Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Be warned...I'm starting to get transparent.

Everything in life is so easy.
Getting married? No problem.
Having a baby? Piece of cake.
Relationships? Easy breezy.

Adoption? Nothin' hard about it!

{Insert sounds of car brakes and painful screeching}

Yes, adoption is wonderful, but there are hard things about it that I don't know how to handle.

It's not easy.

Of course, I didn't expect it to be easy, I really didn't. So I'm not sitting here with my jaw on the ground being slapped silly with reality. I knew I'd be in for a world of unknowns. It's just that, well, I didn't know exactly what to expect. So I'm kind of wingin' it.

I knew that getting married would have it's challenging moments.
I knew having a baby would bring tough changes.
I know that relationships and friendships take work.
Life is hard.

Thankfully, life is easier with Jesus and I get on my knees daily thanking Him for being a part of my life. I would, quite literally, die without HIM.

Regularly these questions are posed to me:
How's Mother of Three?

How's the adjustment period going?

How's Amy doing?

How's English coming along?

Things settling in?

I don't mind repeating these answers multiple times because I have been blessed with people in my life who care. Thank you, God, that I have people asking me these questions. Similarly to the questions before they came home; "Any news? What's taking so long? When will they get here?" These questions showed me that I have people in my life who are thinking about me, care to ask and show genuine interest in my life. I answered these questions allllllllll the time before they got here, willingly and happily.

So I will answer the post-arrival questions willingly and happily. Thank you for asking. Things are going well.

You know how when you're walking down the hall at church or work or school and you pass someone who says "Hi, how are you?" and you reply "Fine, thanks. How are you?" and they say back "Doin' well."

No one has even stopped walking...just pat answers that every American expects to hear and say. Even if in all honesty at that moment things are really hard in life, you don't bring them up. You just smile and nod.

I was recently at a baby shower where I spent a couple hours with a handful of women whom I haven't seen in 11 months. I was asked all of the above questions about the adoption and I answered in the pat-answer type of way. "Things are going well! Adjustment period is challenging but do-able. Amy's enjoying having sister's very much! English is coming along surprisingly well and super quick. Yes, we're very happy."

Of course that's what I say. What ELSE would I say? It's all true!

But just like passing that person in the hallway, there really are hard aspects of life going on right now.

Of course. Of COURSE!

But I don't bring them up...to every person...every time.

I will here and now.

Here are just some of the hard things we are dealing with in our home right now. I'm only listing them because

1) I want them documented
2) it's a dose of reality for those honestly interested
3) I hope to relate with other adoptive families who may be struggling with similar things

This is a partial list of things that we are working through. I need guidance and call upon God frequently.

David and I are so extremely thankful that our families are so super duper supportive and help us through the ups and downs of the transition period. We love you, family!

I sort of hate to blog the hard stuff because I want to only rave about the good stuff! Because there is more good stuff than icky stuff. Really and truly! I hope I've done a good job of communicating that in my blog this past summer. That I love LOVE LOVE my family and am so happy to have the girls home!

Okay, here we go. Challenging things we are going through:

Playing fairly (cheating, quitting, being a sore loser)
Properly controlling emotions
Laughing at others expense
Choosing a physically painful way of hugging/snuggling
Zoning out when being corrected
Fishing/testing for my reaction to lack of affection
Tone of voice
Purposely breaking things
Bonding. Bonding. Bonding.

I have been known to tell people over the past seven years (my oldest and biological daughter turned seven on Sunday) that no one can prepare themselves for the love that they will have for their children. It's indescribable. It's beyond what one could ever think they could express.

Conversely, no one could prepare me, nor could I prepare myself for the challenge of bonding with my adopted daughters. I'm going to end this post now and pick it up in a few days with the topic of bonding. Well, bonding in MY home. MY heart. It will be different for everyone, so this will be personal.

Thank you for reading about my journey. Thank you for the comments, emails, phone calls, coffee breaks, and prayers.

Life is lovely. Adoption is wonderful. I love my children.

Parenting is fabulously rewarding and amazingly demanding. Can I get an Amen?

Thank you, God, for trusting me with the task of bringing them up in the training and instruction of Your ways. Please help me do it for I can do nothing without You.


Blessed Mama of 4 said...

...wait! I have a similar list of challenging things WE go through... and all my children are biological siblings! Even with out adopted children in my home, I so appreciate the idea of conscientiously and purposefully bonding. A wise woman once said to me "there is no greater gift you can give your children than siblings." Maybe its one of those gifts that you have to look at and study for a long time before you figure out how it works, then... WOW! How did I ever live with out this?!

Keep smiling. Thanks for sharing. Wanna another coffee break? (who doesn't... anytime!)

Seeing you with your daughters today - you are doing a fantastic job... they are so loved, and its so obvious! Great job mom! but.. parle deja!

Michelle said...

Hey, your list looks very similar to mine. ; ) Feel free to e-mail me anytime. mecundiff@yahoo.com

It is nice to have others to share the real answers with.

Shara said...

Oh sweet Julie, I'm not going to pretend to know what you're experiencing or attempt to give a pat, simple answer. Your list does look similar to the list in our home if that gives any consolation. I also apologize for being a guilty party in asking you all of those questions....in passing.

From my far away view, you and David are doing an incredible job in your new parenting roles. Your love for the Lord and your family radiates from your presence and your posts.

The Corrigan Four said...

Thanks for sharing your heart!!

Before I became a mom, my friend told me "Being a mom is the hardest job you'll ever love"... That has proved to be soooooo true for me. It's soooo hard sometimes and you love them soooo much. I can think of few experiences where we subject ourselves to so much challenge willingly because we are totally in love!

Youthful One said...

I could add some, I'm sure, but not really say much different than the rest of your kind friends.

(In other words, ditto.)

However, I must mention that when I first started reading this post, I was struck with the first photo and how their noses and mouths look so very similar and RELATED. :D

ames said...

I love transparency and hearing the reality of life. It's not all roses . . . for any of us.
But we aim to be content in all circumstances. Thank you JP.

Kismet said...

I agree with BMof4, having 3 children is HARD WORK and much of what you are going through is adjustment to that, for you and every member of the family.

And some of the difficulties are unique to adoption also. And some are unique to adopting older children. And some unique to 'these' children.

You are a great mother and your heart is so tender and open to correction. God will guide you.....and he's sent all of us to help!

Love you.


Kismet said...

Also, thank you for laying it all out there. Not an easy task.


ohhollyf said...

Oh boy, my son was crying just yestrday, he wanted to go to his "old county":(

Anonymous said...


We brought our kids home just a little before you and we are having the some of the same problems. Beverly withdraws her love and attention whenever she doesn't like what you say too. David is much more verbal about the whole thing and declares that when he is "gran" he is going to hit me, bite me, eat candy for dinner, whatever... But, he always loves on me.

Some of our other struggles are perhaps self-imposed by me. I have decided that there are a couple of power struggles I am willing to fight just because I need boundaries. The one that comes quickest to mind is water is not a toy. No toys in the basement (it is in mid-construction and houses my bedroom) and I get to take a bath in private without anyone's feet dangling in the water.

christa jean said...

Whilst trying to do something productive yesterday, I hear middle child whining that toddler has grabbed something from her. I'm thinking to myself, "Really? Do I have to go up there and referee again?! ARGH!" I'm still thinking what I should I do in this moment and then I hear blessed words, "I asked for it and she gave it back!" YES!!! Slowly but surely it's been sinking it to her little head that grabbing is not acceptable. It's taken much consistency. Of course, she still was selfish and grabbed, BUT she made a good choice and corrected her action.

And here's where I'm "preaching to the choir" when I tell you that you will eventually win! They will eventually learn through your patient consistency and prayer. I know you to be an extremely patient person already, but also know that God may be taking you to a deeper level of reliance on Him. Okay, I don't really know what He is doing in you, but it seems to me that you are right where God can find you easily... on your knees.
That is the most secure and predictable place while parenting! Because we know that in that place of humility, brokenness and desperation, He listens and answers with His wisdom.

Okay, ending my book now. ;-D

Julie said...

Ahh.. the first time I heard an adoptive mom say things along these lines I breathed a MEGA HUGE sigh of relief.
Yep! Same here. :)

mer@lifeat7000feet said...

I am so grateful for your honesty. Life is hard, parenting is hard, and sometimes it can feel like you're walking uphill with no end in sight. I just appreciate you sharing your struggles. BTW, your girls are so beautiful. And happy birthday to your oldest! What a smiley girl she is!

The Haiti Lady said...

You should all read 'Secret Thoughts of An Adoptive Mother' by Jana Wolff(I Believe). It is amazingly thoughtful and extremely honest...very nice to have and see that you are not crazy or the only one going thru things!
LeAnne The Haiti Lady

DotBlogger said...

Yes, I own and have read that book, LeAnne.
I only sort of recommend it.

The G's said...

Amen and Amen! I know excatly what you are going through!

Molly W. said...

Thanks for being real and honest Julie. (and yes, you've done a great job of speaking of the highlights and having an amazingly positive attitude) -I'm constantly impressed.

Anonymous said...

Julie, your children are absolutetly beautiful and precious. You and your husband are amazing. So inspiring.
I am so glad to hear that you got the greeting cards :) I would love to work on a custom adoption album if you would like. Feel free to email me at hapemome@msn.com and we can talk about it. Thanks again! Blessings,

Genny said...

Amen, yes!

I have to tell you, every time I stop by, I am inspired by you and your family.

Jenny Kay said...

I love you, too!