Our Family

Our Family

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Christmas...The time of expectations

Our daughter's first Christmas...words that held a lot of expectation. She may have celebrated Christmas in the orphanage, but we will never know. She didn't have anything to bring from their, so it's safe to say she had never received any gifts. Christmas is a time of of family traditions, celebration, and laughter. Or at least that was my expectation. We tried to keep our gifts to a few, but I kept finding more and more things I just knew my daughter would love.

Here is how our Christmas went:
We went to church on Christmas Eve, just like we've always done. Our service was at 4:30, which is prime playtime for our child. So that is what she did. Laughed and played during the service. Not exactly the peaceful service I had pictured.

Then we went to Chinese for dinner. My family has always gone to a Chinese restaurant on Christmas Eve. It's an odd tradition, but I wanted to carry it on. All she ate was french fries.

All I wanted to do before she went to bed was read the Christmas story from Luke 2. She screamed so loud the entire time that Scott had to start over twice.

Christmas morning she was up bright and early at 6:30...the child who normally sleeps until 8. Scott went to get ready to video her reaction to the Little Tykes play set we built in the living room. She screamed because she wanted to go with Daddy, but I kept her in the bed room. The end of her temper tantrum is caught on video, and she just goes still when she sees the playground. Then promptly scoots back to her room to play with her beloved car.

Although everyone was excited for her to open her gifts she was overwhelmed by the attention, and mostly screamed when ripping open the paper. Then chose to play with the boxes and bags.

I am not saying all of this because we had a bad Christmas. We truly had a wonderful Christmas, and my heart was full just having my daughter here with us. I don't know that I could have endured another year without her stocking on the mantle. The expectations for Christmas were mine, not hers. She had a great time getting to know all her family better. She got lots of attention, was read lots of books, and received lots of love. And that is what mattered to her. Now we're slowly reintroducing some of her gifts, and she loves them. She plays everyday with her play set, and got brave enough to slide by herself today.

I learned that Christmas with an adopted child is best when expectations are set to the side. (Or maybe all children, but this is my first experience). Next year my goal is to just soak in the time with family, buy less toys, and check my expectations at the door.

Got to finally see the Sanjines family in the US!

Christmas in Virginia with the Hamilton Family

Christmas Eve...Our first nativity!

Christmas morning

 Christmas Day with the Dunton Family

Hiking with the family

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Life at home

I wanted to stay faithful to blogging about life with Brielle even after we came up, but real life takes up way more time than I remember!

Overall Brielle has been doing great at home! We are truly loving being at home, and getting into a routine. There are times when we miss Bogota, our slow pace of life, and all the great memories we made there. I can truly say that city will always hold a special place in our hearts.

Here are some things that our girl has been doing lately:
Signing 'more please' for food, and working on 'all done' when she's finished
Loves playing on the piano
Still eating lots, but learning to enjoy her food slowly instead of gobbling it all down
Showing us she needs to go potty by taking off her pants
Pulling up all the time, and showing a strong desire to walk (can't wait to get her a walker, so she can really go!)
First doctor's visit in the US-weighed 28 lbs, and height of 33 inches
Loves playing with Daddy still, but enjoying more snuggle time with Mommy (at first she bonded more with Scott because she only had female caretakers)
Loves being outside
Had lots of fun with her first time painting
Did NOT like being a unicorn for Halloween, but did enjoy the candy
Loves her doggies, and they are very patient with her loving
Babbling all the time, and communicating her needs more and more

I'm sure there are lots more things I could post, but that is a good summary of all the progress she has made. It is amazing to think about how far she has come in three months!

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Week 8 in Bogota, the last one!

Even though we are home I wanted to recap our final week in Bogota.

Monday: We all went up to the court with the promise of Sentencia. It is a lot of work to get Brielle ready to leave the house at 7 (she is NOT a morning person), and then drive an hour through traffic. We sat for a few hours, and then were simply told that it wasn't ready, and to come back at 8am the next day. The place where Brielle lived was a special orphanage for children with special needs called the Foundation. It was near the courthouse, so we decided to go visit. It was in Strato 1, which is the poorest area. Everyone was so happy to see Brielle, and everyone wanted to hug and kiss on her. It was nice to see how loved she was there. She was happy to see everyone, but preferred being held by Daddy. 
With some of the workers including her caretaker, Margarita. 
 Her friend Jon was so excited to see her!
Jon, Sarai and Brielle, best buds!

 This was her special friend, Juanita, from the older kids room. 
 She was worn out from her visit. 
Tuesday: I went back to the court first thing in the morning by myself to sign the Sentencia. It wasn't done being written, so we were told to come back at 2pm. I opted to wait with my lawyer at La Casa instead of driving all the way home. I talked to the kids there while I waited, and practiced English with them. When we got back the Sentencia was done, but the judge was in court so he never signed. Told to come back, and everything would be ready by 8am sharp.

Wednesday: I go back to the court again (it was a blessing that I got to go alone), and the Sentencia was ready around 9am for me to sign! Then my lawyer signed, but we still had to get the defender of minors to sign. We went up to the office and our defender had been sick for a month. My attorney had a friend in the office, but she refused to sign because of the extra work our lady was causing by being out sick. So then another guy said if my attorney could find his son a job he would sign, and so it was done! After more craziness with months printed incorrectly, and waiting for more people to sign Gabrielle was legally our daughter! So then we raced off to the notary to get the new birth certificate, and then off to the passport office to get her passport. Wednesday night we wanted to go celebrate by eating a nice Italian restaurant called Archies, and we got caught in a torrential downpour. Brielle loved running through the rain, and we ended up eating spaghetti at home. 

Our official family photo! (not easy to get a three year old to pose)

Thursday: I went back early to pick up her passport, and then we scanned it to the US Embassy and the the Embassy doctor. Our rep had informed the Embassy earlier in the week that we would need an appointment Friday in order to fly home Saturday, so we were cutting it close. In the afternoon we walked to the doctor's office to get her medical packet, and had dinner at Sopas y Postres. It was delicious!
This girl loves to eat!

Friday: We headed out for the Embassy around 11am, and when we got there they were calling "Familia Hamilton" over the loudspeaker. We rushed in to find the place empty. It turns out that the Embassy was closed for an administration day, but they made a special appointment for us! God is so good! We were interviewed by the same guy who I spoke with on the phone months before, and he said that they are always excited to help complete adoptions. We went to the mall for one last lunch before going back to pick up her official visa. It all went so smoothly! Finally, we were ready to come home!
Our wonderful rep, Martha! She made the process so smooth!
 Dinner at Archie's with our friends Sam & Brian.

Saturday: We were up bright and early to get to the airport! Brielle LOVED flying, and behaved so well the whole time. It was wonderful to have so many family and friends meet us at the airport, and finally eat some Chick Fil A! We had a wonderful time in Bogota, but it is so nice to be home!

Breakfast picnic-last time for Juan Valdez (great Colombian coffee!)

Loving the airplane! She laughed and laughed during take off!

Finally back in the US! So blessed to be home as a family of three!

We'll still keep the blog updated with Brielle's progress, and how she is adapting to life at home! We truly cannot thank everyone enough for all the support and prayers that you have provided during this adventure. We are so excited to have our girl home!

Sunday, October 5, 2014

I can't believe week 7 has come and gone!

I know when we left the states we told everyone we'd be gone for 8-9 weeks, but I had no idea how long that would actually feel! We have truly loved our time on Bogota, but so much has happened at home. We are ready to get home and catch up! We are praying that our week 8 update will be the final one!

Each day of the week has gone pretty much the same. We spend a lot of time playing at the apartment, go jogging on a nice path we found, watch Baby Einstein (her new favorite!), and just spend time together. It has been nice seeing how our lives will kind of be at home. 

A few highlights from the week:
Tuesday: We went to Jeno's pizza for the half off lunch, and were literally the only people in the restaurant! We even let Brielle go (halfway) down the big slide by herself, which she loved! That girl has no fear.

Wednesday: In the evening we met our new friends Sam and Brian at Usaquen Square to find a place for dinner. The third story of the mall is a Plaza de Andres. (By the same company as Andres Carne de Res). They have all these different stations to order your food, like a cafeteria. Scott opted for a hamburger, while Brielle and I had aprepas. Sam confessed that she did not believe Brielle could eat her entire aprea covered in chicken, but she put it down and asked for more! We had a great time hanging out, and getting coffee after dinner.

She is LOVING her Five Little Monkeys book!
 Putting on Daddy's shoes all by herself!

Friday: We were really hoping for Sentenica because we have gotten all the other necessary signatures. But the secretary didn't come in, so no luck. We decided we needed to get out of the house, so we took our work (Scott) and Kindle (Allyson) the the Juan Valdez coffee shop. Its one of the few places with fast internet. Brielle took along her new favorite book, 5 Little Monkeys, which has entertained her for countless hours this week. We were just sitting and chatting, when I heard someone speaking English! So I started peaking over at the family, and as they were leaving Scott realized one of their kids was adopted. Then the dad turned around, and was like "Hey, are you all Americans?" It was truly God's providence that led us all to meet up! They are from our same agency and spending their last week or so in Bogota to get all their paperwork finished. We have found that our little area is pretty safe to walk around in the evening, so we decided to do dinner out at El Corral Gourmet. It was sooo good! They have their burgers divided by country, I had a Thai burger, and Scott had something from Europe.

We got a little dressed up in hope of Sentencia!
Dinner at El Corral

Saturday: We went with the Wood family (that we met Friday) to Simon Bolivar park. We had lots of fun. The kids played on the playground, and we had meat and corn on a stick for lunch. Their oldest daughter, Eden, was great with Brielle, and all the kids loved pushing her in the stroller. Luis made her laugh the most with all his sound effects! As we were leaving it started POURING rain. It was the first long rain shower we've had in Bogota, and the first one we've been caught in!

Sunday: During the past week I connected with a family who is here in Bogota for the adoption of their 6 month old. We met with them at Al Aguas Patos today for brunch. It has all kinds of french toast. You choose your bread, and then the toppings. Scott and I both ordered pan dulces, which turned out to be more like dessert. It was delicious though! We had a great time meeting Michelle and Chris, we just we could have connected with them earlier! Then we went to the makert with Sam and Brian. We got a few more souvenirs, and some beautiful serving spoons that we've been eyeing the whole time. Then of course we had to get ice cream at Crepes and Waffles!

Our most exciting breakthrough this week was Saturday when we got home from the park. Brielle normally has a snack around 5:00 because we don't eat dinner until closer to 7. I went over to the kitchen to fix a cup of coffee. She saw me in the kitchen, scooted over, and signed 'more' to me! That is really the first time she has told us she was hungry without screaming!

Tomorrow morning we are headed to the courthouse at 7:00am. We are so hoping that with us their the judge will sign our Sentencia! Please pray for that! We have flights booked for Saturday, so if all goes well this is our last weekend in Bogota. We will miss our friends we have made here, but it will be so nice to get home!

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

The Unseen

Today I was reading 2 Corinthians 5, and it had so much wisdom for where we are at in our adoption journey. I love the blog because it records our memories of this trip, and I know this is wisdom that I'll need to read again sometime.

Vs. 8 "We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed, perplexed, but not in despair, persecuted, but not abounded, struck down, but not destroyed."

At this point we feel hard pressed. We miss our home, our dogs, our friends, and our community. But we are not crushed or in despair. We have been blessed to make new friends in this country, enjoy time bonding with our girl, and finding the Lord's provision in small ways. Tonight we get to have dinner with another couple from the States, hooray for English!

Vs. 17-18 "For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal."

Part of the reason that we chose adoption to start our family was because we felt that was where God was calling us. There have been lots of light and momentary troubles, but we know that the reward of following His call outweighs them all.

Choosing a child off a waiting list, and then deciding to call that child your own is a hard choice. You have to trust in the unseen. We knew our girl had some 'seen' special needs, but we believed that her 'unseen' potential was greater. After meeting so many others on this journey I know this to be true for all parents going through the adoption of waiting children. These children have been rejected because on the outside they seem unmanageable, but God gives the right people the wisdom to see the unseen potential that each child has. We do not know what the future holds for our daughter, but we believe that God is faithful to help us raise her to love Him, and reach that unseen potential. We feel blessed that we get to be her parents.

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