Okay, so we are actually at six weeks. Maybe a little more. Time is not a thing in Uganda, so it is hard to keep track.
The boys are doing an AMAZING. The girls are doing an AMAZING. Russ and I are doing alright too. ;)
Here is the truth: Those first three weeks, no one really wanted this.
The boys weren't grateful and appreciative to be in a loving family. (Nor do they have to be.)
The girls weren't really a loving family, they were not the picture of children raised in a Christ following family that fully understood the beauty of adoption.
Russ and i were not spectacular parents that handled every situation with grace.
In fact, truth be told, we all acted like a bunch of sinners, trying to learn to live with a bunch of other sinners.
Wonder why that is?
So here is the toolbox that helped us feel like a family:
Write it down.
Those first few weeks I wrote out a schedule, complete with illustrations, and posted it on the wall. In case of panic or meltdown I would go point out. This is what we are about to do. This is what we need to do. This is the order it always goes in. New life requires some instructions.
Talk about it.
Oh the words we have used. We keep a running narration all day of what we are doing, what we will be doing next, what we expect of each child during the transition and the next activity. We use short words and short sentences, but we talk it out all the time. We also talk about feeling, about hurts. We make the kids talk to each other about their issues. Seriously I have used the phrase, "Use your words." about 643,852 times in the last month. We have even been working on signing for when the words just don't come.
Love, the verb version.
Listen, I am a huge advocate for "love" the verb. I'm not all about mushy gushy feeling, even though I do experience them. There is a Biblical model laid out for love. You do that.
You do that when you don't feel it. You do that when you even feel the opposite of that. I can't even tell you how many times God has laid the smack down on me by asking me, "What does love look like in this circumstance." And then I change my course of action. Because it is a thing you do. Sometimes you say, "I love you" and what you really mean is, "I am loving you."
With both the boys and the girls we have had to make major deposits. We are asking everyone in our family to do amazingly challenging things right now. We are asking them to be willing to be cut so that they can be grafted. And because we are asking to withdraw so much from them we have to make major deposits.
We have hugged, cuddled, praised, said 'yes', gone-out-of-our-way, patted backs, prayed with, prayed over, snuggled on top bunks, and worn ourselves to sleep investing in our kids. It won't always be so physically or even emotionally intense, but right now we are depositing everything we've got in them, because we are asking them to give all they've got to become a family.
The great thing is, we can already see this investment paying off. We are still a bunch of sinners trying to live with other sinners, but we are finding His grace. We are finding His sufficiency.