Thursday, December 10, 2009

Finalization Party

We will be celebrating the finalization of Leah’s adoption this Saturday, December 12th at 6:00pm at the Roma Restaurant, 203 Lansdowne Road in Fredericksburg.  We invite everyone to join us to celebrate that our beautiful daughter is recognized officially by the courts as ours and only ours. 

To celebrate, we had a family portrait done on December 4th, the day we found out Leah is all ours.  Enjoy!

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Eight Months!

P1030581 Dear Angel Doll,

                Here we are again, another month has gone by and you continue to amaze Mom and I with your growth and development.  This month you have started eating real food quite a bit, adjusted to a new sleep schedule, and overall become more “nosey” with everything – not that you weren’t nosey before, but your favorite pastime is to look around your environment.  You have continued to play a lot with Cousin Dottie when she comes down, pulling her hair and taking her toys, but that’s OK, that’s how little babies like you learn.  Mommy has started to really work on your hair quite a bit, and it is looking better and better every day.  You still haven’t gotten any more teeth, although we think that you might have a couple ready to pop out of your sweet little mouth any day now.  You hold your arms up when you want to be picked up and are shaking your toys in your hands just like when Mommy shows you “All done!”  We know you don’t want to play with those toys any more!  You are so smart!  You have also started eating on your own—Uncle Lucas and Cioci showed you how to hold your own bottle and now you don’t need any help.  Of course, sometimes Mommy and Daddy just want some snuggle time, so we hold you and feed you anyway.  We don’t want you to grow up too fast!

                You’ve seen a lot of people this month, you’ve been very good with Colleen on Wednesdays when mommy goes for her appointments, you were very good when Grandma and Grandpa came down from Rhode Island to see you, and you were even good when Cathy and Peter came over from the Free Lance-Star to talk to Daddy.  Mommy and Daddy took you to Richmond to a potluck for adopted families and you were perfect the whole time, not even letting out a peep.  Auntie Beth showed you off and of course you were the HEAD Little Baby at the event.  You also went to see the folks at Dr. Leonard’s and had 2 shots and didn’t let out a peep, instead looking at the nurse as if to say “is that it?”  You went with Mommy and Daddy to the hearing aid place and to the dentist, where of course everybody was loving you, and you even screamed for Daddy while Mommy went to the bathroom.  And of course, there was the infamous trip to Ruby Tuesday’s recently where by the end of the meal, you had 6 waiters and waitresses standing around you admiring you!  Overall you have continued to be a very very good baby when momy and daddy are in public or when we have company.

                There are a couple of problem areas that we are trying to work on with you.  You are very attached to Mommy, to the point that if she leaves the room you start to cry/yell.  This is hard for Mommy, since she has to give you her undivided attention at all times and doesn’t get many breaks.  You also are still having trouble getting used to daddy, and lately have not been eating for him, making this harder for us.  But we know that these little things are just temporary and that you will grow out of them.  You have been EXCELLENT in the car lately, and Mommy and Daddy are very proud of you for that.  You continue to play a lot with your toys, and are getting more sleep which is good for your development.  We have started to let you cry things out more, and we are helping you to learn that it is OK if Mommy is in the other room or Daddy can’t pick you up all of the time, and it will get better.

                On November 30, the final adoption order was signed by the county court and we received it on December 4 in the mail.  Mommy and I have received the best gift of all: the gift of a child, Leah Katherine, you are now ours.  You are now a Kosior, nobody will be coming around questioning what mommy and daddy are doing, no more visits to Richmond, and no more expensive legal costs.  We knew at 3:56AM on April 8 that we had the most precious gift, Daddy knows it and feels it every time he holds you, and Mommy sees it in your eyes when you smile and make faces at her.  Nobody can question anything anymore, it is final.  On Saturday, Mommy and Daddy are going to get together with some friends to celebrate the news, although we always knew in our hearts that it would happen and that you were meant to be our wonderful daughter.  Leah Katherine Kosior, we will always love you, and your gift in our lives is one that we will carry with us and treasure forever.

Love,

Daddy and Mommy

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Seven Month Sweetheart


Sweet Baby Leah,

It is hard to believe another month has come and gone in the first wonderful year of your life. I look at you and I can’t believe the time has flown by so quickly. It has been another adventurous month, and you have made it through with flying colors, literally!

This month, you took your first airplane ride as we went to visit Nana in Florida. Everyone on the planes absolutely loved you, and you had no problems with going up or coming down—your ears were just fine and you didn’t let out so much as a peep either way. You were charming and got your first pair of wings from the flight attendants and let our seatmates hold you and enjoy your company. Once we got to Florida, the challenge began. It was VERY hot and you had a hard time sleeping. It was a sad time for all of us with your Papa John being sick, but it was especially tough on you because you decided to have two teeth come in while we were there! Your little teeth are so sweet, and quite sharp, and you show them with pride.

Still, we had a lot of fun and when we got home, we were still off and running. You had a doctor’s appointment right away and you weighed in at 16 pounds 4 ounces and 26 inches in height. Mama was able to make a notation on your growth chart finally, you reach! You also went with Mama to the dentist and all the hygienists came running in from their various rooms just to see you. You are such a sweet baby with so much magnetism!

You are talking almost constantly when you are awake, and you are so nosy and inquisitive and happy. You love to laugh and are so silly. You have a snorting little giggle that is so cute. You love to play with toys, and pretty much anything is a toy to you now. If you can grab it and stuff it in your mouth, it’s fair game! This includes other people’s feet and hair.

You are on a new sleep schedule this month as we try to make sure you get enough sleep for your growing development. You have taken to the new schedule very well and seem to greet your bed with a new level of respect—and this helps Mom and Dad feel better too. The whole family is running like a much more well oiled machine.

You are sitting up beautifully now. It is rare that we bring your car seat in with us to restaurants and stores—you would rather sit in a high chair or in the grocery cart. The cart makes Mama nervous, so we will get you a cart seat cover that is soft so you can enjoy it more. The high chair is fantastic, you can be nosy and look around at the people around us and have fun. You also get great enjoyment out of your high chair at home and sit there for meals now instead of in your baby swing. You also sit in the stroller without the car seat any more. Who said you could be such a big girl? Where is that squishy little newborn we brought home who just cuddled and slept all day?

You are also starting to tolerate other people better. As long as Mama isn’t around and you can’t see her or hear her voice, you are calming down and enjoying time with other people a bit more. It is still a slow go, but we are getting there. This has made it easier to leave you with the babysitter or with Daddy for a while and for Mama to have some time to get things done. You’ve also been up to visit your birthmother and sister and did very well with Tanya pulling on your hair—you didn’t make a squeak, but I could see the wheels turning in your head, plotting your revenge. You also had great fun on Halloween, dressing up as Princess Leia and helping us hand out candy to all the kids who came to the door. You and Cousin Dottie were so cute and seem to be getting along better now that you can hold your own.

You are eating like a champion. You still do not love rice cereal, but you are a great fan of applesauce, sweet potatoes, pears, carrots, and of course the new love of your culinary life, bread. Any type of bread hits the spot with you, and a morning isn’t complete until you’ve mangled half a mini bagel. You aren’t too crazy about other solid foods like puffs or teething biscuits, but you love some bread! Your face lights up just to see it.

We had our last appointment with Beth the Social Worker as part of your adoption, and pretty soon, you will be ours forever. The paperwork and courts will grind their way together and then we will be signed, sealed, and delivered YOURS.

You are such a joy to us, and we are so proud to be your parents. You have been the greatest gift and treasure to us and we hope that we can be the parents you deserve every day. We love you, Leah Katherine.

Mama & Daddy

Friday, November 6, 2009

Last Post-Placement Today!

Today we traveled to Richmond for our final post-placement adoption meeting with our marvelous social worker, Beth Johnston. It went very well, and we took care of all the last payments to JFS (Thank you, credit card, for arriving!). Apparently the interlocutory order will expire next Saturday and then Beth can submit our paperwork to the courts recommending that our adoption be finalized.

We got home and dropped a quick email to our attorney, Colleen, and she is ready for action on her end. We will hear from her paralegal soon about some other paperwork and then get a court date!!!

In all, it took from July 31, 2008 to November 6, 2009 to get from our first homestudy visit to our final post-placement appointment. Not too bad at all :-) We went from zero to family in just over a year.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Six Months (Better Late than Never!)

Dear Putch Putch,

Well, your mom and I can't believe it, but you are already 6 months old! The time has gone by so fast, yet it has been the best 6 months of our life. You continue to amaze us every day with what you are learning,doing, and trying all by yourself.

In the last month you've developed quite a bit. You've managed to do considerably better in the car, crying only a little bit to let us know that you don't like it back there and we understand that. You've started to sit up, with mommy and I helping you, and have also been playing a lot in your exersaucer. You continue to giggle when mommy and I make noises for you, and you've continued to put that great smile on most of the time. You have really started to eat "normal" food, mainly apple sauce and pears, and you seem to do very well in the high chair when mommy and daddy are eating. In general, you are becoming more aware of your surroundings and like to look around a lot.

In terms of activities this month, you continue to go with mommy on her walks with Lisa and Daniel, you met Colleen, our babysitter for the first time and were crabby for her, and you even got to go to the Pentagon and watch Cioci and Uncle Lucas run in the Army ten-miler. Uncle Mike and Auntie Lesley came up from Atlanta once again to spoil you rotten, and right now you are in Florida with Nana and Aunt Estell. This month you've also added yet another mode of transportation to your travels: the airplane, where you were fantastic the entire time. You went up to Baltimore with us and Mike and Lesley to get some books and have lunch, and you also went to the national book festival in Washington, where you were admired and loved by Judy Blume and Marilynne Robinson. You also got to go with mom to get her hair done, and were the hit of the show and all of the ladies adored you and were talking about what to do with all of your hair. Finally, you also went up to Quantico 2 times to meet daddy for lunch, and even let him hold you, which was the highlight of his day. Another thing you did this month was to eat a piece of bread at the Pines of Florence restaurant when we went out with Cioci and her friends from work, that bread was all over the place and you loved it!

You are still sleeping well for the most part, although you have continued to move around a lot and wake yourself up during the night. Mommy has started leaving you by yourself in your room and closing the door so that she can sleep, after feeding and changing you, in order to help you fall asleep on your own. You still are very very crabby with daddy, even crabbing for him all night on October 05, but daddy knows that you were just tired and are not used to him. Every day you will have an hour with daddy after he gets home from work so that you will get used to him, and so far it's working out very well. You are still as adorable as ever and very good when everyone wants to hold you and love you.

Six months of happiness is just the beginning to a wonderful family life that we are looking forward to having with you. On October 01, Daddy took care of you and played music for you until you went to sleep. By the time he put you to bed, he was crying thinking of how much he loved you and how lucky we were to have you. Mommy and daddy are so proud when we go out places and everyone adores you and loves you, making us feel even better about our decision to have you as our daughter. In the first 6 months of your life, you have been to 15 states, traveled 5 different modes of transportation (including the Washington and Boston subways), and had so many parties that we can't even count. Above all, you continue to develop into a wonderful little girl, and we are very excited about the months and years ahead of watching you grow into a Kosior.

Love,
Daddy and Mommy

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Five Month Old Baby!

Sweet Leah,

We can hardly believe it has been 5 months since the first moment we saw you and held you. The time has flown by, but this past month in particular has been an absolute whirlwind. You have been so patient with all the changes we underwent, far more patient than I (your mother) was during much of the time.

The month started out in New York, where we visited your grandfather while he was recovering from his heart attack. You made a million friends on the train ride up there, and a million more while we were home in Oswegatchie. It was very special for me to walk you through the rooms of the house where I grew up and introduce you to the people who meant so much to me.

You also got to test out two new modes of transportation: Greyhound buses and city rail. We took the bus from New York to Boston and traveled the city by T. You made many friends on the bus as well, and I think you enjoyed the trip around Boston. You barely made a squeak as we walked the Freedom Trail, and you seem to enjoy sitting in your car seat in the stroller where you can watch me as I push you all over the place. You had lots of fun at Daddy's Norries convention where you screamed during Mommy's speech and it took four women to finally settle you down after more than 30 minutes! You have, in general, become a little bit less happy to be around people you don't know--you cried a lot this month visiting friends and family. This has been a little bit hard not only on Mommy (who would welcome a rest for her arms!) but also on everyone who wants to love and hug you. Towards the end of this month, you seem to be getting better, but you are certainly very selective about who you want to spend time with. You even went to spend an afternoon with Wendy and the boys, and seemed to enjoy yourself very much, although you slept your head off when you got home! Towards the end of the month, you started getting along better with Daddy too--yesterday you sat with him for nearly 3 hours without so much as a peep! This makes him very happy, as he has been very patient but has had a hard time with your apparent distaste for him.

After the trip to Boston, you got to go back to Rhode Island and visit Daddy's parents. There was a big party for you there and people came to visit from 3 states just to see you! It was very special for you to meet Mommy's friend Lynn who is also adopted and Mommy and Daddy's friend Denise who would like to adopt. We were happy that you accepted cuddling from both of them! The entire community there spoiled you absolutely rotten--you received many wonderful gifts! You also got to know your cousin Ethan better.

By the time we came home, we'd been away for 20 days and we were all exhausted. Daddy and I sat down and figured out that in your short life, you have visited 11 different states already! (New York, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Virginia) We are planning only one more trip, this one in October, and it will cover 4 more states. Then you are finished travel, we promise! Mommy for one is totally over it! But you are so patient and such a good baby that you take the worry and burden off it for us.

As soon as we got home, you had to go to the doctor and survive another round of booster shots. Still, you are over it almost as quickly as you get upset! You weighed over 15 pounds and were 23 1/2 inches long. We are waiting for you to hit the magical 2 feet mark, but I bet you are there by now! We can see a couple little white bumps in your sweet little mouth and we suspect you might well be developing some teeth! You are drooling unbelievably, so it wouldn't surprise us in the least if that were the case.

This has been a big month in your development, too! You are starting to sit up on your own for 5-10 seconds at a time before tipping over. You have relaxed your fists, and now are grabbing things with your hands and putting them in your mouth. You grab some things we would rather you didn't, like Mommy's drinks and the tissues that have an entertaining way of continuing to pop out of the box. You have started to eat solid foods. You have a new exersaucer and you play with all the toys now, making them play music or attempting to chew on them. It is a new favorite in addition to the busy chair and the monkey mat!

You are eating real food now and while you do not like bananas (good girl!) or rice cereal, you seem fine with applesauce and squash! We can't give you 6 ounces of formula yet as you have a tendency to spit up if you eat that much, but it doesn't stop you from wanting it. You have graduated away from the newborn nipples on your bottle and are using bigger bottles now than before. You still like to hold them when you think of it, but nothing replaces snuggle time with Mommy.

You are making new sounds, most especially your "Pteradactyl scream" which you will do until you cough, and then you giggle at how loud you can get. Your laugh is the best laugh in the whole world. You also are babbling and chatting up a storm, which is fun. You love when we make silly sounds to you!

Watching you grow and change is so rewarding. Your personality is developing into a total ray of sunshine. We are still stopped by people in restaurants who interrupt our dinner just to tell us how sweet and cute you are. We know we have the most precious gift of all--the gift of you and we treasure you every day in every way. We couldn't have chosen a better daughter. We love you.

Mama and Daddy

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Updates!

Ok, it's been a couple weeks and I'm going to try and be better about updating a bit more regularly. However, please don't feel shy about inviting yourself over to visit Leah if you haven't gotten to see her yet! Just drop me an email or contact me over at Facebook and we'll set up a time!

So we had Leah's 4 month appointment on August 24th--a bit late but better late than never. She had her next round of booster shots which was not pleasant, but we got through it. I'm hoping we're almost done with them! She weighed in at 15 pounds, 1 ounce and was 23 1/2 inches long. She has developed a little rash, but it seems to be clearing up. They swabbed her throat for strep just in case the mystery virus was still hanging on and man did she hate that! But the results came back clear and the rash is clearing up, so we're chalking that one up to heat and drool.

On August 28th, Beth our social worker came by the house for our second post-placement follow up visit. It was a nice visit all around, I was proud to show her Leah's room, which was a rabbit hutch the first time she was here. She loved it and loved the color, which made me feel great! We had a great visit--talked about Leah's health, about relations with the birthmom, any issues coming up relating to stress and parenting, and that was about it. She was telling us about some hot springs she had taken her son to when he was little and needed some soothing and I later asked her about it again and she told me where they were. I've looked them up on line and found the B&B and resort where they are located and Michael and I have decided to go there for our anniversary next year.

Other than that, Leah is doing just great! I can't believe another month has flown by almost--in one week she'll be 5 months old and I'll be writing another letter. Sheesh, they weren't kidding when they said time goes by so quickly. It's breath-taking. Her development and growth changes every day. Occasionally now, she will sit up on her own for a few seconds at a time--like 10-15 seconds before tipping over. She has got the biggest, happiest smile and amazes me every day.

In other news, my friend Donna is finishing up her homestudy. I'm so excited for her and hope her journey goes as smoothly as ours has been! Congratulations, Donna! Can't wait to meet your baby!

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Four Month Girl!



Dear Baby Doll,

Here you are, 4 months old, and getting bigger and stronger. We still realize that we are so lucky to have you, and you remind us of this every day. During the last month you have made progress in the car not screaming as much, and you have become very attached to your mom. While this is a good thing, when dad comes home and wants to hold you and take care of you, you've been getting very upset which is unacceptable! :-) However, daddy has come up with a system that works for you, involving letting you scream for a bit, then rocking you until you go to sleep. You
spent all night July 13th with daddy and were very good, only taking a bit to settle down to sleep. You've also become quite the celebrity on the WebCam, getting together with grammy and grampy, Nana, Auntie Paula, and even Uncle Franc and Auntie Cristina in Ecuador.

Unfortunately you had a virus and got sick this month, which was very hard for mom and dad. We took you to the hospital, where all of the nurses were holding you and adoring you. Luckily you got better, but mom and dad definitely knew that something was wrong when you were screaming when we touched you and weren't eating. But don't worry, daddy got the same virus you did, and doesn't blame you for screaming since everything hurt. You have still been playing a lot with mom during the day, and telling us baby stories that we love. You spent a couple of days with Auntie Melissa
who came down to give mom a break, and even met Auntie Kerianne up in Washington. Right now you are up in New York with mom, enjoying time with PopPop, and of course being held by all of the people up in Star Lake. Mom and dad took you up to Baltimore to visit Tasha and Mary, who of course adored you and fed you while we ate and had a great time. You took yet another trip on the train and were excellent the entire time, even with mommy finding her way around Penn Station in New York. Next week you will go to Boston for the first time and meet some of daddy's friends in the
Norries community, and then back to Grandma's and grandpa's for yet another party. Boy, for such a little baby, you've certainly managed to have a lot of parties.

At 4 months you seem to be developing as you should, today was your first day eating cereal and you responded pretty well to it. Right now a challenge is getting you back on your sleep schedule, since while you were sick and in pain you woke up a lot during the night. You have also started rolling over in bed, which scares you since you are just used to being on your tummy. But don't worry, we will help you adjust to it and you will be a pro very soon. As more and more time goes by, and as we get
closer to Auntie Beth's next visit and the time to see Judge Dalton, mom and dad are realizing more and more how much we love you and cannot imagine life without you. You have changed our lives so much for the better, and have brought us all closer together as a family. You should never ever forget that there is not one single thing more important than our family that we have built, and we can only look forward to many many happy days and years together watching you grow and develop into even more of a special girl than you already are. It is a wonderful thing for dad to be able to come home and say "Hi Darlin'" and scoop you up in his arms after a long day at work. It is a wonderful gift to have mom be home with you during the day and watch you develop. Most of all, without question, you are the best part of our life, Little Leah, and will be for a very long time.

All our love,
Daddy and Mama

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Leah's Mystery Ailment

So if you and I are friends on Facebook, you'll have seen all my posts about Leah's mystery disease. But if not, I'll bring everyone up to speed.

Last Friday, I noticed that Leah slept all day long. As in, I think she was awake for approximately 3 hours. Whenever we would move her at all, she would scream like she was in pain. She wasn't eating very much either.

Overnight, I noticed that she was getting really, really hot. Around 5AM, I took her temperature and it was 101 under her arm, or about 102 core temperature. I knew this was not good, so I called my mom for advice, who suggested Tylenol and a sponge bath. This worked for a while, but when she was still not eating, was still screaming when we touched her, and was still listless we decided to call the doctor.

The doctor on call returned our call almost immediately and suggested that we go to the ER. We had been mulling over that possibility all day. Leah, when healthy, has turned into an extremely active and extroverted baby, so this was totally unlike her. We took her to the ER, and I will give Mary Wash Hosp credit, they saw her immediately--it was so fast I thought they were calling me up for more paperwork and instead the nurse asked where the patient was. Having sat in the MWH waiting room for 5 hours with a broken leg, I was impressed.

So they did the standard tests, took her temp and pulse and oxygen rates, her temp was 100.7 when we got there. They did a urinalysis and drew blood (fun for mom on both accounts--why do they make moms hold down screaming babies for things like catheters and needle sticks?!) and then we got sent to a waiting room.

I had left in such a hurry, I hadn't even stopped to consider packing her diaper bag, and by now she was starting to get a little hungry. The nurse found us some formula and I called my sister and asked her to bring over some more. The doctor finally came back after a couple hours and told us that the urinalysis was clear and the blood didn't show anything alarming. His best guess was that it was some sort of virus that would eventually burn itself out with the fever. He told us to follow up with the pediatrician on Monday and that they would call us if anything serious turned up.

We went home and waited it out. She actually seemed to be improving on Sunday, as she was a bit more lively and eating better. She was not sleeping at night, however. I think the Friday sleep turned her days and nights all around, and so we were up ALL NIGHT. Monday morning, Michael called the doctor while I tried to doze for a while, and we got an appointment. I took Leah up and they gave her a check up and again, couldn't find anything. I took the initial lab results with me and Dr. Crane said nothing points to anything suspicious. Leah's fever was down, but she had developed a nasty rash. Dr. Crane said that oftentimes if a virus is to blame, at the end of its lifecycle it will manifest as a rash and that's how you know that the virus is dying off. She suggested more rest, feed her what she would tolerate, and continue the Tylenol for pain.

We got home and there was a call from MWH's lab asking me to call back, which made me very nervous. I called and spoke to the doctor, who said they had possibly found a bacteria in one of the cultures. It was a common bacteria and more likely than not, it was from her skin and had just found its way into the sample, but they would know more in 24 hours and would call back if it required medical attention.

To date, we haven't heard from them and it's been 48 hours since I spoke to them. This is hopefully good news. Today Leah is back to being her normal self, which is to say a total ray of sunshine. She's back to giggling, smiling, babbling, snuggling, etc. Her sleep is not totally normal--she woke up 3 times last night, but each time after a feeding or a pacifier, she went right back to sleep, unlike on Monday night when she was up from 11:30 to 4:30 and I wanted to kill myself (thanks again to Melissa for coming so Mom could have naptime!). We'll see what happens, we have a big week coming up with our travel next week, so I'm trying to take it easy now so that she'll be well rested for the journey to New York. I know she will be good medicine for her PopPop and seeing him doing better will be good medicine for me, so fingers crossed it all goes well.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Look What I Can Do!

Leah has made some big gains this month already!

First of all, occasionally she holds her bottle by herself. Ususally I can't capture this in any appreciable way on camera because I'm holding her. However, this weekend when we were with Tasha, she held it and since I was not holding her at the time, I got a picture of her doing it! WOW!



I've also noticed when I go to retrieve her in the mornings from her sleep that she is often rolled over from how she went to sleep. Today I captured her as she rolled over on our bed.



Our little girl is growing up, no doubt about it! It's wondrous to watch.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

A Visit with Tasha


Yesterday, we drove up to Baltimore to visit with Tasha, Leah's birthmom. She has gone through a lot of upheaval in the three months since Leah was born, so I was very happy that we could visit her and bring her a little sunshine.

We arrived almost an hour late courtesy of the DC DOT (which is now officially on my list of DOT's that I cannot stand), but it was fine. We hung out at Tasha's place for another hour, during which her sister came by to visit, and then we headed out to where it all began: The Cheesecake Factory!

It was fun--we ate outside overlooking the paddleboats and aquarium, which I am definitely looking forward to taking Leah to someday. It was so nice to have a wonderful afternoon to catch up and just really enjoy ourselves, the pressure is off from the adoption, Michael and I can relax, and just enjoy this young woman in our lives.

It was hard to say goodbye, but nice to drive on with a text coming into my cell that read, "Thanks for everything, you are doing an amazing job. I couldn't have picked better parents in the world than you. Love ya!"

We also gave Tasha the album yesterday with the cards everyone had made and about 125 pictures of Leah's first 3 months. She actually cried over everyone's notes and sentiments. I told her there might be a few more on the way, so if you haven't sent one yet, but want to, feel free. We'll go visit her again this fall AFTER the baseball season--Baltimore sucks when everyone's in town for the O's.

It was tough to say goodbye, but the joy of an open adoption is that we're only saying "Goodbye for now" and we know we'll see her again! It's great that she's so close by and we can have regular visits. This adoption has turned into everything I didn't think I wanted, and it's made me so happy.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Three Month Girl

Sweet Leah,

Today marks a celebration of three months since you first put your stamp on this world, since Daddy and I first earned the title of "parent", and since we first fell in love with all our hearts with a perfect little stranger. It has been a whirlwind, to say the least, and you have been so good and so patient through it all. The days are blending together, it's getting harder to remember what happened when and how, and hard to carve out time to write down our memories, which is sad. We must try harder!

You currently seem to be in the midst of a big growth spurt. For a while this month, we had you eating every 3 1/2 hours or so, but now you are back to demanding food every 2 1/2 hours and you want a lot of it! I have had to go through your clothes twice now and get rid of things that you can't fit into any more, some of which you never wore! And it looks like we're going to have to go on a shopping trip for some sleepers--you can't stretch out like you love doing while wearing your 0-3 month sleepers any more! This morning on the scale, you registered 13 pounds 3 ounces, which makes you gaining roughly a pound a month!

This month you've also had to endure some serious time in the car. You had a mini taste of it when we traveled to New Jersey, but then you had major car time when we drove to New York. The trip to New Jersey was pretty good, but the trip home was a challenge. Ditto the trip to New York, relatively speaking, it was better going up than coming home. How you can scream for the majority of 7 hours, I do not know. Not only would our throats be killing us, we'd be exhausted. But you've raised it to an art form.

You've met tons of new people this month and enjoyed every last one of them. You got cozy with Uncle Russell and Auntie Amy when they came all the way from Georgia to see you. They loved you as we all do, as did Auntie Amy's family. And of course, you met two famous authors this month, Annie Barrows and Janet Evanovich, both of whom wanted to steal you and take you home with them. You were also the star of the hospital waiting rooms in ICU and in the family room when PopPop was recovering in the cardiac care unit. Everyone loved you to bits, and you charmed the socks off them, even getting the nurses to allow you in for short visits when they should not have done so. And of course, PopPop's friend Beth loved having you at her house too.

This month you also took your first trip by boat. You have now traveled by car, boat, and train, once you take a plane trip you'll be a seasoned traveler! You didn't care for being in the boat in your car seat, but when we let you 'drive' or when we walked around in the fresh air, you loved it.

You seemed to thrive in the mountain air and slept like a champion our entire visit in New York/Vermont. In fact, sleeping is one of the things you continue to do very well--you often sleep through the night, and when you don't it's only because you have fallen asleep early and need to wake up to eat and have a quick diaper change before catching another 3 or 4 hours. We find it extraordinary, as does everyone else who wonders if we know how lucky we are to have a sleeping baby? (Of course we do! Now if we could just figure out the car thing!)

You and Cousin Dottie certainly keep us all on our toes. While we were in New York, the two of you kept riling each other up--one of you and then the other. I suspect when I look at you that you are plotting against us already. Your aunt and uncle and father and I will all have to get a game plan before you get a whole lot older or we're in big trouble!

Your favorite toy continues to be the monkey mat. You will now play on it for an hour before getting tired. You still love the ceiling fan and have reached an agreement with the baby swing, which you happily sit in during our dinnertime, and when you are getting crabby before naptime and need to settle down. You always flop to the left hand side of the swing and just lay there, listening to the music and swinging until you fall asleep. The swing makes trips to all 3 floors of the house, but that's just the way you like it.

You are much more smiley and vocal. You have developed a laugh that absolutely kills me. It's a whole body laugh, your little eyes scrunch up, you open your mouth, kick your feet and laugh. This makes me laugh, which makes you laugh harder. It is your most adorable new feature. You do it if I make silly faces at you or make silly sounds. Your babbling is reaching new heights of performance--you are starting to talk back now and love it if we imitate the sounds that you make. When you get really excited, your arms and legs are flying while you talk. We're sure you're telling us good stories, we just wish we knew what they meant!

Technologically speaking, you're advanced too! We now enjoy video conference calls to Grammy and Grampy on the computer and the camera just loves you. They love seeing you and we love showing you off. It's a win-win situation! We hope to get PopPop and Nana on board with it and your aunties as well.

Sweet baby, you have brought so much joy to our lives, we can't imagine life without you. It seems like you've always been here, neither Daddy nor I can remember what life was like before you. We're glad we can't. All we know now is that love is spelled L-E-A-H.

Love,
Mama and Daddy

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Happy Two Months, Leah!


Dear Angel Daughter Leah Katherine,

You are now 2 months old and we still cannot believe what a miracle we have witnessed with you coming into our lives. The past month has seen you starting to see more, say more (cooing and babbling), and even stretching your muscles and playing on the floor. You spent one night with daddy all alone and you were so good and did not even so much as give a whimper. You also went up to Grammy and Grampy's in Rhode Island and were excellent the entire time, on the train and all. Auntie Paula and Auntie Ellen got their first chance to hold you and love you so much that they were fighting over which one would take care of you. You smiled for both Grammy
and Grampy, touching their hearts like never before. Uncle Mike and Aunt Lesley came up from Atlanta and got their first chance to take care of you and love you. Also, mom and dad had an open house for all of our friends to see you and everybody got the chance to hold, feed, and love you and were all touched by your beauty and cuteness. Mom also took you to the doctor, where you had some shots and of course were loved by everyone in the office. All through these times you were such a good, calm, and sweet little baby.

As of right now you are sleeping well at night, waking up only for food a couple times per night. Your screaming has diminished a bit, and you have started to be more aware of your surroundings. You still scream while in the car, and mommy and daddy understand that you don't like it, but you will get used to it as time goes on. Your new favorite positions are on daddy's knee facing the windows so that you can see the world, and up on the football chair in daddy's office. Mommy has also been playing with you on the floor and having you crawl to her. You're continuing to down every bottle that we give to you, making it very clear when you want some FOOD.

We love the little cooing noises that you make when you are eating your food, we love the way that you give a little whine when you aren't really upset but just want to let us know that you are there, and we love it when you breathe fast and get excited. Mommy and daddy love to sing to you, and daddy especially loves singing to you up in his office and listening to the Red Sox while he holds you, his own little angel, so close to him and protecting you. The gift of your love means more to us every day, and you will always be our little baby. We will always be there for you when you cry in the night, are upset, or need some love and support, no matter when or where that is. Taking care of you and watching you grow is the best job in the world, and you should never ever forget that we will always love you unconditionally. All of your special traits and little things that you do that we love so much make you the most wonderful daughter in the world.

Love,

Dad and Mom

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Considering Adoption?

I just received an email from Beth, our social worker, with some information about JFS's upcoming adoption seminars. If you are considering adoption and would like to know if it is right for you, I can't recommend these seminars enough. This time last year, we attended one, and less than a year later, our daughter was home!

Adoption with Love by JFS will host 3 workshops in July. The workshop will offer families considering adoption information on:

Adoption Homestudies
Birthparent counseling
Agency versus Parental Placement Adoption in Virginia
Transracial Adoption
The Advantages of Ongoing Contact with Birthparents
Tips for creating your Dear Birthmom Letter/Family Profile Book
Making Adoption Affordable
A Panel Discussion with Successful Adoptive Parents*

These workshops will be held at the JFS offices at 6718 Patterson Avenue, Richmond,
Virginia 23226.

Sunday, July 19, 2009 from 2:00 - 4:00 p.m.
Thursday, July 23, 2009 from 12:00 - 1:00 p.m.
Tuesday, July 28, 2009 from 5:30 - 7:30 p.m.

Please call (804) 282-5644 for more information or to reserve your spot!

*There will be no adoptive parent panel on July 23.


If you attend the seminar on July 28th, you will see some familiar faces ;-D

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

First Post-Placement Visit

Last Friday, the Kosior Three trooped down to Richmond to meet with Beth at JFS for our first post-placement meeting. We weren't sure what to expect, but it was a great meeting.

First off, it was exciting to introduce Leah to Beth. It's hard to believe, but it hasn't even been a year since we had our first meeting with her. Our adoption has gone so well that none of us can believe how quickly and smoothly it went.

The meeting was a mixture of checking in on Leah, checking in on us, and giving us advice and information about transracial adoption.

The Leah stuff was pretty straight forward--how much she weighs, how long she is, her head circumference, how she's been sleeping and eating, how she is interacting with us and with other people. Had we heard from Tasha, how that was going.

The us stuff was a little unexpected and gave me some things to think about! We talked about how adoptive families often don't feel they have the right to complain if they are tired or just having a bad day, because people say, "Well, this is what you wanted for so long, how can you complain about it?" I mentioned feeling pressure because I was aware of what Tasha had given up and how much faith and trust she was putting in us to raise Leah in her place. When things go wrong or not exactly as I had planned, I feel like I'm letting down everyone who believed in us as parents--the people who wrote us references, Tasha, Beth, Colleen, ourselves... But Beth helped me to put things into perspective and kind of admonished me not to be so hard on myself--which was a message I needed to hear!

We talked about transracial adoption a bit as well. Beth made a couple of recommendations for us--the DVD Adopted by Bob Lee and the book Beyond Good Intentions by Cheri Register. She had already given us some information from the Rainbow Kids website. It's hard to think of these types of issues popping up. When I look at Leah, I see Leah--I don't see black Leah and at this point, I don't think she sees white Mama. But we do have to be prepared because eventually the world will impress upon her the differences between us and better that she be ready and we be ready to help guide her through it. I've found a number of books, articles, and websites on transracial adoption and it looks like we've got an interesting road ahead of us, no matter if we have the best case scenario or the worst. Time to get ready for whatever comes our way!

So that was it! We set up our next appointment for August 29th at our house. When Beth was here last, there was a rabbit living in Leah's bedroom so it'll be nice to show her the new digs! (Hopefully Joe gets the mural painted before then.) I wasn't really nervous about it and now I'm glad I wasn't. It was like a conversation with a much wiser friend.

Reports from the Front

Last night, I went out to book club and I left Leah home with Michael. It was the first time I've left her with him and him alone for longer than a couple hours. I was delighted to return home to "The Little Baby Reports" in my email in box. Sounds like Leah went pretty easy on him!

The Little Baby Report #1 [18:00 - 19:30]

For the first 15 minutes or so I had her on her back on the football chair while I washed, checked e-mail, and read the news. Not ONE scream during this time, a little whimpering, but not one scream. From about 1820 to 1900, we listened to music with me holding her. No pacifier, no screaming, she was excellent.

Right now it is 1930, I have the Yankee game on, and she is safely lying on the football chair, on her stomach, with her pacifier in her mouth. Still, no screaming at all. I keep patting her and checking her every couple of minutes. Plan is still to feed/change her at 2000 and 2200.

The Little Baby Report #2 [19:30 - 21:15]

From 1930 to about 1945 she slept silently on the football chair with her pacifier inserted. She then woke up and started a little whimpering. I said “OK, I’ll go make you some food” and went down to make the bottle since I figured I’d better do it now while she was relatively quiet. She then proceeded to fall back asleep until around 2045, when she woke up whimpering. I then changed her, having no trouble at all, and then I fed her from 2050 to around 2105. She knocked the bottle out of her hands a couple of times, since she was waving her arms around, I dropped it on the floor and had to put her down. She didn’t like that, but she did NOT scream. It is now 2120 and I have her on her back again, she is kicking up a bit of a fuss, but not quite time yet to roll her over. I want her to have time and exercise on her back.

She has been wonderful. Most of the time on the football chair without even making a sound. I changed and fed her at 0850, and depending on when you get home will do it again if needed. The worries/nervousness has completely evaporated. I didn’t get frustrated at all and it was very nice.

Just a reminder to do the wax things for the hearing aides. I put the dirty bottles on the right-hand side of the sink, and I also emptied the trash. I hope that you had a wonderful time with the girls Suzin. I am enjoying my time here with her.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Isn't She Lovely?


Today we went berry picking for an outing with Cindy, Manda, Wendy, and their kids. I took this picture of Leah looking visionary and it is now a favorite picture. And proof positive that she can open her eyes if she feels like it!

Monday, May 25, 2009

Changes!

Leah's had a big week this past week. She is now a lot happier to play on the floor on her playmat. In fact, whenever she gets fussy during the day, I tend to try putting her on the floor first, and that's usually what she wants. It's kind of sad that she doesn't want to be cuddled quite so much, but exciting too that she's growing and stretching and ready to explore the world a little bit more. She's so cute kicking her feet out while she plays and in her stroller she swings her arms all over the place like she's conducting her own personal symphony.

She's also started babbling, cooing, and even giggling on occasion. She used to have two modes: scream and quiet. Now she makes happy little noises, smiles when she sees us, and is turning into a little chatterbox when she's playing.

We've also discovered that she's very ticklish on her feet, chin, and her sides. It's a sure way to get a smile out of her with a little tickle.

She is sleeping wonderfully--as long as her schedule isn't disrupted too much during the day, she will sleep 5 or 6 hours at a stretch and go back to sleep for another couple of hours after getting her belly filled up.

Being a mom has been wonderfully gratifying--much better than I ever dreamed it would be, and I thought it'd be pretty darned amazing. And it's nice that everyone else seems to agree that we've gotten a total prize :-) She's such a charmer!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Phase 3 Begins!

We heard from our social worker, Beth, today. She has received the court order that will allow her to go ahead and schedule her mandated visits with us to make sure that Leah's progressing and we're doing everything we can to be good parents for her! This is really exciting--it means that all our paperwork was submitted and now we can do these visits and march on towards the finalization of the adoption this fall or winter.

Our first meeting with Beth is next week in Richmond. We haven't seen her really since last summer, so it'll be great to see her again and to introduce her to Leah!

You will recall that we will have 3 visits total. It's exciting to have this phase under way and hopefully have it all go smoothly so we can finalize the adoption!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Got Milk?

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Those Lips!


They absolutely slay me! She is totally done in from a long night keeping us up!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Mother's Day 2009

Friday, May 8, 2009

What a Difference A Month Makes...

Dear Leah,

One month ago, you burst into the world literally kicking and screaming. Our lives have never been the same since. This time a year ago, we found ourselves in the depths of despair, and now we spend our days discussing if either of us ever thought it was possible to be this happy, to love another person this much.

You are growing so fast! No longer a little 7 pounder with scrawny legs, you now break 9 pounds and have gained three-quarters of an inch. You have three chins and your cheeks are threatening to overtake the rest of your face. And as Daddy likes to point out, you are getting a belly! Your hair is most certainly your crowning glory, everyone comments on it still, and it's so soft and fluffy that no one can help running their fingers through it, us included. Your lips are so kissable, and you make the most hilarious faces--impudent, happy, sassy, angry, and let's not forget the so-called "Dum-Dum Face", which your mother takes great delight in (we need to get that one on camera yet!). Your legs are fine and strong, your feet perfect with ten wonderful little toes that get cold at the slightest hint of a breeze. You have razor sharp fingernails that no amount of cutting can tame and what a grip your little fingers have on everything! And let's not forget those lungs--you've got some real firepower behind you when you get vexed! The neighbors claim not to hear you, but we suspect they're just being nice!

Your personality is really something to see! Grown men leave their jobs to come and gaze at you, mechanics, chefs, waiters, they all want a peek and they all say the same thing: "Seeing her makes me want to have another one." Old ladies caress your hair and marvel at your perfect hands, telling Mama about their grandchildren with tears in their eyes. And you're such a good baby, no matter who holds you, you don't kick up a fuss, unless of course it's time for a meal.

Feeding you is such a kick! The happy little sounds you make only when you are eating are something we'll never forget. We love how you get so excited when you're eating that you shake your head back and forth, mouth opening ever wider as if you're trying to suck the entire bottle down your throat. Your post-prandial belches have a true air of satisfaction and make us feel as if the Queen herself could have dined on that bottle with true pleasure.

You are the most special little girl in the world. Being your parents for only a month has already been the biggest privilege of our lives. It was fate that we found each other, but it was destiny that we found you.

All our love,
Mama and Daddy

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Thank You Book & Open House

Today I started sending out cards to people for the thank you book for Tasha. If you would like to get in on that action, kindly send me an email with your home address and I will send you a card for the book. I am even enclosing return postage so you don't have to hunt for a stamp!

If you are coming to the open house on May 30th, we will have all the supplies there for making a card and including it in the album. If you want the card early to decorate at home with your own supplies and are local, I can make arrangements to get the card to you in advance.

Also, to anyone who didn't get the Evite, our open house is officially scheduled for May 30th from 1-4pm. If you'd like to be added to the Evite to get the address, kindly send me your email address. We respectfully ask that no one arrive early or leave late. Leah runs a tight ship! Also, no gifts required, your presence is present enough.

Dad Funnies

Sunday, I left Michael and Leah together to run some errands. I needed to clean out my state car to prepare it for departure from my life, and then wanted to go to Walmart to get some pictures printed and then do the grocery shopping. I thought it would be some good Daddy-Daughter bonding time.

When she was here, my mom suggested that our house is too quiet and we should play music more often to keep Leah's mind stimulated. I mentioned this to Michael as I was leaving, since he enjoys spending time in his office and we have lots of MP3's on the computer. So he decided to play her some tunes.

Well, the state car thing took a while and then I took a while in Walmart, so I was gone 2 hours before I even did the grocery shopping. As I was pulling out of Walmart, I gave Michael a call to check in.

Me: How's it going over there?
Him (raspily): Are you coming home? It's been over 2 hours!
Me: Do you need me to come home?
Him ("): I've been singing to her for 2 1/2 hours!

Awww, he couldn't even talk. SO CUTE!

******************************************************

Yesterday Michael came home from work. Leah and I were upstairs. He found her, gave me a hug, patted Leah on the head and said, "What a specimen!"

HAHAHA

Love him!

Can't Believe It, But...

...guess who decided to sleep through the night last night!? Yup! I don't know if it was the shot, the excitement of LOST, or all the screaming she did all day, but she must have really worn herself out, because she went to sleep at 11:00 and didn't wake up till 6:30. You can bet we had to step lively to change her and feed her the instant she was awake, and I was in a blind panic when I woke up at 6:00 and realized that she hadn't made a peep. I went into her room to make sure everything was A-OK, and she was sleeping like the little angel she is.

She's dozing now, so I'm going to take a shower. Lord only knows what wonders this day has in store!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Today's Update!

Today Leah had her first doctor's appointment with our chosen health professional for her. It was a hard choice--we had a lot of great recommendations. Pediatricians are one thing that people are totally passionate about! Ultimately, though, we decided to stick with our family practice in Fairfax. It took me years to find a doctor I actually like and feel comfortable seeing, and as a bonus, I like all of Dr. Leonard's associates, so I called up there. I was told Dr. Leonard isn't taking on any more patients but was offered a choice of two of his associates. We settled on Dr. Kathleen Crane, whose specialty is listed as pediatrics. I saw her a year or two ago for a sinus infection and thought she was great, a little less militant than the other associate we were offered, so she was it! You can find them at www.fpfairfax.com if you need a doctor, I can't recommend them highly enough.

Leah, as you all know by now, HATES riding in the car. She screams whenever the car stops. The minute we are moving, she settles down, but if the car stops for any reason--getting gas, a red light, a stop sign, I am waiting patiently for a squirrel to cross the street--she freaks. And you know Virginia, we've got nothing if it's not traffic lights, and my luck is to always hit them red! UGH! So anyway, we did fine till we hit Fairfax and then she was unhappy while we went through the lights. The weird thing is, the minute I take her car seat out of the car, she settles right down. And thus it was when we arrived. I pulled the carseat out of the car and she went to sleep. Weirdo baby!

First problem of the day was that I seem to have lost my insurance card. I got Mike to fax a copy of his up to them, so that was fine. The appointment went rather well, although I forgot her discharge records, so I will bring them next time so they have a complete history in their files. The nurse brought her in and weighed and measured her. This morning before we left I was looking at her and I thought she was getting a little bit chubby, but I was surprised to discover she now weighs 9 pounds 4 ounces! And she is now 21 inches long. Faye, the nurse, said she hoped she didn't have to give her a shot today and then we met with the doctor.

Dr. Crane gave her a thorough going over. She was surprised to hear that we weren't seeing Dr. Leonard and I told her that the front desk told me that he wasn't accepting new patients. She said she didn't think that was true and she would check for us. I told her that was fine but as long as Leah was seen there, I didn't really care too much. And even though it's been a while, she remembered seeing me for my infection, which I thought was pretty awesome!

Dr. Crane pronounced that Leah is healthy as a horse. She is very alert and quite strong in the legs. She said that we are off to a great start with her and to keep doing what we are doing--her sleep schedule is great, her baby acne is clearing up nicely, her heart and lungs are good, she has good circulation, the whole 9 yards.

And then it was determined it was time for her second hepatitis shot. I felt badly for Faye, I felt badly for Leah, but I was worried for me. I have an unsettling history of fainting when I see needles. So Dr. Crane suggested I give Leah a bottle while we waited, which Leah only too happily partook of and then Faye arrived with the needle, fretting. She showed me where to hold Leah and prepped her little leg and then it was showtime. Under the circumstances, I thought it would be cool to make a little joke, so I said to the nurse, "Just don't miss and hit me instead" which frankly was pretty brave of me to joke like that. But Faye was so focused, she said, "If I miss and hit anyone, it'll be myself." So anyway, I kept my eyes on Leah's face, and good thing because I got to see that "WTF?!" look that hit her face the minute the needle went in. Literally, that look said it all. And then she opened her mouth and screamed like hell. And wouldn't stop screaming, poor baby. I hugged her and snuggled her, but I was paying for it, you can be sure, and consequently, she screamed the entire ride home, not caring at all that the car was moving. I came home and we both took a nap. Next month's appointment involved 4 shots, and I've already told Michael that he can be damned sure he's taking the day off for that one. I'm going to have a heart attack.

So she's fat, healthy, and partially immunized. She and her daddy are upstairs having some daddy and girl time. In about 30 minutes, she's going to watch LOST with me, and then I'll see if she wants to go to bed or if we're going to pull an all nighter. Busy day tomorrow--dump run, post office run, company for an hour or two in the afternoon, so I want her to be fresh, since she'll be in the car a lot. We'll see what happens!

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Dad's Learning Curve

This weekend Michael has taken a really active role in learning how to care for Leah. We've been debating Leah coming with me Monday to book club, which Michael is in favor of because he is nervous about changing diapers. I would like to go to book club free and clear, without worrying about packing up Leah and her gear, but I suspect I might lose out on this debate this month. But I don't mind so much.

However, having waited so long for Leah it is hard to let go and let Dad have some needed Dad time! I admit it. I hate putting her down on the floor to play, I hate letting other people hold her, I just want to love her up for a while.

But this weekend, we decided Dad was going to be more in charge. He's learning how to change diapers, first and foremost, and he's doing a great job. It's a definite challenge when you can't see what you're doing, so we're starting off easy on the not-so-messy diapers and he'll graduate eventually. Tomorrow (Sunday) we'll transfer to the cloth diapers, which should be interesting and a whole new ballgame. I'm nervous about it, but since we have lots of disposables left, we're going to use them for "on the go" diapers and stick to cloth at home. I'm excited to see how it goes. The cloth ones are washed and assembled, ready to roll.

Tonight Michael is also going to try soothing her and putting her to bed. So far it's been tough--she's a little cranky tonight, but it's also early, she usually goes to bed around 10:30. He enjoys rocking and cuddling her, so I'm sure she'll settle down eventually and let him put her to bed.

Tomorrow he'll also work on getting a bottle ready. And once that's done, I'll be able to leave them together with full confidence. Which I intend to do for at least an hour tomorrow to clean out my state vehicle.

It's fun watching them bond together and makes it easier to let go just a little bit. She's a real daddy's girl. My mom is leaving tomorrow so having him feel more confident about helping will be a big boost to me too!

What's Next?

We got an email from Beth, our wonderful social worker, who set us straight on what's next. Turns out that (like usual) I have my facts screwed up! So here it is straight from the horse's mouth:

Since the adoption is being finalized in VA, we go by VA standards for post placement. Once I get the Interlocutory Order, I have 6 months to complete 3 post placements. These visits cover basic things like bonding and attachment, the baby’s schedule, developmental milestones, medical issues. Two are in the office and one is in the home. Usually 1 and 3 are in the office, 2 one is in your home. After I complete the 3rd one then, I send a Report of Visitation to the Court, that gives my endorsement for the adoption to be finalized. After that you are done!! (and then we start all over again??)

So there you have it! Three more visits :-) I'm excited too because Beth asked me to do a little write up for their waiting parents newsletter and also asked if we'd be willing to speak on a panel. Our adoption experience has been so overwhelmingly positive that honestly I wish I could get into adoption myself somehow for a career. I'll have to think about it. Regardless, I'm excited about these two opportunities.

We also got Leah's first doctor's appointment set up with her doctor here in Virginia. She'll be seeing Dr. Kathleen Crane on June 3rd. I'm sad that Mike's and my doctor is not currently accepting new patients, but Dr. Crane is in the same practice and I've seen her before and REALLY liked her a lot.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Court and Surprises!

Ok, well, surprise surprise, I am backed up on blogging! Looking back over everything, this blog is a great place to keep memories of our adventure in adopting, and I wanted to be sure to blog about Tuesday.

This week was always going to be crazy! It is my last week of work for my job, and I knew it was the point of no return in terms of going to get my last bits of paperwork done and finishing up at the office. Because my mom is here to help out this week, and she also wanted to spend some time with my sister, our driving schedules were starting to look like Grand Central Station. Should I take Leah and spend the night at Judy's on Sunday? And if so, would my mom then spend the night as well and come to my office to get Leah from me after work? Because I had to stay over at Judy's again Monday night so I could leave bright and early to pick up Tasha to go to court.

Finally, we decided to be bold and ask Tasha to spend the night with us on Monday. Now I know, I know many of you probably think that is the nuttiest thing you've ever heard. And if I had suspected I'd have this kind of relationship with my daughter's birthmother, I'd have thought I was totally out to lunch too! But we've just been extremely fortunate to have made this match and been able to have such a good relationship with Tasha. The three of us call it "The Match Made In Heaven". So I sent Tasha a text and asked if she would like to come spend the night with us and she said she would. So I spent Sunday night with Leah at Judy's, went to work with Leah who was the hit of the office, and then we drove to Glen Burnie to pick Tasha up and bring her back to Fredericksburg. Now even I admit this is probably a little bit past the 'normal' birth parent/adoptive parent relationship, but as the old saying goes, "What is normal anyway?!" It worked for us. My mom spent Monday cleaning the house and preparing for Tasha's arrival and we got back around 9:00. She loved the house, loved Leah's room, said TomTom was the biggest rabbit she ever saw in her life, and we all ate chocolate chip cookies and then tried to go to bed.

I say tried because Leah decided that Monday night was the best night ever to throw her first temper tantrum. And I am not kidding when I say this kid was SCREAMIN'! OMG. After about 45 minutes, I just couldn't do it any more. I had been up since 5:00am, it was now midnight, I'd been driving all over God's green Earth, I had NOT gotten my work done so I was facing another day in the office, it was NUTTY. So I told Michael to please go downstairs and get my mom. She came upstairs, blinking in the light, and I sobbed, "I think the Chinese tainted her formula with paint chips" and thrust Leah into my mom's arms. I was crying, Michael was crying, Leah was crying. My mother said, "There are no paint chips in her formula!" and I said, "Well then the aliens have come down and swapped babies because my baby has never acted like this before." After about an hour, Leah sort of settled down, but the minute I put her in her crib, bang, she was off crying again. So I was like, "Screw this, it's nearly 2am, and I'm exhausted" and I picked her up, put her in bed with us, and she went right to sleep.

I woke up four hours later so totally out of it that my first thought was, "Who put this baby in my bed?" When she is in a bad mood now, she has been affectionately dubbed "Paint Chip Baby".

So Tuesday morning we all get up, and by 10:00 we realize we need to start thinking about getting ready to leave for the court date. I am a planner, I admit, I like to have A PLAN in place, but my mom is an uber-planner and wanted to know everything we had planned for the day--who was going in which cars, what we would do afterwards, etc. I honestly couldn't get past arriving at the courthouse. I just couldn't. I really had no idea what to expect from the hearing, I didn't know who was meeting us there, we didn't know if Tasha's attorney would be coming, the whole 9 yards. So I couldn't be much help. My mom feels better in times of stress knowing exactly what's going to happen and having a firm grip on the situation. In times of stress, I just give up and let nature take its course. It was kind of entertaining.

I had determined that we needed to leave at 11:00 to go to the courthouse. My internal clock told me this would be the right time to leave, so by 11:00, after 3 wardrobe changes on my part (new dress required a slip which I didn't have, suit was way too big, third choice suit was too big but at least it stayed up), we headed out--my mom in her car, Tasha, Leah, Mike, and I in our car. We made it to the courthouse around 11:20 and got past the metal detectors by 11:30, but had no idea what to do after that. Tasha found a list on the wall of all the court cases for civil court, but we weren't listed. Finally, a sheriff took pity on us and told us that we needed to go to the juvenile court clerk to find out which courtroom we were going to go to, and it turned out we were going to the basement court room. We went to get on the elevator, only it's a trick elevator, when you try to go from the basement to the first floor, it automatically goes to the second floor. So we had to wait for it to come back down before we could get on to go to the basement (the stairwells are protected and you need a special badge to go up and down them).

We got the basement and there was an austere little waiting room down there--about 15 chairs arranged in a square. At least we knew that our case was for that day, because there was NOBODY down there--it was dead quiet and a completely uninspiring decor. I guess I pictured adoption court as being kind of warm and fuzzy. But as you can see from this picture, it was deadsville. Finally a couple of deputies came out and asked if we were there for the Baby Girl X case, and we said yes, and that put our minds at ease a bit, since they were expecting us. They admired Leah for a while and then disappeared and then Colleen, our attorney arrived. She introduced herself to Tasha and I introduced my mom and the next thing out of her mouth was, "We have a small glitch."

Well, I don't have to tell you, my heart sunk to my shoes, my mother about had a coronary, and for once in his life, Michael was struck speechless. It turns out that the guardian ad litem they had selected was not actually on the list of approved GALs for the county and would not be able to act on Leah's behalf that day. Colleen was halfway through explaining that we just had to get a new court order to do something when a voice behind her said, "You have a GAL and I'm it!" and our hero, Brenda, introduced herself as the pinch hitter. We all started breathing again. Colleen spent some time with Brenda explaining that Leah's father had never replied to the letters sent to his home and getting Mike, Tasha, and I to all sign a paper requesting that the courts grant the custody transfer. And then over the loudspeaker, we were called in to the court room, at which point Leah decided to start screaming. It was nearly impossible to hear what the hell was going on, and finally after a couple minutes of Colleen trying to talk over Leah's wailing, I told my mom, "Mom! Just feed her!" So Mom slapped a bottle in Leah's mouth, and she was happy as a little clam.

The next part was for Colleen to read over the legal agreements with Tasha. Tasha was sworn in and asked a bunch of questions, such as did she know she had alternatives to the adoption including keeping the child and raising her herself, did she want or had she been offered counseling, was she sure of who the birth father was, did she belong to any Native American tribes, was she being coerced into the adoption by anyone in any way, etc. Once she answered all their questions to her satisfaction, she was given the court documents and asked to read them and sign them. Then Colleen explained to her that she had two options for that day, she could choose to terminate her rights effective immediately or she could choose to retain a 7 day waiting period during which she could change her mind at any time. She elected to terminate her rights immediately.

Once she signed everything, Colleen gave all the forms to Judge Daltan and then Brenda had a few questions and Colleen discussed the birth father with the judge. We all had a good laugh over the fact that FedEx confirmed delivery and that the package was signed for by a 'receptionist' at the man's residence, which was presumed to be his wife. Everyone expected that Mister had a real bad day after that.

After Brenda agreed that everything looked to be in order, the judge agreed and signed off on everything. With his signature, both Tasha's and the birthfather's rights were immediately terminated and Leah was put into our custody legally for a period of one year. Colleen then explained to us that all this did was set the clock ticking for us to have our social worker visits and that in about 6 months, we would appear again before the circuit courts to have the custody arrangements made permanent. This gives the courts time to make sure we are not abusive or neglectful and that Leah will be fine under our care.

A new court date was set for April 27, 2010 (again, we will go to court long before this) and the judge wished us well and sent us out. We packed up Leah and headed out. When we got back to that stupid waiting area, the dams burst. Tasha stepped towards me, handed me Leah, and said, "Congratulations, Susan." I ignored the baby, wrapped my arms around Tasha and started to weep. Having now been a mom for 3 glorious weeks, I can appreciate the act of courage it took that wonderful young woman to do what she did. I honestly can't imagine doing it myself. I heard her say, "are you OK, Mike?" and I grabbed him and the three of us crowded around Leah, hugging and crying while Mom and Colleen looked on. What do you say when "Thank you" does not even begin to cover it? We told her how much we loved her, we thanked her a million times, and we just hugged her and all of us were crying. Finally we all got it together, and Colleen stepped forward and said it really was wonderful that we had such a fantastic relationship and how unusual it was.

And we thanked her of course for all of her hard work. Seriously, there is no way you can find a better attorney than her for an adoption. We had to go upstairs to get the official decrees from the clerk, and once they were there, we were ready to leave, custody order in hand! We knew Tasha wanted to get back to Maryland ASAP as her 2 year old was coming home and *drum roll* because she (Tasha) had gotten married last week and her new husband was missing her! So we all stopped at McDonald's for a quick lunch, and then Michael, Leah, Tasha, and I hauled butt up to Maryland. Once we got to Tasha's place we went in for a bit, fed and changed Leah (who still HATES being in the car) and then it was time to go. It was bittersweet, but I am sure we will see Tasha again, and I've already heard from her, so I didn't shed any tears at saying "See you later" (we didn't say good bye :-D).

Michael, Leah, and I rolled it on south and I decided to obey the letter if not the spirit of the law by taking my family of 3 onto the HOV lanes of 95. WOW WAS IT AWESOME! We rolled past all the traffic on 95 at 4pm and made it home before 5:00. I'm not traveling 95 without my hubby and my daughter ever again. YEAH BOYS!

So we were rolling up our street and I was thinking, "Those kids better have cut the lawn today!" and as we got close to the house, I started seeing the kids moving around the lawn and I was feeling good. But then I noticed something crazy was sitting in the yard, and I said, "What the hell?!" Michael was grinning ear to ear. I said, "Honey! Someone put a giant sign in our yard!" And then I nearly drove off the road and into our neighbor's yard. I was like, "AWWWW!" because the sign is just SO CUTE and Michael said, "yes, Amy Wells took care of that!" and I was like, "OH MY GOD! AMY!?" and I got all misty-eyed. And then I damned near drove past our driveway.

So once we were inside, my mom told me all about Amy's cousin coming up to the house and installing the sign, and apparently while she was here, our neighbor Jean came over to see the baby (surprise, we were in Maryland, poor thing has stopped by twice and no baby!) after seeing the sign go up. Mom handed me all the paperwork about the sign which I immediately read to see if I might be able to keep it, but there was a pick up date on the slip (Damn it!!!! I LOVE THE SIGN AND WANT TO STEAL IT :-D)

So once the kids were done with the front yard, I told my mom, "I want pictures with the sign!" I gathered up Leah and Michael and we went out front and took some pictures. I didn't even want to waste time putting my shoes on--out we went! I just stood admiring it for a long time.



Then we took our first family "portrait". I gave my mom a little artistic direction, she was getting all of us into the shots, so she'd take a picture and I'd say, "no, zoom it closer!" and she'd take another one, and I'd say, "No, zoom it closer!" until we got this:



Which I absolutely LOVE. :-)

That night to celebrate the fact that on Sunday, Leah's umbilical cord stump FINALLY fell off, we decided to give her her first bath. Wash off the dust of the past and start her with her new family squeaky clean. Um, yeah, she pretty much hates us now.



We got it all on videotape, which I loved. It was absolutely hilarious, the level of her outrage over that bath. When she's unhappy, the entire world knows she's unhappy. I can't wait to give her another one :-)

So that was our court day. Wednesday I went back to work alone to finish up what I could of my caseload and pack up my desk and head out. It felt so weird. But it also felt really, really good. I have been anxious for this day to come, and I know that I will see my co-workers again, so I can't get too gloomy about it. I arrived home to a beautiful flower arrangement from my wonderful in-laws. Don't you love the little duck planter?

Today my mom and I gathered supplies for our freezer cooking fun, she made spaghetti sauce, and we took Leah for a walk. I've noticed that Leah sleeps A LOT better when she gets a walk in the fresh air and she sleeps TERRIBLE when she doesn't, so I'm attempting to walk her every night unless the weather is not good. She more or less sleeps through the walks, which is fine, but her nighttimes are much more mom-friendly.

Speaking of which, I'm going to hit the hay while I can still get a couple of hours sleep! G'night all!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Meet Tasha



The beautiful young woman in the picture with us is our birthmom, Tasha. She is an incredible person, and I hope Leah inherits even half of her strength.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

It Is Done

We are officially Leah's parents. B waved her 7 day right to revoke and we were approved at 12:15 this afternoon. Dropped B back home, drove home ourselves and now we are ready for the rest of our lives to begin.

What this means is that B can no longer change her mind. Michael and I are on the hook for another 6 months--we will have 2 visits from a social worker, and then will return to court this fall to be made officially Leah's parents. We view this as a formality, we fully expect to 'pass'.

Happy day!

Today is A Big Day

Today is court day. Our hearing is at 12:00 for B to sign her rights way and for us to take legal custody of Leah. Hopefully by 1:00 it will all be over. Keep your fingers crossed for us that it all goes smoothly!

Friday, April 24, 2009

Book of Gratitude for B.

I have decided to go ahead and make the gratitude book for B. I found an awesome package of 200 multicolored cards at Target, and what we'll do is send a card to anyone who wants to participate but won't be able to make the open house (tentatively scheduled for either May 30th or June 6th [preferences anyone?]) and you can decorate it, write on it, whatever you want to do, and send it back no later than June 1. I will even include postage so you have no excuse :) If you are local and want me to drop it off to you, I can do that as well. If you don't feel creative, you can drop me an email with your sentiments, I'll print it out and decorate a card for you. Please keep it fairly brief, the cards are 3X5 and we'll only be using 1 side.

Otherwise, at the open house, we will have markers, stickers, fancy scissors, etc. for you to decorate your card and have some fun expressing your gratitude to our wonderful birth mother. By then, I will be publishing her name publicly--she's given me her permission, but I don't want to do it till after the court date is over--so you'll be able to include her actual name as well.

Let me know if you'd like a card and would like to participate! We'll be sending out an Evite for the open house ASAP.

Two And a Half Weeks!?

This week has been such a whirlwind, I don't know how it happened that Leah is now 16 days old and growing like crazy! According to our baby scale, she tops eight pounds now. Considering the doctor was concerned that she wasn't gaining any weight, and considering the diaper messes, I'd say we have a bit less to worry about now.

She's had a good week. She is much more alert this week, smiles a lot more, looks around a lot more, and is awake a lot more. We discovered that while she continues to hate riding in the car and in her little chair that rocks, we loves the baby swing and the stroller. We've walked the block every day and she always enjoys falling asleep in the fading sunlight and getting some fresh air.

She also had her first "play date" at Chick-Fil-A this week, where we joined Manda and Cindy and their little ones for lunch, along with a friend, Wendy. Free food is always good, and Chick Fil A has free entrees on Thursdays here. I hope to continue enjoying that! We got good suggestions about things we should try, like a baby sling versus a Moby Wrap--I'd been considering getting a Moby Wrap, but Manda assures me they are HOT. So now I'm reconsidering.

Last night, Leah had an awesome night. She got up every 2 hours like clockwork, but she ate and promptly went right back to sleep. She slept like that from midnight till about 9am, and slept in her own bed too. Consequently, Mom slept a lot better too. I hope the trend continues.

This afternoon, I felt like an axe murderer when I changed her and cleaned out her umbilical cord (yes, the freakin' thing is STILL attached--they way they cut it so close, it's all but impossible to clean and get the alcohol in there, I cannot wait till it falls off!), and she was screaming like I was murdering her. I wound up spilling half a bottle of alcohol all over the dresser and she peed all over everything to show how royally infuriated she was. Never mind that in addition to all that, Huggies diapers apparently SUCK and when she had a MAJOR diaper filling incident, that too leaked everywhere, including up into the umbilical cord area and all over her clothing. It was not a fun mess to clean up, and her screaming the whole time and Michael demanding that she calm down just put me over the edge. I handed her to him, he went downstairs, and the two of them spent 3 hours together while I cried and slept it off. (Sorry, Elizabeth, that I disappeared on our AOL chat this afternoon, but that's what happened!)

Still, all I have to do is look at her and I just melt. I really can't put into words how much I love this little gal and how much she filled a big hole in my heart. Once Tuesday comes and goes, and with it our court date, I am going to heave a big sigh of relief and be ready to throw the biggest celebration ever. I am hopeful that B. will sign away her rights with finality (she can hold onto a 7 day waiting period on Tuesday, or she can just agree to be done with the whole thing and waive her 7 days) on Tuesday and then except for the formality of 2 social worker visits and a final court date in the fall, we are done.

So that's what's new from here. I'm glad my mom arrives tomorrow. I know I've managed basically on my own for the last 2 weeks, but it'll be nice to have back up. Then we will have a week alone and then my mother-in-law and father-in-law will arrive, which will also be so helpful. And then another week and Uncle Mike and Auntie Lesley arrive. May is going to be an awesome month. Lots of company, lots of lovin', lots of help! I might even be able to tame my yard at some point. :-)

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Doing Something For B.

A lot of people have asked me, "What can we do for B?" She has become a real heroine to so many people, most of all to us, that even though people don't know who she is, they want to express their gratitude to her.

Sometime in May, we are planning to host a little open house, and a thought I had was to have some notecards handy where people could write a note to B expressing their feelings for her. I can then compile them into a book and give it to her. She's a tough cookie, but I wish you guys could see her melt when someone says nice things to her--it's clear she loves receiving love and encouragement in a way few people genuinely need and soak it in.

What do you all think? Do you have other ideas? Shoot 'em at me! Also, if you can't make it to the open house but would like to participate, I can get a card to you and you can return it to me by mail so we can include it.

Finding Out

One of the most dreaded things to happen when we've been on this journey is when people ask us a question about how we will approach a certain issue, we explain our position, and they say, "Oh, you'll find out in a heartbeat that you're dead wrong!"

And then they chuckle at us like we're a couple of knuckleheads who know nothing about raising children.

Two of the "Oh, you'll find out!" issues to hit us have been the issues of co-sleeping and pacifiers. When we've said we're not co-sleeping and we're not using pacifiers, people have laughed at us. But Leah has been home for nearly 2 weeks, and while we've backtracked halfway on pacifiers, I'm proud to report that she sleeps in her room every night and she seems to love us anyway.

How did we backtrack halfway on pacifiers? Well, it seems the little suckers actually help her fall asleep. They gave her one in the hospital, and B. was a big proponent of the thing, and so she got used to having one in her mouth. So at night when we're putting her to bed, we let her suck on a pacifier till she falls asleep. The big issue I have with it is that when she starts to relax and it falls out of her mouth, she starts screaming and freaking out because she doesn't have it in her mouth. So we are trading in a few moments peace for more upset because she has frustration that she can't keep the thing in her mouth. However, a few other people have also pointed out it's easier to break them of a pacifier than it is of them sucking their thumbs, which she has shown a perfect willingness to do if not given her pacifier. So, at night, we give it to her. During the day, we are able to soothe her and quiet her, and she's fine.

As for co-sleeping, it was harder in Maryland and I was really hard on myself. While we were staying there, there was nowhere to really put her if she got upset. The crib was in our room, and there was literally her crib and our bed. Tom hasn't gotten much furniture yet, so there was no place to go sit with her if she got upset. Consequently, I would pick her up to feed her and we'd wind up sitting on the bed. And then, yes, I know, call the mommy police, we were so tired those first couple of days, I'd fall asleep holding her.

Coming home has been much easier. We have the rocking chair where I can hold her and rock her till she falls back to sleep. Sometimes she doesn't want to go back in her bed and I'll think she's asleep and she wakes right back up and wants to be held. What I have discovered thus far is that if I get a nap in the afternoon, it helps me to be able to better handle whatever situation arises at 3AM. Two days ago, I foolishly did not take a nap. Consequently, after 2 hours of rocking, crying, diaper change, feeding, and screaming, I couldn't do it any more. I caved and we went to bed. Last night, because I had taken a nap in the afternoon for a couple of hours while she napped, everything went much more smoothly.

It's still early days, and I'm sure I'll be learning more and more. She's on a schedule of her own making--she is generally awake from 2-5AM and then sleeps till around 11:00. I've got a system worked out with the bottles so I'm not running up and down the stairs a million times, which is also helpful, and we mainly spend our days upstairs, just because it's easier having all the gear necessary for changing her in one spot.

I am enjoying this experience a whole lot more than I thought possible, and just love this little lady with every fiber of my being. Physically I feel a lot better than I expected I would--there's only been one day I was so dog tired I couldn't function, and fortunately it was a day my dad was here and let me sleep. That morning, my breakfast consisted of a full test Mountain Dew. Now I'm back on track. Tonight we make our final pilgrimage to Maryland for her doctor's appointment in the morning, and then I think we're in business except for the court date and attendant trips to pick up B and bring her home afterwards.

I really was nervous that I wasn't going to be able to handle it, but having plans and being organized in advance has been a total lifesaver. Having help from family has been a huge help--can't wait till my mom gets here Saturday, and it was so great that my sister came to stay last night so Michael and I could have our anniversary dinner together and a little quiet time. And of course, where would I be without Michael himself? He reassures me that I'm making good decisions, makes good decisions of his own on Leah's behalf, and we are most definitely on the same page with all of this. Teamwork! Yes!