Wednesday, December 10, 2014

She Will Be Different

I think it goes without saying, that most parents assume their second child will be different than their first. Most parents don't have to be convinced of that. Personalities are different . . . birth order makes a difference . . . what worked for your first may or may not work for your second. In adoption, I think it's more than an assumption. I'm pretty sure it is a fact.

I don't talk a lot about the "after" of adoption. I don't talk about bonding and behavior issues and sleep deprivation and tantrums and food struggles. I don't talk about those things, not because I don't think they exist or that we'll face them, but because I haven't lived them yet. It's the road we've yet to walk, but one we know exists. It's life after the orphanage . . . after the gotcha day magic has worn off . . . it's life in the trenches, and it's not always pretty.

Andrew was not an easy baby, and I would be lying if I said that we bonded immediately. He was whisked off to the NICU before I even had time to even get a good look at him. He was born prematurely by emergency C-section. He weighed 4 1/2 lbs the day we brought him home from the hospital. He HATED to eat, and all he wanted to do was sleep. When he finally did wake up, he cried. Between trying to chart feedings and not sleeping more than an hour at a time, I was exhausted, and we were in sheer survival mode. However, over time we bonded, and I fell madly and deeply in love with my little guy. And thankfully, Andrew turned out to be an easy toddler and continues to be easy to this day. He has his rough moments and even days, but he's pretty obedient and he has the sweetest heart.

I was thinking about all of this and about the likelihood that our next experience will be drastically different. Andrew never threw tantrums. I didn't allow them. If and when he started, I shut him down immediately. BUT Andrew has never been without. He has always been loved, hugged, fed, spoiled, and wanted. He knows he can trust us. But our daughter will not know this. She will have known neglect, true fear, lack of love, and quite possibly hunger. She will come from a place of lack.

When we received our first referral, we had to fill out an extensive questionnaire dealing with discipline and bonding and all the "after" issues that we may face. As I was thinking about this, I realized that we need to look at our daughter as if she's a newborn. When Andrew was around 4-5 weeks old, he woke up to the world, and by woke up, I mean he started crying. There were nights when he would cry for hours. There were times that I thought he would cry forever. But I didn't punish him. He was a baby. He didn't understand. He was learning about the world around him, and so I rocked and I soothed and I sang old hymns. Eventually, he stopped crying so much. Eventually, the smiles and then the giggles broke through. I realized that we're going to have to look at our daughter in some ways as a newborn. She's not going know us or trust us. She's going to be full of fear. There is going to be a huge learning curve. It takes more than a few days or even a few weeks to build trust. It takes months and even years. It takes a lifetime for some kiddos to heal.

I'm not saying that we're going to let her run amuck. We will set boundaries. We will teach her right from wrong. But things will be different with our daughter. We will take our time. We will give her time to learn to trust. We will allow her to grow and learn. Yes, things will be different. She will be different. But different can be good.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Hello December

In an effort to actually blog, I'm blogging from my phone so please excuse any and all mistakes.

I spoke to our caseworker at our adoption agency today. Everything is pretty much the same. We are still waiting. We're caught up on our paperwork, and are in one of those rare lulls where there is nothing to do. We don't have to think about updating anything until around June. Hopefully, at that point we will have another referral. We're praying that we'll have some sort of news in the early part of next year. For now, things are starting to wind down as everyone prepares for Christmas.

I've had a lot of people tell me that I'm strong (that we're strong), and that they don't think they could handle this kind of thing. I really feel like I need to clarify that any strength I have doesn't come from me. It comes straight from God. We've grieved. We've mourned. We've been sad. We've been angry. And through it all, He has shown Himself faithful. Without God I would've been a complete and total mess. I just want to be sure that the credit goes to the One who totally deserves it.

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving. Ours was full of food and family, and we have so much to be thankful for. And now, it's December. It's hard to believe that Christmas is just around the corner. The weeks leading up to Christmas are my favorite. I love the decorations, the music, and the movies, but mostly I love the why behind Christmas. . . God came to Earth not as a king but as a baby. He lived and worked and loved right along side us, and He taught us how to do the same. Enjoy this Christmas season. Cherish the little things. And remember why we celebrate.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

And Then It Was November . . .

Talk about time flying by. I haven't blogged much at all lately. We've been busy, and when I have had a few minutes to just relax, blogging hasn't been at the forefront of my mind. I also have a virus(?) or something on my computer which makes it impossible to get anything done without crazy pop-ups and my screen freezing. My computer needs to make a trip to the doctor.

It's hard to believe that October has come and gone, and November is here. Be prepared to be bombarded with photos, but first, a quick adoption update. We are still waiting and praying. There are going to, once again, be changes in the Bulgarian government so we're praying that things don't get slowed down by that. Please continue to hold us up in prayer as we do our best to wait with grace and patience. Sometimes that is easier said than done.

Now without further ado . . .

Andrew turned seven and had multiple celebrations with friends and family. 

Partying with his friends at Peter Piper Pizza . . .

Hot dogs and cake at Mimi and Opa's . . .

Opening his presents before school . . .

 And finally, doughnuts at school with all his classmates.

October also brought the passing of my grandfather from this world into Heaven, and while it was so incredibly sad for all of us, we got to spend a lot of time with family. We're spread across the country, and it's rare that we all get to be together. The reason was sad, but the time was sweet. One of my cousins, along with her husband and three sweet kiddos, stayed with us. We loved having them. 

All dressed up and spiffy (Rose, Georgia, Lawson, and Andrew) . . . 

 Georgia loving on my sister's dog Pecos . . . 

 Rose, Andrew, and Georgia watching Peter Pan (notice the mouths gaping open).

And then there was Halloween which we don't celebrate  (haha! . . . whatever).

Captain America on the way to save the day. 

November (the first week)

The first week in November brought cooler temps, early sunsets, and the end of our 5th season of soccer. 

Thanksgiving and Christmas and 2015 are all right around the corner. I look forward to seeing what it holds for us!

Monday, October 27, 2014

Hi There!

I have so much catching up to do. I'm not really sure where to even start.

Andrew turned seven (pictures to come at some point in the hopefully near future)! Seven . . . I don't want to talk about it. It makes me both incredibly happy and incredibly sad all at once. Watching your child grow and grow up is such a privilege. But the years really do fly by. Still, I wouldn't change it for the world. Every age and every stage brings with it both challenges and joys.

Andrew is kind, caring, sensitive, sweet, bossy, assertive, and a natural leader. He talks all. the. time. He (still) loves all things superhero, dinosaurs, and video games. He has a great little sense of humor although sometimes we have to work on appropriate times to be funny. I absolutely love being his mother.

We're almost through another soccer season (again pictures to come at some point). This is Andrew's first season on the "big" field, and he's done great. Although, it's quite a bit more running. ;)

Sixteen years ago today, Patrick and I started dating. Wow! We had no idea 16 years ago all that life would hold for us. Had we known, we may have headed for the hills. Haha! But I can't imagine doing life without Patrick as my husband, my best friend, my supporter, and my partner in crime. God knew what He was doing when He brought us together.

The adoption . . . I think I've told y'all we're back in the registry which essentially means we're waiting once again. To be completely honest, this waiting is hard. Much harder than it was before we ever received a referral. We've been to Bulgaria. We know there are children that need homes. We want to bring home a little girl more than anything in the world, but we wait. And we will wait until the time is right for us. My prayer is that God will send us a little girl that needs a family. . . a little girl who really doesn't have a family to love her or desire her . . . it will happen.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Going Out In Joy

It has been a while since I really blogged. Truth be told, I haven't felt like it. We've had a rough month. First, we lost our referral for our daughter. Then, my grandfather passed away, and I just wanted to circle the wagons and hide from the outside. But life goes on and we're pushing forward.

This week has actually been pretty good. For the first time since we found out that we won't be picking up our little girl, I found myself looking forward to the prospect of receiving another referral. Having said that, yesterday, I found myself in a horribly bad mood. Sometimes, you can't pinpoint why you're grouchy, but yesterday I could tell you exactly why. The first reason was that I realized that we would be approaching our court date. I have no idea exactly when we would've had court, but most of the families who got their paperwork to the Bulgarian government at the same time as us are either approaching court or have had court and are thinking about travel plans. I'm not going to lie, it's not easy to know that we would've been in that group. One adoption friend stated it best when she said it has the feeling of salt in an open wound. Still I don't begrudge anyone their court dates. I celebrate for them. These kiddos need homes and families, and I'm so happy that they will be coming home soon. The second reason for my stellar mood, was that we really have no timeline for our next referral. And as is typical for me, I started worrying that it will be another year before we get one, and that just iced the cake of happiness.

Needless to say, I needed to snap out of it, but I didn't really want to. I kind of wanted to pout and wallow. But here's the deal. God doesn't call us to pout and wallow. He calls us to trust Him. I'm not saying that we're not allowed to be sad or disappointed, or we're supposed to deny our feelings. But when I sit there and obsess about the fact that we aren't going forward with this adoption and worry about when we receive another referral, I'm doing everything but trust God. We're not just called to trust God when it's easy. If we only trust Him during the good times we kind of miss the point of a relationship.

One thing that I've found that helps my mindset tremendously, if I actually apply it, is mediating on scripture. One of my favorite books in the Bible is Isaiah, and one of my favorite passages of scripture comes from the end of Isaiah 55. I encourage you to read the entire chapter when you have time, and actually, as much of the book of Isaiah as you can. It's an amazing book full of prophecy and redemption (which is really the story that God has been writing since the beginning of time). For now, I'll leave you with this:

12 “For you shall go out with joy,
And be led out with peace;
The mountains and the hills
Shall break forth into singing before you,
And all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.
13 Instead of the thorn shall come up the cypress tree,
And instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle tree;
And it shall be to the Lord for a name,
For an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off.”