Day 12 – Integration and Doctor’s Office

Yeah, you read the title right. We got to have a new experience in Colombia today, visiting the doctor’s office for Cameron.

The morning started earlier than normal at about 6 AM as we  had to be at the ICBF offices at 8 AM for our integration meeting. Everything went very well during our meeting and they signed off on the adoption. Now everything heads to the courts. There were three interesting developments during our meeting that are certainly worth mentioning.

First, we figured since we were here, we might as well ask about Cameron and Cooper’s older sister. We knew that from Cameron’s paperwork there was a sister somewhere and we wanted to know that when the time came, if the boys would be able to know about her. The psychologist that we were meeting with looked through Cooper’s paperwork and found that there was indeed a sister, that she was probably about 6 years old, and that she was adopted! They also told us that we could write a letter and request that the adopting parents of the sister be notified about us and that if they agreed, we could have direct communication with them. Very exciting possibilities.

Magnolia tells us that we can also write letters requesting full copies of the boy’s files that contain a lot of additional information about their history and family. We are hoping to get copies of both before we leave.

The second development was that we were asked about whether we would consider adopting another sibling if the opportunity presented itself. I am not sure what the look was on my face, but I saw Mary Ann’s face. Mixed emotions of surprise, excitement, dread (having to go through all the paperwork again), and I am sure I showed a little bit of, “how in the world would he be able to afford it?” =) But what could we say? If this is the way that God intends to grow our family, then how can we say no? The one thing that Mary Ann did ask was that we be notified as soon as ICBF knows about another baby instead of waiting six months for the child to get into the system. The psychologist agreed and actually made a note in our letter of approval for Cooper that we should be notified as soon as possible in the case of another sibling.

So, what about this trip to the doctor’s office? Well, as it turned out, Cameron has a mild case of tonsillitis. We think he got it from sucking his dirty thumb after our trip to the market, but we aren’t sure. He was really having a hard time eating and we knew we had to do something. Magnolia knew a pediatrician who’s office was just down the street from the hotel that had treated her grandson. We decided that would be a good option and scheduled an appointment. She was a very nice lady and spoke good English. Cameron was actually pretty excited because he actually loves going to his doctor back home. He is also a huge fan of Disney’s Doc McStuffins, so he kept making references to that show all the way there. The doctor’s office was great! There were so many toys I thought I was going to have to schedule another appointment just for them to play. =)

So anyway, we got our diagnosis and prescription  then headed to the shopping mall across the street to get the medicine and Cameron’s promised treat for being a good patient,…ice cream. He was happy! He ate a whole ice cream cone. I mean every drop and didn’t get anything on himself. I felt sorry for him. He was obviously really hungry, but just couldn’t eat normal food. He is such a little trooper, because other than not eating, he hardly complained at all. Just said that there was something stuck in his throat and he couldn’t get it out. =)

A new family has arrived at the hotel last night that is adopting. Micheal and Stephanie are from Texas and they are adopting a young girl from one of the orphanages. They are a very nice couple and we are hoping to do more with them in the coming days.

Day 11 – Outing to the Mountains

cooper_day_11_featureSunday’s are normally the day that Heinrich (the hotel owner) takes the adopting families on an afternoon outing for lunch. However, this week Heinrich had a number of family members come into town, including his mother who lives in Sweden. So instead of our normal outing, we had the unique privilege of visiting with some of Magnolia’s family up in the mountains between Cali and Dagua. Magnolia has a cousin who has a lovely house in the country (as you can see from all of the pictures that we took).

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This was a welcome distraction for the boys and for Mary Ann and I. This country is so amazing and so beautiful. The people here are so happy, no matter what their economic status and so proud of everything they have and do. There is so much to be learned from the Colombian people.

A special thank you goes out to Magnolia for sharing her family with us. =)

Note: I have some video too that I will post a little later once I get my video editing account upgraded. =)

Day 10 – Lazy Days Becoming a Theme

Well, we decided to just hang out again today in the hotel. We still really feel that we need to just spend time playing and cuddling both of the boys right now. The bonding time is so important for all of us, so we don’t want to have a lot of activities going on to take away from this time.

We had a couple of moments today with Cooper where we think all of this might really be settling in for him. He started crying at one point today when Mary Ann told him “no” when he was trying to grab something he shouldn’t. The problem was that once it started, it just didn’t stop. It was like all of the sudden he realized that things are very different, and it frightened him a bit. After awhile he calmed down and everything was fine. He is such a smart kid, much like Cameron was when we first got him. It is so amazing to watch these two play and see all of the many mannerisms that they share.


Day 9 – Notary Day and the Market

Today began with a trip to the Public Notary’s office. (Well, I guess it really began when Cameron put one of the legs from mommy’s jeans on his head. Since we didn’t pack the right clothes, Mary Ann decided to cut off a pair of jeans…Cameron saw an opportunity)  In order for our attorney to act on our behalf in the Cali court system, we have to sign a document stating this fact and then have it notarized. Fortunately, there is a public notary about three blocks from the hotel, so we are able to just walk there. Unfortunately, the lawyer’s office had spelled my name wrong on the document. When the notary compared my passport to the document, he immediately rejected the document. So we headed back to the hotel to try to get the lawyer to redo the documents. Since our integration meeting is set for Monday morning at 8 AM, we had to get this done today.

Meanwhile, while we waited for the lawyer’s office, Magnolia graciously took us to the open market. We had gone there last time and wanted to experience the sights, sounds, and smells again. We knew that Cameron would love all of the fruit, and he certainly did. It is such an amazing experience, we loved every minute.

When we returned to the hotel, the lawyer’s office had still not responded to our request for a corrected document, so Magnolia went to work on the hotel computer recreating the document. Once finished, we grabbed the boys and head back down to the public notary where we were finally able to get the notarized documents that we needed while Cameron and Cooper enjoyed the little rock garden setup in the center of the office.

We are very excited about another family that is coming on Sunday from the states. They will be stay here at the hotel and adopting a 13 year old girl from Buga, where Cameron and Cooper are from. Right now, we are pretty much by ourselves for lunch and dinner. It will be nice to have some other adults to talk too that are going through the same things we are.

Day 8 – Another Lazy Day in Cali

Well, today was another lazy day where we just chose to stay around the hotel and get to know each other a little more. It has been amazing how different our experience this time has been. We are pretty sure that Cameron came from a foster home where he was the only baby. Cooper came from a home where there were two other children. Cameron was relatively quite and reflective, were Cooper is a little more active. Cameron wasn’t speaking at all, were as Cooper has a few Spanish words that he uses regularly and is already repeating English words.

Meal times have been fun, as we seem to be the only people here eating lunch and dinner. Breakfast is a part of everyone’s stay, but the other meals can be optional or ordered from a menu. It has been good to have the dining room all to ourselves this week as it allows Cooper to focus just on us.

Cameron loves the playground, but is such a dare devil. Today we were playing and he told me he was going to climb all the way up on top of the monkey bars. I told him that it wasn’t a good idea and that if he did, we were going to have to go inside. He thought about it a minute and said, “Okay Daddy, one time and then we can go inside.” What was I supposed to say? I have got to start watching the way I word things. =) And yes, the little monkey climbed all the way on top and across the monkey bars.

Please continue to pray for Cooper. We still don’t think everything has completely settled in his little mind about what is going on. We just continue to love on him, care for him, and pray that God will do the rest in his heart.


Day 7 – Adjusting to Our New Family

Our first night together as a family went so smoothly. Much like our first night with Cameron, Cooper slept through the night without any problems. He didn’t cry at all and it feels like he has just been here the whole time. It must be something in the genes. =)


Today was definitely all about bonding. There is a reason that they give us a week before sending the paperwork off to the courts. They call it the integration week. It just boils down to each family member trying to discover and adjust to their new role. Those of you that have two or more kids know about the challenges of bringing home a newborn to siblings. Though bringing a 2 year old home is a little different, there are a lot of the same dynamics. Cameron adores his new baby brother, but he is still struggling a bit with his domain being shared with this new baby. It is a lot of fun to watch the two of them play and love on each other.

We were a little worried about Cooper’s eating habits. We had been given some information about his bottles and things that he liked to eat. We approached it much like we did with Cameron, we just decided to see what he would eat. Amazingly, he loves everything (just like Cameron) and knows what he wants. The past couple of meals, he has been eating like a champ and we hope that he will gain some much needed weight over the next couple of weeks.

Everything is going well. Please continue to pray for us as we continue our bonding as a family. Below are some more clips from yesterday, showing some of the first interactions between Cameron and Cooper.

Day 6 – Presentation Day

As they say, “Pictures are worth a thousand words.” Enjoy our first moments with Cooper David Mulvehill.

Day 5 – Ice Cream Day

Today begin with a walk to the shopping center about 5 blocks from the hotel. We wanted to get out and get some air and the heat seemed bearable. Magnolia, our translator and friend, had wanted to take Cameron to the park later in the afternoon, so we were looking forward to that as well. As we got ready, Cameron asked to watch something on TV, so I turned on the Disney Channel. It was in Spanish of course, but that didn’t stop Cameron from sitting in his bed and staring at the shows. =)

The stores are always fun to browse through. You always find exciting new things. Cameron thought these giant carrots were amazing!

We got back to the hotel and had lunch. The food at the Hotel Stein is always amazing. Because we have chosen to be on the all inclusive plan, we just allow them to prepare whatever they want to feed us. This gives us an opportunity to try new and exciting foods and I think it is easier on the hotel staff. And even though they always try to accommodate the children, we have still had our moments with Cameron were we have had to remind him, “Cameron, we need to be thankful for whatever is prepared and try to eat it, even if it isn’t our favorite.” Cameron is a really good eater and normally will try anything, so it hasn’t been too big of a challenge.

We put Cameron down for a nap right after lunch and Magnolia arrived around 2 PM for our outing in the park. She drove us to a park that the city had built not too long ago, but after walking around for a little bit and seeing the disrepair the park had fallen into, we decided to go to an Exito (which is like our Wal-Mart) to get some shorts and a couple of other things we needed. Cameron mentioned that he really wanted some ice cream and so Magnolia asked if we could get some of the best ice cream in the city! Sounded good to us so we ended up at a Ventolini in this really nice shopping center that we went too. The ice cream was amazing, made from fruits and I have never even heard of and Cameron played on the outdoor playground as well. He made three new “best friends” and he didn’t even speak the language. =)

After doing some shopping we returned to the hotel and prepared for dinner. You probably know where this is going, don’t you? When the kitchen staff brought our dinner, Mary Ann and I both took one look at the food before us and quickly caught each other’s eyes. We knew that we were in trouble. We were either eating the fried squid that had been placed in front of us, or we were setting a bad example for Cameron. Now some of you might enjoy a little calamari now and then, but we have had a couple of experiences that have caused this dish reside on our “what not to order” list. But what were we to do? We ate the squid and smiled! As it turned out, it was pretty good. Even Cameron liked it, so we chalked it up to a lesson learned. However, we still haven’t told Cameron what it was. I just called them “Colombian nuggets.”

Parenting is truly not for the light hearted…or the weak stomachs. =)

Day 4 – Outing in the Country

Quick Technical Note: If you signed up for e-mail updates on our website, please note that the pictures may not be showing up in the e-mails so if you want to see the pictures, be sure to click the link that takes you to the website.

Now on to the day…

Sunday’s at Hotel Stein are always a lot of fun. Enrique, the hotel owner, always gives his cook the day off, so breakfast is always a continental type breakfast and lunch is “on the house” which always includes an outing! Since we are currently the only adopting family at the hotel, we were in for a special treat. Around 10:30 AM we hopped into Enrique’s 1955 mint condition Chevy and hit the road (I looked this car up on the internet when we got back and in it’s current condition it would easily sell for $40k to $50k dollars in the states). Since all of the cars in Cali are small imports, we got a lot of stares on the way to lunch. =)

It was about a 40 minute ride to the restaurant that he wanted to take us too, and he had told us to bring our swimming suits. It seems to be a very common thing in Cali for restaurants to include swimming pools and playgrounds for the entertainment of their guests. This restaurant also had a dance floor which Cameron was sure to take advantage of, showing off his Colombian heritage.

We always eat like royalty on these outings. We eat like Kings (Patrick’s meal)…

…like Queens (Mary Ann’s meal)…

…and of course, like little Princes (you probably figured this one out).

Before and after our meal we had time to play and swim in the pool. The edge of the swimming pool was only about six inches deep and about 4 feet wide. It made a great play area for Cameron. I kept telling him, “Cameron, that is the deep water. If you step off the edge, you are doing to go under.” He seemed to understand and kept clear of the edge.

After we got done eating lunch, Cameron wanted to go back to the pool. He had already convinced me to get in the pool with him, even though I knew I was going to stand out like a light house among all of these brown Colombians. I figured that I would probably never see them again, and I couldn’t help feeling like a bad father when all of the other dads were getting in the pool with their kids. So, in I went!

As we got back to the pool, Cameron was starting to get tired and that usually means he will start getting a little wild. His tiredness and his “know no fear” attitude really got him going and he started jumping into the deep water! Even though I was in the deep water catching him, he started jumping off to the side of me and I was really having to pay attention in order to be in the right place to stop him from going under. At one point, he jumped into the water while I was talking to Mary Ann and spent a second or two completely underwater! It scared me a bit and I pulled him up a little frustrated with his actions. I stood him up and said somewhat sternly  “Cameron, you can’t jump into the deep water by yourself. If I am not there, you could go under water and not be able to get back up.” And do you know what my son said to me in that moment? “But daddy, you will always be there for me.”

Now I was standing out as a tall white american…who was crying for no apparent reason. He was right. If I have anything to do with it, I will always be there for him…and now for Cooper. My prayer is that God will give me the strength and the time to fulfill that desire. Gave me a new understanding of the passage in the Bible that tells us that God will never leave us or forsake us. Now I understand it from God’s point of view.

Man, this fatherhood thing is a trip.

Day 3 – Monkey’s and Lights

Spent today just focused on getting Cameron adjusted to his new home for the next several weeks. We honestly have no idea how long this whole process will take. Last time we where in Cali only three weeks before leaving for Bogota. There has been a lot of trouble for adoption in Colombia this last year, but everyone is hopeful that with the new year there will be a renewed interest and push to help the 1200+ children that the ICBF has on record that need to be adopted. And that doesn’t take into account any of the orphanages. The courts in Colombia have been on strike for several months, but here in Cali we have been told that everything is going smoothly. All that to say, we could be here for three weeks or we could be here longer. Timing is all in God’s hands.

The morning began at breakfast with a monkey. Well…two monkeys. You all remember George, right? He loved the juice. We then did a little exploring of the hotel. Cameron wants to go down every hallway and look in every room. It is easy to understand his curiosity since this place is more like a big mansion rather than a hotel. We keep having to explain to him that behind each door is someone else’s room. There are lots of stairs and passage ways to explore though and he wants to see them all.

We finally ended up on the new playground, at least new to us. They didn’t have a playground last time, so this is going to be a welcome addition with both boys needing to expend energy. This morning we let both of the monkeys play.

Cameron started on the monkey bars.

George wanted to swing.

After a bit we ate lunch and went back to the room for a nap. Magnolia (our wonderful friend and interrupter) made a date with Cameron to see the Christmas lights this evening. So we napped for a bit and then Enrique (the hotel owner and a great man) asked us if we wanted to change rooms. When we checked in on Thursday he told us that he really wanted to put us in a bigger room once something opened up. He showed us two different rooms and Mary Ann decided on a nice room with lots of floor space for Cameron and Cooper to play. It also had a nice desk for me to do all this writing. =)

So around 5 PM we headed out on the town to look at the Christmas lights in Cali. Magnolia explained that the lights weren’t as big as in past years since the new Mayor decided to spend money on city repairs instead of Christmas lights. However, there were several impressive displays (see the video). The important thing was that Cameron loved it.

We followed our night on the town with a quick dinner and then off to relax in the room before bed. Only two more days before the big day!

Some videos from Day 3: