Wednesday, December 31, 2014

A final update for 2014 (in which we celebrate Tavin's birthday)

Apparently I'm a terrible blogger. But the time I sit down and actually post, I've composed at least a dozen posts dozens of times in my head, which unfortunately does you no good. So here I am squeezing in one last post for 2014, a year which proved one of our most challenging and most rewarding. Funny how that usually works.

December was a awesome month. Like really so good! It started with Tavin's birthday. Now if you've adopted you will know that celebrating your adopted child's birthday, if they've come from a hurt place, could go very badly wrong. Over stimulation is a good probability, the whole new experience could be scary, as your child doesn't know what to expect or what's happening or it could drum up some memory seared into the subcounsience that you have no knowledge of. So to be honest I was pretty nervous about the day. That probably sounds crazy unless you've been there. 

We gave him our gifts in the morning, so he would know a little what to expect in the evening, and so he wouldn't have as many gifts to open later in case it was overwhelming. His brothers were happy to help him rip the paper.

After that the day started off..terrible. Like bad. Tavin was resistant all morning to interaction, and one of his brothers who will remain un-named woke up on the whiny side of the bed big time. All morning I contemplated canceling his small party I had planned just for family but seeing as I come from a large family "small" really means over a dozen people so....well, not so small. By lunch I had been almost in tears more than once, and may have had a meltdown when the hubs came home before dinner. I grieved the birthdays he hadn't celebrated, and imagine his first lonely days after birth. Happy birthday right?

But nap time was a reset for Tavin and his brother. At dinner he ate spaghetti like a champ. 

The evening was awesome. He relished in the happy birthday singing, loved blowing the candles out and figured out how to rip the paper mid way through gifts. He would have been happy with any one of his gifts, stopping to look at books till we promoted him to open more. He was relaxed, sweet, engaged the whole time, and insisted on shaking everyone's hands and hugging them when they left. He's been singing his version of happy birthday ever since and blowing out an imaginary candle afterwards.

Christmas was fantastic. Two moments stand out, one was Christmas Eve as we sang carols with candles lit at my parents house, a Christmas Eve tradition from when I was young. Tavin sat tucked under my arm, sing-songing along and swaying to the music, wanting to blow out the candles and sing happy birthday. I choked up knowing the alternative his life would have been. One of THOSE moments.

The other was Christmas morning. We (and by we I mean Steve) knocked off a set of stairs that flip over to be a boat/rocker for Tavin. He loves stairs and needs sensory input as he lacks mobility in general and various kinds of input as a result of orphanage life, which the rocking will be great for. He sat on the stairs sucking a sucker (which he only recently learned how to do, his under developed mouth muscles finally getting strong enough) playing with a little toy he had opened, happy, care free, relaxed. And the image of him laying in his orphanage crib, eyes blank, where he spent too much time, was a stark contrast. His little room mates faces were again before me, and the reality that his Christmas would have been what theirs still is was overwhelming. 

We are blessed with three amazing boys. Tucker and maddox waited patiently as they took turns opening gifts, "thank you mommy and daddy!", relishing in the day, enjoying giving the gifts they chose for each other and us, and the gifts they opened.

(Home made donuts are a Christmas tradition)

It was the best kind of day. A day to celebrate the ultimate redemption, our adoption as sons and daughters into Jesus' family, made possible by the most upside down swap ever as he took our punishment and offers us His righteousness in exchange. 

Merry Christmas and happy new year!

Monday, October 13, 2014

Happy 6 months home!

Six months ago today we walked out of an orphanage in Ukraine with our son. OUR son. It felt so surreal. Like "really? We get to leave with him?" Although really how much more paperwork could we have done?!?

It feels crazy that it's been six months, HALF A YEAR! How can that be? Six months really is a good place. So different than 1 month home, or two months home. Better than 5 months home. He's really settled in. We've settled in. We've adapted, learned each other, built trust. Worked on attachment. And it's gotten easier, it feels more natural, it comes from a real place now. 

I know some are more experienced from previously fostering, or some feel an attachment from the very the beginning. I gotta be honest, we read, we talked to other adoptive parents, we talked, we prepared mentally, we did all the things. But nothing is the same as actually doing it, actually bringing your child home who hasn't been your child for the first years of their life. And the doing can feel really different than the theory of doing. We had a honeymoon period for 10 days, then it was craziness and screaming and raging and not eating, and raging about eating, and hitting and head butting and crazy eyed craziness. And of course if I could have seen into the future and known that at 3 months home it would drastically start to improve, 3 months really isn't that big a deal in the grand scheme of things, but in the moment you don't know how long the crazy will last, and what if it lasts forever? What if it never feels natural, what if what if what if....and you dig deep and come up short and drink coffee and and go out for a girls night sometimes, and get up in the morning and just try to take one day at a time because to think of more than one day is too much. You might fall exhausted onto the sofa at night wishing for a good cry which really is too much effort to bother so you go to bed instead. And the rejection you thought wouldn't bother you actually does. And the screaming you thought wouldn't be such a big deal is, and you just choose to believe that it will get better because that's what everyone says.

And guess what? It did. And we found our sweet boy again, and we love him. He's our son, and at 6 months home it feels real to say that. And that's pretty darn good. 

So if you're at the beginning of it, just arriving home, I can now join the ranks that can tell you "hang in there, just survive, just do the loving things you need to do, and eventually you'll catch up with the actions and it will feel real." 

6 months home is a good place to be. To everyone who has supported us along the way, here's a special thank you today!! We couldn't have done it alone. 

We love you Tavin!