Thursday, August 9, 2012

We're Adopting Again!!

Well, it's been a very long time since our last post and so much has happened. Bela is over 4 years old and will be turning 5 soon  - my how she has grown! She is actually asking for another brother or sister so we figured it was perfect it was that we also found out a few weeks ago that we have been matched to an orphanage in Mumbai by the Indian government.

But, first things first. Bela is now in pre-school and while potty training was incredibly challenging for me, we are well past then and are night trained as well. Bela is done with speech - graduating out of speech class 1 year after we started. She is incredibly likable and everyone knows her at her school - she just stands out. She is very active and is excelling in gymnastic - turns out she is very athletic, strong and lacks a whole lot of fear when it comes to climbing on things! She is going to school full time now and absolutely loves it. She has totally adjusted well although she definitely gets attached very easily which is great. She doesn't like it when she has substitute teachers or coaches and takes her a class or two before she gets used to someone new. So 2.5 years later, she is thriving, healthy and very happy.

Now we have been ready for our next child however India changed the process on us which was very frustrating. Just to upload the paper work to the CARA web site has been a huge pain as it's down all the time and there are only so many days per month (one Tuesday a month) that they will even accept applications. However, one day, it happened and within 2 weeks were matched to an orphanage. The Indian government now decides the place we will adopt from and they decided to ignore our require to adopt from the same orphanage Bela was from. So, we are hoping this is for the best. Good news is that we know someone who did adopt from the same place and they had a great experience with their child and her transition. So hopefully we are matched very soon with our son or daughter!

Monday, November 29, 2010

It's Finally Here - ADOPTION DAY!

So it's been a very long time since my last post. Mostly because I went back to work and have been pretty busy. There is so much to update on! Perhaps the best news we have is that on December 1st, Bela will officially and legally be our daughter! We are so excited!

So what's happened since the last post you ask?

(September) Bela started a new private pre-school. Her Kindercare program served it's purpose and we knew that it was time to put her into a school with some structured learning. The caveat was that the new school required that she be  potty trained. WOW - if anything came close to breaking me - it was potty training! Bela's will power and full control of her bodily functions clearly made her the winner of any battle of the wills when it came to potty training. She would literally use it against me whenever she didn't get her way by having accidents on cue! What I have learned from the whole process is what you resist - persists! My good friend Stephanie C told me to DROP THAT ROPE! Yes, she will always win the tug-a-war. So I just took it in stride and just when I thought she had it - she completely reverted back to pre-potty training days. So the 2nd lesson is - just when you think you have it down - the 3 year old will find a way to throw a money wrench into things - nothing is predictable - especially during potty training!

(October) - well this year has certainly been all about Bela's firsts! It was Bela's 3rd birthday but the first we celebrated together. She had a blast with her friends and family and we can definitely say that she is truly loved (i.e. spoiled). We also had our first Halloween where she was mini-mouse. She loved the outfit so much that she wore it 3 different times!  Bela also went to Disneyland for the first time but both Daddy and Bela pooped about by mid-afternoon. She did have a blast though.

(November) - Bela had her first Thanksgiving this year. She had an absolute blast! She celebrated Thanksgiving with Ryan's family and with my sister-in-law's family. She had an absolute blast eating and playing with all of our cousins. She LOVED her new ruffly princess skirt she wore.  Today she actually started to role play for the first time - she became Dr. Bela and took a stethoscope to check our lungs and our heart. She gave us a shot and even checked our ears. She even wrote prescriptions for grandma and grandpa. She put on her sunglasses, packed her bag with all of her Dr. Tools and proceeded to her Dr. office in the living room (the front door was locked thank goodness as she started to head out to work through the front office).  Ryan and I also had our first day away from her - where she spent the night with her grandparents. We also have been going out on more date nights which has been great.
So her personality has truly come out - she is definitely confident, assertive and knows what she wants. She is so sensitive and absolutely adores babies. She could sit through the entire Babies movie from beginning to end without flinching. She loves sports - is always playing basketball with her cousin Ayden. She is the popular girl in school - all the kids and teachers just adore her. She is amazingly brave - rarely cries for her shot and has to climb the tallest slides and ladders at the park She loves to play with dolls and her train sets/trucks but is partial to anything she can wear that looks like a princess. She is definitely super smart if I say so myself  as she already mastered her alphabet and her numbers - which is amazing since she has only been speaking English for about 6 months.

All in all, we couldn't be happier. Bela has been an absolutely light in our life. She has brought so much joy and happiness that we couldn't ever imagine life without her. We truly have been blessed and in a few short days she will be legally our daughter. It's hard to imagine this beautiful child has only been with us for 10 months now - it feels like she has always been our daughter and in a way, I believe she has always been my daughter - we just had help raising her for the first two years of her life. :)

Monday, July 12, 2010

Destined to Remain Connected!!

So if you weren't a believer of fate and universal connection, well this story should convince even the strongest skeptics!!  This past weekend, we hosted a get together with 3 other couples who have adopted or will be adopting from India. The picture on the left is Bela with her new friend AJ and her OLD friend Usha. Yes, Usha and Bela knew each other at the orphanage they were at! How this all happened is a pretty amazing story, which only gets better.

Back in April of this year, Ryan and I met two families at the Holt Agency picnic (which is held once a year, in Orange County). To our surprise, one of the families there adopted a little girl who was from the same orphanage as Bela! We recognized Usha from a distance and after a few minutes, we realized that she was there at BSSK (the orphanage) when we picked Bela up from India. In addition, during that visit, we actually witnessed Usha viewing a video of her parents! What are the odds!!!??? It turns out, Usha's parents picked her up just a few weeks after we picked up Bela. We have pictures and videos of Usha playing with Bela and the other kids. And now 3 months later, Usha is at the same picnic as Bela in California!! It's probably normal that they didn't remember each other however they got along great at our house. They played really well together and I'm sure they felt each other's energy - even if they physically didn't recognize each other.

So while the meeting with Usha could be considered coincidental to some skeptics (I happen to believe everything happens for a reason), this will blow your mind! The other couple that came to our house was invited by AJ's parents as they are about to pick up their son from the same city that we picked up Bela. When they arrived, they immediately recognized Bela. That was a little strange but we figured AJ's parents must have filled them in before they got here. Nope. After some discussion, it turns out that the child they are bringing home was Bela's best friend, Varun, from the orphanage she was at!!! Yes, best friend. In many of our reports about Bela, and in many of their reports about Varun, the orphanage noted just how close these two were with one another. Each one of us even wondered how we could adopt both Varun and Bela together so we could keep them together - that's how close they were! While they were at our house, Ryan bought up the videos we took and when we reviewed them we both noticed how Bela immediately gravitated toward Varun when we arrived to pick her up. In fact, the video shows that later in the day, to make her stop crying during eating time, we were asked to place Bela next to him to calm her down. Kismet!!?? So Varun is now coming to Orange County as well - literally only 30 minutes from our house. We can't wait for Bela and Varun to meet again. Even if they don't remember each other, I know they will feel each other's spirts. Afterall, they are destined to remain connected! 

According to Unicef, there are 25 million Indian orphans. Of those, only 400 or some to the USA each year. So the odds of both Usha and Varun coming to the US, within 30-60 minutes from our house, is simply amazing. Varun's mom said, "How funny is it that our kids have known each other longer than we have?" I think that statement was very intuitive and just sums up how special this really is. Bela will always have an amazing story to share about her life and it will be even more special knowing she will have childhood friends from where she was born to grow up with; something most adopted children never experience.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

4th of July - "Pop-Pop-Pop in the Sky!"

We got to celebrate Bela's first 4th of July with her friend Zaleeya and her parent's who we met before we picked up Bela. Zaleeya is also adopted from India and the girls get along great. So we headed to Z's home town and spent most of the day in the park, dancing to music, eating great food and having tons of fun in the sun. Bela seemed to have a great time dancing and running around and enjoyed her time with Z and Bela's cousins Ayden. When it came time for the fireworks however, that was a different story. We didn't know how Bela would react to the loud noises and as we suspected, she didn't like the loud sounds at first. I in fact held her and walked around singing to her as the fireworks were going off for the first 10 minutes or so. Eventually, we made a game out of the fireworks in the sky by saying, pop-pop-pop them in the sky! Bela liked that game and we sat back down to enjoy the fireworks. All-in-all it was a great day and a great evening out with friends and we hope to make it an annual tradition.

Earings - Oh My!

It seems like being a mom means making hard decisions all the time! Working in startups seemed like a breeze compared to this! While the decisions never cease and many you never think about again, there are some that you sometimes think about quite often. The one I think about is the decision to get Bela's ears pierced. Yes, piercings! It's not a life threating decision nor will it even be a major issue in a few months time, however it's amazing how certain things weigh on you!  
We started the day at the mall where we had pretzels and drinks before the piercings. Brianna, Bela's cousin, came with us for moral support as she had just gotten her ears pierced. All started great and the girls had  a blast playing in the store while we waited for Bela's turn. We waited about an hour or so and several girls (8-10 yrs) were getting their ears done. They all cried which really didn't make me feel better but Bela was too busy playing to really notice. Bela tried on purses, glasses and did her girly-girly stuff while Daddy and Brianna kept her company. I got to wait in line, fill out the paperwork and pick the earrings Bela would wearing for the next 6 months. She got these little pink faux-diamond earings that are apparently similar to her birth stone. Little did we know that what would set Bela off was the alcohol swab cleaning!  Bela gets a shot every night and of course we use an alcohol swab to clean the area prior. So when the lady went to clean her ears before the piercing - she totally lost it! She of course thought immediately that she was going to get a shot. I had the wonderful job of holding her body while Ryan held her head straight as she whaled. We said several times that this was not worth it but then we also kept saying, if not now, then when? So we pushed through it and as soon as it was over, she was fine! She played in the fountain in the mall, rode the train, all like nothing had happened!

While Bela really loves them and they look so adorable, she hasn't fully recovered from the experience I think (even a month later). She is now much more sensitive to any pain whatsoever - even non-burning shampoo in her eyes. She also won't let Ryan or I touch her earnings to clean them without a lot of discussion and coaxing. So did we need to do this - no. However, it is a tradition in my family and I know that if we didn't do it soon, she would have to wait until an age where she felt comfortable with it because the memory of the piercing would still be there. So Bela will eventually get over the piercing and life will go on and I hope that she doesn't remember getting them done! I guess this is why it's best to do the piercings when they are babies - but of course we didn't have that option.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Bye Bye Mommy and GO LAKERS.....!

So now I know why they say being a parent, especially a mom, is so hard! It's not about the physical labor or the daily duties that need to be accomplished. As a corporate executive and career woman, I know how to get things done. What is hard and perhaps what I wasn't totally ready for was just how emotionally tough and spiritually grueling it can be. Don't get me wrong, I absolutely love, love, love that I get to spend most of my time with Bela; in fact I would have it NO other way. But I wasn't prepared for all of the tough points. For instance, when we started Bela at KinderCare a few times a week, I was very gung-ho about it. Never did I anticipate having to deal with such an emotional issue. The first day, I dropped her off, she was crying for me relentlessly;. I kept thinking to myself, "Am I doing the right thing?" It got harder as the weeks went on because I started to see just how much being away from me was affecting her. She would cry every time I would pick her up, she wasn't getting the attentionshe needed in an environment like that (12 kids to 1 teacher). But I knew that she needed to be a large social environment to interact with kids her own age because she wasn't getting that at home with us. But I was so emotionally torn - literally losing sleep over what to do. Should I keep her in there, should I take her out? She would come home asking for Daddy and my heart was just sinking to the point where I seriously thought about taking her out totally because I felt that things would never get better and that I could be damaging our attachment. However, thank goodness for my husband. He was able to remain logical because he was somewhat removed from the emotional impact of the whole situation. He encouraged me to stick with it and so I did. As a result, after about 4 weeks of sending her to KinderCare part-time, today I dropped Bela off and she said, "Bye Bye Mommy" and gave me a kiss! She then started dancing with all the other kids even before I could get out the door she was dancing away! Today my heart felt so full; it was like I had just crossed a major milestone being a mom. With Bela being adopted, we have been sensitive to ensuring her attachment remains strong and moving her into pre-school at a very slow pace. So it was such an amazing experience to see how attached she is to us while she simultaenously enjoys pre-school. I think I now know why they say kids grow up so fast and to truly enjoy every moment.

One of the biggest benefits I have seen with Bela and pre-school is her language improvement. Next week will mark 5 months since we brought Bela home. Since we placed her in pre-school, her language has just exploded. Kids do learn from other kids and she seems to be much more confident speaking. Now if I could only get her to say, "Yes, Please" instead of "Yah" job will be done! :) She is still going to speech and language therapy twice a week and is in the middle of her assessment. By the end of this month, they will determine whether she has tested out and no longer needs therapy or whether she could use more support until her 3rd birthday - at which point our local school district would take her on.

This past weekend, a bunch of couples from the OC and SD area got together to have an adoption potluck in San Clemente. We have been fortunate enough to meet some amazing couple (Zeena and Azeem) who have adopted a gorgeous girl from India (Bela refers to Zaleeya as Zeeya) who have since introduced us to several other couples who have adopted in our area. Many of them are local, closed adoptions but it's truly been great to meet adoptive parents and we really believe it will be great for Bela to be friends with other children who are adopted so she remembers just how special she is and how special she is to us.

This weekend is Father's Day - Ryan's first Father's day. Not sure I can top the gift he got me (Breakfast in bed with a new Flast Screen TV), but I know it will be special. Over the last month or so, we have noticed that Bela is much more attached to me than Ryan. The main reason we believe is because I am with her most of the time while Ryan now goes into work during the day. So on the weekends, we figured that Ryan should have a Bela and Daddy day where they get to spend at least half the day together, just by themselves. Going to the park, the petting zoo, etc... are ways for her to continue building that strong attachment she has for Ryan. Our social worker was good to remind us that she is still in the attachment process so we want to continue to build on that while finding a good balance between getting some alone time for us. 

Grandma and Grandpa have also been coming over quite a bit to help me during the week when Bela is not in school so I can get some work done. The great part about that is that she is totally building a solid relationship to them and feeling attached to them as well. She misses them when they leave and enjoys playing with them when they are here - they have truly opened their hearts to loving Bela and Ryan and I both appreciate just how much time they have taken to spend with Bela each week.

So Last night, the Lakers won their 16th championship and anyone who knows me, knows that I am a die-hard fan. So since much of being a nurturing and loving parent includes passing on some passions and hobbies to your children, Bela is now chanting, "Go Lakers" and cheering and clapping when the game is on. She even recognizes the NBA logo and loves to play basketball. It's becoming so amazing to see how much of Bela's actions, words, demeanor and personality has changed since we brought her home. No longer do we have a shy child who won’t look other people in the eye – in fact, she loves to say hi to people who say hi to her; no longer do we have a scared child who wouldn’t let anyone hold her; no longer do we have a frustrated child who couldn’t tell us what she wanted; no longer do we have a stoic expression, instead it's all smiles and giggles. In addition, she seems to be taking on some of the traits and characteristics and even likes and dislikes of me and Ryan. She loves the Lakers, loves cooking with Dad (which Dad loves to do) and is very logical in her actions for the most part - much like we are. Granted she still is a 2-year old but it amazes me how much us I see in Bela. She truly is our daughter, meant for only us!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Sleep Training

It has been just a little over 4 months since Bela entered our lives and up until this week getting Bela to sleep at night was a rather difficult procedure.  We had to be careful to balance the need for bonding with the need for being able to comfort herself during sleep.  So for the first 4 months, one of us would lay down with her to help her get to sleep, which was usually a long process that could last several hours with sometimes 2 to 3 shifts per night until she fell to sleep.  We wanted to make sure she felt connected to us and knew that we'd be there for her, which is all part of bonding.  By now bela now figured out that she could get out of bed, open the door, and come into our room.  While it was very cute to see her come into our room reaching out for us, we both knew that it was not the best thing for sleep training.  So we decided that each time she did that, we'd pick her up without speaking to her and just put her back in her bed, but then she'd just get up and come into our room again, and we'd put her to bed again.  That back and forth process latest about 36 rounds that night before she finally stopped getting up and fell to sleep, it was probably around 11 PM that night.  It was rough to say the least.  We both fretted over the thought that each night we'd have to go through this back and forth over and over, so for the next week after we fell into our old habit of sleeping with her till she fell to sleep.  One thing that Bela didn't really have yet was a security blanket or favorite doll that she'd like to sleep with. So we began to put her to bed with a soft purple troll doll that her cousin Nicholas given her. And a friend's wife had quilted a beautiful green and purple blanket, and we began giving both of them to her as she went to sleep. Unfortunatley, she really didn't take to either of them, but we made sure that everytime she napped and went to sleep that we'd tuck her doll in with her underneath the soft blanket.  Then just this past Monday, we went through the steps of putting her to bed (getting her into her PJs, brushing her teeth, reading a book, etc) and after tucking her under the little blanket we gave the doll a kiss good night and told her that mommy and daddy would be downstairs and that Bela would need to go to sleep, but if she needed us she would only need to yell out "Mommy" or "Daddy" and we'd right up to get her.  She nodder her head, said night night to me, and POOF, we didn't hear a peep from her until the next morning.  Wow, could it be that easy finally to get her down to sleep?  The next few nights were the same as one of us would go through the same exact process and she'd nod her head with a big smile and say "Night Night, I luv you" and we'd close the door and she would fall to sleep.  What a relief, Bela is now secure enough to comfort herself to go to sleep - a huge sign of attachment.  Where before we'd painfully pass on the nightly shifts of laying with her until she fell to sleep, we were now high fiving each other after only taking 5 minutes to get her to bed.  We now had our evenings back and we could catch up on Lost and have some mommy and daddy time.