Saturday, October 31, 2009

October Update- It's Official

Today's update for my family and friends includes:
  • Court & Travel info
  • I Wonder
  • Know one Told me
  • Hot Links and Photos
  • List of Stuff for Travel

Most of you are now aware that it is "officially official".  The Boy and I have passed and been approved in Ethiopian court. The Ministry of Women's affairs is right now, issuing his birth certificate, with me listed as parent. (collective aawwww)  As soon as his birth certificate is in hand- the last 'official' business belongs in the hands of the US Gov't (Embassy in Addis Ababa).  Specifically an immigrant visa will be applied for and issued. The 'applied' for part is likely happening now-- the 'issued' part will happen when I travel to bring him here.  Still expect to travel before end of year.

My brother, Ryan is definitely joining me on the trip!  THANKS RY!!  He'll be, understandably, not staying at the agency guest house. Consider the possibility of: 10 families, with scared kids, vomiting, screaming at these alien-ish white people who keep trying to squeeze them.... Sound like peace and quiet?   He will still be able to participate in all the scheduled 'activities'.  (edited later: he did stay. and was wonderful!)

Lately, I've been feeling .. URGENT.  Urgency permeates everywhere.  Urgent, in packing and getting ready to have a little one living in my house. Urgent, at work, preparing to be out for considerable amount of time. It will die down.. I should say... I will settle down... soon. I just need to get a couple key things checked off and I'll feel much better.

Yes this is great!  This is exciting!  

But I must admit this writing this now is difficult for a couple reasons- My brain is on overdrive. Being reflective- eloquent- is appearing on my screen as short, quick- mechanical. I have 100 lists of things going on and everything looks like one more line item to be 'checked off'.  

Overdrive!!  There is so much to prepare for. So much I'm still learning- relearning-  I'm doing the 'right' thing and preparing for the worst- while expecting the best. (note: 'the worst' isn't the right term- maybe "preparing for that which would be require the most preparation'... but you are adults and get my point) 

As exciting as this time is: preparing for ALL THE POSSIBILITIES of what my son will need/react to is ... DAUNTING and INTIMIDATING and HEAVY and SCARY AS HELL!!  These last couple weeks, being buried in the preparation for the hard stuff- it's hard to write to you about the exciting stuff. But - we are all aware that there is hard stuff. He comes from - a hard place - he's lost more than anyone I've ever known in my life - he'll lose more - this is not his choice - this, coming to America, may cause more trauma.. All I can do is prepare, to get him and myself through it - stronger - better - tighter - happy - loving - joyful on the other side.

A fellow adopting mom, reminded me lately: that all the reading and studying we've done simply tells us love, patience, prayer, humility and professional help are the keys we need.  Thanks Staci! PROFESSIONAL HELP! Housekeepers, cleaners, babysitters- (YES YES YES) Therapists (don't forget to keep and have your own!), OT, PT, Speech/Language, a REEALLY good and invested and listening Pediatrician, pay your friends if you need to but keep in touch!!!

 I wonder... (edited April 2012)
  • will he understand what is happening? No. He didn't really. He knew "something"
  • will he be scared? Yes. He seemed happy. Looking back at photos, I know he was scared. And on 'show'
  • does he feel alone or does he know what love feels like? He was ready to leave the orphanage. but... there are many questions that will never have answers
  • is he ready to be a family of two? More than two years later, I can say yes. It's been a good, long two years.
  • how many times has he thought he was home, safe, before...? may never know. As I hear him laugh to curi0s Ge0rge now, I still struggle with the never really knowing.
  • what does his laugh sound like? beautiful. heartwarming. and now... most often real.
  • how long till he lets me rock him to sleep?Approx. 2 years
  • will he play with my fingers or my hair as he drifts off to sleep? No. Fat rolls, moles and breasts! Good Lord.... whodathunk
  • how long till he rejects me? 4-6 weeks. It went downhill from there. Down to foundation and then we built us back up together.
  • how long will the honeymoon phase last? I'm mostly fuzzy about the entire first 6-9 months.
  • will he be ready to settle in to being in a family? Two years later, I can say with certainty. NOW, yes. Then... he had no idea what was going along and just along for the ride.
  • is he waiting for me? yes. he was.
  • how will he learn what a good father- good son- good husband- good partner- good boyfriend- good man, acts like? Treats those he loves? I still do not have good answers for this. But the urgency is beating like a drum.
  • will I learn to take good enough care of him, his hair, his skin? yes. so far.
  • how will I deal with others when they don't think I do? I still don't know.
  • will he recognize me? Not really. But there is a story to this.
  • will he be happy to see me? Scared frozen. But warmed up quickly and is still reminding me of leaving and not coming back.
  • do the horrors of true starvation haunt him? YES. He doesn't have the textbook 'food issues' it's all much deeper as part of himself and the traumatic history.
  • will I ever "GET" how a 2 year old fights for his life? No. I still ache and sob imagining. But I still don't get it.
  • how long till I adjust to having a another human in my house? Still learning.
  • how long till he does the dishes on his own?   2 weeks!!

No one told me-
In lieu of writing any more: cause I'm clearly not doing much education right now...more.. rambling : I'm going to share some things from others families who have been there and done that. Below is some posts from other families entitled "Things no one ever told me" or "Things I wish I knew before being touched/ crushed/ bowled over, by adoption"  These are actual responses I've copied and pasted: 
  • No one told me how hard Russ and I would work to find new ways of parenting our children when the things that had worked so well with our first seven were not only unsuccessful, but detrimental.
  • No one ever told me that I might not love him right away. I had read about attachment on the child's part - but never that MY attachment may not be instant.
  • Likewise, no one told me how to deal with anxiety, night-terrors, pin worms, Guardia, ring worm, mollescum,  etc. And that was just the first week he was home. Learning those ropes on my own was the hardest thing I ever had to do.
  • And no one told me how cute little boys look in their pajamas.
  • No one told me that my daughter would look at me after 3.5 years of being home and say "I can't believe you love me" or that even today (after almost 4 years) she still shrinks away when I go to hug her.
  • I did not know that the echoes of the boys, the same age as my boys, surrounding the van and begging for food- would haunt me each time I opened the refrigerator or throw something away.
  • I wish I had an inkling as to how instantly bonded I would become to other adoptive parents. There's a level of connection that can't be described, only experienced.
  • that for adopted kids, talking about it helps, but nothing "cures" adoption loss.
  • that children are not "meant to be" adopted, they do not grow in the "wrong tummy" as a way-station to adoptive parents' homes. My loving God did not want my children's birth parents or my children to suffer pain and loss just so I could be a mommy.
  • that what you feel when you look at a referral picture isn't love, that love grows as your child becomes a real person to you, not an abstract idea, and that love means accepting unconditionally all parts of your child -- their birth parents, their life before you met, their loss, their pain, their anger, their joy.
  • that one day I would wonder, when people ask me how many children I have, I proudly say, "Two!!", but when people ask their birth parent this, will she pause as a dagger stabs her heart, unsure how to respond?
  • As the white one, I'll never really understand what it's like to be a transracial adoptee. Never.
  • That it is a tight-rope walk trying to decide what is age appropriate behavior and what is the result of early life experiences of which I know nothing about.
  • I wish I had known as a child, with an internationally adopted sister, that race does matter.  It's part of how you view the world & how the world views you & to ignore that is damaging to everyone.
  • No one told me that I would feel stretched so far, and yet know I was doing just what God had called me to do.
  • No one told me that there were adult adoptees that were very angry (some for very valid reasons) and that they would make me question everything I am doing- to make sure my kids grow up happy and healthy
  • No one told me that after 30 months - I would get my first spontaneous hug without being asked and then sit in my chair and cry.
  • No one told me that the parenting techniques I had used successfully with our first four children wouldn't work well with adopted kids. Sometimes these techniques that seemed to shape our first four kids well would be damaging for our adopted kids.
  • No one told me I would cry the first time I heard mama and knew it meant me, got my first real kiss or watched them reach for me because it was me they truly wanted and not who they knew
  • Race does matter, it just does. It's a part of identity and soul and how we all view the world.
  • I didn't really think I'd have to change my parenting style but adoption parenting is very different from parenting my bio sons.
  • I didn't think I would have to deal with attachment issues in a child adopted at a very young age.
  • I didn't know I would feel so annoyed every time someone tells me how wonderful I am for adopting or how lucky my daughter is.  I'm selfish & she lost her birth family & culture.  What's lucky about that?
  • I didn't know how thankful I would be for my friends who are parents through adoption & all the wisdom they have shared with me.
  • I did not know how deeply and across the board visiting Ethiopia would change every aspect of my life
  • I did not know how hard the hard days would be
  • I did not know how deep the demons of starvation run through children's veins
  • I did not know how frustrated I could become
  • I did not know that watching Morgan Yisak fight off love and protection would remind me of what I do to God on a regular basis

Sorry this update feels a little 'heavy'. It's just how I am these days- I'm so focused on the urgency and getting things done I complete forgot this is Halloween..   But the fog is already starting to lift.   As I get a few more things checked off the list- I'll soon venture out of the 'worst case scenario' area and get ready to pick him up.  Things could go very smoothly. He could be waiting and ready to attach. Excited to get on a place. Have no food / hunger issues. It is just as likely that he will be happy and ready for a family and soon he'll be here. YAY!


Staci said...

Shan, this is a great post. We are so happy that travel is coming soon. You are so close! I look forward to going to all the links when I have a moment sans kids. From what I've read from our collective of amazing blog adoptive families I have determined that love, prayer, and the humility to ask for professional help when needed are the keys to working through the demons and the loss. You are a wonderful Mommy already. Even if all the "worst" comes to be, you have a network of support from folks who will love you and Teg.

Liz said...

Heavy is okay. Frankly, I worry about the people who don't get (or don't care about) the heavy stuff.

Hang in there and keep checking things off those lists!