Throughout our entire adoption process, we have been asked many questions about how we are doing. Ever since we arrived home from China, we have been asked how she is doing with the change, and how all five kids are adjusting to each other. I have this standard response, "She/They are doing awesome."
For those in the adoption community, you can probably understand that it is difficult to answer this question sometimes during the initial adjustment time. I have read and read about the trauma of change, and about the stages of adjustment for an older child. Let me be the first to say that I have had to draw on that pre-adoption education more times than I thought I ever would. However, I am afraid that my "awesome" response does not do justice to my children.
You see, I mean it when I say that they are doing awesome. Are things perfect? No. Is this the hardest adjustment we have had to cope with when adding a new child? Maybe. Are there really THAT many levels of grief, trauma, adjustment, and attachment? OH Baby, YES!!!
These past few months have stretched me past what I thought I could be as a mom. It has been difficult, and heartbreaking to see my daughter grieve. It has been frustrating to deal with the red tape. It has been comical to begin to see just how many idioms in the English language are really quite ridiculous if you take them literally; Amelia Bedelia anyone??? It has been down right irritating to hear comments of "Now, why would you do something like that?" and "Aren't 4 kids enough?" Once again, God has taught me more about the love He has for us, through the gift of my children.
I love adoption. I love the promise that God makes that He will not leave us as orphans. I love the scripture that promises a hope and a future. But, this is tough work right here, getting to the promise. And, we have a long way to go as we evolve into the family that He wants for us to be.
I have seen with my own eyes how much I have taken for granted all my life. I have celebrated when my child trusted me enough to feed her again, that she walked away from a half a plate of food because she was full. I never thought I'd have to earn that level of trust. My other kids learned it so early, from the day they were born, and I took it for granted. I celebrated when I got my first spontaneous hug and kiss from Julia because she wanted to show me that she loved me. I don't remember having to earn the other kids' love. I love all of my children as much as I thought was possible, but now I can appreciate their love for me in return. I took for granted that my kids would snuggle with me as we watch a family movie. Now I celebrate that Julia wants to snuggle with me too. I rejoice that she allows me to comfort her when she is sad, or lonely.
I thought I knew what family meant. I thought I knew how to love unconditionally, without the expectation of love expressed in return. How wrong I was. I am so thankful to have the opportunity to open my eyes to the miracle of how God is developing this family into what He wants us to be.
Julia has endured a greater trauma than most people will ever face. Even though we know what she has gained, she has had to give up everything she knew to gain all we can give to her. And top it all off with learning a new language at the age of 6. Jackson, Jacquelynne, Joseph, and Jenna have learned about poverty and abundance, and the meaning of losing parents at an early age. They have battled fears that most children in their circle of friends have never had to consider. After all, if Julia could be orphaned, could they? These five kids are amazing. Their capacity to love and accept each other without reservation is astounding.
Please don't misunderstand me, this is tough. We are this family, and yet we are still becoming. And, even though my answer to "How are you doing?" may sound too easy, it it true from the bottom of my heart. They are doing awesome. We are doing awesome. I am blessed to have each and every one of my 5.
Even though we have a long way to go, especially with the language barrier, I am treasuring every moment. I don't want to take any of it for granted.