I kind of feel strange even writing this, but for those who are adopting, maybe you will get something out of it. Maybe you won't feel so alone if you are feeling some of the same things that I'm feeling right now. I'm going to just be honest!
I've got three kids in my home. A 14 year old, a 9 (almost 10) year old and a 4 year old. Life is about to change..... BIG TIME! Soon I will have a 14 year old, a 10 year old, a 9 year old, a 6 year old, a 4 year old and a 4 year old. That's a HUGE change.
I've been looking forward to this time for so long. It seems like forever. We are getting close. The immigration paperwork is complete. The kids' files have been reviewed and their orphan status conforms to US Law. We are waiting on passports and I'm praying we will hear something this week on those. Then, we just have the medicals and the visa exit interview - and a L.O.N.G. flight home with three new children.
I've anticipated this time for so long and yet at the same time, I fear it. I'm working diligently to get the kids' rooms set up so everything will be ready when they arrive, yet I'm savoring the time we have while things remain the same. Truthfully, I'm scared. I think it's normal. I think I'd be niave to think that everything will just transition smoothly. It's hard to get a smooth transition when you bring a new child into your home through childbirth. It's hard to get a smooth transition when you adopt one child. I think it would be kind of crazy for me to assume that I'll get a smooth transition with bringing THREE home. Not only will I be bringing three home, but I have three already IN the home. I will be doubling the number of children in my home. I think it's actually SMART of me to be afraid.... because it means I'm thinking logically and not idealistically. Trust me when I say, there is NOTHING ideal about adoption. It doesn't start ideal and it doesn't end ideal. It just starts and ends and I'm thankful to be part of it.... but being thankful doesn't make it easy.
So, what am I afraid of? Well, I have three children in my home now with three different personalities. Sometimes they mesh, sometimes they clash. I have three more coming into the picture with three of their own little personalities. Six adolescent personalities in one household - meshing and clashing at all different times. Three of the personalities I really don't even know all that well yet. I think I know things about Mary, Nate and Isabella, but I have a TON to learn. I've got a lot of catching up to do with them.
I'm afraid I won't be as successful as I want to be with homeschooling them and getting them caught up to their appropriate grade level. I've never done homeschooling before and what if I'm no good at it?
I'm afraid of what the kids have been through and what it will bring to our home. I mean, they are not babies... our oldest newcomer is 9 and the youngest is four. They've lived pretty substantial lives already and have a lot of experiences and memories that I'm sure they will eventually share - both good and bad. I'm all about the good, but I'm afraid of how I will handle the bad. I mean, I'm an emotional basket case. I read a sad book and I cry. I watch a sappy TV show and I cry. Hearing stories of loss from my kids... I'm not real sure how I will handle that. Being strong in the face of an emotional situation is not one of my strong points. Maybe it doesn't need to be though... maybe saying nothing - just loving these kids to death will be enough. I pray that's the case... I pray God gives me wisdom along the way to help me deal with everything that this adoption will bring our way, in the best way possible to benefit these kids.
Stupid stuff comes to mind... like I have NO idea how to do their hair! I know... it's stupid, but think about it... it's something you have to do every day. What if you didn't know how to take a shower and yet you were expected to do it every day? Not only that, but I bet the kids have some sort of expectation for me to at least know how to do SOMETHING with their hair....maybe they can teach me ;) I know, I know... you will say that the kids won't care. I will though. I want to give these kids the best... just like I give the three that are in my home now. Doing hair should be standard practice. Unfortunately for me, it's not. I'll learn. I'm praying they will be patient with me during my learning curve.
Food. That's another big thing. What in the world will I fix them that they will enjoy and that the rest of my family will as well? Who knows. I guess rice will be a staple for them for awhile, and after some time I'll just have to work on transitioning them over to "American" food. We all think it is wonderful and that they will absolutely love it, but it's the same as taking our kids somewhere and having them eat foreign food. The textures are different. The smells are different. The ingredients are different. It will take them some time to get used to it all. With my other two adopted little ones - they came home when they were small. They were barely on solid foods. There wasn't really a "transition" for them, because they hadn't gotten used to anything solid. These kids are different. They have.
One of the biggest things I'm afraid of is that they are too old to really consider me mom. I know it sounds silly, but again, I'm being honest. Mary is 9. I wonder if she will ever really look at me and think "That's my mom". I want "mom" to be something more than the person who financially supports us, loves us and cares for us on a daily basis. I want "mom" to mean to her - the person who is emotionally invested in me, the person I turn to when things are bad, the person who will protect me fiercely and love me even more fiercely. I want mom to mean security and home to her. I want it for all of my kids. I don't want it to mean guardian. I want it to mean so much more. Part of me wonders if that will come. Will I ever be to them what I am to my other kids?
I think getting so close to the end of the process has brought this all to the forefront of my mind. I really think I'd be stupid NOT to be thinking about these things. They are important things. They are more important than "Do I have enough clothes for them?" or "Will they like their room?"
I'm trusting in God to handle all of these details. I kind of freaked out when I found out that we had THREE waiting for us in Ghana instead of the one we had originally anticipated. God gave me peace with it and showed me that these were my kids. He has shown me a love for them that I never thought I would have. It is fierce. It's protective. It's stronger than I ever thought it could be at this point. It's all God. But that doesn't mean it's not scary. I want to do it right and I have never navigated exactly these waters before. Now that I think about it, I think being scared is good. It puts me at heightened alert. Really, it means I'm thinking, and more than that, it shows that I know that I don't have all the answers. Oh Lord knows I don't have all the answers... but I do have Him. I will trust in the Lord with these children. I will trust that the Lord will give me guidance on how to navigate these new waters. I will step out in faith. I can be scared and not take my eyes off of Christ at the same time. As long as my eyes are on Christ, it will fall into place.
It's hard to explain the feelings of excitement and fear that are mingled together. I think though that it's normal... at least for me it's normal. I remember when I adopted Anna and I finally received her referral, I was so excited. I shared her little picture with everyone. Then I got home from work and I thought "Oh. My. Goodness... WHAT HAVE I DONE". It's the whole idea of the change that is to come. No matter how positive it is, change is always difficult. The same thing happened when we adopted Sara. Tim and I were married, we had the routine established with the kids. I was working at the time so there was that added stress in my life. We were so looking forward to Sara's referral and then it came. One day on the way home from work, after we got her referral, it was a particularly stressful day at work. I just started crying. Tim asked me what was wrong and all I could say was "did we just make a big mistake"? It was the fear of change. Not knowing how we would handle each and every situation that would arise. Obviously I overcame these fears or I would have never adopted after Anna. Or after Sara. Yet, here we are again. Adoption is the biggest blessing in our lives. It's amazing. It's beautiful. It's heartbreaking. It's heartwarming... and yes, it's even scary. I think it's a healthy scary though.
Please pray with us as we navigate the end of this process. Please pray with us that our kids' passports are issued EVEN THIS WEEK!!!! God can move the mountain that will make that happen! My kids need to come home! Even with my lingering questions, I'm ready! I think we are all ready.