Monday, April 30, 2012

Somos una famila ahora ...

It all happened so unexpectedly.  We had our third visit with PANI this morning and Scott and I, a bit on edge, were armed with a whole list of questions that our cousin helped us to draft.  We really did not have time on our side and needed a resolution or a plan of action.  It turned out that we got the resolution.

Evelyn met with Marta, the psychologist, and Ana Teresa.  At their request, the lawyer for PANI joined them.  He came out moments later and showed us a piece of paper that had his signature on it. Underneath his signature it read, Evelyn accepto.  Evelyn told them that she was ready to meet with the judge.  We were stunned and  in disbelief.  While we met with Marta and Ana Teresa,  the lawyer called the judge and, Pura Vida, we had an appointment for later in the day at 1:30.   We went back to the hotel, swam, had lunch and then jumped into a cab and headed to the courthouse.  Our attorney was out of town, but the judge said that it was ok and that the PANI attorney would be there. 

We showed up at court shortly before 1:30  -- just the four of us -- and Scott and I were nervous.  I mean, we've been down this road before.  Then, to our surprise and delight, at 1:30pm, Ana Teresa and Marta rounded the corner with the PANI attorney (who is incredible too). Todos had big smiles and exuded confidence. The reinforcements were here! It lifted all of our spirits, especially Evelyn's.  

Evelyn met with the judge first. I held my breath.  She came out but I couldn't read her.   Scott and I were told to come in without our translator (judge said no b/c he wasn't an official court translator).  PANI attorney said, "no importa."  We went in.  The judge talked very fast. We understood some of it, but not all of it.  I would have loved to have heard what Evelyn said to her, but in the end it didn't matter because the judge approved the adoption.  No time to celebrate (yet).  We returned to hotel, swam, ate and are still packing.  Tomorrow, we leave for Nosara!

PS -- No photos.  It all happened so fast and we didn't look so hot anyway... :)

Sunday, April 29, 2012

We made it as far as the pool today ...

Breakfast.  Pool.  Lunch.  Pool.  Rain.  Pool.  Dinner. No pool.  The good news is that Jose had a blast in the water today after nearly a week of being fearful.  Evelyn adores the water, so we've been deferring to her desires right now.  Her swimming is improving much to the delight of the other hotel guests (splashing has greatly diminished -- except, of course, when she does the cannonball).  Hopefully once we move forward with the adoption, we can  be more adventurous in our outings.  Tomorrow morning we go back to PANI we hope that we can reschedule the court date.


Jose lets Evelyn take him for a swim

Waiting out the rain

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Filling the time until Monday ...

The past two days have been low-key.   Just hanging around our "home"  -- although I did take Evelyn and Jose out on Friday to see El Lorax.  Jose has been more rambunctious than usual.  He's becoming more expressive -- dancing, laughing, clapping, singing and acting silly in general.

Evelyn is acting the same, which doesn't tell us much about how she is really doing.  But we had fun making Arroz con Leche together, which she asked if we could do.  It is a very dulce (sweet) rice pudding.  Here's the recipe that I found online -- lots of condensed milk, lots of brown sugar, some cinnamon and throw in some rice while you are at it.  

One thing of importance to note is that I broke my very inexpensive camera.  Scott will not let me near his not so inexpensive camera; hence, no photos of papa until he relinquishes some control. 

Tomorrow we hope to persuade the kids to take a day trip either to a futbol game (not my choice), an amusement park (not my choice) or on a nature expedition (my choice).  We'll see how it goes. 

Friday, April 27, 2012

Thank you to everyone ...

Thank you to everyone who posted comments or sent us private emails.  It helped tremendously.  Wednesday was a very hard day for all of us.  After court, we spent several hours at PANI.  Our attorney accompanied us, while Evelyn met with her social worker and, for the first time, with Marta, a PANI psychologist.  She was really in a panic and it took a bit of soothing to let her know that we weren't upset, that we weren't giving up on her and that everything was going to be ok.  Yesterday, she woke up in a much better place.  We went back to PANI for another appointment and they worked with Evelyn and talked to us for nearly four hours.  Today, we were on our own. Monday morning, we go back to PANI again for another visit.  We hope by then that we can get back on track with the adoption.  Gracias por todo familia y amigos! 

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Well, it didn't go as we had hoped ....

Just a quick update to let everyone know that the judge would like us to spend more time together as a family before she gives her approval.  Not sure how long this will set us back, but Evelyn needs a lot of support and love right now.  Everyone at PANI is pulling for her and we are too.  At eight years old, she is struggling with letting a new family love her, leaving Costa Rica and starting a new life in another country.  Jose, of course, is ready to go wherever.  But at three years old, this is much easier for him. Tomorrow is a new day.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Tomorrow is our big day in family court ...

The children's social worker, Ana Teresa, came to our hotel-apartment this afternoon and visited with us for nearly three hours.  She is really incredible.  She prepped the children for the judge's questions and talked to us about their progress and addressed some of our concerns. 

At the end of our meeting, Evelyn showed her this lovely, summery dress that she was going to wear to tomorrow. Upon leaving, Ana Teresa nonchalantly turned to me and said, "Make sure that she wears a sweater with that dress tomorrow because the court is very cold."    Claro, I replied. 

As soon as she left, Evelyn and I hopped in a cab and raced over to the Multiplaza Mall. Evelyn doesn't have a sweater here.  She has a long-sleeved T, a warm-up jacket and a hoody.   I couldn't have her showing up in a fancy wrap dress (compliments of some fashionable attorneys with whom I work), flip flops and a hoody. 

At the mall, we first grabbed a pair of flat black shoes (very appropriate).  Then we found a department store with a great sales rack.  While in the dressing room trying on some of clothes, I received an instant message from Scott informing me that he and Jose were at the Mall too!  Not wanting to miss any of the excitement, they had jumped into a cab moments after we had left. 

We had so much fun.  We found a "warmer" dress for Evelyn, plus a sweater to match.  For Jose, we picked up a long-sleeved shirt and pants. And then much to my chagrin, we had dinner at the Food Court. All in all, it was a grand day and we finally ended up at the Multiplaza.

Monday, April 23, 2012

We had such grand plans for the day...

Jose in Timeout

Today, we were going on our first outing beyond the park and pool --- the Multiplaza Mall.  Aside from having an indoor playground and a movie theater, we needed to get Evelyn shoes for our meeting with the family court judge on Wednesday.  Otherwise, she's showing up in her flip flops. 

The kiddos were primed at breakfast and excited to embark.  Alas, as we readied to leave, the siblings had a scrap. Given that the Multiplaza houses more than 365 shops and stretches several miles long, we were so not going to take the chance of managing fighting, cranky, pouty children in the midst of a gazillion people.  (Especially since we have to carry around a piece of paper with us everywhere we go -- just in case we get stopped by the police -- which basically states that they are on loan to us until we are approved to keep them.)  So we told the children that perhaps if they are in a happier mood tomorrow, we could try again. Evelyn flounced back to her room.  Jose had a meltdown.   We had a very, very, very, very long day.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Last Day with the Primas ....

Great last day with the primas.  Padrinos y primas came over early and the whole family had plenty of pool time together.  In fact, one might say that we took over the whole pool. (We did.)  Swimming, splashing, laughing. 

Joselito, who had refused to go into the pool the last few days, couldn't resist today.  There was just too much fun to be had.  To ensure his safety, he had refused to put his bathing suit on.  He doesn't know us well enough yet, because we got him into the pool in his T-shirt and jeans anyway!  Here he is before getting unwittingly lured into the pool, playing with the pail and shovel that his cousin Francini had brought.  

After lunch, the padrinos and primas left for their long drive back home. Evelyn is already asking about when she can see her cousins again, and when can she call them on the computer, and when can we go to Nosara,and when and when and when.

Tomorrow begins week three for us in Costa Rica.  The padrinos and primas came at just the right time and we're looking forward to our trip to Nosara.  

Friday, April 20, 2012

A Fun Day with the Primas and Padrinos

Arts and Crafts with Celeste and Francini

A great day with the primas and padrinos. Today, the kids really warmed up to each other (and to their new padrinos) and we couldn't be happier. First lunch,  Then swimming.  Next, creative activities. 
And then we all went to the park. Yes, the very one which Evelyn had spurned. And guess what? The kids had a blast! At bedtime tonight, Evelyn asked if we could go back to the park again. I said that I thought that was a grand idea ... We're so happy that we've got them for a day and a half more of visits.

Celeste and Evelyn Create Picture/Word Dictionaries
Strategizing with the adults over a game of Tag

Padrino helps Jose be a mono (monkey) on the monkey bars

Evelyn masters the bars!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Evelyn and Jose Meet their Padrinos and Primas ...

Today, our reinforcements came.  Muy, muy importante.  Heidi, Rick, Celeste and Francini came with bags of food, toys and lots of love.  As preplanned, I went down to meet them while Scott stayed in the suite with the children.  Through our training with our agency, Gladney Center for Adoption, we know that introducing our children to family and friends can be overwhelming.  Sure enough, the moment we walked into the suite, both Evelyn and Jose fled to their bedroom.  Jose dove under his bed.  Evelyn joined him.  Celeste and Francini, though obviously disappointed, were great about it.  Mom and Dad had prepared them well.   Francini brought her very cool legos and little matchbox cars and left them for Jose to play with, which he did by himself in his room.

As the afternoon wore on, Evelyn and Jose began to relax at different times. Scott and Rick took the girls down to the pool to swim in between the raindrops (it's afternoon by now) and once they all left, Jose was coaxed out of the bedroom by his new Madrina, Heidi.  She played peek-a-boo, hide and seek with the cars and read two books to him.  When the girls came back from the pool, Celeste and Evelyn spent some time together in the kids'  bedroom.  Jose was an annoying little brother who got in the way and was eventually booted out by his older sister. 

We decided to keep the visit short today and we'll see everyone again tomorrow.  For us, it was so great to see Rick and Heidi.  Aside from the fact that they are our family (and friends), they are also our pioneers.   We are very lucky.   

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Papa's birthday and a trip to the Embassy ...

Today was an important day.  First, we had to celebrate papa's birthday.  Evelyn, Jose and I spent two days preparing for it.  We had to buy a cake, make cards, buy gifts, make more cards, make wrapping paper for the cards,etc. - you get the point.    Jose got papa a Diego movie and Evelyn gave him Jurassic Park.  Quite clever of them.  In this photo, papa is reading the "main" card that they made for him. We cannot upload the video that we made of the opening of the gifts because the kids chose to have a little scrap in the middle of it all.

After breakfast, we spent the morning at the pool because now we are pros and know that it will rain in the afternoon.  Plus, we had an important meeting today at the US Consulate at 2pm -- yes, that's right, during naptime for Jose.  We needed to submit paperwork to apply for the children's visas. We also had to be interviewed -- all of us.  We hadn't really prepared the children for that and, of course, today was one of those special days when Jose decided to express himself (and his displeasure) quite loudly.  And our very chatty Evelyn was quite shy.  Thankfully, at least she nodded yes when asked if she wanted to go the United States.  The photo above of Evelyn, Jose and me was taken right after our trip to the Consulate.  As you can see, Evelyn wanted to wear something nice again, so mama dragged out one of the two dresses that she brought. 

We ended the day with cake for papa and sang happy birthday in spanish and english.  Tomorrow, the kids will meet their new Padrinos and primas.  Heidi and her clan are coming for a visit!

Yes, it's officially rainy season ...

This means that the internet will go out (often); hence, no blog update last night.  We did learn, however, that it'll rain in the afternoons.  So we must take advantage of the sun in the morns.  Yesterday afternooon, we went to visit our children's social worker.  We had requested the meeting because we wanted to make sure that the children were adjusting well. 

Evelyn had been so excited about seeing Ana Teresa that she wanted to wear nice clothes, so we picked out something nice for her to wear.   I  then looked around at the rest of us in crumpled Ts, jeans and shorts and pulled out a pair of black slacks and a blouse that only needed a touch of ironing (my mother would have been mortified).  I got dressed too and off we went to our meeting.  It was a great meeting.  Children are progressing well and we haven't caused lasting damage. 

Evelyn is cuddled up next to me in bed right now and Jose just jumped into the bed.  So, it's time to get going.  Adios!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Has Rainy Season Begun Early?

That's going to be a problem because our kids don't like the park here (so much for all of my research of the area). They aren't ready for day or field trips yet.  They don't want to color, read or play indoors all day either.  But they do want to swim.  A lot.  Here they are today before the rain came down in buckets. 


Here we are after the rain began.

Yep, we caved.  We plopped the kids in front of the DVD player and computer.  Scott, a staff attorney for the Flight Attendants Association, was relieved to do some work and focus on anything other than  ... OMG how are we going to do this for the next fifteen years???. I don't remember what I did.  (I've been told that this loss of memory is called Mommy Brain --- now, who told me that?) 

But I digress. 

Jose watched several episodes of Winnie the Pooh.  Evelyn watched Serenita (the Little Mermaid), which was very sweet because in some ways she is nearly tween and in others, she is still a sweet little girl.  

It stopped raining by dinnertime and then it was time for winding down, washing up and getting ready for bed.  And now, it's time for Scott and me to do the same.  Good night dear friends and family.  We miss you all.  Thank you for your public postings and private emails. Please keep them coming. They sustain us through the ups and downs of dealing with these new, adorable, sweet little children who are, well, not always so. ;)

Jose occupies himself while it rains

Sunday, April 15, 2012

It's almost bedtime and only one of us is falling asleep...

The picture we were going to originally post has me holding my head and looking extremely haggard, but we opted against it.  Evelyn would have been horrified.  She's already teetering between if I will be a cool Mom or will I embarrass her in public.  Probably the latter, since I no longer care what I look like. I just want to sleep.  

It's been three nights and two and a half days.  Catching Jose's vomit was just the beginning.  Evelyn's slight cough turned into a full-blown one.  Poor thing had a very rough first night.  Along with a host of other unpleasant symptoms, she, like her brother, vomited.  But at least her vomit made it into the toilet bowl.  We were up all night with her. The next morning, it was off to the pharmacy for lots of children's medicine. Then we spent  most of the next two days in the apartment/suite.    During this time, one of the toilets got clogged and we tried unsuccessfully for two days to get help to get it unclogged.  At one point, I changed over from spanish to english and asked for a plunger. Twenty minutes later, someone from housekeeping brought us up a plancher (iron).

Not a happy start, but the toilet is now fixed and the children's medicine saved us, especially the nightime medicine.  It's working right now.  Tomorrow, we'll find out when we see the social worker and try again to get  our new family into a routine.  Off to sleep we go! 

Friday, April 13, 2012

You know that you are a mother when your son needs to vomit and you put your hand out to catch it ...

Things began so well today.  We had breakfast.  We went food shopping.  We went to PANI to gain temporary custody of the children until the official court date. It was all so simple.  Then we drove to the hogaricito to pick up the children.  It was another sweet and special moment. They came running out to greet us.  Their little bags were packed.  The other children swarmed around them to say goodbye.  The sisters (nuns) and the tias all scooped them up to give big hugs and kisses.  And then we drove away.

Jose fell asleep.  Evelyn chattered away.  Then Jose woke up about twenty minutes outside of San Jose.  He started crying.  His stomach was bothering him.  We hit San Jose traffic (terrible).  GPS battery gives out. Husband gets off at the wrong exit.  Now we are in a traffic jam.  Jose is wailing.  We get back on highway.  Jose is wretching.  Now, remember, he's 3 and 1/2 and in a car seat.  He can't lean out the window.  So, what's a mother to do but catch the vomit and fling it out the window ...

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Day Two on Our Own was Awesome...

When we picked Evelyn and Jose up at the hogar this morning and they came running into our arms.  We are just loving these moments.  Jose is just so adorable and Evelyn is really becoming more expressive and enjoying her time with us. 
Throughout the day, she had been asking us when she and Jose could return to San Jose with us.  In fact, earlier in the morning when we had all talked to the social worker by phone, I know that Evelyn lobbied hard. 

When we brought the children back to the hogar at the end of the day and called the social worker again, she had good news.  Tomorrow, we go to PANI to sign some paperwork and then we get to go to the hogar one last time to pick the children up and bring them back to SJ.  Evelyn, who just moments before had been triste (sad) , smiled broadly when we told her. 
Here is just one more adorable photo from our days in Puntarenas.  We have some really cute videos but, alas, there is too much goopy commentary from us, the parents, running in the background.  No need to embarrass ourselves by posting. We'll try again this weekend. Adios!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

On our own today as a new family!

Today, we picked up Evelyn and Jose at the orphanage.  They were not one bit shy.  They came running over to us with big hugs and smiles.  Well Jose was crying just a bit because he tripped and did a little fall in his rush to get to papa.

Yesterday we neglected to mention that we got to LEAVE them at the hogar  -- very important information for soon-to-be Costa Rican adoptive parents.  They don't let you take the children right away.  They observe you on the first day and then you spend 3 or more days just doing day visits until PANI officially lets you take them for the duration of your stay. This is a gift.  It has allowed us to wind down and talk each night. So, today, we got to start the day alone.  We took advantage of that opportunity and did a quick run in the nearby park.  (A note to my running crew... the elevation is much higher in San Jose than in Central Park.  Hard ... to ... breathe ...and

Anyway, we took our cousin's good advice and decided to find a hotel with a pool near the hogar, where we could just spend the day alone with the kids.   We got a room at the Doubletree, which is where we are now.  It was exactly the right move.   We had a room at our disposal (Jose took a nap before cranky temper tantrum could errupt), a bathroom and a restaurant.  Really a great day.  We took photos and videos.  Alas, we cannot post them until we get back to SJ and find the plug which connects the camera with the computer.  Nos vemos!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Exhausted, but happy...

Here we are, crowded around the IPad. It's the only photo that we took today.  Very long, emotional, getting to know each other kind of day.  We began our day with our attorney and the children's social worker, Ana Teresa, who was incredible.  We drove together to the orphanage -- which is about an hour or so away from San Jose, unless you get stuck driving behind a big truck.  Then it's two hours. 

During the drive, we were able to talk to Ana Teresa about the children and what to expect. Then we got stuck behind a truck.  By the time we got to the hogaricito, we were excited to meet Evelyn and Jose.  It was very sweet.  They were a little shy but eager to show us the scrapbooks they made from the photos and cards that we had sentWe then spent the rest of the day getting to know each other.  We went to town, walked on the beach, had lunch at a restaurant where little Jose had his first little meltdown. So, it was back to the hogar for his nap.  That didn't last very long and we spent the rest of the afternoon running and playing together.  We also got to meet some of the orphanage's other residents --  very sweet, needy, and lovely children (mostly girls).   On our two hour drive back to San Jose (this time it was just traffic), we were able to relax and reminisce about the great adventure that we just had today. 

On an end note, we started this blog, at the request of our agency, to help other families who were thinking about adopting from Costa Rica, but it has also quickly turned into a space to update our friends and family.  So, we are going to try and do both.    Tomorrow, we will write about the process and what we have learned about adopting from Costa Rica. 

Hey, it's Costa Rica ...

So, we didn't meet our children yesterday. Pura Vida. We meet them today. We're sitting at poolside right now having breakfast and waiting for our attorney and the children's social worker. We'll meet with them first and then we'll all drive to the orphanage. It's an exciting day!

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Quick Update....

Change of plans.  We are meeting Evelyn and Jose tomorrow.  We land, drop off the luggage, meet the social worker and attorney and drive to the orphanage.  We can't believe the time has finally arrived.  The last few days have really been incredible.  Lots of love, visits, hugs, well wishes, surprise showers and plenty of gifts for the children.  Books, clothes, toys, quilts, stuffed animals, gift cards. It really does take a village and boy are these kids coming back to an amazing one.  We feel incredibly lucky to have such special people in our lives.