Friday, May 14, 2010

First week home

Tomorrow marks one week since we arrived home with Hanna.

For the most part, things are going well. She is still waking up well in the mornings and she and Caleb play so well together. She loves to be with me and with Steven and calls out for us and looks for us periodically when she's playing. She LOVES to watch "Signing Time" and know a lot of Sign Language for a child her age.

She runs up to us and gives hugs and kisses and smiles and laughs all the time. She talks so much more than we thought at first...she just needed to warm up to us, I guess.

I would be lying if I said it was all love and kisses, though. She is definitely going through an adjustment and is grieving the loss of her previous caregivers and friends. She asks for them occasionally and wants to look at pictures of her friends often. There have been several times when she has cried for a while inconsolably. She actually seems angry at these times and will scream, not only cry. The last time this happened, yesterday, she started asking for "Kim", "Kimmie", "MJ", "Abby", "Noni" (which is actually Nori) and so we looked at some pictures.

We're still "learning" each other and that takes time. We're making progress with God's help and I know that He will continue to build our family for His glory. Please pray for Hanna that He would continue to walk her through her grief and for us that He would show us what to do for her and what NOT to do for her, as well.

Here are a few pictures of some things we've done this week. Enjoy :)

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Progress and the power of prayer

We have now been home with Hanna for 3 nights. The first night was NO problem because we were all so exhausted that she was literally asleep by the time her head hit the pillow. The morning, however was a different story. She woke up crying and apparently terrified that she was alone, Momma wasn't there, and she might not have even known where she was.

Fast forward to rest time, and she freaked out when I tried to lay her down in her bed, so I laid down with her and she went right to sleep. We've had to wake her at every rest time so far, so we don't know if she'd cry if she woke up then, but I'm betting she would.

Same exact story on Monday (yesterday) and I had to lay down with her at rest and bed time.

Imagine our excitement when she woke up this morning and all we heard was "Daddy!" in a very happy, playful voice. When Steven went upstairs, she was lying awake in bed and was happy to see him.

This is a perfect answer to prayer as we have been praying for her that the Lord would give her a feeling of safety and security in her room, that He would give her surety of our permanence and that when she woke up that she would remember where she was.

What a GREAT God we serve!!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Swimming with brother

When we got to Baguio, we promised the kids that we could go swimming, so after our visit to ICAB, it was time to "pay the piper" :)
We had been swimming once already with Hanna, but this was the first time with just our family, so it was the first time that she really got to play with Caleb in the pool. Let me just say it was a RAGING success. They played and splashed and laughed and loved playing together. She is pretty fearless in the water which is nice, and doesn't mind water in her face at all. She fell down a couple of times and just stood back up and kept playing.
Check out these pictures to see how much fun they had together!

Visiting ICAB

Every adoptive family visiting the Philippines to take custody of their child or children is required to visit the Intercountry Adoption Board, also known as ICAB. This is the governing body in the Philippines responsible for matching children for international adoption.

It was a completely painless appointment. We went in, we met a few people, we took a few pictures, no big deal. They did have a few gifts for Hanna and even for Caleb and I thought that was very sweet. They gave Hanna a cultural doll, a Philippines flag, and a book that is all about the PI and also has places in it for pictures of Hanna and our family. It's kind of like a baby book. They also had us write a note to Hanna that will be placed in her file for the day when she travels back to the Philippines to discover more about her heritage.

The appointment could have taken a lot longer, but we happened to come on a day that the matching board was meeting, so we didn't need to meet any of them and were "in and out".

Here are a few pictures of our visit:

Che, our local agency rep, and Caleb waiting for our turn to speak to the ICAB rep, Kathy.

Hanna's doll from ICAB.

Our family in front of the sign ICAB hung to greet us.

Bye-bye Baguio

When it was time to leave Baguio City our new friends the Piets were SO gracious to save us from another bus ride and instead treated us to riding with them to Manila. It was SO fun to get to spend these last hours with them visiting and soaking up the fellowship with new friends that we won't get to see for a year or two. We will really miss them!
Hanna with "Momma Kim" on the car ride down the Mountain

As we drove down the mountain, we were able to enjoy the sights and visit with our friends. One of the most unique things we saw was a funeral procession. They were all walking with umbrellas behind the hearse and some military officers.

It was such a nice trip. We just can't say enough about how much we appreciate NOT having to take the bus and getting to spend those hours with our sweet friends!

Giant rock lion. 'Nuff said.

Pics of the view on the way down the mountain. They can't possibly do justice to the majesty of God's creation. It is breathtaking.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Our day at the market

So I promised chicken heads...
On the left, chicken heads, whole, for 70 pesos/kilo. On the right, chicken INTESTINES for 55 pesos/kilo.
Don't ask me what for. I didn't ask and I can not begin to imagine.

This strange sight was just the tip of the iceberg at the market in Baguio. Our new friends, Brian and Gloria Burns, took us to see the authentic daily life market in Baguio City and let me tell you, it was an experience not to be missed!
At stalls next to and near each other you can find everything from fresh, locally grown fruits and veggies, to equally fresh fish to every part of the pig...yes I do mean EVERY part...
What you see to your right, here, is a photo of a stall selling pig...well, I'm not sure if they were offering the leg or the foot, but you got both, anyway...and pig's ears as far as you can see!
However, in among the strange and the gross, was beauty and real life.

These roses were (the equivalent of) $1 for 1 dozen. Yes, you did read that correctly. And the below garlands were just lovely.

The fish, fruits and veggies were just as fun to look at...
and they sold rice by the barrel full!
It was just so fun and only got better as we made our way to the more "touristy" part of the market to shop for souvenirs with the help and encouragement of our sweet friend Gloria, the bargain getter! (pictured in blue)

She helped us so much and the kids really had a lot of fun considering that we were just shopping which is really no fun at all for kids!

But the trip really did tire Miss Hanna out!

So after, we went back to the house for a bit before going to Brian and Gloria's for dinner. Gloria is a fab cook and Caleb ate better at their house than he's eaten this entire trip!

About half way through dinner we had a kamikaze bug the size of my FIST (maybe a bit of an exaggeration, but not by much!) fly through the dining room on his way to the kitchen. We were all jumping and dodging so fast we were laughing our heads off!

At the end of the evening, we said our goodbyes knowing that we'd be leaving in the morning and wouldn't see each other for quite a long time. It was really emotional as all goodbyes have been on this trip. We really feel as though we've always known these people in a way that only God Himself could orchestrate. He has simply knit our hearts together.
We will truly miss all the wonderful people we've met here in the Philippines and especially in Baguio City!

And just in cast I've got you all misty-eyed or sentimental, let me leave you with this parting thought...

How would you like this for lunch:
Whole Chicken, on a stick.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

A sad farewell, and school shopping

Today we went to SHIP to legally take custody of Hanna by signing the paperwork required to do so. Honestly, we had been concerned that Hanna would be too fearful to go back into the home. As I've written here previously, she loves her friends and caregivers and has been excited to see them throughout the week at different places, like church and the swimming pool, but has been very clingy to us whenever we've neared the home. For this reason, we prayed for and over her this morning that she would have peace and be able to go inside and enjoy saying goodbye to those who have loved her so well for the first 2 years of her life.

Once again, we placed our hope in a God who is more than able to accomplish far more than we can ask or imagine and He glorified Himself in the situation. Hanna was perfectly at ease in the home, but clearly understood that we were here for a visit and nothing more. She happily gave hugs and told her friends and "mamas" "Bye-bye!" She was cheerful and playful and it was such a blessing to watch.

Little did we know that the ones we should have been praying for were the caregivers and ourselves. It was a very emotional time as we gave out gifts, took pictures, and said goodbye. One of the caregivers who (we learned later) had fallen in love with Hanna and often took her to church, simply broke down and began sobbing. Another tearfully kissed her head and said "I release you". These women will forever have a special place in my heart for loving my daughter so much that she is now able to love and trust me easily with God's help.

After the goodbyes, we took all the school-aged kids shopping so that Steven and I could buy them school shoes and backpacks and that was a BLAST.
Everyone got to pick out their shoes (sort of :) ) and try them on, and then pick out their backpack.
The kids were all so sweet and when we were done, they each said thank you in their sweet shy ways.

After shopping the Piet family and the Burns family who are the directors of the home, took us to lunch in Baguio City center at a restaurant that was beyond delicious. It was Mongolian, and I WILL be trying to cook like that at home!

As for the rest of our afternoon at the market, you'll have to wait until later, but I will leave you with this little tid-bit...chicken heads...see, now you can't wait, can you? :)

Monday, May 3, 2010

Further proof...

So, if we weren't convinced before (which we WERE!) that Hanna was born - created, designed by our Mighty Awesome God - a Reutter, this picture should cinch the deal!

First a pic of Caleb from years past -

Now a pic from this morning -

Check out the arms!

PS - I often sleep like this, too, but I'm not about to show ya'll that! :)

Swimming and the amazing power of our God

So today we went swimming with all the kids and staff from SHIP. The above picture is of us with the view from SHIP. It was a really great day.

We started our day slowly, which was nice, and I got to make breakfast for us all. The rest of the family had pancakes and I also made eggs for myself, Hanna, and Steven (have I mentioned how nice and strange it is to have a child who will eat just about whatever I put in front of her?). After breakfast, we all got our swim gear on/together and headed out to SHIP to pick up the kids and caregivers.

It has been so interesting to see how Hanna reacts when we pull up to the house where she has lived. We have done it 3 times now and each time has been the same - she "koala bear" clings to whomever of us is holding her. The first time it was Steven. Today (both times) it was me. This morning, we were switching cars to ride on to the waterpark, and when she and I got out of the car, it got worse! She even TURNED AWAY from a caregiver she has known for her entire life (one of her primaries) and clung to me, burying her face in my shoulder. I was simply amazed. Shocked almost seems a better word, but that would not be accurate. If I were shocked, it would imply that I do not expect my God to do the things that I know He is more than capable of doing. That is not so. I KNOW that my God chose my Hanna before the foundation of the world to be my daughter and Steven's daughter, and Caleb's sister. I KNOW that he does not do these things to make our lives worse, but to make them better - better in His estimation. His plans and paths may be hard, but they are always better.

So I will say that I am amazed.
Amazed at the power of my Mighty God.
Amazed that He is "mindful of me" (Ps 8:4).
Amazed that He, in His lovingkindness, has inclined His ear to the prayers of the saints all over the world (literally) for this precious little girl and has prepared her heart for adoption in ways that leave all of us here with her simply in awe of the HUGE GOD we serve.

When we got to the waterpark, the kids were SO excited, especially Caleb!

I'm pretty sure that Hanna had never been swimming in a big pool before and she was, naturally, a little hesitant, but that did NOT last long! She is a strange mixture of hesitant and fearless in the water. As long as "Mama" has got her or is a least close enough to touch her, she will walk right off the bench in the water, stepping into water too deep for her to touch the bottom. She LOVES to "jump" off the side to me (really just pushing off the bench from a seated position, but BIG fun to Hanna!). She just kept saying "Again!" "Again!"

We had only one moment of "backslide" in the bonding department and I'm not sure it was a totally bad thing. It gave me an opportunity to see something about her I had not yet seen. After snack time, we were just getting back in the pool, and she got mad that Caleb was playing with a float she thought of as "hers" - even though she wasn't playing with it (yeah, I know. That started fast :) ), and when I told her "No, ma'am. We share." She LOST it. After she had calmed down I decided to let her down to play in the water again. BIG mistake. Once I let go of her, she would not come back to me and when one of her previous caregivers was nearby and said "hello" to her, Hanna lunged at her to go with her. I stopped it immediately and we went to another pool to remove temptation, but it was interesting to see that when she's mad at me, she WILL try to go to someone else to get what she wants or needs or just to get away from me.

We had lunch with some of the staff from SHIP (not the caregivers, they were with the other kiddos) in the restaurant at the waterpark and that was really fun because Jing, one for the Filipina staff members, sat next to me and helped me order "gluten-free" food. I got to eat something that I can honestly say I would NEVER have tried if she had not suggested and ordered it for me. It is called "bangus". It is a fish. It was pan-fried (no breading) with soy sauce and onions and was absolutely the BEST FISH I'VE EVER HAD IN MY LIFE!!! And the best part - it cost the equivalent of about $3 US.

Our afternoon was uneventful. We came back to the room, put Hanna down for a nap, watched a movie with Caleb and then had dinner with the Piets.

All in all a GREAT day!

Church. Really.

On Sunday (yesterday) we went to church with John and Kim Piet and Brian and Gloria Burns. These two couples are the missionaries that run SHIP. We had wanted to go to church with them for a long time. Our friends the Wixes, who were also matched with a child from SHIP, said it was one of the best parts of their trip. I know why.

Integrity Bible Fellowship is a small church, less than 40 people, that meets in the bottom of a house in Baguio City. John is the pastor, Brian the worship leader, Kim runs the "A/V" - if you can call it that since there's not even need for microphones or speakers :).

Worship was such a sweet time and John spoke expositorily from Jeremiah. At the end of the service, John asked Steven and I to come to the front of the room with Hanna, and he asked our permission to dedicate her to the Lord right then and there. His prayer moved both Steven and I (and himself, for that matter) to tears. I am so grateful to God for bringing Hanna into the lives of these precious godly missionaries, for all they've done for her, and for bringing them into our lives through her.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Philippines Day 3

Yeah, I know. What happened to day 2? Well, I'll tell you. A bus ride happened to day 2. A bus ride at the beginning and a hotel with no wi-fi in the room at the end. But in the middle...Oh, the middle!

We met our Hanna yesterday. We spent the better part of 8 hours on a bus from Manila to Baguio City. When we arrived in Baguio, it began to pour rain. The directors of the home Hanna has lived in met us and our local social worker at the bus station and took us straight to SHIP, the home where Hanna has lived.

She was a little shy at first, but warmed up to Caleb pretty quickly. They were playing and running around together after just a little while, and he had her laughing not long after that.

Now they are thick as thieves...monkey-see-monkey-do totally describes how they behave as she follows him everywhere, and does everything he does and TRIES to say everything he says. He has been so helpful to us and to Hanna and made it so easy for her to trust us.

The first time she said "Mommy" was an accident - she was repeating him - and it seemed to shock her that she had said it. Now she says to me, "Mama? ... " and then tells me what she wants - "Up" "Ma" (more) "Snack" "Socks" "Shoes" (those last two were to take them OFF) and so on. She still isn't terribly verbal, but when she does talk, it is to the point or absolutely adorable! Her laugh is heart-melting.

So all in all we had a great day with our girl. And we found out in the morning just how much of a "Reutter" she really is...