Monday, February 25, 2013

Sometimes I wonder...

I wonder if James was scared when he lost his hearing. At 18 months old children are pretty aware of their world, and a child who responded to sounds and his name, and who made sounds of his own, that must have been a frightening thing to no longer hear things you were used to hearing.  And I wonder, how quickly or gradually did it happen?  Did he cry about it and no one knew why he was fussy? Or did he just go with the flow like he usually does?  Does he remember what sound sounds like? Does he wish he could hear the drums and piano he pretends to play along with on Sunday mornings? Does he know when he is making noise?

I wonder if he ever thinks we are the meanest people in the world.  After all, we took him from his home to this frigid place where he has to share, and follow rules, and sit in a chair and eat all his chicken and go in time out when he pinches his new sister.  He is always signing and saying HOME and I wonder if he's trying to tell me he wants to go back to his old home.  And I wonder how to explain to him that he IS home, that place is no longer home for him.  If, indeed, that is what he is trying to tell me.  And I wonder how old he will be before he understands that he belongs to us now, with us forever.  And when will he be happy about that?  I mean, I think he is happy with us, but I don't know that he gets it.  I wondered yesterday when we celebrated with another adoptive family, does he see another brown skinned child with a white family and make that connection? Does he know that he is not the only one who has been ripped from his world and put into this new one? 

I wonder what he thinks about all day.  I wonder how much of what I tell him he really understands.  I wonder why he is SO obsessed with the dog!  And I wonder, was he the one eating chocolate and putting the wrappers in the bathroom garbage??

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Funny story

Ok, I have to tell this story. I wish I had some pictures or video, but I didn't have anything with me to capture the moment so you'll have to use your imagination.  Today was our last Bible Quiz meet, and since Jason had some responsibilities at church, I took James with me to the meet.  Between rounds he was playing in the hallway and decided he wanted a drink from the water fountain.  It had a stool, so I let him try it himself while I stood about fifteen feet away watching.   He pushed the button and the water shot way up.  But when he leaned in to get a drink he let off the button and the water stopped.  Then he would try to lean in first and then push the button, but the water shot up so high it hit him on the forehead instead.  He would wipe off the water and do the whole process all over again.  He must have done the ten or twelve times before one of my quizzers decided to rescue him and help him.  I, being the awesome mom that I am, just stood and laughed.  :)

Funny story number two that happened after I started writing this.  James came in and said he had to pee, with the frantic look that said, "I'm going to pee all over the floor in about two seconds."(again)
So I grabbed him and ran him upstairs.  Thankfully we made it in time, but as he was going I was telling him (in my 'I'm tired of you waiting too long and peeing on the floor' crazy mom signing) that he needs to not wait wait wait wait wait.... I probably signed wait 20 times.  When he was finished he looked at me and signed wait wait wait wait wait....right back at me, just like I had done to him.  I had to laugh, it was very comical.  I guess I must look like a crazy lady sometimes when I am trying to get a point across!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Ears and Eyes

Well, we have officially been home one month (and two days)!!  Monday Rooster had his first audiology appointment, which was the first appointment I was actually looking forward to!  It went exactly how I was told it would go, so that was good.  The audiologist is super nice, she is definitely my favorite so far (except for our family doctor of course!!).  First she took pictures of the inside of his ears to make sure there was no fluid to affect the tests.  Then she hooked him up to a computer and did some other test.  After that we went into the booth where they do an actual hearing test.  Jason went with me for this appointment, and he was not a fan of the booth at all!  First of all, it's a sound proof room, with a door that is like a vaccuum.  So there is pressure in there, like in an airplane.  I didn't notice it, but he did.  Then they do the testing.  She started off by conditioning him to respond to sound using a vibrator he held in his hand.  When the machine made a sound he could feel it, then he was to put a block in the box.  He thought this was really fun and understood what to do.  Once she was sure he understood, she tried it with the vibrator on his head.  Basically, the sound should register on his skull as a vibration if he were able to hear it.  But he didn't respond to that at all, even at the strongest setting.  And he didn't like it.  So she took that off and put these ear plug like things into his ears that emitted lovely sounds.  The lower frequencies we couldn't really hear, but the higher ones were not very easy on the ears.  Poor Jason with his sensitive ears did not enjoy the experience at all!!  But again, even at the loudest setting, James had no reaction.  Once at the beginning of that part of the test, it seemed like he heard something because he put a block in the box.  But after that there was nothing.  So the decision was, he is definitely very deaf!  Now the next step is an ABR test, which is a hearing test done under sedation.  We were fortunate that there had been a cancellation, because they only do these on Fridays, and only 3 per day.  We go this Friday!  After that test, they will determine what kind of hearing aids to give him and we will do a trial period with those and see if he gets any benefit from them.  (On a side note, we really need to get him enrolled in Medical Assistance, because that is who pays for the hearing aids.  But no one seems to know if we actually can, since the adoption is not yet finalized.)  If he does, great!  If not, we can pursue cochlear implants, which would include more testing to see if he is a candidate.  This is something we would definitely want to do, if hearing aids don't work.  Don't get me wrong.  I chose my son because he is deaf.  I'm not trying to "fix" him.  And if nothing will help him, so be it.  But if we can get him some hearing, that's good too.
Next thing: today we saw the opthamologist.  James came to us with glasses that he never wore/wears, and some prescriptions from an eye doctor he saw last July that Diane never did anything with.  After we waited FOREVER for the actual doctor, he checked him out and said that all in all his eyes are healthy.  He has a very slight astigmatism in both eyes, but not enough to need glasses.  He also has a little bit of a lazy eye in his left eye.  But again, it's not severe, so he said to just watch it and bring him back in a year.  It might be more of a problem when he's a little older and learning to read, as close up is when it starts to drift.  But until then, it shouldn't really affect him.  So that was all good news.  Also, when the assistant was doing some initial testing with him, I was pleasantly surprised to find that he really can match things!  She gave him a card with 4 letters on it, all boxed in with lines.  On a tv screen across the room she would show a letter and he was supposed to point to the letter on the card.  And he did it right every time!  At least until it got really small.  I was shocked and very happy!
Earlier today I was working on sorting with him (thanks Emily!) with colored pompoms from our craft box.  He wasn't getting it, so I had Liana do it and him watch.  Then we tried again and he still wouldn't/couldn't do it.  So I put one in my hand and told him to pick up all the ones of that color and put them in my hands.  THAT he could do.  But I did have to keep refocusing him on the task, and he did not want to finish all the colors.  But he did finish, so that was good.  We'll try again tomorrow having him sort them himself.  And we will try matching again too, now that I know he can do it.
Tomorrow we go back to the dentist, which is good because I think his one molar and one other tooth are bothering him.  I think the molar is affecting his eating a little bit, so I'm going to make sure that one gets fixed tomorrow.
And speaking of eating, I decided to try Liana on a gluten free diet, just to see if it makes a difference in her stomach aches.  We have one more whole week before we get some answers from her scope, and I feel like I should at least try something.  It was an interesting day, finding things for her to eat, and she had Rainbows tonight where they have snack.  I had her bring fruit snacks for everyone so she would have something she could have.  But they also had cookies and her teachers were very good about not letting her have them until I got there.  And I didn't let her, obviously, which resulted in some tears.  But they ended quickly, even though she did voice her displeasure and tell me that it's not fun or fair that she couldn't have them.  I'm really really really hoping gluten is not the cause.  It will not be a fun transition for her or me if we do have to go gluten free forever.  But we will survive if it is :)

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Our week in (medical) review

This week was a busy one!!  We started off on Monday with a visit to the gastroenterologist for Liana.  She complains of stomach aches on a very regular basis.  And while I think some of it is stress-related/attention getting, I think some of it is genuine.  She saw the pediatrician a few weeks ago and he did some bloodwork, which came back "borderline positive" for Celiacs disease.  Basically that means maybe she has it, maybe she doesn't.  But he said she could also have irritable bowel or reflux.  She also says her throat hurts a lot, without any reason for it.  So he ordered an ultrasound and an endoscopy for her.  The first will be next week, the latter the following week. 
Wednesday morning Rooster had his x-rays and ultrasound.  He had to fast for the US, and I thought he would be a bear, since this is the kid who wakes up and his first sign is typically HUNGRY.  But he did so well!  I had told him twice the day before that he would not be able to eat in the morning, but I never know how much of what I tell him he actually understands. But when he woke up and said he was hungry, I reminded him that he could not eat right now, he had to wait.  This was around 7:00 and his appointment wasn't until 8:45.  I was so sure he would keep asking or fuss at me for next two plus hours.  But he didn't!  In fact, he did not sign hungry again until we were waiting for our disc of his X-rays, ready to walk out the door around 9:45!!  That had to have been God, totally.  The other two, who I also made wait for their breakfast, complained multiple times about being hungry!
The ultrasound showed normal kidneys and bladder, and the X-rays showed no evidence of hip dysplasia!  I had been so worried about that.
Thursday we actually had a day with no appointments, which was lovely. Friday afternoon we headed to the orthopedist.  He confirmed no hip dysplasia, but wants an MRI of Rooster's neck and spine, as he has a congenital anomaly in his neck and he wants to be sure there's nothing else going on inside that X-rays don't show.  Since the MRI is done under sedation, and if we pursue cochlear implants he will also need an MRI to determine if he is a candidate, he said we could wait and do both at the same time.  He also said that I shouldn't concern myself with the w sitting, and there's nothing to do about it.  He doesn't have problems walking and his hips are totally fine, so it's not a big deal.  That kind of goes against everything I've read about w sitting, but who am I to argue? I'll probably still try and break that habit and teach him to sit a different way, but I have bigger fish to fry as they say!

So all in all he is doing well physically.  Next week we have audiology and ophthalmology, and the dentist again.  And Liana's ultrasound, which will mean another morning of late breakfasts, but I think we will all survive :)

I need to make a correction to my timeline in The Whole Story.  In talking with another adoptive mom of a deaf child (and a bio one too!) I wanted to double check when they realized James was not responding to sound anymore.  It wasn't until around 18 months, not the 12 month age I previously wrote.  He didn't seem to be speaking at all yet at that point, which I guess is why I was thinking he was younger.  But given all his other delays, that doesn't seem so odd.  And it doesn't matter too much in the grand scheme of things, but I like things to be accurate!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

The Whole Story

So many people ask me the same questions about James's history and such, I figured I should just write a blog about it, in case you were wondering but haven't asked.

James was born December 26, 2008 in Mambajoa on Camiguin Island in the Philippines.  His mother was single, young, and poor.  The father was never in the picture.  James was born at 35 weeks and weighed just about 3 pounds.  He had a cleft palate that no one discovered until Diane met him at 3 months old.  Up to that point he lived with mom and grandma, with  grandma being the primary caretaker.  James was super sick as an infant.  His mother and grandmother did not have money for formula most of the time, and because of his cleft palate he could not nurse.  When they could not afford formula or powdered milk, they fed sweet baby sugar water.  As a result he had frequent gastrointestinal problems, plus respiratory problems.  He had asthma for the first year or so of his life and had pneumonia at least once.  When Diane met James he was in the ER for some illness, but grandma didn't have money to pay the doctor or buy the needed medicine.  She wanted Diane to take James then, but Diane and Tom were about to travel to the States for several weeks.  Long story short, two months later James was still not well and the situation at home had not changed.  Diane tried to help grandma take care of James, but she could not read and therefore could not give him his medication properly, nor did she feed him correctly for a cleft palate.  So at five months of age, James's birth mother signed over custody of her son and he came to live with Tom and Diane.  He weighed a mere 5 pounds and was still very sick.  They took excellent care of him and nursed him back to health, through many illnesses and I'm sure sleepless nights.  All their accounts of him say that even as sick as he was, he was still a very pleasant and happy baby.  Around age one, one of the nurses who took care of him during the day noticed that he no longer responded to sounds or to his name being called.  He was diagnosed with a double ear infection, but the doctor wanted to wait until all the fluid was gone before testing his hearing, to see if that was the problem.  A few months later nothing had improved, so a hearing test called an ABR was done.  It showed profound deafness in both ear.  Basically that means James hears nothing, not even at the loudest decibels. 
At 13 months old, James had surgery to repair his cleft palate.  He continued to grow and develop well, eventually meeting all major milestones, even though he didn't walk until he was almost 2! 
Without going into tons of detail, I really can't explain to you just how sick he was.  We have medical reports from every doctor visit, every medication he was given for every illness, and it's a long list.  But eventually he did get stronger and healthy, and Diane told me she couldn't remember the last time he'd even had a fever.  Coming home I was worried that he would pick up every bug around, but so far all he's had is a stuffy nose.  Which he doesn't know how to blow, I might add.  He really is very healthy, even though we have some other issues we are dealing with.  I am so thankful that the Lord put James in Diane's path that day, and that he had people caring for him from such an early age.  She tried to send him to an orphanage, but no one would take him because of his cleft palate. 
Looking at all the pictures she sent home with us, I realized just how many caretakers James has had.  Yes, Tom and Diane were always constant, but he did have a variety of nurses and nannies along the way.  I'm still not sure he gets the concept of "mom and dad" as he will sometimes sign them at random times for any ol' person he sees.  But he'll get it eventually :)
James did go to day care/preschool for a short time in Camiguin, but I'm not really sure for how long, or what they did there.  In January of last year he had a hernia repaired.  He had the hernia as a baby, but it went away on its own until it reappeared at the end of 2011. 

I think that answers all the questions I typically get asked, but if there's anything else you want to know, feel free to ask.  The first time I read James's file, one of my first thoughts was, "Wow, God has really had his hand on this little guy.  He shouldn't be in such good shape, or even alive, given how sick he was."  But alive he is, and I pray that he will come to know the Lord, and the plan for his life.  Because surely there is a great one.  Several times since we've been home, different people have said the same thing to me at different times.  I don't know yet what it will be, or how he'll get there, but I know God did not bring him this far and into our family to leave him to fend for himself.  Despite all my shortcomings and failings as a parent, Heavenly Father is taking care of my rooster right along with me.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

LOVE IS... (A Different Kind of Post)

This weekend we had some illness floating around our house - some sore throat, a fever, some runny noses.  So the kids and I stayed home from church today to rest before our jam packed week.  Since this week is Valentine's Day, I decided to revisit 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 for devotions.  The kids memorized it last year, probably around this time, but it's gotten a bit buried.  I know that I need to be more intentional about finding things to praise my children for, instead of always scolding correcting them.  So, after we finished devotions I had the idea to make a poster with the verse on it to hang in the house.  Then I got really inspired and made paper hearts with everyone's names on them.  When we catch someone showing love according the 1 Corinthians, that person's heart will get taped on the poster on the spot that's appropriate. 
Now, I had envisioned in my head how this poster would look.  But then Aedan wanted to help make it.  Then so did Liana.  And while the very big perfectionist in me wanted to say "no, I'll do it, you go play," I knew they would benefit more from helping than from a perfectly printed poster. 
Each child colored their own hearts with their name, even James.  And I discovered that he really can color!  He didn't do them all, but he did actually fully color a few of them.  And then, of course, he also wanted to cut them out after seeing the other two cut theirs.  He can actually make little snips, but I put my hand over his and helped him cut his hearts.
Then Aedan and Liana took turns writing phrases.  If you are a perfectionist too, you will appreciate how hard it was for me to let them do this!!
I also figured that while I was at it, I would make a file folder game out of the verse too, to help review it.  That I did myself :)
Here are the finished products.  I'll let you know if it works!

James colored his own hearts! 

Friday, February 8, 2013

How's it going?

I hear that question on a pretty regular basis.  And it's a tough one to answer unless you really want to know.  I mean, most people just want a one or two word answer, just like when they ask "how are you?" I realize that's just the way our culture is now, so I'm not offended or anything.  I know people genuinely want to know, but don't have time for a lengthy (honest) explanation.  But if you are truly interested, and have a few minutes, I'll try and give you a recap of the past two weeks.  But I must warn you, I don't want to scare anyone off who is thinking about adopting, but I don't want to sugar coat things either.  To be honest, I really don't know how to write this post, but here goes...
First, I'll tell you how it's going for me. I can't speak for Jason, but I know for me, this is way harder than I expected.  I thought I was fairly well prepared.  I have read books and blogs galore, and seen a whole variety of struggles and and successes.  So I knew what could happen.  But knowing what could happen hasn't really made it any easier.  Knowing what I should do to foster trust and attachment and all those really important things, doesn't make it any easier to actually do them.  I find myself wondering multiple times a day, 'is this right?' or 'if I do this, is this going to hurt us in the long run?' or, 'is he really happy or is this just a front, his defense mechanism?' and, 'does he really not understand me or is he just faking???' I ask myself that one the most!  I feel a lot more overwhelmed than I expected.  I thought I was prepared, after all!  I'm trying to do everything "they say you should do," but I don't always get it right.  I am often impatient and frustrated, and that frustrates me!  Then add to that homeschool battles with Aedan, a whole bunch of sibling rivalry from both sides, Jason's chronic back pain (that has been gone since Saturday, praise the Lord!!), trying to figure out whether to renew our lease or try to possibly buy a house (and find out our credit got jacked up by some human error), a possible daunting diagnosis for Liana, and you have one stressed out Merissa!  To say that it's not been an easy two weeks is an understatement.  But when I consider my struggles, and then I think about families whose blogs I follow that have adopted multiple children with serious special needs, and I think, 'if they can do it, so can I!' I know they rely on the Lord, and he is faithful to them, just like he will be faithful to me.  I know that it will get better, and I know so many people are faithfully praying for us daily.  If you are one of those people, thank you from the bottom of my heart!
Now enough about me.  I know you really just want to know how James is doing.  Again, a hard question to answer.  Because he really doesn't have the language to express himself, and because he's very happy and easy going by nature, he really doesn't complain about much.  If he wants something and doesn't get it, I hear about it.  But for the most part he seems content.  He is pretty clingy with me, but he does ok when I leave him with Jason and go to work.  As I said, there's a good deal of jealousy between James and his siblings, mainly Liana.  She's always been a little cuddle bug, and now they are both having a hard time accepting that mom can hug the other, too. He's sleeping well, but he wakes up SO early.  I am not a morning person at all, so this is a challenge for me.  Every few days he gets tired enough to sleep until 7:00, but most days he is up way before the sun.  He is ALWAYS hungry.  That's one sign he learned quickly! He loves to help me do things, like cooking or vacuuming or pulling laundry out of the basket and handing it to me to fold.  I'm so much of a 'it's much faster if I just do it myself but I know it's better if I let you help' person, so I try to find things he can help me with.  He is very stubborn, and I am pretty sure he knows most of the things he's not supposed to do/touch, but he will do them anyway, even right after I tell him not to.  He is super dramatic too.  Fits right in with the other two! It's pretty comical when he is on his time out mat and he's fake crying, pulling off his socks and looking to see if we are paying attention.  He is still obsessed with the dog, and sometimes I wish Swiper would nip at him just once to give him some fear.  Not to really hurt him, of course! But he doesn't get growling, so I don't know how else to get him to understand that the dog will only tolerate so much.  And he tolerates a LOT!!
He still has the attention span of a gnat, unless there's something on tv he likes.  He did draw something that looks like the first attempts at a person, with 8 legs!  We did puzzles the other day, and he still has trouble getting some of the pieces properly into their spots, and I had to keep focusing him back to the puzzle.  And I tried getting him to match pictures using a Memory game we have, but either he wasn't getting the idea, or he just wasn't interested, because he couldn't seem to understand what I wanted him to do, even though I showed him several times.  We tried it again the next day, and he did do a little better.  We are still working on using words instead of pointing.  Today I got a whole sentence unprompted: I PLEASE HAVE MILK.  I was very excited!  He is copying me a lot more, but not using too many new signs on his own yet.  He did sign MAN for the receipt checker guy at Sam's Club the other day.  That was a first for that sign. 
As for his physical issues - we saw our family doctor on Monday.  He spent about an hour with us, asking questions, having James do things, listening to my long list of concerns.  When all was said and done, we now have appointments with radiology for x-rays and ultrasounds, (x-rays on his neck and hips - his neck doesn't turn all the way like it should, and he probably has some hip displasia.  He always W sits, and I literally have to straighten his legs out in front of him when I sit him on the time out mat.  He keeps them straight for about half a second.  Ultrasounds are for his kidneys and bladder.)  the feeding clinic, the orthopaedic doctor, (again for hips and neck) audiology, opthamology, DART, and the child development unit.  I imagine we will be adding a number of therapies to our schedule in the near future. 
Tomorrow we have our first post placement visit.  We have to have 3 of them before the Philippines will give us permission to finalize.  I got James's permanent alien registration card today, so now we can get him a SS number and apply for Medicaid and all that good stuff. 
Sorry this was kind of all over the place.  I'm sure I forgot something I wanted to say!  But eventually I'll remember and put it in the next post.  I'd like to promise it won't be another two weeks before that happens, but there's a good possibility it will be!  I'll try to keep you updated on all our various appointments as they happen, though.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Last Day in Manila and the trip home!

Thursday morning we had our appointment at the ICAB to pick up James's visa and passport, and to sign papers that would officially give us custody and allow us to take him out of the country.  Our liason and the driver picked us up around 9:15 and off we went.  The ICAB is in this little house in a rather run-down neighborhood.  It's not in the main part of the city where you might expect to find a government office.  It wasn't anything formal, we just met with the social worker, signed some papers, got a whole bunch of paperwork for immigration, and that was it.  They also gave James a little Philippine flag and a toy jeepney, both of which he loved. 
After the ICAB we went to the mall to buy some souvenirs and have some lunch.  James did great in the mall.  He really didn't seem overwhelmed or bothered by anything.  We had lunch in the food court, and while I would have liked to try something actually Filipino, I didn't know what anything was!  And our liason wasn't really helpful.  The food court was so loud, and she talked so quietly, it would really have been pointless to ask her to explain what things were.  We walked all around the room and found a Belgian waffle sandwich stand!  They were quite good, actually!  But the whole time we were eating, this lady at some other stand was ringing this bell.  Think Salvation Army bell, but instead of outside Wal-Mart, inside a busy food court.  It made me want to rip my ears off!!  We also made a quick stop at a grocery store for some bottled water and Pringles :)
They took us back to our hotel and we just hung out in our room all afternoon, watching movies, playing, and skyping again with the kids from the roof.  We ventured out on our own for dinner, walking down the street to see what we could find.  We ended up at a little cafe just down from the hotel.  We got James some pizza and he ate more than I had seen him eat up to that point.  Jason and I both had grilled chicken sandwiches.  Adventurous, I know. 
Since we had to be up and out by 3:00am, we put James to bed around 8, and we had the same reaction as the night before, but not as intense or as long lasting, thankfully.  Jason stayed with him and I took my turn on the couch.  I put him to bed in his clothes for the next day so we could just scoop him up and go.  When I picked him up he woke up pretty quickly, and was quite pleasant considering what time it was.  We got to the airport and through security easily and with plenty of time.  But I have to say that the international terminal in Manila is not my favorite.  I think we went through security at least 4 times, the last time being right before going into the boarding area.  They don't let you take in any food or drink, and you have to go back out to use the restroom and then back through security again.  Thankfully though, we didn't have that long of a wait, and James was excited to fly again. 
To be honest, I can't remember if he slept on that first flight, or just watched movies!  But the flight to Japan was uneventful.  Jason was in the row in front of us, and another mom sat next to James.  Her kids were across the aisle from her, and she had to ask people to move so that she could be there.  The airline really did not do a good job at accomodating parents with small children!  When we arrived in Japan we had to get off the plane and go back through security.  Since we were in the back of the plane there was a huge line.  But the very nice people in Nagoya went through the line and pulled out all families with small children and took them to their own line, so we did not have to wait long.  Oh, and I forgot to mention before, by this time James had figured out that he needed to show his passport anytime we went through security, and he wanted to do it himself!  He kept a good hold on it and showed it at all the right times.  He's very observant and quick to figure things out once he sees it happen. 
Our layover was brief and since they let families with children board first, we didn't wait long.  When we got back on the plane, Jason had new seatmates, a couple with an infant.  If you remember, his seat was the middle seat.  So this couple was also separated from each other, with an infant!!  (Delta, you really need to work on that!)  The dad asked Jason if he minded switching seats so they could be together.  This guy was willing to give up his aisle seat, and Jason was happy to oblige.  After talking a few minutes, the guy realized that James and I were behind them, separated from Jason.  So they kindly offered to switch seats with James and I, so the three of us could sit together.  Do you know how much I prayed that someone would have favor on us so that we could sit together???!!!!  God loves adoption!!!!!
The flight was as good as a 13 hour flight can be.  James did really well, mostly watching movies.  I did give him some melatonin at some point and he slept for a little while.  I also tried to keep him entertained with the backpack full of things I had brought.  Unfortunately, most of them did not interest him for long, if at all.  But in the end we survived!!
We arrived in Detroit and spent about an hour and a half or so in immigration, but they finally got to us and let us through without any trouble.  We got our luggage, got some brunch at Chili's, and waited around for a few hours.  Right by our gate (well, what we thought was our gate) were some little playhouses for kids.  James loved them and played in them for quite a while.  Some other kids came over and it got hairy for a few minutes because he didn't want them coming in, but eventually he decided to play with them.  He was very bossy!!  The kids were kind to him and the older ones did whatever he wanted, but the little one was not so easily persuaded!  Finally I had to take him away and we went to our real gate to wait.  The flight to Pittsburgh was short and sweet.  A very special family (who is also adopting a little boy, from Haiti) was there to greet us at the airport, along with my parents and the kids.  James took to his new brother and sister right away, and I was so happy to finally have them all together!!  We stopped at Steak and Shake for dinner on the way home and everyone did great.  We got home and found clean carpets, thanks to my best friend, decorations, cupcakes, and some other surprises.  We let James explore for a while before getting everyone ready for bed.  He went to bed ok, but didn't stay asleep for long!!  And you've probably already read what happened from there :)

Traveling back to Manila, Day 5


Remember that I said it rained from Monday night, straight through the day Tuesday and all Tuesday night? When we woke up sometime between 2 and 3am on Wednesday morning it was still raining and I was feeling a bit panicky about traveling in the rain, the ferry being cancelled or delayed, etc. I prayed and prayed that the rain would stop. Finally it was time to get up and take my last (hopefully) cold shower and get ready to leave.  Still raining pretty hard, but the waves did seem a bit calmer. As soon as James saw us, he signed boat and plane a bunch of times. I was pretty sure he didn't know Diane wasn't going with us.  We had breakfast and James spent a good bit of time playing with Reneve while we talked with Diane. We took pictures of him with Diane and John, and with the girls, and then we us.  The driver arrived a little after 7:00 to drive us to the dock.  Our plan was to take the 8:15 ferry.  James signed boat and plane again to Jesse, the driver.  Everyone said their goodbyes and James seemed ok with Diane staying behind.  He didn't cry one bit. I, on the other hand, really struggled to hold it together.  Not because I didn't want to leave with him, because I totally did.  But I knew how much these people loved him, and how much it was going to break his little heart to have them ripped from his life without much explanation. And I knew how much they were going to miss him, too.  But I didn't want him to see me crying and get scared, or think this was a bad thing, so I did my best to get a grip! It was still raining at this point, but not pouring.  The three of us sat in the cab of the truck with Jesse, well smooshed into the cab is a more accurate description.  When we got the dock, Jesse told us to wait in this waiting tent area and he would let us know when we could buy tickets.  James played with the shark pillow pet we gave him and didn't seem to mind the wait.  Once we got our tickets and got on the ferry, the rain started to slow down.  The ferry wasn't very full, so they decided to wait a while for more passengers.  Apparently this is a normal occurrence because no one else seemed bothered by the delay.  I was trying not to be impatient!!  The 8:15 ferry turned into the 9:15 ferry.  But, in the hour we were waiting, the rain stopped!  I was so thankful that the Lord answered that prayer for me, and that we were able to actually see where we were going.  The passenger area of the ferry is all open, and they have tarps all around the outside.  Once the rain stopped they rolled the tarps up.  The ride was uneventful and about an hour and a half long.  We did a bit of a dilemma as to how to get us and all our luggage back down the steps and off the ferry ourselves, but we managed in the end. The taxi driver Diane arranged for us met us at the dock and helped get everything into the taxi, which was really a van.  James and Jason both fell asleep in the van for a while, but I wanted to see everything.  It was exactly the same as the trip when we arrived, but still, I wanted to see!  And the taxi driver was crazy! Like, scary driver crazy.  But then, I think everyone in the Philippines is a scary driver!  But we survived and stopped at McDonald's again for lunch just before getting to the airport.  The airport was another adventure.  Have I mentioned that I am not a very good international traveller??  First you go through rather ghetto security to get in the door, then you check in.  Our baggage was over their ridiculously small weight limit. So we had to pay about 1200 pesos, again.  Which I really didn't understand, because we now had three passengers with the same amount of luggage, so in theory we should not have been over by nearly as much as we were with just the two of us.  But anyway.  Then we had to pay the terminal fee of 30 pesos per person, and the go through security again to get into the boarding area.  The boarding area is just a room, packed with people, with 4 doors that are the gates.  There was a little snack/souvenir shop outside the very gross bathroom that did not have toilet seats or toilet paper.  When it's time to board, they don't call row numbers or anything.  They just put up a sign with the flight number and everyone mobs the door.  But thankfully, if you have small kids they let you cut the line.  So we boarded quickly and got settled.  James went to sleep before we even took off and slept most, if not all of the flight.  Once we landed in Manila, got our luggage, and found our liaison, it was somewhere around 6:00pm.  We found a KFC near our hotel, grabbed some dinner and took it back to our new hotel.  James was still pretty happy at this point.  We got to our room, ate dinner, and went up to the roof where the wifi was to try and Skype with the kids at home.  This was the first time we were able to talk with them, and the camera on my mom's computer wasn't working.  And we kept dropping signal.  I was getting frustrated, and apparently so was James, because the next thing I know he is freaking. out.  So we said a quick goodbye and went back to our room.  We got him ready for bed, him crying the whole time.  We tried laying him in the bed and laying beside him.  Still hysterical.  Jason tried holding him and walking around.  No luck.  Finally I remembered the melatonin in the suitcase!   Gave him some of that and eventually he did fall asleep.  The bed was only a double, so Jason took the couch and I stayed in the bed with James.  He stayed asleep all night, but he rolled around a lot and I got no sleep for fear of waking him up!!