First Days Home: A Few Brief Thoughts

Thank you for the wonderful welcome home! We are impressed and encouraged by your hearts for the fatherless and the ways you have shown James he is loved.

Just about 4 days have passed since we arrived at LAX, and our sleep patterns are nearly normal. Granted, I’m typing this at 2 in the morning, but it’s closer to normal than before. We are working on James’ alphabet, numbers, colors, general manners (did you know that saying “please” is not a cultural practice in Thailand?), and family skills. There is a school of thought that suggests adjusting the parenting of a child to suit their family age (how much time they have actually been in your family) rather than their physical age. Though in most ways we are treating him like a 6 year old, thinking of him as a 2 week/6 year hybrid helps as we enter a stage of bedtime struggles, infantile reactions, and learning what it means to function as a family. If you see what you think are overly juvenile behaviors when you spend time with us, yes, you’re right, but they’ll pass.

I’ve debated sharing this next part in a public place, but since it was the advice/comfort of others that helped me to see my reaction was normal and work through it, here goes, in the hope that it will be a comfort and warning to other waiting moms:

Once we were home from the airport, while James was investigating the toys in his new room and we ate a bit of graciously provided food, I started to lose it. Once James was preoccupied, I started crying and could not stop. These were not happy tears, folks. These were tears of bitter, surprising grief. I mourned our losses. Our adventurous travels as a couple, our spontaneity, our ability to have 5 house guests at a time, to interact with misled sect participants; I was stuck on all of my perceived losses and filled with a deep sense of regret. Why did we make this choice? This is permanent? What are we doing? Who is this little person? It was ugly and I am not proud of it (especially in light of the overwhelming losses James has experienced). Feeling that way is apparently normal and hearing that could not have been more helpful. I was able to repent of that selfishness, that unbelief and fear, and move forward. Surely goodness and mercy have followed us throughout the entire adoption process, and God’s leading has set us firmly on a path toward a growing family. When I woke up the next morning, the grief had subsided. The things that I was suddenly fixated on are still there in the background to varying degrees, but there is rest in experiencing the other side of those feelings: the peace, the enjoyment, the thankfulness.

I’m thankful the grief passed quickly, I’m thankful that God has entrusted us with this child, and I’m thankful for the parents who have gone before us on this road; who generously shared the reality of their experience ahead of time and offered commiseration in the moment. So, when your bundle of joy comes home, fully expect to be filled with emotions that are totally contrary to what you “expect” … and come to me for sympathy.

We are looking forward to the days when we will get to see each of you again!

 

Bringing James Home: What’s the Game Plan?

Hi friends! We will be flying back home with James into LAX on the 27th at 6:05 p.m. (assuming all goes as planned in country). Some folks are planning on being there to meet us, and though we can’t guarantee we will be at our best (20 hours in the air, yo), we would love to see you there before we go into semi-hiding if that’s the sort of thing you’d like to do.  🙂

In the last post, I mentioned that a few of you have asked if we would give you a heads up about  things to expect during the first few months and mention some areas where we will appreciate your understanding. Thank you for asking. Jason and I would just like to help temper some expectations and make sure we are clear about all of this being for James’ benefit and for the sake of helping make his transition into our culture (and America, and a family, and a new language, and new food, and new friends, and new routines, and you get the idea) as painless as possible. Praying for guidance on how best to do this.

Soooo, these are really helpful articles:

This article is just practical. I have tried to keep these things in mind when I’ve met other folks’ recently adopted children. I’ve definitely screwed up and said things that weren’t tactful, but the parents were gracious and we intend to be gracious, too. Okay, so don’t freak out. The more I look at this list, the more I really appreciate it.

This list goes into more of the why these things are important. I posted it in the past:

This article is also full of things to be aware of. The author is not super delicate, and again, I don’t want you to think we are going to be crazy, but we are going to exclusively be the ones feeding him, holding him, disciplining him, comforting him, etc. and we aren’t going to be making concessions on that until we are sure he understands who is who in the zoo.

This one is written TO adoptive parents, but if you’re interested in getting a taste for what we are in for, this might be interesting to you:

Are you overwhelmed? Please don’t be. We love you and we know you love us, so we will all make it through in one piece! We are looking forward to the day when we will hit a sort of “normal” that means we won’t have to think twice about staying over with friends and family or whether a crowd is “too much.”

 

WE ARE GOING TO THAILAND!

I briefly considered writing this entire post in capital letters but figured that would get old for you pretty fast. It is finally time. We have finally received the OK to book plane tickets and make solid plans for travel. We are finally going to meet James.

God has been incredibly faithful during this time. So much has happened during our wait. Basically the whole gamut of human experience has been experienced by our family and close friends (can I get a weary amen?), and through it all we have seen the Lord’s grace and mercy and perfect timing unfold. We have obviously complained (too much, right?), and been impatient, and been unable to comprehend what goodness could possibly result during those times, but we were never abandoned. At no point were we left to our own devices to divine the next step. Looking back through older posts, and reflecting on the journey that took place independent of this process, I am so comforted and so aware of the abundant, undeserved gentleness that has been afforded to us. God is good.

And now we get to meet our son.

We’ll leave during the second(ish) week of April and return around the 28th, with the highlight of the visit being the 17th: the day we meet James! Fortunately, we know what it feels like when a child is COMPLETELY unimpressed by us and thinks we are the most terrifying people on the face of the earth during the first meeting (Thanks, V!), so we don’t have lofty expectations of how that meeting will go. Our prayer requests moving forward are going to be for safe travel to and from, wisdom about how best to meet James’ needs during the first days, and that we would be constantly aware of how incredibly huge this transition will be for him. He didn’t ask for this, he didn’t choose us, and there is a good chance he has no idea what a massive life shift he is about to experience. He has every right to be REALLY displeased. We have been asking God to prepare his heart for this and I am hopeful that this will be the last significant trauma he experiences at his young age.

Some sweet friends have asked for a bit of instruction about how they can be helpful during the first days, weeks and months of transition, so I’ll post some things that I’ve found useful in the next day or two for you to check out if you’re interested.

Thank you for your faithful support. You’re fantastic.

(The timeline from start to present)

 

He’s worth it, he’s worth it, he’s worth it.

Do you like our (not-at-all-related-to-Hinduism) mantra?

This past week involved rushing to take care of the immigration update necessities. We’ve

-made appointments for medical evaluations (blood draws, urine tests, TB tests)

-resubmitted Live Scans (fingerprinting and $$)

-filled out home study update forms- our former home study agency went out of business (awesome!) so we have to resubmit items in addition to the items that we would have already had to resubmit (employment verifications, discipline agreement, financial report, etc)

-received word that the official “child match” document from the TRC has been mailed to us to fill out and make James our matched son “officially” on paper. This is not the thing we have been waiting for to travel to pick him up, but it is actually just an additional thing that we need to fill out that we didn’t remember we were still waiting on. This doesn’t affect the waiting in any way, but I wonder if it might be an indicator that we are nearing the front of the line.

Mmmm, typhoid-y
Mmmm, typhoid-y

Additionally, I finally went to have vaccinations for travel (Jason finished his months ago) a couple of days ago. Tetanus and Hep A required shots, but thank goodness Typhoid is in pill form. I passed out after the shots and spent too much of the morning at Kaiser, all the while reminding myself that at least I’m really professional at something(so what if it’s passing out?), James is worth it, and I’m far from alone.

November 3rd is Grace Ev Free’s Defending the Fatherless Sunday, so we are excited to see how that day might stir the hearts of others toward orphan care. We would like it if you’d join us that morning!

Super Helpful Post from “The Kitchen is Not My Office”

Well, it’s official, so, now for the real work to begin!

The following link is to a post from The Kitchen is Not My Office, and seems like it is exactly the sort of stuff we are all going to have to deal with. At the risk of sounding like a killjoy right away, I’m sharing this because maybe you will want to read this and have time to consider how bringing home our James will be a bit different from welcoming a baby through traditional means 😉

http://www.thekitchenisnotmyoffice.com/2012/12/supporting-and-understanding-adoptive.html

A few of the points she touches on:

Our children are not necessarily grateful to have been adopted. 

Please don’t feed my kids. 

It is greatly appreciated if you choose your wording carefully, especially around our children. 

If you’d like to offer support (meal, help with house cleaning, etc) when an adopted child joins the family,  please do even if we don’t reach out and ask.

Please don’t try to get our child to like you the most.

Our adopted children had lives before they joined our family. 

Sometimes adopted children need to be parented differently than biological children. 

Please do not ask adopted children if they like their new parents/family.

Our children may be “delayed” when they join our family but often they just need time. 

Please do not tell us how amazing we (parents) are because we have chosen to adopt. 

We may discourage physical contact with our child for the first several months that they are home or until we feel like they are securely attached to us.

Even the happiest of adoptions are a result of challenging or difficult circumstances. 

 

Potentially Big News

Jason and I received a child reference from our agency, and we are in the process of submitting our letter of intent.

What does this mean?

It means that this little boy may very well be the son that we have been praying and hoping and waiting for! This is potentially BIG news.

Providentially, the Thai Red Cross sent information for a child that they are actively seeking a family for to the woman directing the Thai program at our agency and thankfully, she thought of us and asked us if we would be interested. She explained that she felt we would be a good match and that she, personally, thought he was very cute. So, remembering our decision that we would accept the first referral we received, we told her we would be interested in seeing his information and would let her know our decision. We are now moving forward praying fervently that if this is our son, he will come home fast, and that if not, the door would be slammed shut just as quickly.

Fortunately, if this IS indeed our son, he is more adorable and healthy than we could have hoped and seems like we would be well suited to provide for his needs. The hesitation that I felt at the beginning while perusing the profiles of other waiting children is not present in this choice. This time, since the only thing that can stop us from bringing this boy home is God closing the door, I am allowing myself to be hopeful and excited, and Jason is (more carefully 🙂 ) allowing himself to do the same.

THIS COULD BE OUR JAMES. THIS COULD BE the little guy that we get to love and care for and teach and show the love of Christ, and, if he is, we can’t meet him soon enough.

If you would echo our prayer, that things would move quickly or fall flat quickly depending on whether we are acting within God’s will, we would be extremely grateful.

Thank you all for your prayer, encouragement, wisdom and excitement. You’re awesome and I’m sure we can’t express properly how thankful we are for you.