New Beginningz Baby Haven

Currently the Childrens Act in South Africa states that when a child is put up for adoption he or she may only be placed with the adoptive family 60 days after the biological mother has signed the adoption papers. This is apparently to protect both the child and the adoptive mother from any emotional trauma in the event that the biological mother decides to keep the baby.

With our second adoption, Siya was placed in a baby home in Laudium. New Beginningz Haven is a wonderful place and I can only thank the Lord that Siya spent his first few weeks of life in this loving home.

This is a clip made by the Vodacom Foundation of New Beginningz. My favourite part is where Florence, the cook, says that the best part of her day is when she knows that the children’s tummies are full.

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Siya Turns One!

Today we celebrate Siya’s first birthday! Today a year ago no pictures were taken of his birth. No Facebook posts were made to announce his arrival. No phone calls or messages to congratulate his birth mommy on the birth of her son. Even we, his family now, were unaware that our son was born. This is entirely different from Nina’s story who’s birth we anticipated and celebrated with all our family and friends.

After his birth Siya was placed at New Beginningz Baby Haven, a special baby-home in Laudium. He stayed there for the first few weeks of his life. Fortunately they take lots of pictures of the babies so we have some from those first few weeks.

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Siya is a friendly and inquisitive little boy with a lovely dry sense of humour. He enjoys joking around to make us laugh. As far as temperament, he is easy-going, loving and very affectionate. Of course he loves food and can’t stand it if we are eating something that he doesn’t have! 😉

His favourite person is definitely Nina, his sister, who lights up his face in awe and adoration.

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Siya has been with us 10 months now. 10 months ago I was nervous about how we will cope with this new baby in our home. How our lives would change because of our decision to go ahead with adopting a baby of another race. But we look back with hearts filled with thankful joy – God has been so good to us as a family! Both Siya and Nina are daily reminders for us of how our Heavenly Father provided for us and how we are also adopted children of God by the work of Jesus Christ.

wpid-img_20140810_125305.jpgHowever, I know that there is another mother remembering her son being born a year ago. I wish I could hug her tight today, and show her what a beautiful and happy boy he has grown up to be. And I wish I could reassure her again that he is being loved and cherished as our own begotten son. As much as we are celebrating his first birthday, this dear woman may be grieving in her loss and all we can do is pray that our Heavenly Father will comfort her and fill her with His peace. 

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Happy birthday dear Siya son! We love you more than words can say and look forward to see you grow up. Our prayer for you is that you will come to know and love God and live a life worthy of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

 

Siya crawling and cuddling!

Today 8 months ago we brought Siya home! He is 10 months old and  crawling at long last! 🙂 He has developed quite a sense of humour over the past few weeks and rewards jokes with big toothless smiles and giggles!

Siya 10 maande

He has also turned into quite a shy baby, especially when faced with strangers. His naughty side has started to show, with him pulling hair and playing with all the stuff he is not supposed to play with… and so far he battles to understand the word “No!”.  😉 He is VERY ticklish, all over. He cannot resist being tickled in his neck and adores his head being scratched. In Afrikaans we say “Hy is ‘n regte Smulpaap” which Google Translate says means a “gourmand”.

We so much enjoy having him with us and love seeing how his personality is developing.

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With every day that go by we can truly say : God’s mercies are new every morning!

Siya – 9 months old!

Siya 9 months

I cannot believe how time has flown these past 7 months. Siya is now 9 months old already! He continues to be a BIG eater and loves his food. 🙂 Weighing around 11kg – my arms can testify to his healthy appetite! He has
started to explore his world by several interesting moves (everything except crawl!). Sliding and rolling seems to be the most effective at this stage! He also loves to stand up holding onto things and I’m starting worry that he’ll skip the crawling phase altogether…

He’s also starting to babble quite a bit, practising his “mamamamama” and “papapapapapapa“ to our delight!

We’ve settled into a good routine of being a family of 4, and Nina especially has really made it easy. She loves being the older sister, and showers him with kisses and talks with him like a real mommy.

Most days I even forget that Siya’s skin color is different than ours – only to be reminded by the stares from people in public places. Mostly people stare because it’s a strange sight for them I think, not because they don’t approve of it. We have not encountered anyone making a rude comment so far, although I know that day will come and I must be prepared for it. Siya actually sets us up for good conversations with people regarding adoption, the Gospel and the plight of orphans in our country. When people understand or get a better idea of why we did it, they normally react in a positive manner.

Parenting two children doesn’t always come easy for me. (And as I type this I cringe, because I know quite a few families with 3 or more children!) There are days that I want to plug my ears when Siya moans or cries a bit longer than normal. There are days that I long for a quiet afternoon. There are days that I long back to the days where I could get in bed at night and not wonder whether it will be a good or bad night. There are days that I get frustrated when I hear Nina or Siya starting to cough again. Like my dear husband said: “Parenting is relentless”. It never stops. But it brings joy! Seeing a huge smile on his chubby cheeks early morning after a night of not sleeping well. Being hugged and kissed by a 3 year old. Seeing my fairy dance around the house in her ballet outfit. Seeing Siya really try to crawl and move. Seeing how Nina starts to immitate me. Seeing how excited Siya gets for his food. Seeing how he stretches his arms out to us and knowing we are his parents. That is what makes it all worth it!

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Knowing that our Heavenly Father planned for these two special children to become part of our family, knowing that He will equip me to be the best mommy for them – that gives me comfort and peace when I feel downcast and frustrated.  Through these children – with the joys and frustration they bring, I know that God is building my character, changing me every day (baby steps at a time!) to more closely resemble Christ.

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On the 90th percentile and sleeping – Siya at 5 months

Last week Siya turned 5 months and today marks 3 months since he came home!

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We get asked frequently by people what it feels like to have Siya now. The answer? It just feels RIGHT. The other day I was browsing through old photos and I came across a picture of us with Nina and I immediately realised that this picture didn’t look complete. We are now a family of 4 and it is impossible to imagine life without Siya. I prepared myself that the transition to another child – but also a child of a different race would be very hard and tough. And though it definitely has had its challenges it really has been much easier than I anticipated.

Up until about 2 weeks ago our biggest challenge with Siya was his sleeping patterns and his love for a comfort milk bottle (or two!) during the night when we all so desperately want and need to sleep. This has had a snowball effect, he kept on waking up more and more frequently and also caused Nina to wake up with “not-so-ideal” effects. In the meantime he has been gaining weight rapidly. At 5 months he has nearly tripled his birth weight (which should only happen at around a year!), eating 3 meals a day. When he came home he was just on the 25th percentile of the growth chart, now he has jumped to the 90th!

With this in mind we realised we need to change things drastically or the problem would just escalate. I attended a Good Night Baby seminar 2 weeks ago and this gave me the right knowledge and tools to deal with this sleep problem. Safe to say we are all sleeping much better these past few days!

Every week that goes by with Siya we are filled with immense gratitude for this very friendly and happy baby! It is such a blessing to see his personality develop, the way he plays with his toys, his attachment to us, the look in his eyes when he sees De Wet entering the room and his fascination with his sister’s hair! He is easy going, and such a pleasure to have in our house!

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Above all we are reminded daily that God is good and gracious – always.

Siya 2 months later!

Today we mark 2 months since Siya came home! What a joy and journey it has been so far having this sweet, happy boy as part of the family!

Just over 4months old, Siya currently weighs over 7.5kg… That is 3kg more than he weighed when he came home in November! He is a calm and contented baby, crying only when he is hungry or tired. He is very interactive and really tries to communicate by making eye contact and mimicking sounds.

We’ve enjoyed experimenting with different hair cuts for him, as you’ll see below. 🙂Siya 4 months

We praise God for building our family in His perfect way!

Siya – 1 month later!

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1 month = 1.5kg weight increase, several formula changes, countless nappies, numerous hours of lost sleep and many precious lessons learnt – we are filled with a sense of peace and joy we could not have anticipated! Looking back over the past month we can only thank God our Father for the abundant blessing!

What has changed over this past month? The transformation that we have witnessed in this little baby in just  4 weeks has been astounding! When Siya came home he was a tiny, extremely quiet baby with his fists tightly clenched. We were actually worried after a few days that he might have a hearing loss because he was so quiet and unresponsive to sound! Thankfully we soon learned that there was nothing wrong with his hearing as well as his voice! 😉 It was special to see how a home and family melts the fears and insecurities of even the youngest of babies. Over these few weeks Siya has come to know us – feeling comfortable and secure around us. More than that he has become a happy chappy baby – when we are home he is such a friendly relaxed baby that chats away smiling and cooing at everything. He loves attention! At times, especially when surrounded with many strange faces, he still reverts back into to the very quiet baby with clenched fists.

Nina has also evolved into a very caring – if not a little over-enthusiastic – older sister. She really enjoys spending time with Siya, and caring for him in her own innovative and imaginative little ways!

What has changed for us as parents? We have gone through different emotional phases since bringing him home. Most of all we’ve had to deal with our own selfish, sinful natures. Giving up sleep, giving up me-time, giving up a lot of our precious early morning quiet time does not always come as easy as one would like! We have been reminded that children are definitely one of the most important ways God keeps us humble and through which he seeks to fashion His character into our lives.

We’ve felt blessed by the overwhelming positive reaction we received from so many people – family, friends, work colleagues and even strangers in the shops!

As I sit here typing this with a very inquisitive 14 week old boy on my lap – already enamoured by the glaring screens of technology – I am filled with an enormous amount of thankfulness and gratitude towards our Heavenly Father for blessing us with this little boy. A special daily reminder of the highest privilege afforded us through the Good News of Jesus– to be adopted as children of the Most High God.

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It Takes a Family

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If it takes a village to raise a child it takes a family to love them. Not a sentimental love but a love that owns that child no matter what, a love that takes them in encircling them with bonds of care, a love that anchors their hearts with a deep sense of belonging. A love where children find rest, safe and secure, knowing they are wanted and loved without reserve.

We are very grateful for the special welcome and love Siya has received from our family. Bringing a child from a different race into our family, we expected apprehension and perhaps even disapproval. What a blessing, however, to see the way in which our families have embraced Siya into the family. We know it’s not easy and therefore their attitude and actions have been even more meaningful.

Grandpa Chris has embraced Siya in a particularly special way. For the first two family gatherings he has insisted on a whole new set of family photographs as part of Siya’s welcoming – a reminder to the broader family, and a special remembrance for Siya, that he belongs. On the day Siya was placed in our care Grandpa Chris made the following post on his Facebook profile that set the tone for the way the family welcomed Siya:

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“Today we have a new grandson. At first glance, he does not look like us from the outside, but soon he will speak like us, laugh like us, eat like us worship like us. Yesterday, his biological mother gave him away and if I have my way, it will be the last time that someone has turned their back on him. In our family he will be raised in the fear of the Lord, he will receive a good upbringing and education, he will receive a lot of love and he will take up his own special place amongst his own family, his grandparents, his uncles and aunts and his cousins and nieces. 

A new life awaits him.

If you are on my friend list and this development makes you uncomfortable and causes inner turmoil, here is a handy window period to draw a line through your name on my friend list and quietly disappear without prejudice.”

To all our family: We have been wonderfully blessed by the way you have supported us with Siya’s adoption story. In a country where race divides, you have been exceptional examples that those divides can be crossed by family love. Through this experience we have only come to appreciate you more deeply than before – we cannot thank you enough! 

Coming home to a family is the longing we all have – A place of rest, a place of safety, a place of belonging, a place of love. Earthly families can be a foretaste of that special joy. A reminder that there is an eternal family where the deepest most profound love binds people together for eternity – not by blood or race, but by the love and sacrifice of Jesus Christ, the beloved Son of our God and Father.

Siya has been blessed with grandparents, uncles, aunts, nephews and nieces who welcomed him and who love him. Our prayer is that in time he will come to know the Father from whom every family in heaven and earth gets its name (Eph 3:15) and his Son who paid the price to draw us into God’s eternal family.

Siya – the first few days


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A snapshot diary of our first 3 days with Siya!

Thursday 10:30

Siya let loose into our care. A special thank you to New Beginningz Baby Haven for taking care of him for his first 9 weeks of life! This is a special place with special people taking care of special little people who have nowhere else to go. A big thank you also to our social worker, Letitia van den Berg, who facilitated the whole process so smoothly.

Thursday 16:00

Many welcome hello’s to Siya from family and friends!

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Friday 09:00

Nina is loving up little brother Siya! Family day at home. Getting settled with each other.

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Saturday 16:30

Van Zyl family day to welcome little Siya – thank you so much. It means more than words can say!

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Sunday 15:30

Swanepoel family day to welcome little Siya –  thank you so much. It really means more than words can say!

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It’s been 3 days since Siya came home and so far so good! He is a relaxed baby and is getting used to the new home and new routine. Nina is super-excited about having a baby brother to look after. We are grateful for the way she is handling her new sibling. God has been gracious to us!

Preparing for Siya

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How do you squeeze 9 months of preparation into 3 weeks?

If all goes according to plan, Siya will come home on Thursday! That’s just 3 weeks after we heard about this little boy’s existence.

Its been an emotional time for our family as we’ve had to pray and prepare our hearts, minds and home for this baby who will be our son in just a few more days. Its been excitement mixed with nervous anticipation – excited to bring another child into our family but also a little anxious at times about what the future may hold for all of us

This may well be one of the most difficult and complex decisions we’ve ever had to make. By God’s grace however, we are filled with a reassuring sense of peace knowing that He has already chosen each child for our family.

At almost 9 weeks Siya is a healthy happy-chappy-baby-boy. His first few weeks of life were spent at the New Beginningz Baby Haven. We’ve been privileged to meet him before the 60-day waiting period is over. This has given us important time to spend with Siya before the placement. If you only have 3 weeks to prepare every day helps!

Bubbling with excitement Nina, our 3-year old daughter, is counting down the days to her baby brother’s homecoming. Proud of becoming an older sister she’s already assuming a demanding motherly role insisting that Siya stays in her care for the duration of our visits. We are bound for interesting times ahead!

These 3 weeks have been emotionally exhausting and deeply precious. It has given us time to settle our fears, to pray, to be reminded of why we adopt and to be encouraged by the stories of others.

Siya – our son – we’re ready for you.