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Reflections on 15 months Post Adoption {the real behind the picture perfect}

Today has been a good day.

A day where our hearts connected.

The “mama’s” spoken were filled with peace and joy. And as we prepare for our last and final home study to bring home another child through the miracle of adoption–I can’t help but reflect on the last 15 months home with our son.

We felt the Lord lay on our hearts a specific age this time–surely, I heard Him wrong I thought. We were set on maintaining birth order with our first adoption–and this one…we felt we should be open. Adoption is always full of unknowns–but the one thing we were sure of, is we needed to be open to one older than our youngest son is now (and still be open to a wee little one too.) Isaac joined our family as a 1 year old–and now he is just a little over two. As we drove through town this evening, I smiled at his sweet little voice in the backseat naming every store or landmark we passed.

“Tra-tor Mama! Look! Look! Tra-tor!” (I’ll be sad when he can say tractor the real way!)

We passed the ice cream store…“Supa-man! Supa-man!” (His favorite ice cream is that of his big brother’s–superman ice cream of course! I called Richard right away to do what any mom would do–to brag on what a GENIUS our son is of course!)

And–I couldn’t help but think of her. What it might be like for a 2, 3 or 4 year old little girl to come into our family. Unable to communicate much at all. It would be easy to think she doesn’t come with a mind full of genius too…but there will be a language barrier for months maybe years…and for a long time so much more than just the grieving process might be bundled up in the heart of our sweet little girl. To hear this just 2 year old little boy naming and identifying and even making requests of his heart as we passed things that were so familiar to him–grabbed my attention and heart in a new way tonight.

I couldn’t help but think about how hard things might be for her at first–and then I started reflecting on the last 15 months home.

Truthfully–it has been amazing. Truthfully–it has been AMAZINGLY hard. Truthfully–it was not what I expected or how I dreamed it would be. Truthfully…I’d do it all over again…and again…and again…to have my precious boy home and in our arms.

While we were in the adoption process for our sweet son, I was so drawn to other moms in the adoption process and who had adopted before as I felt they ALSO understood the HARDness of the waiting. While the waiting WAS/IS hard–I understand differently now why adoption truly is a calling…and this part–while it’s so much harder than the waiting ever was…you see the growth and fruit of love change things. And now–I love more than ever connecting to other moms who understand the hard–who have counted the cost–who have made the sacrifices–and have reaped the reward…bit–by bit…by bit. I have been refined more in the last 15 months than any time in my life. I have needed patience and added empathy and understanding more than any time in my life. I have needed to die to myself over and over…and wait patiently on the Lord to bring healing to my little love’s heart, so we could connect a little deeper as time goes on.

I was just talking to my precious adoption mom friend Martha Cook on the phone yesterday–and we were reminiscing about the “before adoption” in our parenting…where everything seemed like clock work–I felt confident about what to do and what to say. There was a deep rooted connection that I didn’t even realize the depth of until now.

I laughed and told her, “You know–I guess adoption is kinda like falling in love and getting married VS. pre-arranged marriages. When you fall in love–it’s so natural. There’s chemistry. There’s time together…getting to know one another…and lots and lots of gazing into one another’s eyes just like there are from the first newborn days with your biological children. This wee one needs you to nurse him to survive–and because he knows your heartbeat…after all, he’s heard it for 9 months–he is instantly calmed the minute you pick him up. TO THIS DAY–I can even pick up my older children–and gaze in their eyes…and no matter what fit they were pitching, hurt they experienced, boo boo they just gained–THEY MELT. Their little bodies just melt into mine. It’s chemistry…it’s natural…it’s easy.

And then you have pre-arranged marriages in India. You have dreamed. You have waited. You have LONGED. Your big day arrives. You put the veil over your face, you meet your beau at the alter–lift your vail to say, “I do!”…and your groom looks at you…and…SCREAMS! Not exactly the reaction you had hoped for…” YET…my mommy heart has over and over and over and over and OVER again…longed for the only reactions I have ever known and dreamed for as a mommy…so this–“pre-arranged parenthood”…this has been new for me.

Take just one instance for example: Adoption specialists tell you to “look for ways to give your child yes’s instead of no’s–because children from hard places can NOT handle no well”. (FYI: They are right.) I remember attending some of the conferences PRE-adoption and thinking, “Okay–I’ll be creative with yes’s when the answer is really no…it’ll be smooth–and even fun! We’ll have this crazy quick connection because of my creativity with yes’s and we’ll be one big happy:) family! I can totally do that–easy, peasy–lemon squeeze:)! Now–just give me a new number because I am READY!” I had no idea how hard it would be–or how our other little ones watching “yes’s” be given more frequently than “no’s” would raise their eyebrows (heyyyy…i’m gonna try that screaming fit thing to see if i get some yes’s too!)–and how we would have to be more creative and work harder and take lots of deeper breaths each and ever day.

What I’m SO THANKFUL for is–truly, we’ve come SO, SO, SOOO far. Like–you have NO idea how far. 15 months later–when my sweet boy is unsure of someone, he will lean his head into me while I’m holding him…with his hand wrapped about my neck (swoon!). We have built trust. He has started to ask me for things he needs. (He would go get it before himself–and do WHATEVER to get it HOWEVER LONG it took…no backing down–no matter what!) He is starting to make the choice to WANT to be loved–affection some times STILL makes him want to push you away and run…BUT when I do put him down–he watches me love on the other children and I reach for him again…and he comes to me…to receive my love. HUGE–HUGE–HUGE growth.

There are things that are still so hard. Going out in public–especially the grocery store or restaurants–are triggers for a really bad tantrum like you’ve never seen. We do our best to avoid those places when possible, but there are times when I must go–and I get my apologies ready for anyone we’ll be close by at restaurants OR pass in the grocery store. When it is sensed we need him to be cooperative (sit in a cart, sit at the table, etc) then–hold on to your horses and get ready for a wild ride! Seriously–we try to avoid those–but every couple of weeks I’ll try again…OR Rico Suave will be out of town and the grocery store isn’t a choice. And then…the pantry or anything dealing with food…OKAY–so we have a few triggers to learn to work through BUT…we are getting there. And as long as the restaurants are kid-friendly–and he sees that we don’t jump at the sound of a fussy one–then he transitions and acts just as sweet as ever…how he does the most part at home.

You might be reading this…and if you haven’t adopted…either none of this makes a lot of sense OR you are wondering, “Sooo–if it’s so hard, why are you adopting again?” Because. Because FIRST the Lord put adoption on our hearts AGAIN–and this is what He called us to. He always equips who He calls. We have felt His hand and direction and love SO much of our being home. SO thankful. And so thankful for the deep love He has give us for our child…and the deep love that is growing in our child for us. Praise be to Him!

Because SECOND, we want a big family–and while I could have more biologically and follow in the Duggars footsteps…we just feel called to grow our big family through adoption. There are millions of orphans who are already on this earth that need homes–so it just makes sense to grow in this way.

BECAUSE THIRD, we have seen what adoption does in the heart of a boy who in just a short 15 months…to go from being filled with fear and sickness TO a boy filled with JOY, LOVE, CONFIDENCE, PEACE, KINDNESS, GOODNESS…(and we’re still working on the patience and self-control…BUT we are getting there!) Although we may have years before we connect as deeply as my mommy heart longs to (OR–I am also realizing MY ways are not always HIS ways–HIS ways are higher…but for little ole me–some times they don’t make sense. Our journey may not be be the fruition of all of my earthly dreams–although that is what I HOPE for! But what I long for even more than that–is for HIS WILL to play out in our lives. We KNOW He called us…we KNOW He will continue to equip us…and we KNOW God is all over the stories of each of our children. We are humbled He would call us to love each of them through His love–no matter what we are given back. HE IS ENOUGH.) If I didn’t have the chemistry of biological children–seeing what each of them do when I gaze in their eyes–how deep the connection is…if I didn’t know that, I would unknowingly think we were connecting just like every mother and son in the world does. But I will not give up washing my love over my child over and over–and for now the moments of connections are bits of hope that more connection and healing happens each and every day.

Each day is a new day. I pray about the hard things as they happen–and I am really learning to carry the verse, “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” (Matthew 6:34). I can’t worry about what tomorrow or 10 years from now might look like. And I certainly can’t carry what happened today into tomorrow either. I remember in the first months home, I thought the rocking/bonding time would be similar to what I had known as mommy. But now rocking time was filled more with my little one hitting mommy in the face–which really wasn’t fun for mommy. I’m sure there were nights it was tempting to carry the night before into the next night. What I mean, I’m sure I was tempted to skip the rocking and singing so I could also skip the hitting–because he really didn’t want rocking and singing anyway. BUT–night after night…for 15 months now…I have rocked and sung. I realize he didn’t know how to be loved by me–and it made him very uncomfortable. So he did the only thing he knew how to do and reacted–because fear filled his little heart. And now…when I sit down in the rocker each night I ask him…

“What does mama’s baby want to hear tonight?”

In oh so sweet, soft raspy voice he gazes in my eyes and says,“Jesus.”

And I think, “Me too.” How I need to always hear Him…and trust Him.

I am overwhelmed at God’s faithfulness to me. How I have realized this year really how imperfect I am–and how much I need Him and His grace daily to teach me how to love deeply and unselfishly. He adopted us as son’s and daughter’s…and many of us came to Him before realizing REALLY how deeply His dying love was for us. We didn’t know HOW to truly accept His love other than telling Him, “I accept you” but often our actions said a completely different thing. Adoption–truly is one of the most beautiful pictures of our relationship with Him. No matter the fits we pitch…no matter how many times we refuse His way or His love…He never gives up on us–and He shows us MORE love. Wrapped up in realizations of His great love I almost forgot my son’s request as he now can’t wait for me to sing…

“Mama. Jesus! Jesus mama!”

And then I sing him Jesus Loves You

“Gen mama. Jesus gen.” And this goes on over and over. Much like I had dreamed. Nights are not always like this…and restaurants and grocery visits are far from this–but we are tearing away layers as the days go by. And on nights like these–I rock for what seems forever…and relish in the answered prayers and His faithfulness.

I change the version a bit and sing Jesus Loves Me this time. He looks in my eyes…and I have to skip a few words as I hold back tears. So long I have longed for this child to see my love–and feel it. GOD FEELS THIS WAY ABOUT ME!!!!!!! I’m overwhelmed. THIS is what I imagined during the wait…I just didn’t have any idea what it would cost to get here. And the cost–is SO, SO worth it. So worth it…that we are bringing home another precious child to love. And isn’t that what He says of US? The cost–it was so, SO worth it to Him. It was so great…but He thought YOU were worth it.

Please say a prayer for us as we have our last home study visit this week. Pray that the Lord is completely over the timing of the rest of the process for us and His hand of protection would be over our family as we step out to follow Jesus again…and especially for our little girl–that He will keep her safe in His hands while she waits on her family to come bring her home.



Elle J - October 30, 2011 - 10:21 am

Beautifully written, Andrea. xo

Ashley - October 30, 2011 - 10:44 am

Thank you, Andrea =)

missy - October 30, 2011 - 11:13 am

home from church today with sickness, but still worshiping as i read a post like this. just before i read this, i was praying about what the lord has for our future re:adopting again. i was telling him that i just don’t know if i can do it. i fall so short day after day in the “easy” everyday ways i am called to die to myself. but reading your words, i was reminded that is is NOT about me. if he calls, he WILL equip…even this hopelessly selfish and impatient little momma.

thanks for sharing your life and heart with us. it’s so beautiful. can’t believe i get to meet you in january!!! please let me know if there is anything you need.

Billie Hobbs - October 30, 2011 - 11:55 am

While I sit GLUED to your words and read them over and over, I am so in awe of your faith, love, patience, kindness and gentleness, Andrea. You are truly in His presence during these times and He holds your hand. I pray that He continues to hold your hand as you bring that precious little girl to your loving arms. God bless you today and always and God bless you, special little girl, as you wait for your mommy. Love you….

Jeunesse Nageotte - October 30, 2011 - 2:59 pm

You have practically spoken my heart in words (way better than I would get it down on paper). It is hard, but so very beautiful, so amazing the love for us as children of God. We too are in the process the second time, and you said why so well. It has been hard and amazing…and He has called us again. We have learned from mistakes, grown immeasurably in our understanding, and learned to love unconditionally in a way we never knew existed. And to think it is only a glimpse of the love our Father has for us! I will think of your family and pray for you.

Allie - October 30, 2011 - 3:00 pm

I love the arranged marriage analogy–it’s right on! 🙂

april - October 30, 2011 - 5:45 pm

Loved this. so beautiful, especially about our faithful God. Oh how I cannot wait to start our second adoption!

Dawn Wright - October 30, 2011 - 8:16 pm

Andrea- you have no idea…….oh my heart. I totally get it completely!! Sometimes I don’t put it into words as well. But it is there. So why adopt again? Easy…’s what we are called to do. We aren’t called to get comfortable. Although that would be great…..actually it wouldn’t because even through all the trials, the hard bits, I wouldn’t have grown nearly as much as I have…..and I wouldn’t get to see the growth in my kiddos- every tiny step!!!!!

We too are adopting again 🙂 Special needs domestically!!! WE ARE BEYOND EXCITED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Brandi - October 30, 2011 - 9:05 pm

Oh you could have just written about the last 7 months with our son! We sit back now and just watch him and take in all of the little things. Instead of pushing away and screaming, he brings us books to read. Instead of crying, we hear “mee mee”. We feel so incredibly honored and blessed to be this sweet guy’s parents!

rebekah - October 31, 2011 - 8:05 am

Beautifully written, Andrea!!! Thank you for sharing with such truth and grace.

Marci - October 31, 2011 - 12:18 pm

How thoughtfilled ~ So, helpful,honest and dear. My promise to you and you family is I keep you in my prayers daily. You are building the Kingdom of God one child at a time and sharing your walk to encourage others. Blessings and Pax,m

Tiffany - October 31, 2011 - 4:36 pm

Yes! Can I “like” and say yes to ALL of this?1? So, so VERY hard and so, so VERY different…still wonderful and we are still doing it again too…for all of the very same reasons. Oh boy and the tantrums…Caleb stills has them too and they are such a challenge when out and about…although they have gotten better…there has been progress. I longed for him to look at me…to give me that feedback…I ached for it. It was many long months – but what I realized is that it makes it even sweeter…to see how far he has come – how much he has healed. Really…all of what you said abut Isaac could be Caleb…they sound so similar. Now at night after stories, Caleb will say, “Cuddle,”…and he wants to just sit in my lap and rock before he goes to sleep. Such an amazing and difficult journey and in it, God has shown me so much about myself and also his love for me…His adopted child…

Nikki - November 2, 2011 - 2:55 pm

I love your heart, Andrea. Thank you.