"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved." Ephesians 1:3-6

Monday, August 19, 2013

First PAR Visit

Each country has different requirements for post adoption.  Ethiopia requires us to do a post adoption report (PAR) at 3, 6, and 12 months of the child being home.  Since we are already nearing the two month marker, we had to get in our first visit with the social worker.

The PAR only needs to include basic information--how the child is developing, the health, their likes and dislikes, and what is current with the family.  We also will turn in a cd with photos and video. Our agency will send it to the proper place in Ethiopia, where it will become available if anyone were to want to access it.  Since some children are older and have birth parents that may want to look up information on them, they have made this a requirement for all children.

After the 12 month report, they require one per year until the child is 18 years of age.  Those ones are much less information, and require no social worker visits.
She started where the X was.  It's great that she is exploring more--we think she must be getting more comfortable with her surroundings.

It was nice to have our social worker come over now that we are home.  She has been with us from the very first step, so it was great to have her meet Elliana.  She was also willing to answer any questions we have and offer her professional (and personal because she has adopted as well) knowledge as to some behaviors we are seeing in Elliana.

So, on to a little update on Elliana....

It is hard to know how our attachment is going because she is a baby and we don't know what is going on in her head!  We have started in the past couple weeks to go out more other than just to church.  We have gone to a restaurant and she sat in a highchair for the first time there.  We have taken some family trips to Target and other stores, and have had some family gatherings, which have a lot of people at them.  We have to remind ourselves of all the stimulation she is getting and that she isn't used to it.  Her room in Ethiopia just had a single light bulb and no noises like here.  No dog or brother or sister climbing on her and giving her big wet kisses.
We are very intentional about always holding Elliana for her bottles.  But at night time sometimes I just get all three kids' pajamas out and go one at a time.  The babies get their bottles started while I get Raelynn dressed.  They are so cute together when they have their bottles.  Little twins!

And they usually end up holding their own bottle with one hand
and grabbing the other bottle with their opposite hand

Then Declan mauls her! 

And she always takes it like a CHAMP!

We think she is doing well.  We were a bit unsure of some behavior she was having though.  She had been doing really well with naps.  She would fuss when we put her down, which was a good sign because it meant she didn't want us to put her in her crib.  But, she was also not crying for long after which is something we needed to train her to do.  But suddenly this past week she has stopped that.  She wasn't crying when we put her in her crib and she would just play with her blankie and not sleep.  We didn't want to just leave her in there awake--since she spent her first 8 months of life like that--so I would get her out.  She was fussy, so I knew she was tired, but she wasn't napping.

Thankfully, that hasn't lasted too long. We decided this week to start swaddling Elliana for naps.  She does so much better when we are holding her and when we are giving her a bottle when she is a bit restrained.  I have the 'hold' down where I put the bottle under my chin and hold her arms and leg down.  It is amazing how it calms her down and how she will allow us to hold and rock her this way. 
I figured we should give swaddling a try since it makes it a bit easier! Then if it is a time she had it on for being fed and rocked then we put her down for nap in it.  So when I would get her up, I have been swaddling her and rocking her.  She will allow me to rub her nose and rub her cheek and she'll close her eyes.  She has good eye contact, and the social worker said that it's really good she is looking at our faces when we feed her a bottle because she is studying us and learning about who is caring for her.

If she isn't restrained when we hold her, we are noticing that she pushes away, turns all which-way, and is much more fussy.  This is especially true in church, so we are going to make more of an effort to sit with her at home on our laps when we aren't feeding her. 
One thing that is sooo encouraging is that when there are a lot of people around, sometimes I feel her grab on to me while I'm holding her.  And today, when Brent passed her to someone to hold, she started to reach back for him.  This is SO great!  Very encouraging and I hope we will continue to see it.  Only time will tell--this stuff doesn't happen over night, over a week, or even over a month.  We are still very new to her and that's easy to forget since she has been in our hearts and we have seen her face since December.



Oh, and back to the not napping in her crib--we think maybe she just needs to be in there to chill out.  It's a quiet place with her blankie and no crazy stimulation going on around her.  But again, hard to know.  Brent started yesterday going in there and even though she is just laying there quiet, he popped in there and she got super excited when she saw him.  He gave her a little rub on her tummy and walked out.  She fussed, then stopped.  Then, fell right to sleep.  So maybe she just needs to be reminded we are here then she can fully relax and sleep.  We just pray that God would give us wisdom as we try to bond with her and we fully trust that He will mold our hearts together in time. So much going on in the brain and all that science and development talk is very real, but ultimately God is in control over all of this and we pray He will direct us and bless this process.

Our social worker said this is all very 'newborn' behavior and that is very good we are seeing it.  She said since Elliana never had that as a newborn, she has to go back to it in order to develop attachment and bond to us.  It's all a bit confusing! But we did know from our training with our agency that we needed to treat her like an infant to show her she needs to depend on us. 

So for now, we are continuing our plan of us being the ones to provide for her immediate needs.  We are the only ones to feed, bathe, dress, and change her diaper.  We are letting people hold her when we are at our house only, so that she knows it's a safe place of some familiarity.  And we try to stay close to her and once she shows any sign of fussiness, we take her to comfort her. 

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