Wednesday, April 8, 2009

God is in the details

we are at the point in our process where we have gathered all our documents, even re-gathering some as we did it wrong the first time, and we are ready to send in our precious packet to the secretary of state and then the nica consulate to be authenticated. this is the LAST step that we need to do here in the states!

i've been basically stacking all our documents inside a folder but that is as organized as i have been. as i went to gather them all and put them in order to double check they were all there and prepare them to ship out, i realized i was missing one document. and i could not for the life of me remember where i had put it. add to that that our main living/working area is in complete disarray right now because of remodeling and nothing is where is should be. i checked the 3 places i thought it could be with no luck. i needed to get to work so i said a quick prayer to God to help me find the documents thinking i would look again when i returned home. but about 20 seconds after i said that i noticed a manila folder on our kitchen counter. i stopped and stared at it trying to figure out what it was. it had been there for weeks, under a pile of papers that i had just that morning went through and i had had it in the back of my mind that it was some semi-important mail that i had already looked at but had to find a place for. i thought "could it be?!?!"
and it was! the lost documents. i couldn't believe it!

God is so good all the time and He has been in the big parts and the details of this process since the beginning. what a sweet reminder that He is in charge!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

its a huge responsibility

last night i couldn't sleep, like always, but was also plagued with anxiety-filled dreams when i could sleep. somewhere in there, i can't remember if i was asleep or awake, i was worrying about gio and how we only have a few years before he is a teenager and all that that encompasses. i was thinking: 'how are we going to teach him about healthy, Godly relationships in the little time we have, especially with the language barrier? will we be able to instill all we want to instill in him before peer pressure and today's culture influence him?"

he is the one i most worry about for many reasons: he's the oldest which means he has been without a family the longest, has experienced the most neglect and abuse, has vivid memories of his birthmom and, thus, really feels her abandonment, and has the added pressure and burden of having to care for his younger siblings, including a sister who is not with them. he has also figured out how to hide his emotions and utilize self control. he keeps his emotions inside and is embarrassed and ashamed of them; when he is mad or sad and i tell him that he is wonderful, worthy, and loved-that he didn't do anything to deserve the life he has been dealt-he can't even look me in the eye, the shame and guilt are so great. it breaks my heart.

today is just one of those days where the worries overwhelm me; i guess that comes with the territory of being a parent. i think have the added stress of not being with them. not being able to DO something to ease my worries, makes it that much harder for me. plus, my mind is very good at conjuring all sorts of 'what ifs' and going over past circumstances again and again looking for what difficult emotions or behaviours might have been hiding under the surface.

but i know, too, that this waiting period is for a reason. to build us up, to strengthen us, to educate us so that we are more prepared to deal lovingly, knowledgeably and compassionately with all that our boys are bringing with them into this family. i know that we will never be fully prepared, just like everyone else who has become a parent. and even after 11 years of marriage, 11 years of waiting, i still feel like i have SO much more to learn, SO much more to grow. i guess one of the many wonderful aspects of parenting is how much you learn and grow because you are a parent. i look forward to it all, despite the worry and anxiety.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

building attachment

This is the account (from the book "Becoming a Family" by Lark Eshleman) of an adoptive mom and her 2 year old daughter who she adopted at age 11 months. It is an excellent description about the kinds of thoughts and emotions that plague children who have been abandoned or experienced abuse, even after they are in stable, loving environments. I really appreciated this mom's perspective and her honesty in this account.

"The pressure has been building and, in a moment, the rupture happens. My daughter breaks a rule, makes a mistake, and thinks both her mother and the world are unfair. She feels the shame, she fears the reaction, and to cover the pain she screams at me in rage. And I am angry. I feel the sting.
What do I do now? Should I send her to her room, shun her briefly, make her feel the pain of isolation so she will know that this behavior is unacceptable? Will this motivate her to obedience? If I am an audience for this attack of rage, will I reinforce the behavior? I have been taught this parenting tool, this so-called "time out". Indeed, I am supposed to be an expert.
I need only look into my daughter's eyes to know that the pain she is experiencing right now is already excruciating. I can feel no desire to rub salt into her wounds with additional punishment. This seemingly small event has sent her into a downward spiral of shame. She is afraid she is unacceptable to me. She slides back to the infantile core memory of the loss of her birth mother and of her foster mother. She thought she would die then; it was a realistic fear. She carries that fear forward to this moment. She feels herself start to disintegrate, like she will cease to exist. The panic, the grieving, the rage so powerful to her that she fears the feelings will sweep her away and tear her apart, never to return to this world.
What do I want my child to learn in this moment? If I send her to her room, she will not die. She will get over it. But at what expense? She will believe that I have sent her away because she is unacceptable to me. Or because her feelings are to big for me and I, too, am afraid of them. She will stuff all those feelings into some dark crevice of her soul. She will try to convince herself that she doesn't really need me. She will add one more concrete barrier around her heart, another lace of barbed wire. This is not what I want for my child.
I tell her that she has made a mistake, and to try to not make this mistake again. Then I sweep her up in my arms and hold her tight and close. I tell her that I love her and need to hold her until we both feel better. She rages against my embrace. I am restraining her, holding her against her will. It takes all my strength to contain her. We are both drenched with sweat. But I am calm and my determination is unwavering. The rage is eventually followed by grieving, and then finally by calm. We snuggle and whisper and giggle, and all is well in the world again. We are connected, our souls touching. And this is what my daughter learns: "I will hold you for as long as it takes. Though you would cut me with the razor shards of your shattered soul, I will sweep up the pieces and be the glue that holds you together. I will be your lifeboat and we will ride the waves of your rage and panic and pain together. Your feelings do not scare me. I will help you with them. I will not abandon you. I am your mother. I am powerful, unwavering, permanent and safe. My love is unconditional."
Afterwards, my daughter is calm, centered and obedient. She follows the rules because she wants to. She knows she is safe and loved. We Quakers have an expression about holding. When someone is hurting or in need, we "hold them in the Light." This is how I hold my daughter in the Light. This is my direct experience with God."

Thursday, January 15, 2009

how it all started

i started this blog in order to have a place for friends and family to check in and get info on our adoption process all in one place. but i've ended up using it like a journal and neglected to write about the actual process! so, here it goes....

i met the boys when i went on a short term mission trip with a group of women through forward edge international. my friend katie, who is the wife of one of ian's co-workers, was the leader of this women's bible study group. though i was not a part of the group she decided to call and invite me to come along anyway. i was surprised and didn't know what to think, it was so out of the blue. ian immediately thought i should go and normally i would jump at the chance to go on a mission trip but we were aggressively trying to pay down our debt and the thought of putting a big chunk of moola into something freaked me out. through prayer and time, God made it obvious to me that His plan at that point was for me to go on this trip and for just a small amount of time put paying off the debt on hold. so, i agreed to go.

it was an AMAZING trip in so many ways. i fell in love with the country, the people, the language, the food, (ok, i was already in love with those two) and the women i was on the trip with. only 3 of which i knew before i went. one of the places we went to serve at was an orphanage called vida nueva-new life. there i met steven. i walked in the front door, smiled at him in his pack 'n' play and said 'hola'. he responded by throwing himself down and crying. not one who takes to strangers readily! it wasn't until a little later once i had had the chance to try to get through his anxiety and fear by talking and playing with him and then saw him holding hands with another little girl, smiling so wide and walking around the play area, that the falling started.
we had some really sweet moments together and i saw his mischievousness, his beautiful smile and laugh and his love of cuddles and tickles. i found out he had two older brothers and went in search of them before we left. i met carlos in the backyard playing on swings. i was struck by his politeness and empathy. i was pushing another boy on a swing and then started to push carlos too. he said: 'i can do it myself' but not in that way-you know the way. :) and then he said-'but thank you for pushing me!' i was shocked! i've been around enough young'uns to know how that scenario usually plays out. so, the middle brother had my heart too.

that night i couldn't stop thinking about them. i was so confused and surprised-this was not what i came down here for and i never before understood what it would be like to be in a house full of needy children and be able to know, without a doubt, which ones were meant to be yours. it was all so crazy so i prayed and prayed. the next time we saw them we went to a mall to play and eat. i was in charge of steven and got to sit next to carlos and giovanni on the bus. steven was scared and gio rubbed his back saying 'shhhh, shhhh' to calm him. it was so incredibly sweet and the oldest had my heart then too.

it is such a difficult thing to try to explain. people have asked: 'how did you know?' and i can't answer it in a way that really makes sense. i guess it can be compared to when you 'just know' the one you are to marry.

as soon as we were back in america i called ian and said: 'we are adopting three brothers and moving to nicaragua' he said 'ok'. simple and as trusting as that. good man. :)

the rest is history i guess. much has changed. we've grown closer together, gained more knowledge about adoption, attachment and abuse, Nicaragua and the spanish language, visited the boys 2 more times, and started down the long road of international adoption. its crazy to think back to what little we knew and how overwhelming the whole process was when we first started. our love for them grows daily, it seems. God has provided so much to us in this time and it is only through hope in Him that we have been able to survive the separation, the waiting, the grieving for their past and have a hope for the future of our family, even if it may be the hardest thing we have ever done. because of Him i know it will also be the most miraculous thing as well. that's usually how He works.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

reality vs dreams

i had a dream about the boys last night.  it wasn't particularly a good dream-they were here in america but were in an orphanage that looked good but that i knew wasn't good.  but i was with them just the same and when i woke up i missed them SO much.  reality here distracts me so that each day is easier, but then something like a dream happens and it reminds me how much i miss them.....its so hard.

Friday, December 5, 2008

a definition

I've thrown out the label of 'special needs' to refer to our kids in terms of: "our case is looking good since there are three of them and we want to adopt all and also because they are special needs kids." I get worried looks from people when I say that and I rush to say "well, ya know, not REALLY special needs, just because of their history and such..." I feel like I have to defend them, to explain them and I haven't been really clear myself on what that label actually means. I was reading the book "Parenting the Hurt Child" yesterday and ran across a good explantion of the definition of the 'special needs' child in terms of adoption and also what goes along with that term. I think it really suits our situation and where our boys are coming from....

"The term 'special needs' is one that sends chills down the spine of a potential adoptive parent, because it suggests that the child has a severe intellectual or physical impairment. In truth, the adoption world defines 'special needs' as any child who is not an infant, is part of a sibling group, had prenatal exposure to drugs and alcohol, has had multiple caregivers, or who has been the victim of neglect or abuse. In essence, nearly all adopted children, regardless of their place of birth, fit the definition."

Thursday, November 20, 2008


This week has been hard.  I miss the boys so much.  It is a overwhelming feeling to love someone so fiercely and miss them so fervently and know that you can't see them or hold them anytime soon.   

We had such an amazing time in Nica recently.  We spent so much time with the boys and got to know them and their individual personalities even more.  The flip side of that is that now I just have that much more to miss.

I miss Steven pointing things out to me with wide eyes and saying "alla!"  (over there!) I miss his mischievous smile and the way he immediately calmed down when I sang to him.  I miss hearing his new words like 'banana'.  I miss looking up and seeing a wild smile of joy on his face as he flings himself into my arms.  I miss him calling me 'mama'.  And the way he would yell it out with such urgency whenever he needed to show me something.  I miss his serious and focused way of putting everything not bolted down into a drawer, cabinet or nook....and then taking them out and doing it all over again.  I miss his smile.  I miss the feeling I got when I was the reason for that smile.  I miss holding his hand.  I miss playing silly games with him that caused the sweetest laughter I have ever heard.  I miss the joy that sprang into my heart every time he lifted his arms up to me to be picked up.  I miss hearing him ask for 'mas' (more) when we were playing and cuddling.

I miss Carlos' crazy energy, his incredibly unique way of communicating, his overflowing, contagious joy of life.  I miss how excited he was to have a flashlight and the way he shined it out his open window at trees, buildings and people on the way home one night.  I miss hearing him yell my name and jump into my arms when we arrived each morning.  I miss watching how with such gentleness and sweetness he took care of the kittens at the house.  I miss his curiosity and adventurous spirit.  I miss his love of taking photos, even if they are never of people's faces and are usually out of focus.  I miss the way he asked for water by spelling it again and again and how it took us so long to figure out what he was saying because he spelled it so fast and with a 'w'.  A-W-U-A  'ah-doblevey-ooh-ah'   And how sweet and patient he was to slow it down so we could understand.  I miss the way he laughs with his mouth wide open.  I miss his smile that truly stretches from ear to ear.  I miss his beautiful mop of curly hair.  I miss the pure joy on his face as he played in the sprinklers.

I miss Giovanni's calm presence.  I miss his 100 watt smile and the way he would shyly lean into me when I put my arm around him.  I miss having him sit on my lap while we watched TV. I miss him reading aloud every word he set his eyes on.  I miss watching him draw or work on a puzzle with such focus.  I miss learning spanish from him and the patient and humble way he would teach me when I asked him for a word or if I was saying something right.  I miss watching him take care of Steven, being silly, singing to him or saying 'shhh shhh' when Steven was upset.  I miss being his mom, worrying over him, taking care of him, soothing him when he had a fever.  I miss watching his face light up as we talked about Washington, about the snow and the cold and the rain.  I miss the way he clung to me in 'un abrazo como un oso' (a bear hug).   I miss his goofy faces.  I miss sitting with him in the rocking chair with my cheek resting on his head and my arms engulfing him.  I miss the tenderness and strength that I sense in him.

I miss my boys.