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Every day…really–gets better…I promise:)

See the extra wrinkles from what a year of waiting, checking our agency listserv every day and a month of no sleep…BUT the JOY…and the tummy and bum…oh my…no words for the Lord’s goodness!
Well, we have officially been a family of 6 for 4 weeks now. For “one day I want to remember sake” I have to write this one—I want to remember the tired days–as well as the joy that makes it ALL WORTH IT.

I must begin by saying through tired eyes that growing your family through adoption is so much different than bringing home a newborn that sleeps all day and is already completely bonded to his momma. BUT–the amazing part is and I hesitate writing this for fear my biological children will cock their heads and eyeball me when they read this one day and may not understand what I mean unless they take this journey too…but in a weird, miraculous, can’t describe it kind-of-way…growing our family through adoption is even more beautiful than I ever imagined or could compare to the simplicity of bringing home a new one from the hospital. There are some experiences in life that I can’t imagine NOT having…and this is one of them. In it, I have seen the face and heart of God in a new, real way and just as I would lay my life down for any of my children–it amazes me in just a short time that I’d lay my life down for a child I have only known for 4 short weeks and love him not “as if he were my own” but because HE IS my own–through the miracle of adoption and God’s perfect plan.

It truely is a miracle–and if you have not experienced the miracle of adoption–there are really no words I can describe for the hardship of the journey, heartache of the past, and absolute JOY in the hope that comes when you are united. Now, don’t misread or get me wrong–I know birthing a watermelon out of a lemon is indeed a miracle…and I have felt that three times–but to bring home a baby who has bypassed the maternity doctor visits, prenatal vitamins, labor and delivery room, even getting nourishment for the first months of his life…and then to look in his eyes and see his smile. There are no words. So I won’t try. But–some of you…who have been here–totally get it. And that is why some of you are CRAZY. And grow your family through adoption over and over and over again. I totally get it now.

I have been trying to think for the past few days–how I even feel…besides “just tired”…and I can’t quite put my finger on it. But for those of you who have followed our journey–you know some times I just have to get my thoughts and feelings written down…and then–I’m all good:).

What it’s really like right now…

Can I just say the cliche, “It’s good, but hard”?

No? I didn’t think you’d let me get away with that;).

Truly–that is what it is. BUT it is more than good. It is really good. I don’t know where to start as there doesn’t seem to be a “start” in my days right now. Our new bundle of joy sleeps MUCH less than a newborn–and we don’t let him cry either (nor did I let my other babies because that is just the way I am:)…but the purpose in not letting our new one cry is as in the beginning months we want to be consistent in showing him that when he cries, we respond–and that we are always here. (Who are we fooling? We will totally run every time any of our children cry:). He also requires A LOT of TLC—and because we were open to special needs and he has no muscle tone–we also need to spend focused time each day doing exercises as well as lots of future trips to the physical therapist. (THIS part was God’s plan and OUR choice. He let us chose–and we felt Him telling us to be open to special needs. When we got his referral at 8 months he was ONLY holding his head up–and we knew the Lord loved Him immensely–and we knew He had a family for Him–and as we prayed after the phone call received “Are we that family?” it was just simple–our hearts beat “YES!” and even before seeing his picture–already, I couldn’t imagine my life without him. Ahhh…the miracle of adoption.)

He is SO happy during the day. I mean sooo happy…well, as long as I’m RIGHT THERE with him. A contagious grin–big batting eyelashes…and he makes the other three children giggle with pride at their new brother. But if i walk out of the room? Not good;). To him, I may just be another caregiver as he has only been on my hip for 1 month–but it is my heart to be ever present and show him that I am always here. I am his mom. And I–am NOT going any where. I want him to know and feel that as soon as possible.

Now…with this extra TLC–comes extra batting eyes from my 5 year old, 4 year old and 20 month old (Isaac Temesgen and Frank are JUST 9 months apart). SO…while our new one needs more of me–our other kiddos need what feels like more of me as I reassure them of our love for them and make them feel extra special in the special time I do have with them. Although in the first week or two they needed much MORE of me–each week does get easier but by 3pm most days–I’m just really tired!

There is another “good, but hard” thing as I watch my older ones make sacrifices…

When P-man wants extra books read…and depending on if and how many babies are crying–he may or may not get one. IN THIS, I am learning to be honest with him, share my heart—and he is learning the hard lesson of service and sacrifice. Some times it makes me sad as HE is my first baby–but I have also seen him “step up to the plate” in a new way (as he has done each time in some way with every new sibling he has welcomed home)–and to hear him in the midst of his sacrfice say, “Mommy, what about the others that don’t have mommies and daddies?” or “mommy, I think I have too many toys and the kids in Africa could have some of mine” makes me realize…THIS IS FOR A GREATER PURPOSE. Not just a bigger family. Not just for me and Rich or “our calling in life”. Not just for Isaac. AND NOT JUST for the good of the other children either. BUT also for the glory of God.

To see my kids changed–it is “hard, but good”—and the truth of the “hard, but good” is because I sinfully want to be there for them–ALL. THE. TIME.


I imagine if I was not present because I was doing something “for myself” it would be different–but as my 5 year old watches and reflects on the why I can’t read another book and where I am at the moment he NEEDS me and at the moment I WANT TO BE WITH HIM because I tell him that mommy wants to but she needs to calm a baby who isn’t used to us or change a diaper because someone’s tummy is adjusting to new foods–there is something happening…in their precious hearts. Compassion. Love. And so many other things that I might even be too dumb to get or too tired to see.

For the older children, yes–there has been a lot of growth. BUT with mommy adding more to her plate I have to be honest–there has also been more whining, more manipulating and more insecurity revealed too. It was ALWAYS there if it comes out now–it was just covered up by me–and now we are working through things as they surface one thing at a time. Through adoption and growing our family–God has made my heart very sensitive to “why is she whining” or “why is he trying to manipulate this situation” and to really evaluate the root of the feeling or action–what truths I need to be speaking into their hearts and how I can help them overcome an insecurity or fear. Honestly, I THINK THEY WOULD BE DOING THIS ANYWAY–and I think I’d blow it off with a mommy statement like “Stop whining OR _____” but instead God is using the addition of our fourth son to change ME even more by making me even more compassionate for the older ones as they adjust and it is actually a blessing to have my heart be more focused on them and “the why’s behind the whines”:).

The hardest transition of all for our family and for any family–I imagine is the youngest child and with our having a 20 month old–it has been hardest to explain to him the changes. I doubt he even knew what was coming without my growing belly–so for mommy to be gone a week and then come back with a baby on her hip–for him, has been a big adjustment. BUT…he, too, is growing and adjusting—and I’m so proud of him. ALTHOUGH there are really hard moments throughout our days every day as he adjust. We have made HUGE efforts to keep his schedule and time with us the same–same bed time routine, same good-night song, same tickle games. Since coming home, we have seen behavior in our 20 month old that we NEVER saw before–and of course that is hard for this momma’s heart. Just today, he decided every time he saw me he would fall down and pitch a fit. At one point, I couldn’t even calm him down–and while I wanted to put him down and walk away every time (which I did a few!) finally, I just picked him up and wouldn’t let him go and reassurred him over and over that he was my baby, he’d always be my baby and I love him so, so, soooooo much. I wish I could say it worked. But instead, I had to call Rich at work and ask him to come home as Isaac Temesgen was woken up and I had two crying babies on my hip as Frank was scaring Isaac. BUT–I wasn’t crying:). I was actually smiling…you have two choices–and amazingly the Lord has been my strength and I’m smiling through it:). And I don’t fret for asking for help when I need it–some days–you just have to say you aren’t superwoman and you need your husband to come home and help:). Overall, Frank is adjusting as well as a 20 month old can—and while he is growing up a bit more than I want him to as he accepts his new role–I am very encouraged and proud of the attitude he most often has.

And then…for me–it is kiddos 24-7…this is the way I was made–and personally, I’d just rather hang with kids all day because they are way easier to talk to than adults most days. I’m just sayin. The hardest part for me is the loss of sleep at night. I’m a night owl–but I’ve been going to bed when Isaac Temesgen goes down as he likes to have his hand on someone when he goes to sleep to make sure they are still there. If I slip away and he wakes up–BAD NEWS…he gets really geared up and there is NO putting him back in the co-sleeper beside our bed. He has to be cradled in my arms in the bed beside me…sharing a pillow…AND with both hands on my cheeks. Try sleeping like that;)…but let me say-it MELTS my heart and there is no other way I would want it right now. This, too, I will miss one day! And thankfully–there’s always coffee in the morning.

There is indeed more hard stuff that comes with a new one–like…our new little man has picked up EVERY bug since being here…and shared it with us as he gives big slobbery kisses. We’ve gotten rid of E-coli, a uninary track infection, chest coughs, runny noses, diarhea…you name it–it’s been at our house the last 4 weeks! BUT…let me say this. ALREADY–WE WOULD DO THIS ALL OVER AGAIN! Every single hard thing seems small in comparison to the JOY that comes with adoption…IT IS WORTH IT!

I don’t know how long it will take our Isaac Temesgen to get enough strength in his arms and legs to crawl or walk. I don’t know what problems he might have in school one day. But what I don’t know of him–I also don’t know about the future of my biological children. Anything could come up at any day–and I can’t live in worry. What I do know is this—that God does something MIRACULOUS in your heart as you follow Him on adoption road. He gives you a strength I have never experienced–and a joy I only imagined…yet what I imagined doesn’t even touch what I feel as I get slobbery kisses all over my face. I hear comments from others that say, “He is so lucky to be in your family” and oh gosh–I feel like we are crazy…so to be in our family…I’m not sure I would call that “lucky”!!! We are the ones that feel so blessed that GOD CHOSE US!!! He chose us to be our son’s parents and He is allowing us to be stripped of our selfishness A BIT (we have a long way to go!) and WE GET to be the ones to help Isaac Temesgen grow, thrive and hopefully one day know and serve the Lord! WHAT A PRIVILEGE!

We get to see our kids sacrifice and be changed.

We get to see our kids fall in love with a brother that looks nothing like him–but one they would do anything for…ALREADY!

We get to understand just A BIT…what God felt for US…as He waited for us to be adopted by HIM…to know Him as our Father–and to understand how His heart aches as He often watches us toss, turn and struggle at night as we don’t fully understand our permanency in being at rest as His child…yet. Oh that we could rest in knowing how much He loves us and is over us–and that He is NOT going any where! He is right here with us…loving us.

We get to hear our new son giggle…his eyebrows raise (he’s such a flirt!)…and cheer him on as he does new things. (I squeal like a little girl and my heart flips when he does something new!)

So often–Richard and I are scratching our heads saying, “Why us?! Why Lord do we GET this? Why do you love us so much?”

I think so many families struggle with following God in adoption as if it’s JUST going to hard. As if THEY are going to have GIVE UP stuff. As if THEY can’t do it. As if it’s about THEIR sacrifice. I have to confess–I probably felt that way at one point. But now, I am so humbled. Thankful. That God would open our eyes and allow us to grow our family this way—essentially choose us!!! He kept me up at night last summer–unable to peacefully sleep (much like now I guess!) only it was because He wanted to GIVE ME MORE! A more blessed life…yes, some times hard…but I venture to say not following Him would be even harder. Come peak on our blog and others like us in 10 years–and I hope it is crazier and the smiles bigger…and I am praying and hoping that there is a dark big guy running circles around us all…and just maybe one more (Rich–are you reading this;)?!)

So yes–today is “good, but hard”…but the hard is really nothing compared to the good. Truly a deeper understanding of the gospel how we count all things loss knowing Him…that nothing compares to the greatness of experiencing a life following Him…oh how blessed we feel—even through the hard…
That bottom and that belly…it sure is going to make crawling a challenge…but I just love EVERY ounce of this baby!

And his KISSES! Oh my…they MELT me!

Slobber and all!

I know this post was all over the place–but I just want to remember the process…each step of the way. I’ll leave you with a funny video of Frank and Isaac playing peek-a-boo. Frank is beginning to see how he can really have fun with his new brother–and it is a JOY to watch…and please excuse the GREEN PEAS all over his mouth during lunch! (you may want to turn off the music up top before clicking play:)

So thankful for new little love…and all the love he gives our hearts. Isaac Temesgen Young—we love you to pieces and pieces and MORE pieces. So thankful the Lord brought us you!

kristi johnson - July 29, 2010 - 10:49 am

amen…love it…see ya soon 🙂 kj

Lara - July 29, 2010 - 10:51 am

Thanks for being so real. It’s good to know what to expect!

Ia - July 29, 2010 - 11:08 am

I just have to look at your blog every day. It blesses me soo much. So today as I am back to work, I have a moment with no students or parents at my door so I took out a snack and started to read. I did not want it to end. I just feel that God is blessing me with what you write about your life. Of course the only bad part is that I can’t help crying as I read… and with that I hope that no one will come to my office when I sit there and cry. They would probably wonder what kind of crazy guidance counselor I am 😉
Please keep writing and posting pictures

Elle J - July 29, 2010 - 11:19 am

Beautiful post!

april - July 29, 2010 - 11:43 am

Oh andrea. so much of this post felt like it was coming from my heart except I can never get it out the way you do so thank you so much for this post! it was beautiful, it was heartfelt and I so agree that yes its hard but the good far outweighs it! Oh the way God is working in and through us through our adoption journeys! All glory to God…

Shannon - July 29, 2010 - 12:22 pm

Your doing great. Having just past the 6 mo mark here- I can say— just you wait! It’s a whole other ball game… a good one! Re F’s tantrums- you’ll get lots of advice / judgements on how to handle- follow your gut. He, as you know, is experienceing a loss too right now. It may be intense- but you’ve been nurturing his soul long enough that he’ll recover- but he’ll continue to push. Stay strong in God- and ask for help- It truely is the only way. Re: Sleep- My experience says- don’t try to slip away. The short term gain is not worth the long term pay. Wait. Wait past the time he’s only touching you with a foot (which may be another month) wait- let him know you aren’t looking for an out. My guy knew when I was gone even in snoring sleep- cause as careful as I’d be returning- he’d move right back into me immediately. he knew I was there- so he knew I was gone. And what followed was weeks of regression sleep anxiety. You are doing so great and seem to have a great support system. keep them in the loop. Weeks 6-10 can be tough again. You may need more consistent help and support. I wish I’d have known then. I keep praying for you and the littles. Wait till you see how fast the gains are in PT! And once they have some strength.. along comes confidence- initiative- and drive! Personality EXPLOSION!! It’s SO MUCH FUN!! (scary and intense.. but FUN!)

Dawn - July 29, 2010 - 2:13 pm

That was an amazing post!!! A great reminder for us all. I love the fact that our oldest LOVE that we get to have new babies- that God has called our whole family to this mission….and they love it! Even those hard days when there is less time for them. Those hard things- worth it, and happy to have them because they remind us that God is doing this – not us 🙂

Becca Harley - July 29, 2010 - 2:50 pm

Thank you again for a beautiful post! I love how your children have your heart – so open and ready to give and love. The pictures are precious – and he is delightfully chubby! I wish that I could squeeze those cheeks!!:)

Megan - July 29, 2010 - 5:20 pm

This is just amazing to read…and to think that someday…I’ll be looking back on OUR journey and get to be amazed at how God wrote our story. Can’t wait =)
LOVE the video of Frank peek-a-booing Isaac! =)

JonesEthiopia - July 29, 2010 - 8:04 pm

Definitely good but hard. My R used to have to sleep with her entire little body touching mine. If I’d move an inch, she’d wake up screaming. Hard? Yes? But I would have it any other way? No! My girls are 15 months apart– sure bigger gap than your boys– but we’re sort of doing the same with our older girl, too, as far as routine goes, etc.

Hey– see you Sat! 🙂

Jenny - July 29, 2010 - 9:07 pm

Beautiful post!! God is doing some amazing things in your family and I LOVE watching it:) Can’t wait until we bring our daughter home!!

Shannon - July 30, 2010 - 1:59 am

Awwww what a great post and such beautiful pictures of you and Isaac. I love the visual of him with both hands on your face. So precious.

Sonya - August 1, 2010 - 3:10 am

andrea–thanks for sharing your heart with us! Oh, how i can’t wait to bring little Lily home! I’ll probably have to go back and read all of this then too. also, i can’t believe in 1 short month how much he has chunked up…i also love that booty and tummy!

Carrie - August 12, 2010 - 3:42 pm

I am not sure how I lost track of your blog, but I found you again and Isaac is so completely adorable! What a blessing. So very very happy he is home.
Prayers are with you and your precious family.
I love when babies are home!