Surprises

(For adoption junkies) I did my homework. I have stacks of books and dvd's at home regarding adoption and attachment. I have books specific to international adoption, toddler adoption, and older child adoption. I have read all the blogs and I even kept my eyes fixed through all the stories of RAD. I have spent hours talking to friends who have adopted.

My point? I was ready for this. 

We were supposed to be ready for this.

I'm really not trying to scare away anyone, in fact, I don't want it to even sound like we are miserable right now. 

We aren't. 

Lately, we are even having more good hours than bad. In just two weeks. Which is pretty much a miracle in itself. 

But I do think there needs to be truth telling. I do believe there needs to be a holistic picture of what adoption is really like. And those of you who have been around for awhile know that in this space I like to keep it real. 

There were things I wasn't ready for, adoption surprises, if you will.

Entitlement.

I had actually read about this, but glazed over it. I didn't realize the impact it would have on our lives. The fact is the boys have lived in a weird conundrum of an institution in Uganda. That means they have lived meagerly by a strict set of daily guidelines that was somehow peppered with untempered indulgence.

Listen, this is about to hurt some people's feelings, but again with the truth telling. Mostly young white women come and visit these orphanages for a few weeks, maybe a few months. They see children that are desperate and deprived and they love all over them and refuse them nothing. Then they disappear leaving the consequences of such a life to someone else. It trains the children's brains to believe that they can and should charm their way into getting whatever they want out of Mzungu's and then be left to do things exactly as they see fit in the aftermath. 

It isn't good. 

We are battling a lot of fear and past hurts, which I was completely prepared for, but we are also having a battle with entitlement and consequences. It is serious and it is becoming obvious that it will take a lot of time redirect thoughts to a healthier and more balanced way of life.

Pain tolerance. 

Okay, this one is on me again. In a strange world directed by a sovereign God, I have now been made a mother five times. I say strange because, quite frankly, I am not the mothering type. I believe those Facebook quizzes labeled me as a free-range mother. Nurturing is not my nature. My girls are living proof. They are tough as nails, and on the off chance one does get hurt, I usually give an ouchie a quick kiss and tell them to shake it off. Unless there is (significant) blood or bones,  it is difficult for me to get worked up. Also? I have a freakishly high pain tolerance, I mean, come on y'all, I didn't know I was in labor with my first kid until she was almost born. (And only then because the nurse told me.)

Unfortunately that combo makes for very little compassion and empathy. A trauma trigger in adoption is pain. A small scratch can cause hours worth of wailing. It is because it releases cortisone in their brain that triggers hyper vigilance, a coping mechanism they have developed to protect themselves. Basically, they learned early in life that the squeaky wheel gets the grease and in a world where there is only a teaspoon of grease to run a whole factory? You must squeak loud and long. 

I knew it was going to be a thing, but I am surprised my the magnitude of the effect on both the boys and me. We are all working on it. 

My Jerk-i-ness.

Even armed with the above knowledge that I am not much of a nurturer, I imagined myself as an amazingly therapeutic parent. As I studied at the shrine of Karen Purvis, I envisioned myself, and even practiced with the girls, using my calm voice to deflect any and every difficult situation. We would pray together, God would send a comforting spirit and we would be fine.  I would pull out my books and my parenting experience and we would have this thing down in no time. 

Ummmm, as you might have noticed from the above section…no. 

Seriously, I have almost completely lost it several times. In fact, if we are really okay to be real here, you should know that since most "traditional" parenting techniques from a wooden spoon to time out are out the door in adoptive parenting, I have amped up my passive aggressiveness. One of the boys is super resistant to me, and when it is time to have consequences and he is flat out rejecting me, I tell him that I love him because I know it will irritate him. 

There it is. The awful, horrible, terrible truth. 

God is putting me through the refining fire right now. One way or another He will teach me to get off my High Horse. 

The Fight.

(Warning: This one gets really real a few times. It is not for the faint of heart.)

Oh this one comes in ever-so-many forms. The boys are a weird anomaly of fighting to fit in to this family and fighting to stay out of it, depending on the moment. The girls are fighting to be there best friends and fighting us to take them back to the babies' home. (Too real? Sorry.) Russ and I are fighting our exhaustion, our frustration, and our self serving mindsets that we would ALL be better off if we just walked away. (Whoop, there it is.)

HOWEVER, I am also shocked and amazed by how strong the fight is in all of us to stay together. To fight through this thing together. 

I inspired by the girl's persistence in befriending their brothers after countless rejections. I brim with pride of the boys endurance in befriending their sisters after multiple cast offs. 

I am awed by the ability to know that if we hold on for ten more minutes, the tantrum will end and he will be even more sure that we won't let go. That if we dig deeper for just a few more seconds that the glazed over eyes will come to life again knowing that they needn't have checked out in the first place. 

I am humbled by a God who is willing to continue to shower this family with redemption, sweet redemption, over and over again.