Monday, August 8, 2011

another monday

it's another monday.
last monday was WAY worse. that's good news!

i'm going to attempt to process this past week. i'm a little bit sad that i didn't as we went through it. i feel like i might want to look back on it one day. but, it was SO hard and painful, that i think it's best if we never remember some of it.
adopting an older child is hard. like, WAY hard. i mean, i had heard that and it made sense and i'd read stuff about it. be LIVING it, whoa. i seriously don't know how to put it into words. but i'm going to do my best. this is good for my own heart/mind. and i KNOW He will use it, because He is using this whole story!
i read this somewhere in the last few days,

"the stakes feel higher in every decision with a child who is adopted"

i'm sorry, whoever you are, that wrote that...that i can't give you credit. i can't remember WHERE i saw it. but i do know that it made me burst into tears. tears of feeling UNDERSTOOD. {i rarely feel understood these days...}

the stakes DO feel higher. i want to do things WELL for these children that have had lives that didn't start out well. there is also a lot of unknown. compared to parenting the children i've had since birth. i don't know most of what is going on in their heads and hearts. 
let's focus on the positive for a minute:

levi is good. he eats well (EVERYTHING!) he sleeps well. he loves us and wants us and KNOWS us. GOOD, good things! he used to claw at me when he wanted something. and he had this cry that went along with it - it was a desperate cry. he doesn't do that anymore. he just lets me know with a little cry that he needs something. and i get it. if it's not something he can have then, i re-direct and he's usually fine with that. he's beginning to trust that things are ok...even if it's not what he wants in that moment.
lincoln is doing well also. his language is AMAZING. he speaks SO much english! we were so glad when he learned, "i want" - because he could tell us what it was he wanted. now,! mostly because he just keeps saying it overandoverandoverandover until he gets it. next step is teaching him, "can i please have?" :-)

his bowel movements are getting MUCH more normal and less frequent. (sorry! it's part of it all!) it helps me to know that his stomach isn't bothering him. it never seemed to, even when it seemed like it should. but, it's just good. progress.
you would think (i definitely thought!) that i'd have SO much compassion and patience for these 2 boys that we were bringing home. 2 boys that lived in an a 3rd world country. they've had so little. i couldn't wait to give them SO MUCH.

well...i'm sad to say this is not the case. and it's torn me apart. i've wrestled and cried my eyes out and curled up in the fetal position. this is where the analogy falls apart.

people often use the analogy that God has adopted us as His children to describe us (humans) when we adopt children. it's a beautiful analogy. but it's always bothered me a little bit. because i am not God. God is all-knowing, has never-ending grace, never-ending patience, never-ending LOVE. i do not. and this is very evident in our home right now.

i KNOW KNOW KNOW that God placed these 2 boys in our family. i KNOW they are my sons.

but...right now, they are 2 strangers living here. i am less patient with lincoln than i am with sawyer. i have more grace for bailey's loud outbursts than i do for lincoln's. even when i discipline sawyer, it's PAINFUL for my heart - but when i discipline lincoln, it's not. it is done OUT OF love for him...knowing that he needs to know boundaries, but the same deep love isn't there. it's not right. but it's what it is. for now.

i TRUST that the love and patience and grace will come. and i'm TRYING my best to act like it's there when it's not inside me. and i TRY to ask Him to give it to me. but sometimes i don't. and it doesn't. and i fail.

and this is where the story is even more complicated. but so so beautiful. because, no, i'm not God that has adopted these 2 boys. but He is using ME - a COMPLETE sinner - to show His love to the world. i'm failing left and right. but He is picking me up...when i literally can't get up on my own...and having endless grace and patience with ME and guiding me back to love them with His love. it's not pretty. it's SO messy. but so beautiful!
last week was SO hard. i've tried to analyze it. and i have no idea what the "problem" was.

but there was:
*pre-teen hormones (AHHHH!!!!)
*a 3 year old that's world has been turned upside down. he watched his family leave. then come back 3 weeks later with 2 new brothers. 1 of whom is practically his TWIN and into all his stuff and business. so, mom had extra grace on him at first. and now it's over. the tantrums and complaining will stop. NOW. so, cracking down on that.

lincoln is so challenging.

he is EVERY age he's been through so far - all at the same time - and all the MOST intense of that age.

1 year old - remember how they touch and feel and put EVERYTHING in their mouths? it's how they discover their world? he does that. to EVERYthing. but he's faster and bigger and stronger than a 1 year old. he can DESTROY something in like 1 second. so, lots of things are off-limits to him that aren't to the others (ex. lego's). MOST days i tell the kids to pick things that he can play. but, sometimes i let rebekah and joshua go in one of their rooms and play lego's and he can't. hard to find the balance of caring for them all.

i have to follow him around wherever we go. even in our house. if he's quiet and i haven't seen him, then he's into something he shouldn't be and it's probably broken. not maliciously, just because he's into it. if he's awake, i can't let my guard down for a second. so exhausting!
2 year old - tantrums and manipulation. right? do you remember? the tantrums have lessened GREATLY! YAY!!! he has 2 cries. one is for when he's truly hurt/sad. the other is for manipulation. that one is not stood for. at all. the positive in him receiving LOTS of discipline, is that he's not the only one receiving it! sawyer is right there with him. we went into this road not sure what "discipline" would look like. but, it's become very clear to us. children are children. it is our job to guide them and mold them. whether they are adopted or not, the Bible is clear. not saying it's that black and white in every situation...but in ours, it is. we also do KNOW that they both were loved and fed their entire lives. not in a family. but they were loved and fed. that is huge knowledge for us.

back to the manipulation. he's REAL good at it. he has "this face". he's quickly learning that that face works in the opposite direction for him. there's no WAY he's getting x/y/z with that face on. he's got a STUBBORN mom!
3 year old - testing...blatant disobedience...TRYING to get away with things...CHOOSING not to listen. oh, yes. it's amazing how quickly we feel confident in seeing these behaviors in him. we KNOW he knows what we are asking. and sometimes, he chooses to ignore or do the opposite.

one of many examples from last week:

i walked into get him after his nap. deep breath. here we go. i can do this. smile on.
he is sitting on his bed holding 2 of bailey's barbie's.
1 of the barbie's has no limbs. he's taken them off. both legs and both arms.

now, just reading that 1 example probably doesn't sound that bad. but when it is thing after thing after thing like that. he is NOT allowed to go in the girls' room. he is not allowed in their stuff. and this is why. he just doesn't know what to do and what not to do with things. at first it could sound sad...that he doesn't know. but, the thing that REALLY got me was the look on his face. he KNEW he was caught. he looked guilty. and i'm left with the decision....for the umpteenth time that day. how to handle it. with sawyer, no brainer. with lincoln,

"the stakes feel higher in every decision with a child who is adopted"
these are the times that get to me the most. because i can make it clear that i KNOW what he did, and that's it's still not acceptable behavior. but, i can't continue the conversation to the heart what GOD desires for him. the language barrier in these instances make me SO frustrated and sad. i know it will come. and i pray that somehow God is getting in his heart even without words.
now, can i tell you some amazing things???

lincoln is SO happy! he has NEVER shown ANY signs of anger. NO violence. he's never hit or bitten or appeared mad. it's gotta be by the grace of God. i can't imagine a child surviving life in that orphanage for 4 years and coming out as happy and helpful as he is.

he LOVES to help. he'll help bring the groceries in, help load the dishwasher. the dude is STRONG!

he also seems to want to understand and please us. again, i have NO idea where that comes from except that i can't WAIT to get to know his precious heart more!
i made so many hard decisions last week. i know, in parenting, that consistency is key. being consistent with all 6 of these kids - especially lincoln and sawyer - about put me over the edge.

one day i cried so much that my eyes still burned the next morning.

i lost sleep. my stomach issues were back. i pushed people away - partly because it was what i needed to do - i ONLY had enough to give to my kids and i was determined to do it. i changed plans. because i knew we needed consistency and routine. we needed to go THROUGH this awful week - not avoid it or go around it.
i know we have more hard days ahead of us. but, i'm still claiming last week as the hardest week of my life :-)
God is so faithful and is lavishing me with His grace. this week rebekah and joshua are in camps from 9-2 pm. {these are the FIRST camps we've ever done - besides VBS a couple times} i realized yesterday that 2 pm pickup was not ideal for the other kids that sleep from 1-3 pm. i emailed some friends in my neighborhood seeing if they could pick up my kids. within 2 hours both kids had rides home EVERY day this week! GRACE.
lincoln and sawyer are playing together...HAPPILY!!! every now and then. GRACE.
we have a long way to go. I have a long way to go. but, He is with us. and that's enough for today.
i have no idea what bailey is pointing at. but i love how they are all looking. and i love that i forgot towels. so they had to use the blanket from the back of the car. the blanket that is from the cruise to the caribbean and mexico that pat and i went on with friends from college the year before rebekah was born. wow...another lifetime ago!


Holly said...

wow good job.

Anonymous said...

Oh, goodness. You don't know me at all- just found your blog a couple of weeks ago. But I wish I could give you a big hug and come over and fix dinner for your family and clean your house. You don't live in the Atlanta area, do you?
I am not an adoptive parent but I think you are doing so well. You are doing exactly the right thing. Doing what you can and leaning hard into God for the rest of it.
I may be asking an obvious question here but are you aware of this blog?
Lisa rights so frankly and sincerely about her family and the things they struggle with. You might find encouragement there.
I'm praying for you. I guess that's all I can do. Unless you do live in Atlanta... in that case, what kind of casseroles do y'all like? :-)

-Beth in Atlanta

Chase and Laura Bowers said...

love the quote. so true. have never second guessed myself and my decisions more as a mom than in the last two months. thankful that He is able.

Maggie said...

Oh Courtney! I feel like I understand so much more now. I think going through it was important. It sounds like Lincoln is learning so much, and hopefully some of these satellite issues like breaking things and putting things in his mouth will resolve quickly. You must be so exhausted. It is so hard to be "on" all the time.

I will be praying for you.

Tisha said...

Courtney, you are certainly not alone. It's hard to explain, isn't it? I understand and can completely relate to what you're saying and going through.
Hugs to you my friend.

Ali said...

Thank you for writing all this out! Wow! I am clueless. Now I know how to better pray for you.

Schulz Sightings said...

Courtney, that was beautifully and humbly expressed. You voiced so much that I have felt the last 5 months, but with only 4 kids. You are so strong and it is clear the Lord is allowing you to be broken down to build you up and transform your heart with more grace and dependence on Him. Thank you for living this out in this blog-place, so I can glean from how the Lord is changing you. love,Emily

Beckysblog said...

praying praying praying for every member of your precious sweet family.
Love to you all.

Kim said...

wow! i am praying for you - for all of you! and for lots of strength and energy. hugs and prayers for you, my friend.

Megan said...

That was a great post for anybody out there considering adoption, or newly adopting, or in the process, or even just anyone with a child at all. Thank you for sharing it with us. I am praying, praying for you my friend. Constant mom, always on 110% for an extended period of time...sounds like a case for prayer if there ever was one! And the description of all the ages (1, 2, 3) at one time really helps us moms understand better how to pray (as we cringe to ourselves internally at even the thought). Love you! God is using you so visibly through this process and your sharing of it. Praise and glory to Him!

Laura said...

Reading this blog brings back my stomach pain. I get it. It will get better. I understand your discipline decisions. We have had to make some tough ones, too that many people would disagree with. Send me a message if you need to vent!!

Brent and Melanie said...

I've been following your blog for a little now and can't tell you how blessed I feel to have found it. We are on a waiting list to adopt siblings and have 3 boys ages 6, 8, & 10. I'm so excited to be on this journey, but also scared of the unknown. Thank you for being so real. I'll be praying for you.


ManyBlessings said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
ManyBlessings said...

I'm with Laura, reading this post brought back so much anxiety and pain to me. It's a hard feeling to describe. Living with these "strangers" and at the same time having to treat them as "my children".

The thing that struck me most about your post, is your thoughts on adoption in relation to Christ's adoption of us. I really like how you said it. The phrase has always bothered me too, and now I understand why. It's the same reasons that you stated. Thank-you for helping me to clarify that in my mind.

And finally, it DOES get better. It does. There will come a moment when you realize you were no longer separating your children in your mind. Then it will be an hour. Soon a day. And then one day you will realize there is NO separation. You will look at all your children and see them the same. It is a time that is SO worth all the pain you are going through today. Hang on to that hope.

Much love from this adoptive mama!

PS-sorry, deleted that first post because of

Juanita said...

Wow, thanks for writing this out. We are waiting for our referral of 2 children under the age of 4 from Rwanda. I appreciate knowing what difficulties you're going through because if we do get a 4 year old we will most likely grapple with many of the same issues. Thank you for your honesty and I look forward to your future posts--I know that your experiences will help our family and many more!!

andi said...

you are so brave and i read both your post and this post ( this morning and thought that if you don't know about each other, you might benefit from being introduced. blessings, friend


Regan said...

I get it, friend. I get it. I am so sorry. It is so hard. God is good, and He is here with us!

Angela said...

Courtney, you are real. Thank you. I totally belive that I would experience some of these same feelings. My husband and I are considering adopting a boy..he would be #5 in our family..and yet I am scared. The thought of how it would effect my other children really really eats at me..and yet we KNOW when we're in God's will and doing what HE has called us to do...HE WILL MAKE A WAY! I believe it just as you do! I sure appreciate the honesty and realness that flows from you..keep it coming. I am praying for you and your family. :)
Much love, Angela Riesterer

scooping it up said...

1) Love your heart.
2) I know this is hard
3) I know you don't have time, but if you haven't read it, make Pat read it and highlight The Connected Child by Karyn Purvis. She specializes in parenting kids from "hard places." This is by far the best parenting book I've ever read and helps me be a better mom to hurt kids Please. It will give you strength when you get angry.

I agree, our "adoption" and adoption of kids is not the same and I think the metaphor is terrible for many reasons, including what you said. We are not holy for adopting. We better be "selfish" and want more kids in our family, no kid deserves to be in a family where the attitude is "look, we saved you! be grateful!" Our children are not humanitarian stunts. This is my opinion though. I am sure some disagree.

You're doing great, lady.

Joy said...

Thank you for your courage to speak the truth about your adoption journey. We adopted two boys 3&5 from foster care last year and my heart has felt so much of what you are writing. I often am overwhelmed with guilt about not being a perfect parent. I fall so short of being the mom that God calls me to be, but I pray daily that God will cover my mistakes using them for His glory. Prov. 10:12. Keep pressing on my friend!

Joni said...

I found your blog by googling "adoption and manipulation". I am right there with you! So far, I've only read this one post but if I have time I'm planning to read more :) We just adopted 2 kids, 7 (special needs) and 13, from Ukraine. It was comforting to realize that I'm not the only one feeling this way. Thanks for sharing your heart!