Saturday, July 24, 2010

The trail of O's

To help ease the transition and smooth the trials and tribulations of toddler hood, I have tried to get John to take on a comfort object. When he was around 18 months old, Paul started being more exclusive with "blue blanket" and it helped ease him through our move and other stressful situations. He now loves to cuddle with blue blanket whenever relaxing, sweetly caressing her soft corners. During his first days home I showed John different blankets and stuffies, but nothing seemed to take. I noticed a pillow featured in many of his foster family photos and placed it into his bed along with a blanket/bear sent by his Aunt Karen. They seem to help with sleep, but neither object receives as much love as... THE PINK CUP. Let me rephrase that: the pink cup fully stocked with Cheerios. Based on how much he loves to eat, I really wasn't that surprised that he clung to the self-feeding cup like it was his BFF. Seriously. You cannot pry the thing out of his hand for anything. He even tries to drink his milk while holding onto the cup. Yesterday I bought an additional self-feeding cup, but I have a sick feeling it will not be as loved and he will cry for his pink one.
Here is some photographic proof of how much he loves to eat. He liked the peaches so much he tried to eat the container. Here's a shot shortly after he sucked down a serving of ketchup and then began to eat the paper cup. And then there's the ravioli. (The next time I served these I used a bib.)

Monday, July 12, 2010

Yin and Yang

The brothers van are a riot. They are completely different in many ways, with the exception of their profound love of screeching and turning everything into a drum. John has been adjusting remarkably well to his new family and we couldn't be more pleased. Aside from a few night wake ups wanting to eat (he is still taking formula from a bottle - we are waiting a few weeks before attempting to wean) he has been sleeping very well. The first few nights after Paul came home were an nightmare. He refused to sleep in his crib and would scream like crazy unless someone was holding him AND moving. I lost several pounds circling the basement for hours singing "Jesus Loves Me" and "This Little Light of Mine" and CJ spotted the infamous black bear in our backyard at 4am (one of the highlight's of Paul's adoption story!). Not John. We learned not to even try the crib and instead have him set up in a pack in play in our bedroom. After getting sufficiently drowsy from the bottle, I place him in his bed and stay in the room until he falls asleep. Which he does with little to no fussing. Even tonight, when he was struggling to wind down, he was able to put himself to sleep. It took months before Paul was able to do that and even to this day he often needs reminders to settle down and go to sleep.
The other big difference lies in what CJ refers to as motivation. Paul has always been a mover and a shaker; he is a very determined problem solver who was ready to take on the world as soon as he was fully mobile (at 9 months old). John is very passive about things and will get frustrated when faced with a problem. It will be interesting to see how it all plays out as they get older. For now, I am just trying to keep my head above water and thinking about investing in a good pair of earplugs.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

The van family three becomes four!

We left bright and early Wednesday morning for the big trip. Unfortunately I misread the flight departure time and got us there with over two hours to spare. CJ watched a movie and I tried to fill in some of John's adoption journal. Let's just say it's a good thing I have been recording some of the past two year's events on this blog because the journal contained a whopping two entries. After a slight delay on the plane, we arrived in the sweltering heat of NYC. A street thermometer read 104 degrees. No lie. We dropped our stuff off at the hotel, grabbed a sandwich from a nearby deli and headed to Times Square to take in a show. The walk from subway to ticket booth to theater was unbearably hot and we were grateful to spend a few hours in the cool air watching Promises, Promises. We grabbed a bite to eat at a Argentinian restaurant and then headed back to the hotel to refresh and wait.
Around 10 pm it was time to make our way to JFK. I felt we were pushing it a little close to the edge time wise (John's plane was due to arrive early, around 11:39) but I am glad we did not get there any sooner as the waiting area was smaller than the place we met Paul and had no seating in the direct line of view. When we got there the terminal was empty except for the other two waiting families. CJ regaled them with some of our previous pickup horror stories (in a fashion similar to a veteran mom telling stories of labor to a pregnant lady about to deliver) and tried to offer some advice. The place quickly filled up with passengers arriving from various destinations as we stared warily at the arrival information board awaiting our son's flight. My mouth was incredibly dry and I regretted the several glasses of tea I drank at the hotel in a effort to stay awake. CJ was the picture of calmness while I paced nervously. Finally the plane from San Franciso was at the gates and passengers began unloading. I spotted a Korean woman with a baby sling and tried to see if it was our son. One of the other waiting families was closer to the front and assumed it was their child (a daughter) based on the red outfit and tufts of hair. Tufts of hair? Wait, let's back up. The day before we left I received pictures in the mail from our social worker and learned that John possessed very long, wispy hair. So when I saw the hair I knew it was him. But the other family began video taping and taking pictures anyway. It was weird. Our greeter looked at his tags (the children are required to wear bracelets identifying them to avoid potential mix ups) and then looked at us. Yep. Our son. The escort approached us and I caught my first glimpse. He was sleeping peacefully against her chest. Aside from the hair, I noticed that he was chubby. Really chubby. And so darn cute! The escort passed him to me in his carrier and he woke up with a start. And immediately started crying. I knew this was coming and wasn't too shocked or upset. We were total strangers at this point and I'm sure we smelled funny. The escort spoke very good English (Paul's did not, she said maybe 2-3 words to us and took off) and told us how John did on the plane. She said he started to get so upset near the end of the flight that he had vomited several times. He continued to cry in my arms and threw up twice; once on my foot and once down my arm. Now CJ & I both struggle with barf and thankfully Paul has a stomach of steel. So we were both totally unprepared for the vomit. No spit up cloth, no paper towels. Thankfully, the escort and one of the other waiting moms (she said she has a barfer at home) helped clean me up. Unfortunately the smell got to me (it was all over his carrier and shirt at this point) and I felt pretty awful for the rest of the night. I know some people meet their children for the first time and it is love at first sight. I wish I could say that it was like that with my boys, but it is definitely a love that grows slowly. Between being an overly caffeinated nervous wreck and waiting to throw up, I wasn't quite ready for the love yet. But he is definitely our son and we are going to love him forever.
Being parents for the second time helped the transition process tremendously. During the cab ride home CJ busted out the Baby Einstein video and had John instantly transfixed. Back at the hotel we offered him puffs (ridiculously over priced and completely addictive to babies) and he was happy as a clam. CJ and J fell asleep watching the discovery channel and I nervously tossed and turned, worrying about the baby falling off the bed, worrying that we would miss our flight home, worrying about how things would change once we did get home. But we got home without a hitch; J had a blast walking through the airport and did wonderfully on the plane. We are learning that J is an incredibly mellow baby. He is the yin to P's yang. But more on that later.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

The boy is coming, the boy is coming!

I had about reached my wits end waiting for the phone call. Seriously! We went out to Kim's house for 4th of July weekend to celebrate Karen's biannual visit, and she said it would just figure that we'd get the call after they left. My husband continued his mantra of, "I won't hold my breath" and I figured nothing would happen until at least Tuesday. Of course the 4th of July in Korea is simply another day on the calendar and Monday was not a holiday for them. Sure enough, I got a phone call around 10 am with a 516 area code. Previous to this moment I had made sure our social worker had her own ringtone so that I could begin an early freak out at the sound of the phone. When it rang and I saw the area code I thought, "nah... it's a holiday!" and even when the woman announced herself I thought, "They are probably just harassing me for some missing paperwork that was suddenly discovered or asking the same question that I have already answered 12 times." Nope. There was a single solitary social worker in the office and she just thought I would like to know that the flight information came through for our son. He is coming home on Wednesday. THIS Wednesday??? July 7???? My extremities began to tingle and then my entire body went numb. We have been waiting for this call for seven and a half months. It was fitting that it came on a holiday (and my sister-in-law's birthday!) seeing as we got the referral over Thanksgiving. And if the plane is delayed he will have the same gotcha date (minus four months) as Paul.
So the crazy preparations have begun. In fact I need to get offline so I can make some more phone calls and get packing! In the meantime I am left with a photo of my son from four months ago. I hope we recognize him when he gets off the plane!