Friday, September 23, 2016

Home Two Weeks...

Home Two Weeks
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When we began this journey nine months ago.....nothing on this earth could have prepared me for the adoption trip...or life post-adoption!  You read every adoption blog, International adoption book, you read about attachment parenting, parenting the hurt child, Reactive attachment disorder....you think you are prepared for it all....and then Real Life Happens!

The best way I can describe International adoption is "A Beautiful Mess."   As God leads you to open your heart and your home to an orphaned child you see His hand in every aspect of the process.  It took about NINE years for me to finally realize what God had planned for me in my life, and it wasn't at all what I had planned for myself!

I was not prepared emotionally to watch a little girl grieve in a hotel room in a foreign country FAR away from the comforts of my own home, struggling with my own culture shock, jet-lag, and emotions.  

Far More Lies Beneath the Smiles


I have been reflecting back on "Gotcha Day"....what you see in those photos is a happy little girl, a family full of smiles.  In keeping with my authentic self I am going to help you understand the reality of this day.  While we flipped through updates, photos, and videos of this little girl..learning about her, raising money to fund a very expensive adoption and working to bring her home...she has been living her life in a home for the visually impaired unaware that her life is going to change forever.

As much as your whole heart, soul and life go into the adoption for 9 long, grueling months...you are essentially going to pick up a child you have never met, who does not speak your language, in a foreign country while suffering culture shock, and jet lag.  The really is nothing about the process that day that feels 'Natural'.  You are over-joyed and happy and yet at the same time you sign some documents and they hand you a six year old child.....  

This child has a background of grief, loss, hurt, and suffering that none of us could even possibly imagine and on this day....she just lost everything all over again.  She doesn't know she gained a loving family, to her, her whole world turned upside down, she just lost all she has ever known....again!

As much as we loved her from afar....when you take that child to your hotel room it feels a bit more like babysitting...it honestly takes some time to integrate in your mind that this is YOUR child!  I can't tell you that it has fully sunk in for me yet...it is like glimpses of knowledge that this is your child and then when the tantrums start...all the sudden you are like...who is this stranger in my house?  It is a fluctuating thing as your mind and your heart try to embrace the reality that this is now your child....it is NOT the same as having a biological child and you will never understand nor could you possibly understand unless you have been through it yourself.

The first day was a fun day out for her...she had no idea what was happening....we held her, took her out to eat and she probably ate the best food of her life, she out ate Dave and I combined...she got to get into soft jammies and climb into a VERY soft bed with a fluffy comforter and she was happy.  

First night together

Happily ever after right?  Not so much.  Then the morning came.....she was confused and a little nervous....

Where am I and Who are these Strangers?

She had comfort items that she needed in her hands 24/7 or she would start to cry (these changed daily turtles, bobbypins, metal clips, hair clippy)  she wanted to lay in bed all day long....at times she would get up and play but most of the time she wanted the bed...a place she felt safe.  You saw pictures of smiles, giggles, and fun.....but behind the scenes we were dealing with a grieving child.  The second day she screamed an ear piercing scream several times...my ears were ringing 20 minutes later and I felt that I probably should apologize to the entire world for that loud scream she let out because it felt that piercingly loud!

She cried from 10pm to 2 am on the third night....she was grieving and it was painful to witness...this is the raw, real truth of International adoption.  These are hurt children, they have been abandoned on the streets and taken to orphanages, they have no idea what family even is.  We know it is a blessing for them to have a family...but in this moment, when they have just lost all they have ever known, they don't feel blessed at all. In fact, I wonder if they ever really will feel blessed...some of them may never get to that place because there is just too much hurt inside their little hearts....

She screamed, she cried, she pushed boundaries, she said Baba bye bye, mama bye bye...meaning she wanted us to go away (she still says this to us often)....she would play and be happy and then she would just cry.  This is life, it is messy and it is just hard.....

When we had to go to Guangzhou she was NOT thrilled that we were in a new place and she didn't know her way around anymore.  She had learned the layout of the first hotel room and now she was lost once again....  It took a few of days for her to calm down and relax a little.  She still struggled and asked for Shui Jiao or to go to sleep a lot!  

We had meltdowns frequently....she HATED the seatbelt in the van...luckily our guide explained to her in Mandarin that she HAD to wear it when in the car and she reluctantly complied.  To make matters worse the morning after we got to Guangzhou she had to go to a medical appointment and have her blood drawn.  They really make sure these kids are fully traumatized by the adoption process...flying all over the country and medical appointments etc... it is ridiculous.

She had a laughing spaz attack and laughed through the whole medical appointment...they did NOT allow us in with her during the blood draw....

We waited outside the door...I listened intently but she did not scream or cry.  She was VERY upset when she came out and was pulling that band-aid off immediately....they finally explained to her that she needed to leave it on for a minute because it was bleeding.  We distracted her with a Lollipop and she seemed content. 

She would cry every time we tried to get into the van saying Bu Zuo Che...No ride car.  The first three days in Guangzhou were filled with two things.....On the Verge of a tantrum or having a tantrum.....

It was 24/7....she was holding bobbypins or hairclips 24/7 and would drop one every 2 seconds...maybe up to 2 minutes and then she would dramatically cry out  Zhǎodào... (Find) 

If you didn't find that bobbypin on the floor in 1 second flat the meltdown started...we were on edge every second of the day...we carried extra hair clips and bobbypins in our pockets....backpacks...everywhere....We were in full on survival mode.  At home I wouldn't cater so much to demands like this...but when we are running around to civil affairs offices, the consulate, medical appointments etc.... the child just needs to not be throwing tantrums.  We have to eat in restaurants and survive outside the comforts and privacy of home and therefore...survival is in full effect.

After the third day she started to calm down and as we were walking to breakfast on the fourth day a woman stopped Dave in the restaurant and said..you guys look so much better...the first few days you were here you looked so haggared and rundown..but this morning you have smiles......yes, on that day...things were calm...but calm always preceeds the storm....with International adoption you never relax..you never let your guard down thinking you have arrived...there is always another storm of grief, tantrums and lack of sleep awaiting you.....

You see the pictures of playing, smiles, and all the squishy cuteness....what you don't see is the black circles under my sleep deprived eyes...passing the two week mark with a child who refuses to go to bed before 10:30pm and wakes up at 4-5 am..... and then we know we are about to deal with crying, screaming, tantrums and the orneriest child we have ever seen for the next 18 hours before she literally is so tired she cannot eek out another sound.....and we want to stay awake and enjoy the silence for a moment.. but alas we know that we are going to be awakened from a dream at 4am to do it all again!

This my friend is International adoption...it is messy, it is hard.....I will say...this is the hardest thing I have ever done in my life!  Emotions that hit the highest highs and the lowest lows of your entire life!!  Welcome to the most nauseating roller coaster you have ever been on.....although you can't get off.

You did this to yourself

When you are in the trenches of International adoption.....there is no community, there is no understanding, there is no friend....you are entirely alone because in the eyes of all around you....you chose this!

As much as you would like to turn a blind eye to the extensive and intense amount of suffering in this world...turn a blind eye to the millions of children being held and trafficked as sex slaves, millions more who are living as orphans in unimaginable conditions around the world...as much as you would like to live in your fantasy world pretending that all is well....while you point your finger at me and say....you chose this....No, I did not choose this!

I did not choose a world where children are abandoned, abused and live through unimaginable trauma, grief and loss entirely alone in the world....I only chose to SEE  that this is the reality we live in and someone needs to do something!

I fought this....I fought it hard!  I knew this was going to be hard, I knew it was going to turn my world upside down, I knew this child would grieve, cry, throw tantrums and who knows what else....it wasn't something I wanted to welcome into my life......but honestly.... If I won't....who will?

This process began over NINE YEARS AGO.....I cannot detail to you all the events in my life that led me to this place...sitting at my kitchen table after weeks of hardly any sleep...a sore throat, headache, foggy head...getting sick from stress and no sleep.

If it were up to me, NO child would be abandoned or harmed EVER!  All children would be born to loving families and would live with their BIOLOGICAL mother and father!  This is what all children NEED!  But alas we do not live in a perfect world and many children in this world suffer the loss of their parents due to various circumstances none of us will ever truly understand and find themselves victims of unimaginable circumstances that cause them suffering, grief, heartache and pain.....who is going to help them?  Who is willing to sacrifice the comforts of their own life to help them?  If not me..then who?

God calls some of us to help Him rescue His children.......some of you who have been in the adoption community will scoff at this and you are welcome to your haughty opinion but God's hand is in this work whether you choose to see it or not and if God had not brought me to this place, I never would have walked through this of my own choosing plain and simple!   I pray constantly, because in all honesty, I cannot do this....I cannot do this alone...I am not strong enough.   God gives me His strength so I can get up at 4 am and face each day....This is HIS work and He calls who He calls to it!

You may see me as a 'Saint' as many choose to call me.....many International adoptive moms hear this frequently....and they will all tell you the same thing...I am not a saint.  Life before adoption was easy....my children were 14 and 17 years old and I did as I pleased...life was easy....Do you really think I just chose to flip my whole world upside down because I thought it would be fun?  I can assure you I didn't choose this....God chose me!

I don't know why He chose me, I really don't.  I can tell you that I am probably the least qualified for this......
I fought the prompting toward International adoption for nearly 9 years until I could not ignore where God was leading me.....in fact...God led me through one of my greatest heartbreaks before I came to place where I was ready to accept this in my life.......

I can tell you that in a small way I knew what I was walking into....but as with most things in life....there is always the unknown.  I knew my life would never be the same.....I knew from watching hundreds of others go through the process that it was going to be hard....living it however is a whole other level of reality....

I am in the trenches.....it is hard.....I may not have a smile on my face some days...in fact, I may not seem like my normal self at all for a long time yet....I am sorry but I am not.....I am sleep deprived, my emotions are raw and I am surviving day to day the best I can....I put a smile on my face and try to look as presentable as my 39 year old exhausted self can look....

You can point fingers at me, gossip about me, think I am crazy, walk past and stare as I deal with one more meltdown in the grocery store... and then go back to your happy place where the world is perfect and all is well......

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