I know I was pretty vague in the beginning, and I'm not sure I painted a clear picture of anything with my travel updates, so I want to answer some commonly asked questions about this adoption. I have noticed that everyone wonders about the same things, so I might as well answer them all in one place.
How was the trip?
I know it may seem hard to believe, but our trip honestly went smoothly.
The stats of it are enough to make you car sick. On the way there, we drove 36 hours in two-and-a-half days. Our longest day was 16 hours and that's just the time that google maps told us it would take, not counting stops for food and gas. Our children - ages two and three - sat, rear-facing, in their car seats for hours and hours on end, eating at all sorts of odd times, finally getting into the hotel each night around 2 a.m.
And they were amazing. Words cannot describe how well behaved they were. They are much, much crazier at home on any given day.
I am absolutely convinced it was due to God's grace that the trip went as well as it did. There is no other explanation for it.
But, really, how did you do it?
I really, truly credit God for the incredible drive, but we did get a lot of help from DVD players. My kids now know the words to the latest Thomas movie by heart. And I think Ryan might too (I'm pretty good at tuning it out). They also watched Fireman Sam, Lady and the Tramp, and another Thomas video. They weren't big on variety.
They also each got LeapPad Explorers for Christmas, which kept them quiet and enthralled for hours. And I discovered today that, thanks to a video on their LeapPads, Luke and Clara now know what sound each letter makes. Who says technology is bad for kids? There is no way I could have (or would have) taught them all that by this point!
Now that you're home, are you exhausted from the trip?
Honestly, this might sound strange, but no! I woke up every morning on the trip ready to go, when I am normally anything but an early riser. I think it was not only the obvious excitement of bringing a new baby into our family, but also the amazing adventure we were on. I was definitely going on adrenaline. And maybe I still am, because I feel great. It helped having my parents visit this weekend though. I was able to ease back into laundry, dishes and being alone all day with the kids.
What agency did you use for this adoption?
We didn't use an agency. This is probably where I have been the most vague, but what I will say is this: Both of our adoptions have come from friends (and blog friends, no less) who knew we were open to adoption and put us in touch with potential adoption situations. We found out about both babies via connections made from social media.
While we were on a waiting list with a local agency when we found out about Clara, we were not even home study approved this time around. We hadn't even started seriously thinking about adopting again! So when this situation arose, we hurried up and contacted our local agency and became home study approved (just in the nick of time, too). The birth mom used a lawyer who was local to her, and we hired a lawyer near us as well. While they do deal with adoptions on a regular basis, the lawyers were not adoption attorneys in the sense that they hook waiting families up with birth parents. All they did was the legal work necessary to allow us to adopt.
While our situations may not be the norm, I would say that couples waiting to adopt can always put out feelers, making sure everyone they know is aware that they are waiting to adopt. If this has happened to us twice, it could happen to you too. Of course, work with an agency and get on a list, but never stop spreading the word through a blog, facebook, a letter to friends and family. You never know how God might choose to grow your family.
How are you able to nurse?
I'm able to nurse because I was still nursing my then one-year-old son when we found out about this adoption. I am not taking any medications or supplements, nor am I pumping. I'm just too
How is nursing going?
Awesome! If you consider nursing and then supplementing with a bottle afterwards awesome... which I do. I exclusively nursed at first, but when Essie was pretty sleepy and not having many wet diapers, I added two ounces of formula after I'd breastfeed, which lead to her being much less lethargic and putting out a better amount of urine. Then the occasional bottle eventually became a bottle after each time we nurse. She's a hungry girl! I'm guessing I just don't have enough yet to fill her up, but she seems like she loves to nurse and doesn't have any nipple confusion. And she must be getting something from me because otherwise she would not put up with it when she's hungry.
What do Clara and Luke think?
They definitely love her and are super cute with her, but I don't have to keep them away from her too much, which is nice. They just go about their business, playing with their toys (they SO missed their toys!) and tackling each other, and occasionally making cooing sounds at Essie or sweetly shushing her when she cries.
Luke did have a moment when I first sat down to nurse her in our hotel. He came up and hit the pillow she was on with both hands (although careful not to actually touch her) and said, "No nurse baby Essie, Mommy!" But that was it. The worst he does now is demand to tandem nurse, but he's definitely accepted that the baby nurses now and he has to share. Incidentally, it's Essie who is not a big fan of sharing. So we tandem maybe once a day at the most.
They're doing really, really well, though. Today was my first day alone and it went great. It helps that Essie is an absolutely incredible baby. Incredible.
Sometimes I still can't believe this happened. God truly amazes me with how he has answered my prayer to grow our family according to His will. And I get to raise these three precious souls.