Sunday, December 26, 2010

A Weeks Worth

Sorry for taking so long to post again- this week flew by.

So our week in a nutshell:

Monday was our appointment at the Embassy. We met Eric who is a Consular but was acting Ambassador at the time. All four adoptive couples were there and he went through our paperwork and gave us a quick run through of where are papers are going. Eric told us it might take a couple extra weeks to get our kids Visas back. So that puts us at 6 weeks total. We’ll need to change our plane tickets and let the hotel know that we’re staying a couple extra weeks- maybe they’ll cut us a deal- I doubt it but maybe.

**Future families—you should find out when your Embassy appointment is because you need to book your return flight 4 weeks after the Embassy appointment, NOT the court date. We have heard that usually the Embassy appointment is the day after court but in our case it was a ½ a week later. Everyday counts in your wait!**

Tuesday I think we hung out in the room all day and ate pizza from The Flame Tree. Shawn ordered Sausage and we got Pepperoni but those are the islands for ya. The cheese was really good, the sauce was a can of hunt’s tomato sauce and the crust was doughy (to me). Shawn, our pizza expert, said it was ok; $14 for the large which was about 12”. Rosita was with us in the morning but went home at about 2pm.

Wednesday Shawn went to The Flame Tree and brought back food while Noemi and I chilled out. I had a bacon cheeseburger which was actually really good! It came with a salad and fries and I think it was $6.50. We then went to the Long Island part of the atoll and went Guam shopping. There is a store past the China Restaurant but before the Long Island Hotel called “something” wholesale and retail. They sell Guams for .50!! They range from .50-$3 and they have all kinds and sizes. I bought 2 for myself and 1 for Emita to wear for her Kemen (sp?) (her giant 1 year old birthday party that is a MUST in Marshallese culture).

Thursday we went to eat at the Flame Tree and I had chicken fried rice. It’s funny because the flame trees version of Chinese food is more Latino then Asian. They always add green and red peppers and it’s kind of mushy. I don’t think I’ll order that again. We had another fun experience with Rosita but she’s doing much better and we’re very happy she comes to visit us every now and then.

Friday was Christmas Eve and we had a very quiet day again but it’s really helping us get in a routine with Emi and we’ve really been able to bond with her now. We went to China Restaurant and it was very good; Pricey but very authentic and yummy. Now I don’t know if it was because we were American or if it was because we had a baby with us but they stuck us in a room all by ourselves! They had a dining area and the waitress said ‘no you come here” and stuck us in a room with 1 table in it and closed the door! Shawn went to the restroom and left the door slightly open and the waitress came by and closed it! As we were eating we heard other people eating in the dining area! It was so funny! The room was very pretty and I think it was an honor to be placed in “the room” but it was so weird! LoL. We then came back, chatted with family and headed to church. The Catholic Church is the Cathedral and has a large Filipino population so we got to hear both Marshallese and Filipino carols. We came home at about 11pm, which is super late for us these days! About 5am MN time =) Also EVERYBODY buys Christmas presents on Christmas Eve night! All the stores were packed! One of the other moms was saying that she was convinced everyone on Majuro was at the ACE hardware =) We actually ran into Rosita on our way to the store and she had bags of things! She offered us some peanut M&Ms but we knew they were a special Christmas treat for her so we said no politely. She then ran off to keep shopping =)

Christmas was very nice. The only thing that would have made it more perfect was having more family around. After we gave Rosita our gifts for her we took her out to a nice brunch at the RRE hotel and when we were on our way back to the hotel, she JUMPED out of the cab and waved goodbye! She’s so funny sometimes =) We think she saw her friends or something. We then came back to the hotel and Skyped with family. I miss everyone so much but it was great to see my side of the fam. We need to figure out a way to connect with Shawn’s side too. After that we went to a loddy-da Yachtie Christmas party. It really wasn’t loddy-da but it was really interesting. These people have all decided at some point in their lives to just sail away… Some sell everything they have and sail around the world, others own companies and have vacation time to just go away for months at a time. The people there last night either happened to dock in Majuro during the holidays or were Americans living on the islands. We met people from all over the world and heard some of there stories on what it’s like to just up and leave. There was a couple there with 2 small children! I think the boy was about 4 and the little girl was maybe2-3. That must be so difficult to have 2 small kids living on a boat with you as you sail from island to island in the Pacific. Two of the other adoptive families and a family doing their revisit showed up and we joined them at the Tide Table restaurant to just sit and chat. That was our Christmas.

Today we rented a car with two of the other adopting families and took a trip from tip to tip. We left RRE and went to Darrit, one end of the Island, closest to us. Then we went to Laura Village on the other end of the Island, about 20-30 miles away. Along the way we stopped at the “nice” park on the other side of the airport where people go to picnic. But, it wasn’t that nice. There were piles of trash and flies everywhere, but other than that, the scenery was beautiful. Then we saw the president’s house. It was nice and it was pink! After the airport, there isn’t anything, only sparse houses along the way and a couple a local shops. Even Laura Village doesn’t have really any stores or anything like that. It’s more “rural” living but I think the houses were nicer. We finally got to Laura Beach where we had to pay the lady at the gate $1 per adult. She was a cute older lady who asked us all kinds of questions. The beach was pretty nice. Well kept and not a lot of garbage. The beach is at the very end of the island, you can’t miss it. The road ends at the gate to the beach. The water there is amazing and the sand and coral is beautiful. But it’s not really a beach you can lay out on to get a tan. There is coral and drift wood everywhere, but by far the best beach we’ve seen so far here on Majuro. After we got back from Laura we all ate lunch at the RRE and then we came back to the hotel at about 4:30. When we got back Rosita was knocking on our door waiting for us. We invited her in and she left at about 8:00pm after Shawn informed her it was Noemi’s bedtime. We only had to let her know twice today that it was time to go home but we’re still working on overfeeding. She fed her 6oz. in 1hr because she moaned a little bit. Noe normally eats 3 oz every 3 hours. We’re working on the transition.

Overall a beautiful day full of beautiful scenery.

Tips for future families:

I can’t think of any right now that I haven’t stated above but I think I’ll do a whole post of tips in a future post. I still haven’t bought my notebook/notepad but when I do… I’ll capture those tips as they pop in my head!! Yeah!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

weekend

On Saturday Shawn went to the post office with Peter to set up a PO box so we can keep in contact with him and Rosita once we return to the states. Shawn also went to the grocery store and bought all kinds of stuff! We now have bread, peanut butter, jelly, avocados, vanilla wafers, water, microwave burritos, more Ramen, cheese, and last but not least good ol’ Minnesotan SPAM! Yup, I had a hot Spamwich for breakfast today =) Of course I had sent him with a list of 3 items: Water, a notebook and something for dinner. Note: I did not get my notebook =P

I on the other hand stayed “home” all day with Emi. We’re trying to get on a schedule and it seems to be working and helping with her tummy issues. My little girl hadn’t gone #2 for 3 days when we first got her! Since Wednesday she’s much more regular except when Rosita breast feeds her.

Rosita did not visit us on Saturday and I think Emi did mourn/miss her. She would look around and whenever I’d feed her she’d look up at me and scrunch her eyebrows then whimpers a little. It breaks my heart. I also know she’s starting to recognize us. She’ll smile when Shawn comes into the room or when I come back from the patio. She already knows that Shawn’s the one to play with and she playfully screams whenever he holds her. With me, she coos and knows that I’m the kissy one. She’s so alert everyone asks how old she is and when I say 3 months they say “wow, really? I thought she was 5 months”. She’s also very noisy. Whenever people are talking nearby she turns to see them then dismisses their conversations and turns back to whatever she was staring at.

We also had no running water on Friday but I forgot to add that in the last post. The toilet would refill but no sink water or bathwater. Just when I was starting to miss my dishwasher, God gives me a taste of what I should really be thankful for. We managed with bottled water and well we just had to be a little stinky that day =) Wet wipes are a must for future families! We were so happy Saturday morning when the water (no hot though) came on. We didn’t mind taking a cold shower.

Shawn also wants me to tell you guys that we keep getting random phone calls on our cell phone. Apparently if you don’t buy new minutes, the NTA gives your number away! We had someone say our number was someone else’s last week! It’s very annoying and I think she was a teenager or something because people call her at all hours and they all sound young and in party mode!

Sunday we woke up and Rosita showed up at about 8:30am. We all went to church which I think was a surprise for Rosita although we kept saying, “church today, we’re going to church today, Assumption Church…” Rosita didn’t want to enter and wanted to keep Emita outside with her. I felt bad but the whole reason (well obviously not the whole reason) but a main reason we wanted to go to church today was to get Emi blessed by the priest, so I took her in and Rosita waited outside. After mass we took a taxi to Payless Supermarket and ate lunch. Rosita went home at that point and we walked back to the MIR (Marshall Islands Resort).

Oh yeah- everything is 3 letter acronyms. Here’s a quick rundown that we know so far:

RMI – Republic of the Marshall Islands MIR-Marshall Islands Resort RRE- Robert Reimer Hotel DUD-Delap, Uliga, Darrit (the names of the villages that make up downtown) NTA- National Telecommunication Authority

You just get in a taxi and say MIR and they know where to take you.

Tips for future families:

I’m so happy we brought:

- the Playtex drop in system. No need to wash bottles and they’re so easy to use!

-the Munchin bottle warmer. I don’t use it to heat the bottles but you can sterilize pacifiers and nipples. Very easy to use and has been very handy.

-our Ikea changing pad which we’ve used as a bed for Noe. It’s flat but has 3 sides that inflate to create a barrier. Since she can’t roll over yet, it works well.

-lots of burp rags/wash cloths!

-lots of ziploc bags. We brought sandwich and gallon sizes and use them more then I thought we would. All of our food is sealed up or Noe’s bottles when they’re in the backpack .

-small tupperwares! We use them for formula and for food storage (keep the roaches away, which we haven’t seen any in our hotel, but better safe than sorry). Right now our AC is dripping into our room so I have a container under it =)

We should have brought:

-rolls of quarters! Taxis, laundry, water…everything is paid with quarters around here.

-different sized pacifiers.

-More blankets for Emi. I brought 2 very light ones and 1 heavier one. I think one more of either would be helpful.

-more medicine for us. We brought everything under the sun for Emi but we should have brought more for us. Benadryl, Tylenol and laxatives! LOL- we were warned about getting an upset stomach but not the opposite!

-something for Noe to sit in. This one is tough because it’ll take up room in luggage, which is why we didn’t bring one, but if you can bring a bouncy chair or something similar I would.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Another busy couple of days

Thursday was birth certificates and passport day.

We went to the Ministry of Internal Affairs building and had Noemi’s new birth certificates made. They state our names as her parents but it also states that we are her adoptive parents. We had 10 certified copies made of her new certificate and 10 certified copies of her old certificate. I hope that’s enough copies for her life time, otherwise we’ll need to make another trip back to get more! I think I’ve need a certified copy 3 times in my life and this adoption process was 2 of them.

After we had her new birth certificate stating that we were her parents, we went to have her Marshallese passport made. We paid $85 to have it expedited and we had it in 20 minutes! Sadly I don’t think we get to keep it. I think we have to send it in with our US Embassy packet, but I’m not sure. I don’t think US citizens can have dual passports, can they?

Then we came home (to the hotel) and Rosita came over for a few hours. We had a quiet evening and went to pick up KLG (the Marshallese version of KFC) for dinner. It was ok but pretty greasy. The family meal was $14.99 for a bucket of chicken (8 pieces), 3 french fry sides, and 3 sodas. We did a Al a Carte of the same thing (chicken, fries and drinks) but we didn’t need 3 of everything. They even gave us a cup of ice for our soda cans =) It was nice because since we have a fridge and a microwave, we got breakfast out of it too! Probably not the healthiest breakfast but worked for today.

Friday was waiting around for our lawyer to call day.

We went down to the lobby and used the internet and walked around the hotel beach. We came back and hung out. Rosita came by at noon again and is still here (7pm). We are starting to have issues with our BM and we’re trying to work them out through Maddy the social worker and Peter her Uncle/Father. If you’re in the process of adopting from the RMI and would like more details, please contact me privately. Another adoptive mother also had issues but I think theirs were resolved after the adoption. Ours started at the adoption.

Well, Rosita just left and we went to the restaurant downstairs to eat at Mexican Night! Ahooowa! It was definitely not worth the price tag, but I got to eat tortillas, flan and augacate! The cook making the tacos even had a serape! I hope all goes well tomorrow.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Court Pictures



random pictures



CATCHING UP

****TWO DAYS IN ONE****

Dec.14th:

So Tuesday morning we got a call from the front desk. It was Rosita’s father Peter coming to find her! Apparently they were wondering where she’d been for 2 whole days! He speaks English fine and was happy that she was safe and sound with us. He had our picture in his pocket and showed it at the front desk. I think we’ve bugged the front desk so much that they knew right away our room number and who we were! How embarrassing =P We don’t call the desk to complain or anything, we just call to ask questions; how do we use the internet, how do we call internationally, where is the restaurant, etc… even the security guard opened the door for us and said “The Nilssons- Yokwe” We’d never meet him before! Lol! Anyway, we were so happy to meet more family AND he spoke English, so we invited him to the hotel room and showed him pictures and asked him questions that I’d been waiting 2 days to ask Rosita. He said he would visit again and that he’d go to court with us tomorrow.

When Rosita left she decided it was best to leave Emita with us. So our “Gotcha Day” became Tuesday Dec.14th, instead of our Court Date Dec. 15th.

We spent our first day as an unofficial family exploring the “downtown” of Majuro. It’s basically like Main Street in a small town. We went to the RRE (the other hotel) and ate at the Tide Table Restaurant. The food was ok but I did get sick from it. I think the hot mayo had something to do with it. I bought a Guam dress ($7 at the clothes store across from Aliang Restuarant) and we reserved the “nice” Chinese restaurant for our Adoption Celebration Dinner at Won Hai Shen. At 5pm we met with Gordon, the lawyer, to go over the court proceedings and to run us through the questions. After that we came back to the hotel and started our first night alone with Emi.

It went much better then I thought it would! She went to bed at 7pm (1am MN) and slept until 1am. She woke up and fussed but didn’t want to eat so we gave her a pacifier and she fell back to sleep. She woke up again at 4am, ate and fell back to sleep again and woke up at 6:30am. I woke up more then she did just checking on her since she was so quiet. I hope all of our nights are like this!

Dec.15: Court Date!!!

Our court time was scheduled for 11am so we started getting ready at about 8:30 because we wanted to get there early in case the other cases went quicker then scheduled. At 9:30, Maddy called and asked,” Are you guys coming to court today? If so could come now because they were almost ready for you”!! Of course we’re going to court today! We hurried up and got a taxi and got there at about 10am. We entered the court room at about 10:15am and were out by 10:45am!

Rosita took the witness stand and testified to her situation and when Gordon asked her if she intended for Shawn and I to become the parents of Emita, she looked at me got a little teary and said yes. I cried =) Then I had to take the witness stand and answer questions about my work and our daycare plans and religion questions. When Gordon was done with his questions, the Judge (who was from MN by the way!!) cross examined me. His biggest issue of course was my health. When was the cancer? How was it found? What is the issue with my left arm? I answered everything and he had said take a seat. Then it was Shawn’s turn. Shawn had to explain his whole name issue and he answered questioned about his job and our house and our neighborhood and explain all the pictures we had submitted in our home study report.

Then the Magical (and emotional) moment came when the Judge said, “After reviewing the evidence and hearing the statements of all the involved parties, I feel that it is in the best interest of the child to give legal custody to Shawn and Teresa Nilsson.” I cried again and we all hugged and Rosita held Noemi and it was over!!

We ran a few errands and met back up with everyone at 5pm at the restaurant. Peter and Rosita were the first ones there, even before us – and you all know how punctual I am! We were destined to be family! We had a great dinner with all the other adoption families (4 of us) and found out much more about Noemi’s family. One thing we found out is that Peter is actually Rosita’s uncle who adopted Rosita and that he and his wife helped with Noemi. He was an inspector with a local bank in RMI until his retirement. He seems to be known around the community though. Everyone knew him but hadn’t seen him since his retirement when he moved out to Arno, one of the outer islands.

We gave Rosita a locket we had made for her and I think she really liked it. It had Emita’s name engraved on the front, her birthday on the back and 2 pictures inside; One of Emita a day old and one of Rosita holding her.

It was a good day =) Tomorrow we get to go apply for Noemi’s passport and new birth certificate.

Tips for Future Families:

NTA (National Telecommunications Authority) is the only place to get a cell phone. Why do you need a cell phone? Because everyone keeps pushing you to get one! Lol! The cheapest one is $40 (plus a sim card which is $15) and it’s pre-pay calling cards. It’s good so Gordon and Maddy as well as the birthmom can find you and get in contact if necessary to relay any news. With 4 adoptive families here, it’s also helpful to be able to communicate with them. ALSO, incoming calls are FREE! So, if family back in the states buy an international calling card they can call you free of charge to you! Minutes are $.10 local and $1.25 international.

Some of our babies have developed rashes around their little mouths and we think it’s due to the change to bottle nipples. I put Vaseline on Emi and it seems to have cleared it up. Another mom said she was going to apply it every time she feed her baby to see if that helps her little boy.

Court seems to be strictly a formality. It was nerve-wrecking and intimidating but very casual and laidback at the same time. I know you’ll probably lose sleep the night before regardless of how many people tell you not to worry but it’s true- Don’t Worry, just relax and be yourself =)

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

*****We're two days behind*****

Day 3 in RMI. Today was a “busy” day, relatively speaking. We all woke up at 7:00am and slowly got dressed and ready for our day. Maddy called at 8am and informed us that she’d pick us up in half an hour to go get Emi’s passport pictures and go to her Dr. Appt. We stopped at the Tourist Trap (which did not have an English-Marshallese dictionary by the way) and got 8 picture for $12. We then went to the clinic and got Emi’s latest health report. She now weighs 13lbs and is 26” long. The Dr. said she was a very health and happy baby. She slept through most of her exam! She’s so cute =) So, the clinic was supposed to open at 9am and we got there promptly at 8:50am and waited outside. At 9:15am Maddy called the Dr., who lives on the same lot, to tell him to open up. He came out about 5 minutes later and opened up the clinic. Other patients came in and were seen first. He then did Emita’s exam and filled out her papers. Then Shawn finally got the guts to ask the Dr. to check out his cough…..AND GUESS WHO HAS PNEUMONIA?? LOL- poor Shawn. $20 later Shawn walked out with his prescription and a head shake from both Rosita and me =)

Maddy dropped us back off (including Rosita and Emi) at about 10am. She said Gordon, our lawyer, wanted to meet with us go over the court procedures and that she’d call us as soon as she knew what time our appointment was. At 5pm we decided to stop sitting by the phone and we went to the store. We took a taxi to Pay Less store, which is a large supermarket type store. There we bought some distilled water in gallons for $1.50. Then we treated Rosita and ourselves to some ice cream! It was the best deal so far, $1.25 for a cup of ice cream. Also, if you really want Corona, they have it for $36.00 a 12 Pak! Heineken is only $13! After the store, we asked Rosita if she wanted to go home or come back to the hotel, since she lives near the store, she told us “taxi” and motioned back to the hotel, so we all came back! And here we are again for our second night as 4 =)

Rosita is starting to open up and feels more comfortable with us. Maddy called us tonight to give us her number and check in on us. We told her that Rosita was going to stay the night again and all she said was “Oh my!” But Shawn told her that it was fine and definitely an “interesting” experience. I wonder if she’ll say something to her tomorrow? Anyway it’s been a good day and we should be meeting with Gordon tomorrow.


****We'll update you all later about what we didn't post the past couple of day****

Tips for future families:

The Dr. did not use any of the forms LSS sent with us. He filled out his own forms. I do not yet know if this will come back to bite us in the bum. I suggest you still bring the medical form just in case. Maybe later down the line, LSS families will no longer need to bring them along if other families have the same experience. The Dr. is going on vacation for 6 weeks starting Friday 12/18 and Maddy said ALL adoptions will cease until he gets back, since he is the only US certified adoption doctor.

The ice cream at Pay Less is a great deal $1.50 a cup. Also the gallon water at Pay Less is so far the cheapest we’ve seen. $1.50 gallon

Emi is not latching well to the some of the nipples we brought. So bring multiple types and flows of nipples to find out which one works best for your child.

The taxis are $.50 per person depending on distance and are not scary, but like in Mexico, we learned you have to ask how much the fare is BEFORE you get in. If you’re going to the airport or outside of DUD it could be up to $2.00 but definitely not more. There seem to be no buses so taxis are your only mode of transportation other than your own two feet or renting a car.

Gordon and Maddy have warned that TB is on the island and if you’re in a taxi with someone who is coughing GET OUT!