Friday, February 25, 2011

Play by play with the Mullins Twins....

A Post from Wes.

It has been nearly a week since there has been a post, and to our faithful readers we say we’re sorry to have kept you waiting. It has been a tougher transition than either of us thought. If you add up all the adoption stresses, court delays, crying babies, lack of sleep, pediatrician visits, and personal sickness then you would get a taste of our last week.

Here are Highlights from Day 1 till now:

Day 1: It is a very surreal feeling to be taking Alex and Eliana from the orphanage. It is more like an extended visit where they will stay with us for an entire day. Both of them slept great during the day, naptime was so easy. They acted just like they did in the orphanage. But things took a different turn when night came. Eliana was crying and it was taking some soothing to get her quieted down. As we were getting them ready for bed, I was lying on the bed with Eliana on my stomach and Nina was changing Alex. I started singing to Eliana and I saw Nina leave the room for a second (to throw away the dirty diaper), but it didn’t register that Alex could roll off. I kept singing but out of the corner of my eye I saw feet fly up in the air as Alex face planted on the floor. The bed is about 15-18 inches from the floor so it could have been much worse.

He screamed and cried real tears. The parquet floor left and imprint on his forehead and he had a cut just under his nose. I knew this day would come, just didn’t know it would come on the first day. I told Nina later, “Well, we got that out of the way.”

Day 2: (From my Journal) We brought them home yesterday. It was an awesome day. Alex is growing really attached to me. Also today he cried when Nina left the room.

Day 3: (From my Journal) This is more tiring than I thought, well not really but I am not used to not sleeping. I am so on edge with the worry that they will fall out of these shallow cribs; Alex already climbs up on the sides. I have installed pillows and blankets on the floor (around the crib) in case he gets heroic. Ha!

I have changed dozens of “crappy” diapers, there have been a few epic ones, ones that have been up the back, coming out the sides and dripping down the legs. But I really don’t care. I love being a Dad.

It has been wonderful to have them recognize us, even in a crowded room. (I was playing basketball while Nina was holding him, and Alex was smiling and laughing at me. I was at least 40-50 ft away and he rarely took his eyes off of me.) Right now I am too tired to write too much. Going to bed.

Day 7: (from Journal) The reason I haven’t kept up with my journal, parenting.

I love them to death but they are wearing me (us) out. Right now they are sleeping, which with Alex is always a gift. Alex is at war with sleep. It is a daily combat zone when he gets tired. 2 days ago he turned into a possessed child, kicking and screaming, slapping and yelling just to keep himself awake. He did it today too, but I prevailed.

So I am going to institute a new strategy to face the bizarre-Alex (sleepy Alex); I am going to let him play until he wears out…as long as I (we) have the engery. [he just woke up, so journaling is on hold for a while].

[…] I am back; bathroom break. Who would have thought that bathroom time would become a commodity (commodity, get it? know commode?...never mind). The times have changed. […]

[…] We just put them down for round 2 of naptime. Naptime is a wonderful event.

Day 8: An exhausted Daddy

I was at “War” last night with Alex. He didn’t nap much and he wasn’t going to go to bed. So I sat on the floor with him for about 3 hours, 3 hours after Eliana went peacefully to bed. [Remember my plan to wear him out? I was putting it in to play].

During one of those hours he played with a plastic case, for the entire hour. He would just turn it over and over in his hands as if it held some undiscovered truth. My plan was kind of working, he was rubbing is eyes and yawning but he refused to close his eyes.

Nina came in and picked him up and tried to rock him to sleep. She had just woke the sleeping giant or crossed in to enemy territory. I didn’t know a child could cry so fiercely and not be in unbearable pain or scared out of their minds. She rocked and rocked and rocked and rocked to no avail; this boy has an iron will. Funny thing, the whole time his eyes were closed. Nina went for reinforcements, a 6oz. bottle of formula and the big bad Hulk transformed into a precious, sleeping little boy.

To add to the frustration he is no longer eating rice cereal or baby food. He will only take his bottle and then only some of the time (I think we did the switch to Amercian formula too fast, so we went and bought some Ethiopian formula to mix in, that has helped a little). There is a small bit of rejection that comes when your child won’t eat when they are hungry or sleep when they are sleepy. It makes you feel like that you can’t even meet the most basic needs of your children.

What magnifies your ineptitude is the plethora of comments and advise, it seems everyone has an opinion and those opinions are conflicting and illogical at times. But hey, what do I know? This is my first rodeo…maybe they are all right and I should do everything. Just really frustrated right now.

Day 11: Our sick little girl

Eliana has been battling congestion since she was in the orphanage. It has grown worse over the last few days. We took her to the Brook hospital to see a pediatrician. The facility was great, sorta upscale for where we have been before. 100 birr a piece (about USD $6.50) for both Alex and Eliana. We thought that we would have them checked for parasites while we were there as well.

Everything checked out okay. The doctor gave us a presciption, 15.75 Birr for the meds (not even a dollar). Now that I like.

[…] this is turning into a lousy day. My allegories have kicked in and they have come with a vengeance. My head is about 3x the normal size, at least it feels that way. I have an unending supply of mucus dripping down my throat and running down my nose. Nina has it as well, such a bummer.

I think the toll of stress, lack of sleep and climate change (it is getting hotter here because of summer) has added up to both of us becoming susceptible to this attack.

Day 12: The night from Hell

Last night was horrible. I was so close to having a mental breakdown. Both Nina and I are suffering from symptoms and this has made sleep much harder for both of us.

Both the twins went down at 7:00pm and Nina had fallen asleep on the bed in our other room (at about 11pm), so I went to check on Eliana. I was going to let Nina sleep in the other room as long as she needed to.

I walked in to the room and she was having a coughing fit, nearly choking. I thought that she was having an allergic reaction to the medicine. I race to her side and pick her up, gently patting her back. I brought her in to the other room, Nina woke up, and we stayed for a few minutes. When we all decided to go to bed and I laid Eliana down she started crying. It started at 12am and it felt like it would never end. We tried letting her cry for a couple minutes to see if that would work, but no dice.

What happened next was a culmination of 12 days of this non-stop routine. I couldn’t get to sleep for her crying. I can’t breathe because of my own congestion. A few times Nina got up and rocked her to a slumber, but as soon as she laid her down she started the shrillest cries ever. They cut straight to the heart, and they were saying, “Meet my need! Why can’t you meet my need?!?!” I sit straight up with my head in my hands just freaking out, not sure what to do; Nina takes Eliana into the next room and stays there. I go to the roof top to clear my head. I am there for about five minutes and I hear the Lord say, “Your son Needs you.” So I went back down, crawled into bed and went to sleep.

[…] I woke up the next morning with my right eye so full of gunk that I couldn’t see out of it. And it took me a few minutes of hacking and coughing just to breath…this sucks.

Here are some things you should know:

We think we know why there are behavioral changes in Alex and Eliana, i.e. eating and sleeping habits. There is some grieving and protesting going on. It makes total sense. They were docile the first few days and then the gloves came off. Which is a very common theme in the adoption world. So we are not complete failures at this parenting thing. Ha.

Today I took Alex in the bed room because he was being extra crunchy-tired boy and I said we are going to sleep. So I built a fort on the bed, I call it For Miki (they called him Miki at the orphanage). I let him scour the perimeter so he would see there was no way out. He pulled up on Daddy’s legs smiling and laughing and dancing. I said, “Son, you aren’t fooling anyone. Everyone saw the yawning and the eye rubbing so just give in.” After a few minutes I started singing. It was like some one flipped the quiet switch. He just put his head on my chest as I sang him to sleep. Then Daddy crawled under the covers beside of him and we took a 4 hour Daddy and Alex nap. Good times.


We thought that Eiana was all girl: petite, delicate, sweet, etc. Well, she is not that at all. She is not even the cuddling type. Sorry Bestemor, but she is not all girl. Just ask Alex, who daily gets a dose of her blows. One day it was a plastic hammer to the head, 3 times in a row, and she was smiling and giggling the whole time. The next day she grabbed handfuls of his hair. But I must say that she loves kisses and tickling.

She smacks you hard in the face or brings her legs to your chest or chin with a scissor-like motion but with great velocity. She has no idea what kind of force those little hands and feet pack. We (Nina) has had to correct her many times in this area, as Nina has also had her hair pulled and has been smacked in the face. The bad part is that Eliana is just smiling and laughing as she does it. There doesn’t appear to be a gentle bone in the girl’s little body. Also, Eliana is starting to pull up on her crib and other things around the apartment, so that is good.

We are getting a real taste of their personalities. When we tell Alex “no”, he looks at you and will try again but after a few “no’s” he will go way or just stare at you to see if you are going to look away so he can proceed with the prohibited items. Eliana just bursts out in tears. She gets her feelings hurt when she gets corrected. It is going to be cool to see how their personalities evolve and change.

It is hard to take this but as close as we got to Alex and Eliana at the orphanage we still have to gain their trust with their lives. We were only there 3 hours a day. No matter how much we knew that we were their parents, to them we were just visitors and their Nannies were the ones who were going to meet all of their needs. This is why all the protesting and behavioral changes are occurring now. Once that truth clicked in my mind I was/am much more at peace with things now.

You should now be up to speed with the Mullins Family. Thanks for stopping by.

p.s. We got our court decree, so now it's just a matter of our agency getting everything to embassy, so we can get approved for an embassy appointment. Pray for our agency staff here, that they can get all the required documents they need in order to get us home. :)


  1. I wish with all my heart I was there so I could give you both a break. Breaks are so valuable. Hurry home to KY. I am sure things will be a lot easier when you have your own home and your own routine. I love you so much. And by the way, I loved what I saw in Ethiopia.. the way you handled and loved the babies.
    I am praying day and night about your quick return to the US

  2. Welcome to parenthood! It's mentally and physically exhausting and at times INCREDIBLY frustrating....but so TOTALLY worth it! I'll continue praying that you all get to come home very soon :)

  3. Praying for you guys every single day! Neither of you are failures (something I have to tell myself almost every day) and yes, everyone (and their brother and sister and the old lady at the grocery store) will want to give you an opinion on what you should and should not be doing with YOUR babies so you pray for wisdom and confidence and the Lord will gladly give it. Praying that things move along quickly and you get to come home very soon!!! Love you guys :)

  4. You are doing great. Just follow your gut. That is what parents do. I hope your embassy date comes quickly.

  5. You ARE doing great!! This all comes with the territory. Hang in there!! Sorry the allergies are getting you.

    I know you don't want advice :) but, many babies in orphanages there are put to bed at night with a bottle, I mean they are put to sleep sucking on a bottle. It is a really hard habit to break. Also, the orphanages wake them every 2 hrs to check diapers and to feed them, they get on that schedule which is also hard to break.

    Any way you may try putting them to sleep at night in the dark (complete darkness is important) while feeding and then slowly wean them off that when you get home. I know kids here now that needed to have a bottle in bed with them for many, many months (and that isn't good)!

  6. Thanks for the update. It made me tired just reading it! :-)

  7. Thanks so much for the update! :) You guys rock, you know that? praying for a speedy return to Kentucky!!!

  8. Oh, the memories come flooding back from Olivia's baby days! lol Parenting = exhaustion. :)

  9. "There is a small bit of rejection that comes when your child won’t eat when they are hungry or sleep when they are sleepy. It makes you feel like that you can’t even meet the most basic needs of your children."

    Oh, the flood of memories this brought!! I had no idea at the beginning just how resilient our children are, and I really struggled with the feeling that I was completely failing them. We walked around with tears streaming for the first day or two...not good! Know that God is capable when you feel you are not, and that sleeplessness and sickness does crazy things to our thinking, and that your kids' behaviors WILL change! And THEN you will experience a joy that other parents just don't get when your children sleep and eat in a way that shows they trust you. Praying for you all!

  10. I am just a lurker that found your blog through a blog through a blog.....
    Anyway, your story has captivated my heart and I find myself praying for you and your new family. I rejoice with you!
    My four daughters are all grown now and I have the immense privilege of having grandbabies so I am watching my own daughters parent their children. The one thing that stands out to me is how much better they are doing it than I did! It sounds to me like you two are doing a wonderful job as well. It is HARD. There is no other way to say it! And as you already know, it is the best thing that will ever happen to you.
    I want to share a verse with you that you may find comforting:
    "He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young.
    Isaiah 40:10-12"
    You are being gently lead my friends as you take on this awesome responsibility of raising young babies. Rest close to His heart as he holds you close.

  11. Don't beat yourselves up. We have 5 kids now and still don't know the right thing to do everytime for every situation. And yes, you are first time parents, which is hard enough, but you are first time parents to twins, so cut yourselves some slack. It sounds like you are doing an amazing job. Keep crying out to God your Father for wisdom. He gives wisdom to those who ask!!!!

  12. What wonderful parents you are...what blessed kiddos you have... what a blessing your fam is to all of us. We love ya'll so much. Praying for healing, rest, bonding, connection, peace, confidence, grace... you're doing a great job --- praying you're home soon...

    (PS...give hugs to Josh, Bex & Mercy and take their hugs back from us to your fam...)

  13. You guys are doing great. It is not easy being a good parent. It takes so much patience as well as love. Sure wish I could help out with baby sitting! It will be easier when you are near friends and family to help out more. Hope you all feel better soon. Take care

  14. You guys are doing so great, especially for not being home in your comfort zone. It is going to be sooooo good for you to get to be home soon. We are praying hard for you to get a quick embassy date. Hope that all of you will get well and stay well. God Bless!

  15. Awesome post! Thanks for the honesty and it sounds like you're nearing that corner so you can turn it with them! ;) Prayers for the Embassy Appointment!

  16. Hey guys, it is good to hear from you. I remember the first night we got Gabriel in Ethiopia. He did not sleep the entire night. I stayed up with him all night walking the halls of the hotel. You are experiencing normal adoption trauma. I know as an exhausted parent far from home that does not really help much. Just know that you are not alone. We continue to think of you often and pray for you daily. Can't wait to meet those beautiful babies.

  17. You know as much as everyone wants to be there it is actually good that it is just you & Nina that are the ONLY ones there. You guys need this time to bond. Everyone else will get there special time soon enough. Love your writing Wes. Thanks so much for letting us in to be part of this journey. You are so right that they are grieving. I think they want to know that you won't leave too. Their little worlds crumbled but praise God you are there for them and children are so resilient and that attachment is forming. Your love will see them through!!!! It's obvious it has already started because of the descriptions of how they focus on you. Your great parents!!