Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Making the Adjustments

So I sat down over the course of the last several days and wrote an entire post about my emotions and the hard stuff with the transition to parenthood, but I decided that it will stay a draft and never be published bc I wrote some things in there that just don't need to be shared. It felt good to get them out of my head, but I'm realizing how "normally not normal" our situation is and that some of my crazy emotional vomit (bc thats what it was) was not worth sharing. I may share some quotes from that post, but for now, I've had time to actually let everything sink in and am now ready to update how parenthood is going for us.

We have been parents for 18 days, weird to think bc as we get into this more and more it seems like they have been ours for alot longer. We are officially "Mom" and "Dad" for everything and I have to say that those are some of my favorite words out of their mouth. I mean I can only imagine a babies first moment saying momma or dadda and how proudly ecstatic the parent must be in that moment, but to have had to wait several days for your children who are 6 and 8 to get comfortable with those words... and by comfortable I mean for them to call you those names without having to stop and think about it first or without them saying it just bc they know how much we want to hear it...to have to wait for that moment was hard, yet worth the wait. Its so natural now and I love calling them my son and daughter (that still seems weird to say!). Its funny to see our family/friend's reactions to them calling us mom and dad... we get the cute "aww" eyes and stuff like that... its amusing haha!

I do have to talk about a very serious thing that I have had plenty of time to cry over and to contemplate about. When we announced we were adopting, we realized that it was going to be a change not just for us but for everyone. And I mean everyone - our church family, the youth group, our friends, coworkers, our parents, our brothers and sisters, our nieces and nephews, other family, etc... everyone. But we didn't know to what extent that change would be until we got the kids home with us two weeks ago. The holidays was a great time for us to transition into the kids' parents- we had time to set our boundaries, play games and develop bonds, laugh with them, lay down the rules, and just love on them so they would know more about us and likewise. But the holidays also meant lots of interaction with family and friends in situations that became less than normal even though we were just going through normal routine. When you throw two older kids into the mix of things you were already doing, add lots of different faces, add lots of going here and going there, it becomes overwhelming for everyone. Yes, we were warned during our training to keep the new faces and introductions to a minimum in the first few weeks/month bc of how overwhelming things would be, but how do you do that when you have a big family and the holidays where family gets together?

We tried to take things slow and honestly the kids did as well as they could have with the amount of people they met and we learned somethings to - this worked and this didn't. But the biggest challenge was one that I really didn't expect and totally took me off guard. My kids did fine, they have learned how to communicate their feelings better (which is something they weren't doing in foster care) and they have learned to get to a quiet spot to calm down (or else they get time out which is no fun), so while we handled the typical sibling disputes and cranky tired children messes that are common among children overloaded with Christmas and holiday candy and cheer... we began to notice the true effects of adoption on our family relationships.
My sweet nieces and nephews are so used to us being so loving and rough with them. Now throw in my kids who are watching our every move, have trust issues, and need to know they are equals in their new family... well that was tough for our nieces and nephews to handle. I was conflicted with how much affection to give to each of them without it affecting the bonding situation with my own children. You could see it on some of their faces when we would pick up our kids or when they would run to us and just stop, unsure of it they could hug us or act how they normally would have around us. Our kids were now their cousins, but they were still strangers at that point.
I applaud our parents for being so genuine and kind during this crazy mess. While its evident that they are trying to just be the grandparents, its still odd not knowing the kids' personalities or interests. I mean thats still weird for us, but for our parents its so natural around the other grandchildren... time will fix this and I'm thankful we have two God fearing sets of parents to set great examples and morals for our children. Its still a transition.
I don't want to point him out but my brother really keyed me into how weird things were for him and all our siblings. My brother doesn't do change very well, but through his love for me, he is doing everything to hide how hard this is for him and to just learn to love the four of us stronger through this time. Christmas night I was having just an emotional spillover of everything from the first few days. All the excitement and the nervousness and the frustrations and the questions and the tough moments and the happiest moments just boiled down to me being unable to eat Christmas dinner with my family bc I had to step into a spare bedroom and just let it all come out. The one who was there for me at that time, my brother. He listened and offered his advice (which I DID try and it helped) and we discussed so many things before he admitted just how hard this was for him as well. When he had kids I was so involved with each of them and I wanted to be one of the spotlights of their lives... and how I'm sure he had dreamed the same for me and my kids some day. When he first met my two stranger children, all those things and feelings he could have dreamed of... unable to come true. Again, time is the best healer here and the kids know him as funny uncle John with the weird facial hair now, but think of all the normal emotions you go through daily with your family members and suddenly add a stranger in the mix whom you are supposed to love as one of your own and it changes things a little.

Again, our family has been wonderful. We couldn't handle this without them and without the countless prayers being poured over us and the kiddos. I have a hard time pushing aside some of the most negative and bad thoughts and focusing on the positive. [before you read these please know that Robert has banned me from ever saying them again and I'm scared to even put them on here, but I feel that I must, this is pure and raw, our experience through this and if anything I say can help someone work through their own emotions or whatever then thats why I'm writing it...]  Thoughts about how I'm sorry to have put my family through this less than normal blessing, how I dont want them to have to suffer through this being hard at the sake of being an untraditional family, how much I hate it when the kids mention their mom and how much I think the worst for her bc of what she did to these kids, how I get so mad at the possibility of their being other moms and dads who are missing out on holding their own kids for stupid addictions.

No I will never say those things again, but I know without even the most shadow of a doubt that I love those two kids who right now are playing quietly in the living room - Elva drawing and Waylon in make believe land, and no matter how not normal things are and how much I must (out of necessity) cry myself to sleep in Roberts arms some nights and how much I may or may not feel like a mom to them at any given moment... they are mine. A true blessing from God. Oh the things I've learned from them and the things I have loved seeing them learn through the short time with us, its all so beautifully overwhelming. I challenge anyone who has gone through such a drastic life change to be honest about the dirt that may pop up in their minds and to release. God has given me such a desire for these children and I will rise to the challenge of being their mom - through good and bad - and I will never allow doubt or those thoughts above to ever bother me again. Yes, I will probably burst out in crying spells here and there, but tears are what keeps us sane. God never said it would be easy... but He did say it would be WORTH IT!

For now a little update:
Elva - is doing wonderful at school as expected and is continuing to draw or create something with ever piece of paper or scrap of whatever in the house. The way her mind creates is so beautiful. She has started piano lessons with my mom and can only talk about how she will become a famous piano player and be rich someday. She is having a hard time dealing with her biological mom and mourning through that loss. Its hard to see her get so mad at little things and be unable to shake it off. We are seeing baby steps of improvement, but its taken alot of tears. I hate seeing her cry, but I know this will pay off in the long run. She knows we love her and she is committed our new family. Her past is starting to come to the front of her mind, which we are trying to help her through as healthily as possible.

Waylon - has surprised us in so many ways. Everyone involved in his previous care as well as us were all concerned about him adjusting and accepting a new family.... we couldn't have been more wrong. He has become affectionate and is trying his hardest to stay out of "time out" and to calm himself down when he gets upset. He is funny, stinky, and very full of life. He is doing well in school, but needs to slow down and keep himself focused. He has shared openly how he is very happy to be with us and how he now has all he ever dreamed for - a mom and dad.

We love family time at night because we read through Jesus Calling for kids. This book is amazing (and the adult version I use in the mornings its awesome!). Waylon always wants me to cuddle with him (you don't have to force me kiddo!), and Elva always helps Robert read the verse out of the book. Yes, we have the not so glorious moments, but the happy moments are very much outweighing everything. We are blessed and I thank you for going through this journey with us.

In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. Matthew 5:16

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