experience took way too long and was all of what one would expect in every way. Finally I thought, we can get to the next plane. Wrong. Customs was next. I had to go collect the luggage. I tried to move 3 roller bags one backpack and a 3 year old down the hall but it did not work. I was wondering what to do when an airline worker suggested I get a luggage cart. Great idea! I did that and we were through customs quickly. We dropped our bags back to the airline then went through security again. We emerged into the airport with 24 min to get to our gate and feed Diego. So we ran until we could see the gate then stopped to get food. The only thing we could get quickly was frozen yogurt. We arrived with 15 min before takeoff time. Wow. The flight was essentially the same as the first with the exception that we had a window seat so we opened and closed the windows 3 times per mile while trying to look out. The flight landed and we were at the pickup roundabout with family in 15 min. The drive home was uneventful. Wow it is nice to be home!!!
Soraya picked us up at 9 am to go to the doctor's office for the medical paperwork needed for the visa. For some reason one must have the passport to get the medical paperwork for the visa. Then we went to the ICBF office to get some more paperwork for the visa. As usual we walked through the metal detector then had our bags glanced at. It is strange that the metal detectors always go off but nobody cares. At the ICBF office we met the ICBF director. She was enchanted with Diego, then Diego turned on the charm and was rewarded with candy. She was very nice and thanked us just as much I thanked her. I filled out a survey about the ICBF adoption process. Then Soraya took us to meet the ICBF representative that worked on Diego's case. She had never meet Diego before; she was rewarded with his great charm. The U.S. embassy was next but we were early so we went to "Crepes and Waffles" for lunch, yum. We walked to the embassy from lunch, cut to the front of the line then entered the visa area of the embassy. It was a strange place. A large open outdoor area mostly covered by sorts of pavilions there were lots of people in mazes and lots of chairs. We walked to the far side of the area from the entrance to window 1. There Soraya picked up a phone that no one answered so we waited then waited some more. After 15 min or so a gentleman came and talked to Soraya over the phone. She gave him lots of papers then we were told to wait. 20 min later the "interview" started. I picked up the phone at window 2. I was asked where I live, if I knew the child had some medical issues and some other stuff. It took 3 min. It was about 1:30 I was told that the visa printout takes about 2 hours so it should be done before the embassy closes at 4. After another 20 minutes they called us back up to ask us what one of the papers looked like. We showed them; they found it and we went back to waiting. All of the waiting was filled with playing and running and chasing. Diego's favorite activity was chasing the pigeons. There were lots of fat pigeons and upon seeing them take off he would say WOOooW stop dead in his tracks and marvel. His eyes were as big as dinner plates. He made friends with the cleaning ladiess and security ladies who began to help him chase the pigeons. They and he had a ton of fun!!! It was very fun to watch! Another 20 min and we were holding the visa! I called Crystal as soon I as we got to the car. That night I found a flight home on the 10th.
|Diego Playing at the US embassy.|
Monday, July 7, 2014
We picked up the passport @ 11 pm from the passport office. As usual I had Diego with me so I cut to the front of the line. It took 15 min. Then when to get my Colombian ID from the immigration office. While I was in the immigration office Soraya took a photo of the passport and sent it to the us embassy we could get an appointment to get Diego's VISA. We were blessed to get an appointment for the next day.
Diego has a passport. All we need now is the visa from the US embassy and we can come home!!!
Sunday, July 6, 2014
Sarah Myer agreed to watch Diego while Soraya and I took the transmeleno bus system to the office where Diego's birth was registered. It took an hour and a half to get to the our stop way in the south of Bogota. Then we got onto another bus then to a taxi. The registrar office had a crowd in front of it and I was envisioning hours of waiting. After purchasing a treat for the person helping us we walked to the guard told him what we needed and we walk in immediately and found the person we needed waiting at her desk for us. WOW that was amazing. The very nice lady processed the papers quickly then I signed and finger printed the new birth certificate. I find it a bit odd that a new birth certificate was created. Almost like changing the past… The facts of his birth did not change but we changed the docs as if they did… Odd but I guess that is how it is done. We had to wait for a while as the "Registrar" was not in the office at that moment. So we went to a café and got AVENA COLOMBIANA and role then went back to the registrar office received the paperwork. We took a 20 min to the bus station and I happy to say I walk to fast for Soraya (Colombians walk very fast I saw it as a challenge) We then took the bus immediately to the passport office. On the bus we called Sarah and Asked her to bring Diego to the passport office. Once we all arrived and cut to the front of the line because of the children and very quickly arrived on a cubical were the paper work was verified and we found that we did not have a copy of Crystal's passport. So I emailed it Soraya she ran to an internet café and printed it out. The copies of the birth certificate had a vertical stripe where the printer failed to print as dark as the rest. This was a problem that was resolved by showing that the original had the same issue. It took 3 tries to get Diego's Passport photo useable. He was eating candy and the 1st 2 photos were distorted by chewing and sucking. It was very funny. Then we went back to the hotel and had a great time at the Colombian 4th of July party. See the PICs. I think I will be going home before the end of next week!!! Wow less than a month in Colombia. Huge blessing. I thank thee Lord!!!
Just one week after our integration. 7/2/14 the same day we visited Hogares Liz y vida. In fact around an hour after I got home I received a barely intelligible call from Soraya. There was lots of background noise and she was excited. She repeated the message 2 or 3 times before changing to tomorrow we are going to sign the adoption papers! She said she would pick Diego and I up at 8:15 am the following day. She also said many other things that I did not understand. I was just so happy I did not care about anything else.
I was unable to get Crystal on the phone to give her the news until hours later she was out running errands.
The next morning I was up and showered before Diego was aware of the new day. He had eggs, banana He would not eat. I made him sit at the table but I don't think he ate more than 3 bites. The drive to the center of town was long but I have done it several times before. On the way we stopped on the side of the highway for a bit to pick up Lucy our Lawyer. Traffic was the normal horrific mess but we were good on time so we stopped so that Lucy could do a quick errand. We parked 3 or 4 blocks from the courthouse and walked past the gold museum by about a block to get to the court house. We went up in a stinky elevator to an odd little hallway. One end was the elevator the other was a service window the gray was kind depressing. Is gray paint cheaper? On the walls were some clip boards with notices of judgments and such. At the service window Lucy asked for the Judge. In short order the judge came out and beckoned us through the service door then into her office. It is very odd for a judge to meet with the adopters or adoptees. We were so blessed to have the paperwork move so quickly and also to be able to say thank you in person for that great blessing. The judge enjoyed talking to Diego and giving him little toys (including Colombian stacking dolls and Plush Flowers) to play with. She was very sweet. Somehow Diego found a rag and began to very carefully clean the book shelf behind the judge's desk. He did a great job! Soraya used my camera to snap pics of most of the fun in the judge's office. Then Soraya snapped a photo of Diego the judge and I. Next was the big thing. One quick signature and it was done. We celebrated and I thanked everyone as many time as I could. They also thanked me for adopting Diego and expressed gratitude for having the opportunity to assist in the adoption! What a great day.
We arrived at 10:30 ish in the am after a long drive through some scary neighborhoods. We went in through the back door. I am not sure why. It took just a moment for a nice man to open the door then a bit longer for the assistant Director of the orphanage to come to the door. She is one of the people at the encontro date in fact she told us most of that we knew about Diego from the orphanage. She was present but not in the room for the integration. She is very nice and truly loves the children. Since we came in through the back we walked directly into the cafeteria. It is a large room with lots of room for tables but when we entered there were none. On the wall was a large painting of Jesus with a group of children all of the children in the painting are or were residence of the home. There are many paintings throughout the facility and also outside on the walls nearby. All of the paintings were done by residence at the home. We walked up a ramp and into the main facility to what I will call the "play room". There we were informed not to take photos of any of the resident children. Photos of things, staff and our own children were fine. As the day was a holiday ALL of the 160 residence were at home. Wow there were a lot of kids and they immediately recognized Diego and MaJo'! The room was alive with calls and shouts of Diego and Diegito! All around me, I was holding Diego. Many children obviously love Diego and wanted to hug and kiss him. I kneeled down and they did. Diego appeared overwhelmed at the attention but he was smiling and obviously recognized and loved those who accosted him. Many of the children had obvious medical problems; others seemed well, all looked happy. The staff all smiled and watched the children and greeted Diego and MaJo'. The room was large with a ramp going up to the left that split it in half. On the near side there were many children. I think most of them were watching TV. On the far side of the room was a fenced in area where toys were kept. After a lot of happy yelling and one young man of 8 or 10 years getting my attention and asking "are you Diego's Dad?" (That young man wants a family so much I could feel it. The question was more of a plea "Would you be my Dad too"? Wow that was heart wrenching. I wish I could.) Up the bisecting ramp we went toward the office.
On the way we saw Viviana a therapist working with a baby that suffers from hydrocephalus. Seeing that baby with his large deformity being helped was difficult but wonderful at the same time. So many of the residence here are in need of extra care and are not "perfect" in some way. I am sure that many of the stories are tragic and beyond my comprehension. But to my surprise I was not overcome with sadness or grief as the visit progressed. In fact I was uplifted. The spirit was sweet and the faces of the residence were by my observation almost universally happy. At times my gut wrenched and I felt sad as I saw the unimaginable difficulties and frustrations. But I also saw the hands of angles caring for and loving the children. God truly lives and loves these little ones. They need families so much. But while they are waiting I cannot imagine a better place. This is a place of healing and love. This is a sacred place where the work of God is done. The staff who care for the residence and the residence truly are angles. This place is home for 160 very special people whom God loves.
Viviana is the therapist that worked closely with Diego and was "Like his Mom" I was told. She taught Diego to walk and worked with him on many things. She is why Diego was able to progress so quickly and come to us so strong and happy. When Diego was able to get close to Viviana it was obvious that they had a very special relationship. Diego went to her with enthusiasm and hugged her. They interacted for perhaps 5 min. It was a happy time for both of them. We are so thankful to her. We took a bunch of pictures.
Back to the narrative and up the ramp. The office is a small room with 2 or 3 computers, desks and chairs. We meet the 2 assistant directors and some other staff. We shared some gifts that we brought for the staff. There were so very kind and thankful to us for adopting Diego. I expressed how thankful we are for the care and love they have for all the children especially Diego.
Next took ramps to look at the dorms. There were very few stairs in the facility all ramps to allow accessibility for everyone. All of the dorms were clean, neat organized and appeared to be comfortable. There were stuffed animals in the beds of each of the young children. The blankets and sheets had fun colors and seemed just right. The rest rooms and changing rooms were very clean. I was impressed by the number of toothbrushes neatly arranged on the walls. When we arrived at Diego and MaJo's former dorm they were excited. I put Diego into his former bed (really a white crib) and he ran directly to look out the window. There is a nice green field just across the street that I am told use to have animals in it. I was told that Diego was looking for the animals. He remembered. After the dorms we went to the room where Diego learned to walk. It was undergoing changes so it was empty but it was nice to see the place where he hit such an important milestone. From the first moments we brought Diego to our apartment he has been a door shutter. Every door and any door anywhere anytime, he shuts all doors. At his former home it was no different. They told me that he has always been a door shutter. In fact he shut the doors to many of the rooms we visited.
When we left the institution Diego did not want to stay in fact he was the first one to the door. This made me very happy! He wanted me more than his home for as long as he can recall! He even kissed me when we got in the car!
One thing we were not able to do on this visit was to meet with the nun that directs the center. I hope someday somehow to meet her and thank her for all her hard work and sacrifices for the children. I am reminded of Mosiah chapter 2 my favorite verse is 17 https://www.lds.org/scriptures/bofm/mosiah/2?lang=eng.