Friday, August 31, 2012

Why We Are Not Adopting Again

Three years ago, my husband and I stood in front of the orphanage in Beijing, China, and promised we'd be back. We knew it was full of children who were dying, who went to bed hungry every night, and cried for someone, anyone to love them.

We'd always wanted four. It seemed logical: two boys and two girls. Everyone would have a best-friend for life. And the Princess would know the bond of a sister from her birth country.

It sounded beautiful. And we honestly thought that was where God was leading us. He had given us Evie. He had shown us over and over that Evie was our daughter. We had prayed for months, "Bring her home. Bring her home. Bring her home."

And then we landed in Chicago. And discovered the Princess' undisclosed special need-- developmental delays. Not only did she have tetrology of fallot and cleft lip and palate, but she could hardly sit, stand, walk, talk, chew, turn the pages of a book. She was completely and utterly shutdown.

We saw hints of this in China. But we assumed she would wake up and start acting like a two year old. But she never did.

So my new life--the one with only 3 three kids--consisted of juggling them so we could go to PT, OT, developmental therapy, and speech multiple times a week. Plus, all her other doctor visits.

I was exhausted. And that fourth child seemed further and further away. And the guilt of ignoring my two homegrown kids weighed heavily on me.

As time passed, I got into the rhythm of my new normal. And now three years later, things seem almost under control.

But, still, we won't be adopting again.

The Princess needs too much. She is too traumatized, too emotionally fragile, too needy. The honest, bitter truth is another special needs adoption would take too much of my time away from her. There is only so much of me to go around.

We've prayed about this. We've agonized about this. Because we know there are kids who need parents who love them. We know there are kids going to bed tonight with empty bellies, who are cold, alone, and afraid. We know, because that was Evie three short years ago. She was starving--not only for nourishment, but for human touch.

We aren't done with adoption. We just aren't adopting.

So now we are praying, "Use us. Use us. Use us."

And I wonder, how God will use us to care for the orphaned.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Happy Family Day {3 Years Home}

She has come so far. This is is first day of Kindergarten. And her first day with us. Our shutdown, timid girl has blossomed into a beautiful, feisty five year old.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Panda's For Lunch?

At 7:51 on Monday morning a bus will barrel down my street and my kids will be off. School brings lots of emotions.

I'm sad! What will I do without them?

I'm happy! Think what I can do without them.

Anxiety! What will I pack in those lunchboxes. Every. Single.Day.

So like a good mommy I did some research.

And I found this. Seriously cute. It's a Panda made out of rice and other yumminess.

There are people who can carve a flower out of a carrot. And mold sandwiches into cute little caterpillars! Who knew?

If you can do that, I'm envious. But I just don't see myself cutting cheese into little sunshines with big smiley faces made out of olives or raisins. Mommy's not that good with a knife.

So I am back to square one.

Any ideas?

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Is She Different?

I was recently asked if the Princess was different from the boys.

My first reaction was, "Umm, yes, she's a GIRL. She plays with dolls, sits quietly, loves princesses..."

But no that was not what this well-meaning person was asking.

What are the differences between giving birth and adopting?

It took a long, long time to get pregnant.

We waited a long, long time for a referral.

Until you're in the abyss of the never-ending paperwork of adoption, you don't understand. Especially if there's a baby on the other side of the world waiting.

Until you take a pregnancy test that's negative, that you really want to be positive, you don't understand.

I kept taking and retaking pregnancy tests...just to make sure.

I kept looking at her pictures...just to make sure she was mine.

I was in shocked when the stick turned blue.

I was shocked when I opened an email and saw my daughter's face.

Labor is perhaps the most painful and scariest thing I've ever done. And I had drugs. Lots of them. So was boarding a plane to China. I really wish I'd had an epidural for that, too.

During labor, we lost the Big Boy's heartbeat. The nurse whispered in my ear, "We're not in the business of losing babies here."

When we stepped off the plane (that's a 14 hour labor) in China, we were told our daughter would not be able to come to the United States because of medical reasons. My husband and I decided we weren't in the business of leaving babies.

The middle one, was born 5 weeks premature. We could see through his skin.

The Princess was so shutdown, we didn't think she could see us.

I wasn't ready for the Middle One to be born.

I wasn't ready to fly to China. But in less than 14 days of getting our TA (travel assignment) we had our daughter in our arms.

I cried when I held the boys.

I cried when I held our daughter.

I cried when I brought the boys home and all my help (AKA Grandma) left me all alone...with them.

I cried when we brought our girl home and all my help (AKA Grandma) left me alone...with three of them.

When I had the Middle One, I felt tremendous (yes, it's silly) guilt that My Big Boy would no longer be my baby.

During the flight to China, I felt that same silly guilt, the Middle One would no longer be my baby.

I told the doctor, before The Middle One was born, that I was done and didn't really need to have another baby. I wanted to go home.

I told my husband when we hit the runway in Beijing to buy me the next ticket home.

When The Middle One was in the NICU, because he couldn't suck or regulate his own body temperature, I wanted nothing more than for my two boys to be in the same place--Home.

When we were in China, and the boys met their baby sister over Skype, I wanted nothing more than for my three babies in the same place--Home.

Three very different stories. Three very different kids.

So, yes, I guess she is different.

But so are the boys.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

You're a Bad Mommy!

My little girl is going to Kindergarten.

Yes, the same little girl who only three years ago was 15 pounds. Who could not stand, walk, eat, or talk. The one who was mostly deaf. And was afraid of the wind blowing, butterflies, birds, grass, loud noises, the dog, strangers. And me.

The girl who did not know how to play. Did not know where or how to sleep. Did not like blankets, pillows, books, or to be rocked to sleep.

That same little girl who had open heart surgery all by herself in China.

Who knew what it felt like to be hungry. The kind of hunger that that is painful. And leaves it's mark on your memory.

The same girl who we wondered if she would ever be able to sit in a classroom, write her name, and say her ABC's.

That girl, is going to Kindergarten, in a typical classroom. And she already has a best friend.

But to go to Kindergarten you have to have a checkup and that means shots.

So my same brave little girl who has survived cleft surgery and a double mastoidectomy since coming home, had all the pain and fury and helplessness that she lived with for so long in China wash right back over here today in the doctors office.

I told her what was happening. I told her it would pinch. And I told her she was a big brave girl. And when it was over we would go home and have a special treat.

But none of that mattered. Because when we layed her down on the table her pupils dilated like a crazed, corner dog, and her skin turned ashen, and she kicked and screamed with every ounce of strength she had.

She kicked me in the face and screamed, "You're a bad mommy!" Over and over and over again.

And honestly, before I understood a traumatized child, I would have said she was out of control. But instead, my heart just broke into a million pieces for her.

She is deeply traumatized. And it is always right under the surface. It took longer than it should have. And the nurse was wonderful and completely understanding. She did get her shots. And when we marched out of the office people stared and whispered.

But I was proud of her.

Because she did it.

It wasn't pretty. But she calmed back down.

And now this little girl gets to go to Kindergarten.

And she couldn't be more excited.