Monday, June 6, 2011

Progression in Transition

those of you who know me know i'm not the silent type.
i haven't been quiet about about my adoption struggles.
i'm not afraid to tell how it's been hard, like really hard for me.
i shared early on how the beginning transition period was stressful and what we were doing to get through it some here
i always keep in mind that people may be disappointed in me and my feelings.
but i think it's necessary and totally helpful for other families to know the things that other adoptive/adopting families go we all know 

she wasn't an infant when we brought her home (not to say that that is easy either).
she was almost three by the time she came to be a part of our family.
she has a story....she has memories....she has a personality.
when she first came home she tested the waters to see where she fit, if she fit, what she could get away with.
would we still love her even if she chose something else to wear? if she had a meltdown over being told NO? when she pushed her food away?
i'm sure she was wondering, "what will my new family be capable of providing for me?".  

the first 6-8 weeks was really hard because she still wasn't quite sure of her relationship with her daddy (which is beautiful now) and i was more like a single parent at that point--she wouldn't even let him look at her.  i was exhausted from over-thinking everything and trying to give her everything she needed without having to undo everything later when the rules would change.
 resentment began to creep in, i think. and please believe me when i tell you how hard that is to admit.  we waited a grueling year for this blessing of pink that god granted us.  it's pretty much all i thought about, talked about. 
my poor friends.  
this was the biggest step in faith i had ever taken...that dic and i had ever taken together.....and maybe the biggest that our family will ever take as a whole (i hope not).  and somehow i came to the point where it took such an effort for me to find joy.  when dic worked soo hard to play with aregash and show her how fun and loving he was, then our youngest son felt the void.  when i tried to fill his void, she showed jealousy like i have never seen in a child.  
i was torn. 
 and i stayed torn.  
it began to feel like when i was pregnant with my second child and i wasn't sure how i was going to be able to spread the love between two children.
how do i love these four children equally, always having to keep in mind that one came from a hard place?

i talked to friends (especially adopting friends) who have experienced similar things in their lives and it was a comfort.
but it didn't fix what i was feeling.
they would say "it will come......
the love will come".
and i felt despair and shame.
pre-adoption the worry was more about "will she love us?"  "will she attach to us?"
i never once had a concern that my feelings could be different for a child not born of my body.
i don't think there is ever a way to prepare your mind and heart for this.
i mean, how can i not feel "love" for this child that i loved from clear across the world. the child that god placed in my heart years down the road and the child that he knew from the beginning of time would be ours?
please try to understand that i have always loved's just a different kind of love--a learned love.  
i cry now writing this. 
 knowing that many of you who read it will judge and not understand. 
 but then could you?  if you have not been in my shoes?  it's like saying you know about being a parent when you've never done it at all.
i have enough shame and guilt for all of us, believe me.

and this is where i don't get when people don't believe in god. 
 because he is always the answer.
i have prayed for the four months she's been home that god would soften my hardened heart.  
where did this darkness come from?  
why can't i see the joy in something soo apparent....
something soo simple...soo precious?
i have asked for forgiveness.  for the times i was far less than perfect.  for instead of welcoming happiness and love and joy i let fear and frustration and sadness creep in.
it is never what i intended or expected or wanted...i think anyone would know that.
it was what it was.

and through it all she loved me (even though one day she broke my heart when she said she didn't).
she forgave me.  
i have always known to tell my kids i'm sorry when i have hurt their feelings and she is no exception.
even when she didn't understand english yet it seemed as though she truly understood what i was saying and gave me grace.
things have progressively gotten better, as i was assured they would be.
i am feeling the peace that god promised when our journey began and i am so very grateful for that.  the sun is finally shining and the birds are singing and i am happy.
this child of god. my child of god is with us.
i showed her how to fold her hands up when she talks about our family.
to show how we are all intertwined and connected....
i have always said she is the missing piece to our puzzle.
she is.
she is perfect for me.....for our family.
god knew what he was doing when he placed her in our hearts.
this was always the plan.
i was wrong to ever question that, even when things have been soo difficult.
god tells me that i need to stop being soo hard on myself 
(and so do all my friends)....
that it's only been 4 months since she came to us.
nothing can ever prepare our hearts for such a huge transition.
some people handle it with ease, while others struggle more.
he tells me to stop thinking and just to love.
love isn't always easy and it doesn't always come in perfect form, 
but love can heal anything....anyone.

and so we move on with contagious smiles and answered prayers.
hearts are softened and god is glorified.

it took me some time to fill in the blanks.
 saying that it has been emotional is an understatement.

 i don't want to be that person who sits back and waits while others are hurting.
if i can help one more family to get through their trials, 
even if by knowing they aren't alone,
then i will do it.

one of my adoptive mama friends gave some of the best advice.....
just keep holding and loving and praying
and the 

thank you for your compassion even when it may not be a part of your story.


Holly B said...

How wonderful to read this! I have never been in this position, but can't say for certain that I never will be, either. I applaude you for being courageous enough to open your heart and share the struggles. I'm sure you've heard "I told you so" from a few, but I bet for the most part, you are surrounded by loving, encouraging, supporting friends and family who will walk with you during the difficult times. I wish I had something more elegant to say than that, but I don't. I am blessed today, by your story. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Being a parent is a combination of love compassion and discipline and through your words on your blog I hear you have all of those. Keep your heart open and your thoughts open throughout, and your little angel will find ways to bring smiles to each and every one of you.

Beth said...

Thank you so much for sharing your story -- your real story. It's good to know that there is a possibility that Scott and I will have similar feelings when we bring our children home, and that it happens, it's nothing to be ashamed of, and that it will get better! Thank you for sharing things as they really are. I continue to pray for you!

Anonymous said...

Kendra, you are a brave, brave momma and I am so proud of you! Remember they say not to analyze anything until at LEAST 6 months down the road...we are now at 9 months home and L still sometimes will push so hard that it makes me not like her. But I still love her, know what I mean? She still has to test the boundaries....yesterday my mom was here when I worked and my husband came home and said he heard L throwing literally the biggest fit he had ever heard come out of her...she was still testing waters with other people! And she LOVES her nana! But she knows exactly how to make our blood boil if she wants to test us. Adoption is sure an ability to learn how to control our anger, and I never knew that would happen. We told our SW that yes, she does get pops, too. They definitely help that is for sure, along
with "time in" immediately following. That is just for outbursts of her anger though. I know the eating thing made me almost lose my mind, when she would just not eat or packrat it on purpose and not swallow it because she was trying to make us mad. That was my breaking point, right there, and I had to talk with other friends to help me get through that. I eventually did, and she does it less often thankfully now. Whew. Anyway, all of that to say hang in there, you are doing a GREAT job, and I think this is totally normal. xoxoxo :)

Melanie said...

I just happened upon your page through a friends and we also just brought home our son in January of this year from Ethiopia. He was almost 4 1/2. Our biggest struggles have been with my 10 and 12 year old feeling jealous. They go through periods of resentment no matter how hard we try to find ways to divide ourselves and our time....It's just our newly adopted son always wants to be with us and we are having to teach him how to play by himself. Now that he has been here a little longer and my big kids are out of school, he is becoming jealous of my time with them and having to "share" me during the days....It's like one thing gets easier and then something else comes....Thank goodness it's not everything at once. God is faithful though. I enjoyed reading the "realness" of your post. Sometimes love is hard. But it's oh so sweet in the end.

Deena said...

BEAUTIFUL post Kendra! I loved reading your honest words...I completely understand and have felt the same many times throughout the 11 months we have had our little beauty home. You are so far ahead of many, because within four months, you have been able to process your feelings and admit your struggles so well!!!! I know I wasn't that honest within four months of bringing Grace home! I'll email you soon to catch up ;) Hang in there!

Christy. said...

If I wasn't heading out to a doctor appt I would be bawling my eyes out. SO real, so wonderful!!!
We came home one year ago with an almost three year old. I wouldn't trade it for the world, he is AMAZING but it's been the hardest year of my life!!!
My blog is private but I would love to invite you if you would like a peek into our world. :)
Thanks for being honest!

It Feels Like Chaos said...

Thank you for sharing this, for your honesty! We are currently waiting on a court date to be able to adopt a nearly 3 year old girl from Ethiopia and it is so great to hear from someone who is walking that road, just slightly ahead of us! We have 3 other children as well, and someone told me to expect to feel like we "ruined our family" for the first several months, but then things will settle down and the family will emerge stronger and better than before!

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