We bring home a little guy from Haiti. We have seen him in pictures and have watched him grow and change. We see his beautiful, sweet smile and we are so excited to get to know him! Chronologically, he is 3 1/2 years old. Emotionally he is maybe 2 years old.
He is terrified by everything.
We are unprepared. His "fight or flight response" is fight. He bites, screams, punches, spits every time he is scared. Which is most of the time. He is not a bad child. He is a hurt child.
We hold a lot in. Trying to fix things. We finally reach out. And it is good.
He teaches us so much, and we find blessings.
We bring home a young boy from Guatemala. We have seen him in pictures and have watched him grow and change. We visit. We see his beautiful, sweet smile and we are so excited to get to know him! Chronologically, he is 13 years old. Emotionally he is maybe 2 years old.
He is terrified by everything.
We are more prepared. His "fight or flight response" is flight. He runs and hides when he is scared. Which is most of the time. He is not a bad child. He is a hurt child.
We reach out. We know that our pride is less important than his healing. And it is good.
We have learned so much from our other son. We pull our 13 year old in tight and make his world very, very, very small. We allow him to be the 2 year old he needs to be.
He is teaching us so much, and we are finding blessings.
"For I am the LORD your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you." Isaiah 41:13
“Motherhood is about raising and celebrating the child you have,
not the child you thought you would have. It's about understanding that
he is exactly the person he is supposed to be. And that, if you're
lucky, he just might be the teacher who turns you into the person you
are supposed to be.”
One thing I want to stress. Adoption, especially adoption of older children, means that you are very much adopting a child AND their past. We have seen this with the other children we adopted, and we see this with R and J. Our children are good children, but they are also hurt children. It's an awful lot like peeling an onion. Layers upon layers. Working to see what is behind the behaviors to the child inside. We have no doubt that God can heal their tender hearts, but it will be a long and often painful process. What we covet most, are your prayers as we begin this journey. :)
Four weeks ago last night, we landed on US soil in Houston, Texas. Tired and exhilarated. Still unable to believe that these kids were really here with us, in the US. Multiple times we looked over at them in the airplane, not really grasping the reality that our kiddos were finally HOME.
And here were are, four weeks later.
I wanted to write today because I want to remember how things are now. I want to be able to look back and see where we were and how far we've come. I want to be able to share my thoughts as a mom. And more than anything, I want to give hope to those who are right now praying about adoption. I am trying to find the right place and time to share all my thoughts on adoption, because my feelings on the subject are complex and probably not all that popular with mainstream adoption groups.
We "honeymooned" with the kids for about 2 days. And then reality hit fast and hard. With reality came exhaustion. A deep, deep exhaustion. I thank God every day for the bond we had already established with Ronaldo and Julia for 7 years. Without that bond I cannot imagine how difficult things would have been.
Adopting older children is very much like having a two year old in a teen body. Everything is new and exciting to touch and play with. We had some close calls with things that could have been disastrous. I do believe in guardian angels, and now so even more. “See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven." Matthew 18:10.We could not leave them alone for even a few minutes those first weeks. They would not have been safe.
A lot of tears have been shed these past four weeks. We have a 13 and 12 year old that are terribly homesick. That miss their friends, the food they ate, the smells of Guatemala, and their country. They literally left everything to come home. I will say, when you are 13 and 12, you are not too old to be rocked. A long cuddle in the rocking chair begins to heal some of the deepest, most primal wounds.
The language has not been a barrier other than the first week. It is amazing how fast my Spanish came back. When you hear it all day every day, it all makes sense in short order. Ronaldo is by far more talkative than Julia. He talks a lot and is now willing to share what is going on in his heart. When things get too complicated or intense, google translate is still a blessing. Our conversations go: Spanish...English...Spanish...back and forth. He understands nearly everything being said to him in English and Julia understands a good amount. Julia is faster to use English and is spanglishing like crazy. :) Both kids are taking ELL at the local public school. We are so thankful for the school!
We have visited a couple of the Hispanic stores in town. The kids are easily overwhelmed by everything right now, so we stay home for the most part. But they loved the grocery store. :) We pretty much stick to church, family, and home right now. That is good enough. They cannot handle more than that. Both are very relieved each time we walk in the door at home.
Integrating our family back into a unit has probably been the most work so far. Meshing so many personalities, making sure no one is being picked on or left out, working to make sure all 7 are not forgotten as individuals. That has been the most exhausting for me personally. All these kids deserve mom and dad, and we are slowly finding our groove. It is coming.
I don't have any expectations really. Having seen with my other children, how long attachment and the loss of fear can take, I've set no expectations. We are letting them set the pace and we follow along, setting boundaries and talking through things as they arise. Grief has so many layers that we've learned not to put a timeline on it.
They are good kids. Not perfect by any means, but they are truly neat young people. Kids who are doing their best to find their place in their new world. Your prayers are much coveted as we walk this road.