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You’d really have to be a fly on our wall…

…to believe what happens in a day. This one I have to document for my own memory. Because it was absolutely crazy. A roller coaster of crazy, sweet, awful and wonderful–all wrapped up in one. My Created for Care retreat planning momma friends got to see some of our crazy tonight. At some moments they were literally jaw-dropped in disbelief (it really is like nothing you can imagine–you’d HAVE to be a fly on our wall) but after my littles went to bed they both understood how I could actually come up with good, sweet parts to write about and remember.

Before I go further–let me say this. 1, 3 and 5 year old orphans–oh my…they can be easy to love. I brought home a little guy from orphan to son who was just turning 1–he slapped me as I rocked him each night–but he was still so lovable. I saw his pain and could understand the trauma his little heart had endured. Patience and understanding wasn’t always easy–but truly…it didn’t come close to this. Because with this–you multiply 15 more years of hurt, trauma, loss…15 years of being told you are worthless…you have no one. And at some point–it becomes easier to LIVE INTO being rejected–to go ahead and as quickly as you can disappoint someone on purpose so you don’t have to fear rejection again…and again…and again. I’ll be honest–I thought I knew what I was getting into with hosting a 15 year old, but now I admit I’m clueless–and this is by far the hardest thing I have ever done. Some may have easier experiences, but every child has different layers–and some allow themselves to be loved.

Our day started…okay. I signed my older two bugs up for camp this week AND I got a babysitter today to stay with the babes so I could focus on Princess T. She needs a lot of attention, so after we dropped the big kids off and my sitter whisked the babes away–I watched T ride her bike. She was still upset about yesterday when we had to set some new family rules (nothing big–you know…just practical things–like no more Spanish soap operas or staying up until 1am…both of those I can’t roll with). Rico Suave and I really are the most laid back couple in America–but not to our princess…we are a bit unreasonable;).

By 9am we had already put in our FIRST call for translation help to my dear friend Susan Hillis. Susan came to the rescue–and Princess T also told her to tell me she wanted me to buy her more Russian books. She has 3 that she hasn’t read yet–but she wants more. After we hung up, I headed to “google translate” to tell her I would buy her another book when she finished the Russian translation of “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe”. She said she like it “so-so”…SO I took some time to type in and explain to her how to make the book more exciting…by recognizing who each of the characters represented as she read. Aslan being Jesus, the children each representing different type of people here…that seemed to spark her eye a bit. Hoping…

I thought I’d take her on a fun trip to the store because she loves the store–but before going we hit “google translate” so there would be no surprises. She doesn’t do well at all with “no”. It can cause a day of pouting. So–I told her before we left she could choose 3 things at Trader Joes while we shopped. She chose apples, grapes and clementines. She got upset on the pasta aisle so I had to call the Russian translator to help us. Our problem there was…Trader Joes doesn’t carry Ramen noodles. (You know Ramen noodles are this health momma’s worst nightmare–but I want to keep calm and carry on–so bring them on.) I had to get the translator to explain to her when we were done at Trader Joe’s we could go to another store to get the ones she wanted. Her pouting and fit quickly changed to humming and singing. If she gets her way she hums and sings–if she doesn’t…there’s immediate pouting and stink eyes. And it’s amazing how fast it turns…like a roller coaster of emotion that I’ve never experienced. Truly a tender heart…that is the most fragile thing I’ve ever had the opportunity to influence. The real trick is when the children are around. They are confused by the pouts and the fits and the manipulation…and they don’t understand the hurt and pain behind it all. Everyone at our house now has new behaviors that we are having to address and work through…and as difficult as it is I know and believe that it will be…it just has to be…worth it.

We hoped in the car after Trader Joes and made a special trip just to Publix for the noodles. No thank yous–just humming…full of joy. I am learning to love without expectation of anything returned. To pour in to someone too hurt to care. To give and give and give some more where entitlement is. And I wish it was easy–but if you saw deep in my heart…you would see my constant struggle to want to parent the way I parent my others–but I can’t. Because they have a past of constant nurture–and if I put my foot down…her guard would stay up and our summer would be spent being ignored, getting huffed at and getting the stink eye.

The orphan can be hard to love. The 1, 3 and 5 year old orphan for some reason is easier to overlook their tantrums because they seem more age appropriate. But the 10, 15 or even 35 year old orphan…we unrealistically expect something more out of yet they come with many more layers of pain and heartache. For many they have an emotional age of when they last experienced security and love–yet when they act like a 3 year old and they are 30 we forget to look deeper and give them what they really need the most.

This is harder than I thought.

After Publix, we came home to unload the groceries and fix lunches. I’m gluten free, and I totally let it go last week that the stinker has found favor with all my special gluten-free breads and stuff (you KNOW the real stuff is better and gluten free is so expensive). I selfishly thought about hiding my gluten-free stuff and then I thought I should just get over it–but then I decided to call the translator and get her to explain that I had to eat gluten free…and oh my–that just got complicated. It’s the LITTLE things that are frustrating…and I know it seems silly but if you have special allergy or diet restrictions and you are caring for 5 kids–having to go to BACK to the special health store to get more of something every day that used to last 2 weeks can make you crazy. I had the great idea I’d explain to the Russian translator what gluten was–and I think it was confusing…and I am choosing my silly little battles. It’s real life over here people…I should have just hid the bread;). The real crazy thing is how crazy my life was BEFORE–and now I spent 30 minute of my day having someone translate about bread.

After THAT–I either broke out in hives from added stress or because I stuffed my face with regular crackers;)…so I had to explain on “google translate” that we needed to go to the allergist and get shots. THAT was interesting. I tried to explain I had Lyme disease all last year and my immune system got shot and I developed lots of different allergies. She jumped 2 feet away from me as she was reading over my shoulder:) HA! I think she thought I might be contagious. So we headed just the two of us for my shots and she stood there wide-eyed as the nurse gave me shots in both arms. I thought just maybe that would give her a little compassion toward me too. Or…maybe not;). Expect nothing–just love…and more love. We had to sit and wait 30 minutes for the nurse to check my arms before leaving–so I decided to make her day and call Papa (my dad). She adores him! She went from frown to smiles again—and after I was cleared we scooted to pick up the older two at their camps.

As SOON as we got home, she asked to go swimming. I said it’d have to wait–so back to pouting the story goes. I explained over my side kick “google translate” (we have to type EVERYTHING and then translate it) that we needed to first cook meals for two families that were coming up for dinner–they are thinking about selling their house and moving to Africa to serve the children there–and we would be going to a friend’s house for dinner. I shared how we can’t go to museums and the pool EVERY day–and that’s not really how we live. We must serve others FIRST–and then we come second. Not only was this impossible to understand–it was frustrating. It’s the book “When Helping Hurts”…and as much as I want to pour, pour, pour…I can’t teach my princess that we get whatever we want, whenever we want and that kids in America get Disney every day. It was such a neat moment because Frank, my 3 year old, was visibly in front of us doing his chore–and I pointed out how Frank must do chores to serve our family and that we all have to work together as different body parts to work well. But if you grow up in an orphanage–you have had to fight for every single thing you have ever gotten…and thinking of others is so out of your realm of thinking…so much so–it was frustrating. I still coaxed the princess to help me cook–and I taught her some rules of cooking (like when you stick your finger in the brownie batter and lick it–you must always wash your hands before cooking anymore;).

We had some sweet cooking bonding going on…until she looked at the clock and realized we might not get to swim today. I made a phone call–and then told her the friend’s house we were taking the meals to and eating with has a pool…so the humming starting and she ran up stairs and put on her swim suit…happy! Roller coaster ride from moment to moment. Rico Suave came home early, and we all loaded up–but I asked Rich to ride separately just in case a break down happened…thankful we did that. We lasted not quite an hour at their house–so while 3 other couples enjoyed food and fellowship–Princess T and I had to leave early. They were swimming in the pool and Frankie baby…being a 3 year old tends to splash when he swims. I was watching from above and she didn’t realize it and she was drilling him with a water gun so I leaned over and asked her to stop. I went back in to check on Isaac and asked Rich to watch them for a bit. When Rich got there Parker and Frank were getting drilled with a water gun in their eyes–something we don’t do–so Richard asked our princess to stop…and from there everything went south. We had to call the translator and there were lots and lots and lots of tears. Rico stayed with the kids and friends–momma was super bummed because they were friends who had driven all the way from Tuscaloosa to visit–but momma bird needed to take little bird T home and let her unwind. We called another translator friend to walk us through everything–and believe it or not afterwards we had a very powerful talk over “google translate”…

No matter how ridiculous the whole thing felt or seemed it was real to her–and my kids deserved to get water guns in their eyes. I had to really step back from just being a momma bird to them and also embrace being a momma bird to her…and not even say I saw everything…but step back and listen…and love. We talked about what it meant to be a child. And then what it meant to act like a child. We talked about what it meant to be a child of God. And what it meant to act like a child of God. Sure–maybe my littlest birds splashed but some times that happens in a pool…especially with little ones. Our hearts may want to do something back to them–and it might be fun to watch them scream–because reactions from little ones are some times unique–but is it LOVE? We talked about being a lady and about being a leader…and more about how much we absolutely adore and love this new little bird…that really isn’t so little. I told her she was here for a purpose. How much the Lord loved her. And how He had an amazing plan for her life. I made her look in my eyes and I told her she was loved over and over and over…until she said it back. (Something we do every day a million times a day). All the while—my dear friends watching…the first real flies on our wall…the drama of the translation over the phone about a 3 year old splashing…feet stomping and pouting…our pecking away as fast as fingers can go on google translate. And then…the I love you’s. Then to top it off–my sweet little Princess T walked in the kitchen and grabbed 3 Clementines…the very thing she picked out at the store that was to be ALL HERS…and she walked over and gave one to me and each of my friends.

She was loving.

She was serving.

She was putting others first.

And momma bird was proud.

And momma bird looked at her friends and said, “I told ya. By the end of every day I love her to pieces. Every single bit of this…it’s gonna all be worth it.”

A million words typed on google translate today. A total of 4 translators helping us out just today…some more than once (thank you Susan, Masha, Kristina, Tetiana!). 20 fits of pouting. Followed by make-ups with humming. And 3 clementines. Hardest thing momma bird has ever done–but totally believe in my heart it is forever going to be worth it.

Natalie T - July 10, 2012 - 3:17 am

I understand. I am so grateful that you saw that last part of your day come together for Gods good. Its so hard to see the forest for the trees with our trauma kids. Its also so hard to focus on the trauma when our little’s are being hurt. Bringing home our now 10 year old then 8 was the hardest thing we have ever done. All the things you mention we had to partake in this daily.
It really changed my outlook on adoption because Ruby was adopted at 3 months. It was lovely it was beautiful and it was easy. 8 year old was super hard. We have come BIG strides two years later. BIG. However there still are reminders daily of her trauma. Gods redeeming love is in my face every day too.
Praying for you and Rico while you love this girl and show her the love of Christ and while you learn another piece of the beautiful wonder our Father is.

April - July 10, 2012 - 9:13 am

Wow!! Bless your heart(for real!!) praying!

Jessica - July 10, 2012 - 3:24 pm

It is going to be worth it! Thanks again for so honestly sharing the ups and downs of older child adoption. So many are afraid to take the plunge–and it is definitely scary–but oh so worth it.


Laura - July 10, 2012 - 5:42 pm

Amazing story. My prayers are with you all. Thanks for sharing.

Jenny - July 10, 2012 - 10:53 pm

Oh Andrea, this all sounds so hard yet, like you keep saying, worth it.

I cannot imagine how you get through all of these moments each and every day with such grace and love. I know you are being held close by our Heavenly Father as you walk this difficult path He has asked you to take. He will be saying to you one day, “well done, my good and faithful servant and precious daughter.”

I am praying for you girl and for T and your littles. Praying for the Holy Spirit to fill all of your hearts over and over again this summer.

Thank you for sharing!!