Saturday, April 10, 2010

The 'Normal' That Never Came











Hello to all my faithful readers, all 5 of you! I thought it might be time to post another update if anything else, to let folks know that we are still alive : )

We passed our one year mark in January and there's good and bad that comes with that. On one hand, I'm so thankful that I've become a turbo-mommy-machine in this past year. Life forces you to change sometimes, in some really good ways. I remember back in April of last year when my last meal was delivered to me and I remember thinking, 'how in the world am I going to do this on my own?' The madness of mountains of laundry, the volume of groceries etc. But now I do all of these things without really even thinking how much harder it is. As I told someone at the grocery store the other day (a notorious peanut gallery of commenting about my family always ensues there) that you really can get used to anything.

So on a practical level, I've go this down. The hard part.... the sad part.... is that we are so often discouraged and even depressed about the way attachment has progressed. You have to think that the way the adoption classes prepare you to attach to just ONE child means that trying to attach to four, all at once, is going to be tricky to say the least. I can say without a doubt that attaching to the twins (adopted at 9 months old) has been a completely different experience than with the older kids. I assumed it would be but didn't realize how profoundly distinct the experience would be. I love all four of them but it's not the same. I think we had thought that time, especially a whole year, would really bond us together with these kids. We know them-- their habits, their likes/dislikes, insecurities, sin issues etc. But I am astonished some days, and then depressed over it, when I recognize how easily I am annoyed or angered by them, in a way that is different than my biological children. I want it so badly to be the same and to treat them justly, but I don't and sometimes it scares me to see how I think I'm becoming numb to it- 'oh well, that's just who he is and that thing he does is always going to bug me.' I think my biggest fear is that I'll give up trying to make it better.

This post was not meant to be so introspective but after talking with other adoptive moms over the past year, I am amazed at the silence I see regarding these hard, overwhelming issues - no one is talking about them. Maybe they're afraid people will think they're awful parents, maybe I would have thought that too had I not adopted and walked this road myself. But I think it's helpful to say, 'you know, this really stinks. (!) This is really hard and some days I don't believe it will ever be what it should be.'

The good news is I have a few friends who are much further down the road than I and they testify that God DOES bring new life and growth in your relationship with your adopted kids. But that it takes more time than we might have expected or hoped for. So for today, I remember that 'He who began a good work in me, WILL carry it on to completion'. I'm counting on it : )

34 comments:

Ame said...

it is good to hear from you.

when reading about blending a family (both my new husband and i are divorced with children) ... everything said that it takes seven years, after marriage, to blend a family. it also said that it is intensely more difficult for children between the ages of ten and sixteen.

in our personal experience, ten months into this new-marriage-blended-family-thing, i believe both to be true.

we have also found guilt to be another very big issue. the children feel guilty for liking/enjoying/loving a step-parent - they feel like they are betraying their biological parent. this is profound, right now, with my step son b/c i am more engaged in his life than his bio mom, and he feels guilty for enjoying and loving that.

we have worked very hard to give the children the freedom to work through the guilt and to give them the freedom not to have to compete the step parent with/against the bio parent.

each of our three children work through these issues differently.

somewhere in there, i have given myself the freedom for the attachment to my bio children to be different than my step son. this is, i imagine, very different from adopting b/c he still has his bio mother in his life. i imagine it cannot be compared to adoption.

i think we want ourselves to be 'better than that' ... to be more God-like. being a mother has proven to me, unlike anything else, that i do not have near the capacity to love that God does. i cannot even love my own bio children the way He does. and it is more work to love my step son than it is to love my bio children, even my spec-needs daughter who is an intense amount of work.

i appreciate your vulnerability. it is often difficult to love unconditionally on every level - i would actually go so far to say that, in our humanity, we are sure to fail in this area - only God can get it right.

seven years ... in six more years our two oldest will be 18 and our youngest 16. how surreal that the seven years it takes to become a blended family comes to a close when the oldest two graduate from high school.

you're doing great ... and facing reality in a way that is, according to the silence you have experienced in this area, greatly needed.

Amy said...

I have been waiting for a blog update! I bet you have at least 50, not 5, people who check for blog updates! I appreciate what Ame just said about the step-child feeling like they've betrayed their bio parents. Keep up the blog posts-- between laundry and trips to the grocery store!

Ashleigh said...

Beth, thank you for being so willing to be honest about how it's going. Since we haven't adopted, we don't know what it's like, but we are praying for you.

Also, THANK YOU for all your love and encouragement and for reaching out to me. I appreciate it beyond words ... a note is coming your way this week.

Jodie said...

Hi Beth, I'm one of Ashleigh's friends (I met you at TICA). Thank you for being so open. I identify with some of what you wrote about; our two girls (ages 5 & 10) came home from Haiti in January. It's still VERY new. Still a whirlwind. Still trying to find a "normal." And, I, too, am surprised/dismayed/discouraged by some of my feelings/attitudes during this time.
I'll take ANY and ALL advice you can throw my way! :)

Leslie said...

Beth,

I admire your honesty in writing about your struggles and I'm so glad that you are able to prepare others who are thinking of adoption for some of the difficulties that come with it. Few things that are worth doing are easy.

Love,
Leslie

Theo and Lisa said...

Hello I am so glad to see an update to your blog! I have been checking often for some time now. We are in the procees of adopting a sibling set from Ethiopia too. Your honesty is so appreciated. May God bless you and your beautiful family.

Lisa

Adopting1Soon said...

So glad to hear you are still here!

I have no words of advice, only of support and encouragement. Hang in there, they need you. Even if they push you away. They have no one else.

You are right, not many talk about it. I did for awhile on my blog, under Post Adoption Depression, another issue many don't talk about.

So glad you are still here and surviving.

Karen said...

Beth - Thank you for your honesty. I agree with what you said that probably not enough moms who adopt do share their hearts and truly admit how they are feeling (the good, the bad and the ugly).
Thank you for sharing your honest heart with your readers. I'm thankful to know how to more specifically be praying for you guys and want you to know that you do remain in my thoughts and prayers.
I pray that God will give you strength and hope for each new day, and abundant grace to cover all!

Stacy said...

Thanks so much for the post. I found your blog again after many months of not reading it. (I thought maybe you had quit with such a busy life) We have been home from China since Feb (with only 1) and have just a miniscule of the feelings you have described. I have been checking on a sibling set of 4 for about a year now (while I waited for my sweetie from China). They are still on the waiting list and my heart says yes, but I'm very scared- (because I read other people's lives of adopting multiples and how hard it is).
I love your writing- you're good!
And I love your honesty. Thank you for that.
Keep the posts coming.
Stacy Richmond
blessingsonwhitehorsedrive.blogspot.com

Gram said...

Glad to see your update. Although we only get very brief, occasional updates from your Dad we pray for you all regularly.

Glad to see the Fargo tradition is being carried forward!

Gram said...

The previous comment from Gram is from Shari Hanson!

Didn't think to sign my name.

a Tonggu Momma said...

Oh, I can't even imagine how eventful this past year has been for you. We faced some very tough attachment issues with our Tongginator... and she is just one child. I took about three years, but the Tongginator is now six and has been home for five years... and it is amazing! Blessings to you during this time.

And I stopped by to thank you for your comment on my blog post the other day. I know I focused on the tragedy in my post, but I did that intentionally, since so many adoptive-parents tend to sweep that part under the rug (because it's uncomfortable). But YES, God's redemptive response is all about beauty for ashes and working things for good. Thank you so much for your comment... I know I didn't get everything right in that post, but I also know that God put it on my heart for a reason.

Laurie said...

Looks like you have more than 5 followers. :) Hopefully that will cause you to update more often because I really do enjoy following your story and reading how things are progressing for you guys. I just fell in love with your story through my friend Andrea and have been following ever since.

Although I don't have biological kiddos so I can't make comparisons between raising them along with my adopted kiddos, I do understand some of the feelings you're having- especially the ones where you sometimes feel like giving up and saying- that's just the way it's always going to be. Those are hard time, for sure!

I heard someone give a testimony at our MOPS group the other day that really hit me. She said she was feeling overwhelmed with her kiddos until she realized that she spent a LOT of time thinking about all that they were TAKING from her (freedom, time, energy, money, SANITY!) instead of all the gifts God had given her by blessing her with these children. I know, easier said than done- but when I find myself feeling that way I force myself to see something in the moment as a blessing, not a pain in the you know what. :)

Sorry for rambling- just want you to know that we're all in this together - trying to figure out how God wants us to do it WITH Him and FOR Him! Please keep posting! I will keep your family in my prayers.

And I can't end without saying- your family is BEAUTIFUL!!!!!!! Every face makes me smile. :)

Amanda said...

I know that it takes longer to bond with older children. I know that patience and the awareness of how different it is will help. I'm glad you are adjusting.

Rachel E. said...

Beautiful pictures! How is the attachment these days? I hope you keep writing on here.

DaisyJ said...

Beth,
I think more than 5 people read this. :) Thanks for your honesty. I hope that you can make some of the adoption support group meetings. It is a bunch of mom's who say the hard things and support each other through it.
Jill
www.jkdcolorado.blogspot.com

李蘇介妤瑋盛 said...

幸福不是一切,人還有責任。............................................................

建邱勳 said...

Cast not the first stone. ............................................................

思張張亦 said...

原來天鵝嫁給癩蛤蟆就會生出醜小鴨。。。..................................................................

吳沛黃以富民 said...

一個人的價值,應該看他貢獻了什麼,而不是他取得了什麼....................................................

王辛江淑萍康 said...

愛情是盲目的,但婚姻恢復了它的視力。......................................................................

蔡曼鄭美玉屏 said...

在你一無所有的時候 是誰在陪伴你 他便是你最重要的人......................................................................

joven said...

beautiful blog..pls visit mine and be a follower.. thanks and God bless..

http://forlots.blogspot.com/

惠邱邱邱邱雯 said...

不會從失敗中找尋教訓的人,成功之路是遙遠的。.................................................

Amy said...

Beth - Are things getting any better? I hope so! Thanks for being so honest. I think that you are right when you say that too many things go unsaid - we all struggle with our own guilt rather than sharing with others. Similar with Chloe's disabilities, I wouldn't have chosen this for us, especially for her. I keep praying God will help me to embrace the life He has given me. Plus...I might be the only mom at TCA that wasn't devastated by having both of my kids in FT school this year. I am sad by how fast they are growing up but I am excited about a little me time too. Anyway, chin up and know that it's all part of God's greater plan!

珍盈洪 said...

死亡是悲哀的,但活得不快樂更悲哀。.. ... ............................................................

舒圣明 said...

生命的意義,是在於活的充實;而不是在於活得長久。............................. ....................................

J said...

Thanks Beth for taking the time to share your life with us. Although we have lost touch, I do come back to this blog from time to time to see how you and your family are doing. Keeping you in our prayers.
Hugs to all.

Judy, David, Kai, Reece and Jazzmo!

Bev said...

I check back from time to time and really appreciate the updates! I can imagine what everyday life must be like for you with 6 kids, compounded by adoption issues. May the Lord continue to bless you and Motte and those precious kids and give you your heart's desire.

DaisyJ said...

Beth,
I just sent you an email to say we are changing the local adoption group from google to yahoo for ease of use. Your email bounced back. Could you email me your new address. Thanks.
Jill Khaliqi
jillanddave@yahoo.com
www.jkdcolorado.blogspot.com

You can go the yahoo group directly too if you want.
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/PPAAC/

Vanessa said...

Hi, I was reading your blog, and I have no idea what it's like to be an adoptive parent. BUT I was reading this blog, and God laid you on my heart...
The website is
http://www.storinguptreasures.com/
She has 10 kids... Some are adopted and some are biological.

Addy said...

Hello. I'm a total stranger to you, but my bro- and sis-in-law adopted 2 children from Ethiopia around the time that you adopted, and your journey was very captivating to me, so I've had your blog in my Google Reader since way back then. I've wondered how you all are doing and adjusting to your new normal. I've prayed for you and I'd love to read an update if you have anything to share with Blogland.

Just in case you want to verify that I'm not a weirdo, my bro- and sis-in-law blog at www.ethihopeia.com, and I blog rarely at faithandfamily.wordpress.com and lifesewbeautiful.wordpress.com

Addy Forrest

Erin, Sara, Emily, Luke said...

Hi, I just wanted to leave this link for you and for anyone who needs encouragement after adoption.

http://www.jenhatmaker.com/blog/2011/09/06/after-the-airport

Praying for your family.

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