Wow... where to start. I have been MIA from blog world for SO LONG!!! But, GOOD NEWS we are doing VERY WELL!!! Actually, I think that is the reason I have been missing. For the most part my days are spent having fun with the kids instead of researching for answers to the bizarre behaviors we were dealing with.
It is almost May and we are rounding the corner of being home with Sweet M* for 2 whole years now. It is crazy how fast that went... but there are times when I wasn't sure if we would ever make it. Adoption is hard. That is it. No matter how we prepare for it we cannot imagine the horror that goes on in some of our sweet children's lives before they are home safe with us. Most of us have not had to enter a new family, new culture, new language and new surroundings after being stripped of everything that kept us feeling safe and secure. We have not lost family that we know still exists. We have not questioned if we would go through that same horror tomorrow. We don't know what it feels like to truly believe that no one loves us. But, that is how my sweet boy felt.
It has taken the entire two years for Sweet M* and our family to truly start to bond. We have been through the darkest of dark days with each other. Every line and boundary has been tested. I have failed miserably at times but, we are making it. We are getting there and we are doing it together (with help from family & friends of course). And, I can say that Sweet M* is rounding a corner and has been for the past few months.
I came across a note I had saved on my iPhone and I wanted to share it in case there are other families out there having a difficult transition with their child. These were the rules we lived by and I know they helped us tremendously.
The key for us was truly to love Sweet M*. To understand that each purposeful thing he would do to try and get in trouble was a TEST. Yes... he tests us constantly bc he is so scared of love. He worries that there is no way it could be true. No way he could be worth as much love as we were pouring on to him. He was going to prove himself right and do something bad so he would upset us. I am not going to lie... he still can do things that make me falter. However, for the most part we stay calm and do not let our emotions get in the way of teaching him right from wrong any more. This has helped him trust us and has helped him (on most days) understand that he is a perfect child of God and loved by us UNCONDITIONALLY.
It takes a lot of effort from my husband and I on a daily basis. There are times where one of us has to walk away to another room and pretend we cannot hear Sweet M* so that we can gain composure and come back with a smile on our face. It is HARD. But, the healing we see is so POWERFUL. Sweet M* is trying to ask for more and question us when he thinks something is unfair (happens very often) instead of assuming we love another child more. As he does this and learns the reasons behind something we do he feels more secure. He is learning to trust that we truly look out for him and we truly do love him as much as the other three children.
This brings me to another point. Adoption is hard when there are birth siblings. When M* came home we thought he was close in age with Belle. However, we quickly learned he was quite a bit older than what we had previously believed (stunted by malnourishment) and as he began to tower over her the competition between him and his older brother began. If you can grow past one sibling you must be able to grow past them all- No? So, to say he has had a rough adjustment to finding his spot between them is an understatement.
I look back constantly and think how much easier things would have been if we had only adopted a child when the other three were older. Or if we had adopted a baby so we would not have disturbed birth order. But, the fact is we are a family and right or wrong we have to make this work. As we adjust and grow together we are all finding our place... and we are all seeing that this was the right choice for us... that there are reasons we truly did belong together. We help by pointing out unique talents that each child has. We focus on our differences... and we also focus on things that are similar between all of us- behaviors, characteristics, likes and dislikes etc... This helps Sweet M* identify with the fact that even though my other kids were born in this family does not mean that everything we do and like are the same. I know this helps him. And, all four can always agree that they ALL LOVE TO BE SILLY!
Whew... this is getting a little longer than I anticipated. But, basics are this: if you are staring at your adopted child SCARED TO DEATH bc you don't know if you can make it through some of those challenging beginnings TAKE A BREATH. I needed hope and there were VERY FEW out there that could tell me it could get better. BUT IT CAN. You and your child (and your entire family) can get through this. You will grow to LOVE... to UNDERSTAND the behaviors and life will turn out as you once dreamed... and happiness will be restored. Just hang in there!