Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Solutions

"Mom, I love you. I do. I wish I could have stayed in Ethiopia. This is hard. Hard to live alone without my people. Hard to change my food. Hard to change my language. Is it okay to say that?"

That conversation happens on a fairly regular basis. Too often, potential adoptive parents forget to think about how much pain and grief happens due to the fact that a child is taken from his/her culture, food, and (sometimes) language. This is painful for a child.

Imagine being 8 years old, knowing the English word "no" and nothing else. You are then placed into the arms of these two people that look much different than you and speak a language you know hardly any of. They are nice. You are told to trust them. They will give you new things. Don't complain. This is the family you wanted, right? Then you have to leave behind your friends, food, (possible) family, language, and nannies. You are thrust into a very scary situation. Your thoughts run from, "This is what I wanted, a family", to "my heart hurts", "I want my mom", "I miss my mom", "I hate this food", "Why is this plane trip so long", "I wish these people could speak to me". Your heart is torn because you don't want to be alone in the world but you don't want to be taken from the only world you have ever known. You get to your new home and you are lonely, scared, and basically traumatized by everything that has occurred in your young life. Now you are expected to try and conform to a new way of living. Your parents try to comfort you, make your food when they can, speak to you in small amounts of your home language (because that is all they know), play with you, find other people from your country within the community, but your heart still longs for your homeland. However, you make it work the best you know how, at age 8, because what else are you going to do. That, and you truly did want a family.

That is Evangeline's story. She has told me several times that she has an extremely torn heart and that her dream would be to live in Ethiopia with us. The truth is, no matter what we do to try and make her feel absolutely at home here, she knows she will never fully fit in. She loves us. We love her. She is Ethiopian. We are American. She is the one that has lost the most. She is the one that has sacrificed so much. On a side note, isn't that what life is like, until we are home with God, we will never feel fully right here on Earth. So where do we go from here?

There are lots of conversations happening between us. Hopefully we are creating an atmosphere that allows for Evangeline to feel safe sharing her honest feelings about the loss and anger she feels. I hope we are pointing her to the One who can comfort her far better than we can. We also talk about solutions.

Solutions you say? Yep. In Ethiopia, and in several other countries, poverty is the leading cause of placing a child within an orphanage/institution. Before I continue, I am an advocate for adoption, when a child is an actual orphan. A mother and/or  father should not have to place their child for an adoption because they do not have the finances to take care of them. As the church, I feel as though we should be active in trying to create resources in these countries that allow for family preservation. We have to meet the need head on. Jobs. We have to help step in to empower individuals in these countries (and our own) to become educated and life-sustaining. There are wonderful organizations such as Noonday (www.noondaycollection.com) and the Global Orphan Project (https://goproject.org/go-project/about) that do just this. They help bring jobs and education to women and youth so that they can be empowered to provide for themselves and their families. There are others but these are two that I am very familiar with.

I am going to address something that can be contentious, but I feel as though it is important. We also need to help raise up and support organizations that will provide familial like care when a child is truly an orphan. Evangeline has spoken on several accounts about how she would have rather stayed in Ethiopia with a stranger (who would become like family) than be with a family in America. These are hard words to hear and process through on a personal note but I completely understand where she is coming from. She longs to be apart of creating an organization that would place orphans in a sustainable living situation within their own culture and country. This would be like American foster care, except it would be permanent. There is an organization in Ethiopia that is doing that right now called Bring Love In (bringlove.in).  What they do is raise support that will bring families together. They match a widow up with several children and create a home. It is a beautiful thing to see. I hope you check out the link. Our family wants to be apart of that type of solution. Evangeline and I firmly believe that this is a great way to move when thinking about the orphan movement. Empowerment which leads to sustainability and family building within the country.
video


Again, I truly believe there are legitimate orphans and that we should always have open homes. However, I think that we also, as the church, need to find ways to help with family preservation (when possible) and family building projects (that will allow orphans to stay in their own culture). I am not anti-adoption, I learning how to stand for total orphan care. I am at the beginning of this journey. I am learning. I am trying to keep an open mind. What are your thoughts?

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Hard, Hard, Hard....

It has been so long since I have posted an update. Several of you have asked how it is going and I have gotten wrapped up in life.

                So, how are things going.......
                      hmmmm......I could say that everything is dandy and that our family is now perfect....
                           except that would be a LIE.

Compared to several families I know, we are thankful. Some of my friends have been walking deep trials with their littles from traumatic backgrounds. My heart breaks for the littles along with the families.

                 No amount of reading fully prepares you.....
                     The challenges of processing through grief and trauma is tough.....
                           Will we ever see healing on this side.........

There is such deep hurt from being taken from everything she knows. Such grief from remembering the family who loved her and raised her for 6 years. Heartache at physical issues she will contend with for her life. An aching heart for the food and culture of her people.

             No amount of time can heal the grief that comes from leaving your homeland.....
                   Your people............
                       Your culture..........

There is a catch 22 for Evangeline. She longs for her homeland but she also longs for her family. She desires to be with us but her dream would be for all of us to be in Ethiopia and have her family alive and well.
               Heart breaking........
                   dreams shattered......

All I can do is hold her in a hug and allow her to feel what she is feeling. There are no words of solace I can give in those moments. She needs a chance to feel in its most raw form. We pray. We laugh. We cry. We fight.

               Sometimes the best thing you can give a grieving person is silence and a hand.....

No one prepared me for how bonding and attaching would be from my side. Here is the yucky truth that I am working through (personally and with professionals), I am still struggling to feel bonded with Evangeline. I know, WHAT? At this moment you might want to turn me into CPS. I assure you, I have thought those thoughts.
   
            Her mom died praying for a new family..........
                I cannot let her down..........
                   E deserves that kind of love and bonding......

Let me be clear, I love Evangeline. I love her as a person. I love her for the bright spot and the realness that she brings to my life. I love her as each day passes. However, that maternal bond is still small. I have been afraid to say these things because I am  ashamed. How can I not feel like a mother to this child. We have two very different personalities, in fact, some would say we have clashing personalities. She is everything I am not. We drive each other nuts. Now add trauma into that and it is difficult.

          Bonding and attaching is no joke......
             It is a long process.........
                It may not happen.........
                   It is messy.........

Through counseling and other resources, I am learning that I am not the only one that it has taken time to feel the maternal bond. In fact, some of my friends, after years of being a family still do not have that bond. That is scary and hard truth. Everyday I wake up and pray that God would knit my heart to hers. And hers to mine. I want so badly for this child to feel apart of me. I love her so. Truth is, some of what holds me back is fear. What if she never loves me? What is she goes back to Ethiopia when she turns 18? What if she hurts me? Can I open my heart to that hurt? Adoption is messy and hard. It is not a fairy tale and more often than not the endings are not filled with happy singing. I have to focus on the fact that we have been loved so much by a Creator, that He took a risk by sending his Son to live and die for us. We turn our back on Him every day and He still chooses to love us. If we walked away from Him right now, He would still love us. So, every day I pray for the strength that Christ showed and to love Evangeline in a way that is maternal. I pray that as I am faithful to do this that God would knit our hearts together.

               With God all things are possible.......
                   In His timing.........
                      In His way...........
                          For His glory...........

Evangeline has truly been a wonderful addition to our family. Due to the fact that she is so different than the rest of us, she challenges us. We are better because she is in our life. She has taught me that orphan care is not just about bringing orphans into our home but fighting for family preservation. It would have been better for Evangeline to stay in her home country in her birth culture. The loss she feels daily reveals that truth. However, that was not possible at the time due to limited resources within Ethiopia. Evangeline was a true orphan, with nobody. Therefore, I know that God called us to her. However, our little fighter for justice, desires to be apart of ministries that can keep families together (when possible). She loves us. We know. She loves Ethiopia. We know. She has a torn heart. We know. We love her all the same. 

Friday, March 15, 2013

Joyful, Joyful

Has it really been six months! Well technically we are a couple weeks short of that but close enough. Tsihon Evangeline is doing well. She is growing in every area and we are blessed and grateful for God's faithfulness in her time with us thus far. She is bright, funny, smart, passionate, caring, helpful, kind, generous and inquisitive. She is VERY strong-willed and independent which I believe stems from her time of having to be that way in order to survive. When you are dependent upon at the ripe old age of 5 to help provide for your family, independence and a strong will are bound to develop. We are still working on that continual battle of we are the parents and you no longer have to worry about taking care of yourself. We see her try to be the parent in every aspect, including parenting our youngest. I have to confess, that grates on my nerves most of the time. I have to remind myself why she takes over and pray for the grace to respond kindly and graciously. I fail more than not. Sorry is my new favorite word in the vocabulary. Parenting two has truly brought me to my knees in acknowledgement of my humanity. It has also revealed God's ALL encompassing grace. I think almost every adoptive parent will tell you the same thing. Overall though, Evangeline has not really struggled and compared to what I was preparing for, I am amazed. Do we see grief, absolutely. There are days that you can tell she hurts and misses her family. You can see it in her big beautiful brown eyes that she aches inside. She is a quiet griever. God has given me the eyes to begin seeing those moments of quiet. What do you say to this precious child? Like I could ever understand.  I try and assure her that it is okay to miss your family and your culture, that ideally she would still be in Ethiopia and with her family. I tell her that I hurt for her. I cannot begin to fathom what it would be like to be stripped from everything you know and forced to live in another culture and with a family that does not look like you and does not hold your past. I imagine it would be incredibly difficult and painful to have to learn new customs in order to function successfully in this new world you have entered. No, it is not ideal. I love supporting ministries that bring together widows and orphans. I also love ministries that work with mothers in order to help them provide for themselves and their children so they NEVER have to relinquish their children due to poverty. However, until there is enough support to go around there is a need for families willing to love these kids as their own. So I gently remind her that life is not as it should be. It hurts. It is painful. I then tell her that their is an abundant hope. Our hope in Jesus. As we come upon the Easter season and are reflecting on what Christ did on the cross while we wait to celebrate the day that He rose and conquered ALL, I remind her of the hope we have every day. Christ came, He died for you and for me but here is the best news of all, He did not remain in the grave! NO! He conquered death and is ALIVE! Our faith hinges on the fact that Christ rose again. Our power and salvation rests in the fact that Christ conquered it all. There will be a day when the pain and hurting will end and everything will return to how it should have been, in completeness with our Lord. So, today I remind her that things might hurt and the tears will fall but know that you have not been left alone and you are fiercely loved and have a purpose that extends far greater than you can even imagine. You are precious and God has a plan even in the hurting. You are precious to us as well and we are so grateful for the gift of you! God is faithful and good.

As I have prayed that my children would see the love the Lord has for them and their need for that love and grace, I have seen true joy in the heart of Evangeline. A kind of joy that is supernatural. On many occasions I have had strangers walk up to me and say that E is oozing joy. They have told me that she is like sunshine on a dark day and in Washington that occurs often. :) They have wondered how a girl that has experienced so much has the determination and strength that she has. I have wondered the same thing and have wondered if she does have a love for Jesus in her heart and a desire for His purpose and will in her life. She has learned enough English now so I thought I would ask her if she has accepted Jesus into her heart. Her answer was simple. YES mama!! Oh Yes!! I know that I mess up , I know He died for me! He will heal my hurts! He will make me new! Yes baby girl He will. I know because I have seen it in my life. I wanted to make sure that she understood grace. So I asked her if she thought she could make God love her. Again, she answered simply, no. He just loves me, right? Yes my dear He does even in our junk. I know there is a joy there that comes from knowing our Lord. I see Him ever so present in her life. Is she still a kid?? YES!! We are still trying to figure out how to best discipline her but it brings my heart great joy to know that she loves the One who loves her the most.

Things are getting crazy! Pete will be leaving in a month and we will be moving to Kansas City, MO in a couple of weeks. So the days run together and the girls are running wild most of the time but we are trying to embrace the moments and find the thankful. Again, I am failing most of the time but it is allowing me to see the abundant grace in my own life. Is this my life?? It really is rewarding running hard after Jesus. It will be interesting to see what God has around the corner. I can face another day because He goes before me.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

3 months in

I realized that I have not really update our blog in a while. It is amazing how time flies when you are busy with two wild girls. It amazes me that Miss E has been home for almost three months. Some things have been easier than I thought and other things have been a little harder than I thought. Here are a few small items I have learned.

1. I don't know how anyone parents a child with a traumatic background and language barrier without the strength and guidance of the Holy Spirit.
2. I don't have the strength, patience, love or grace in and of myself. I have floundered hard when I have tried.
3. Hand gestures are now a permanent thing in my life, even when I am not speaking to someone with a different language.
4. Children are much more brave and resilient than we give them credit for.
5. Sisters often like to bond in the middle of the night when they are supposed to be sleeping. (Mine do anyway)
6. No wonder my parents used the "I am going to turn this car right around if you don't settle down" card when kids are going crazy in the backseat.
7. You might need a gas mask to enter our house when certain bodily functions are occurring with both our girls.
8. Sometimes it is okay to go to another room and just take a minute.
9. Girls develop their own fashion sense pretty early on and my fashion is apparently not the "it" thing right now.
10. You can get E to eat any veggie if you put a little salt on it. Don't judge. :)
10. Love is more than a feeling but an action.

On a personal note the last three months have shown me how prideful I am. I thought that I depended on the Holy Spirit to guide me a lot more than I actually do. After many days of cracking, yelling, stomping my feet, crying and just plain apathy I realize that I depend far to much on my own strength. God has been showing me through this adoption just how much I do that. I am in need of something far greater than strength to parent well. I am humbled and this experience has taught me to lean more on Him.

I am also learning that each child is unique and comes with their own ways of coping with grief and change. Support groups which are a great blessing can also be a hindrance to me because of my sin. I tend to compare how others do things and how their children are responding and behaving in certain situations and then gauge whether we are doing okay or bad based off their families. The truth is, every child and family is different. Miss E is going to cope in different ways than other adopted kids. Her story is different from their stories as are theirs from hers. Each child will experience their trauma differently. I LOVE certain books about adoption that come highly recommended. I devoured them. I highly recommend them.  I have gleaned wisdom from them and from other adoptive parents but I have also realized that Miss E is her own person and she will follow her own journey in this life. I say this because Miss E has not followed the books step by step and she has seemed to adjust fairly well. Please do not mistake me for saying that she is not struggling. She has her moments of grief but she seems to be attaching and bonding and for this we are grateful. Because we have not struggled as much as other families I have had moments of panic thinking that I am not paying enough attention and missing important things, which maybe I am. I pray every day that God would give me eyes to see the world through her eyes. However, I think that God has been showing me that she is Miss E and that He has a plan and purpose for her. That He is working ALL things out in her life, the good and the bad, for His glory and her sanctification. This will look differently for every child. Her story is not the same as another adopted child nor are they like her. She does have some of the same struggles that a lot of other adopted children have but there are some things that we have not struggled with. I am learning that I need to glean wisdom from those on this earth that have great insight to adoption of older children but I need to realize that they are still humans and psychology is not a hard science. People are complex beings and complicated at times.  So, I continue to read those important books and seek out wisdom from other moms and dads but hold that with an open hand while praying for God's wisdom on how to parent our girl. God is molding all of us right now and we just need to be open to being molded.

The struggle I am finding the most difficult is with my own heart. As I look upon this child that God has blessed us with I find myself struggling to have maternal instincts. When we were seeing things on paper and a few pictures here and there it was easy for me to feel these maternal feelings for her. Now that she is finally in our home, I realize that she is her own person with her own personality. Her personality has been formed at this age. We did not get a chance to see her grow into that person. We now have to get to  know her without all that past history. This is not as easy as it seems, or at least for me it has not been. When Amelia was born, I loved her because she was given by God and I knew that she was special but I was not IN love with Amelia. That kind of bonding has taken time and is still continuing to develop. As she grows older and I begin to see this unique person that God has made, develop and grow, my feelings and maternal instincts grow deeper and more mature. I believe that happens because of time and life spent together. Times on the couch, time with her when she is sick, time playing together, time talking and hanging out with each other and so on and so on. So, I am trying to breath and remember that it will take time to forge a long lasting bond with Miss E. I love her and know that God has brought us to our family but it will take time to forge that deep maternal bond. Every day brings about another opportunity to bond deeper and build those maternal instincts. Right now I am trusting that God is going to bond our hearts together and I just have to be faithful to show her love and treat her like she is one of our own, because she is and I know that one day there will be absolutely no distinction in my heart. God has called us to this, I believe He will make that bond in my heart.  Please do not get me wrong, I love her, she is not being neglected, we treat her as one of our own. I am talking about he inward struggle I have. Also, my feelings and struggles are not the same as other families. There are families that struggle like I do and there are some that have that deep maternal instinct right off the bat. Again, we are all created very differently.

We are doing well. God is doing great things and I know that our family is drawing closer to Him through this journey. Evangeline is a beautiful little girl with a vibrant personality. She is a strong extrovert and we are strong introverts so she is a perfect fit for us. We look forward to the journey ahead and are grateful for the difficult and easy parts of this journey. We are so grateful that God does not leave us where we are but desires to see us grow and become more Christ like. What a gift to be used to glorify Him. I am not worthy. He is so worthy.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Entitlement

Evangeline looks at me with those big eyes and proceeds to wave one finger around saying, "NO, NO." It takes everything I have and lots of prayer not to yell at her.....

This has been a constant scene around our house and around town. It has been the most difficult, challenging part of this adoption thus far. Evangeline (Tsihon) has decided that she is entitled to everything. She gets angry and ungrateful when she does not receive something that she desires. We walked into our 1000sq ft apartment and she pointed to a big house down the street and said, "mamma, there." Those were some of the first words I heard. She says no to almost every kind of food, even Ethiopian and sometimes refuses to wear the clothes that I took hours picking out for her. We walk around the stores and she feels as though she deserves everything on the shelves and more. I think I have heard the phrase, "mamma no and mamma, that" more than you can count. It really has taken strength for me to not want to scream at her and tell her to stop telling me no or being ungrateful for something she has in front of her. I feel the same way when Amelia does that.

I have been praying for patience and grace in relating to her because the issue is three fold I believe. She is a kid and has never seen much of this stuff before; she has been told that parents will give her everything she could want or desire and the biggest reason, she is sinful. She has the same human nature that you and I do, sinful. Her natural desire is to want more and more and more and expect it. Everything in our culture tells us that we are entitled to have anything we want and we can do whatever we want to achieve those wants. We were told over and over not to expect her to be grateful for her adoption or the things in which we would give her as she came home. She is still just a kid who has been yanked out of everything she knows and told what to expect here, everything. She has been told that life will be roses from this point on. I would be expecting and wanting everything as well. As she rolls her eyes for the 30th time in a day, I try to remember those truths and gently re-direct her and tell her that we cannot get everything we want. Sometimes baby, life will be plain hard, even now after finding a family. Try explaining that to a kiddo who can barely speak your language and is refusing to look at you. I have failed once or twice and told her in a much too stern voice not to tell me no again. Yep, I am a sinner too. I have already had to apologize more times than I would care to share on this blog.

This particular attitude has been eye opening for me as well. How often to I expect things from God. How often do I pout and complain when I do not get something that I feel entitled to, from the big things to the small things in life. Things like:

Pete not responding to me the way I would like
Children not listening to me and obeying
Our 1000ft sq apartment that I feel should be a bit bigger for a family of four
Pete having to stay late yet again at work
Pain that comes from trial
Having the nicer things in life
Desiring to go my own direction instead of where God is leading

The list could go on and on with the things in life that I feel I have a right to have. I have a strong sense of entitlement and the bible is clear with what I deserve, death. (Romans 6:23) God has not promised me good fortune, wealth or even constant happiness on this side of earth. Nor did I earn His favor because of my good works. (Isaiah 64:6) In fact, the bible tells me to prepare for persecution and trial and even consider it pure joy. (James 1:2-10, 1 Peter 1) God's word tells me that there will be pain on this side of heaven and that this world is not what we put our hope in. The best and most undeserving gift has already been bestowed on me, God's grace and ultimate acceptance through Jesus. That is what He has promised me, a hope and a future because of what Christ did, not what I am entitled to. I have hope that one day there will be no more sorrow and no more pain and I will walk side by side with my Lord and Savior. (Revelation 21:4) My goal is not to be comfortable on this side of Heaven but to lay aside myself for the sake of others and the gospel. ( Philippians 2:1-18)Why? Because Christ laid down His life for me. Yes, for me. The mom who sometimes looses her cool, jumps down her husband's throat, says little white lies, ignores pet sin and can often times not be very loving. There are many others I could add to the list but those are a few. He paid the price, He adopted me into His kingdom, He loves me even when I am ungrateful, He patiently teaches me and loves me and above all He has shown me His abundant, all encompassing grace. The kind of grace that spurs you to action and total devotion. May I continue to to remember these things when I forget the most precious gift that has been given to me. I hope to remember the life I am called to live on this earth as I try to point my daughter's towards Christ.

It will take time, love, patience and lots of grace to teach Evangeline and Amelia. I suppose that is what parenting is all about. My hope is that they will eventually see how much their Father in Heaven loves them and how much He has given for their life. I pray for the strength and wisdom to continue to pour myself out sacrificially in order for my children to see Him. That is not always so easy, especially in the morning. ;) When I begin to feel like I am entitled to something other than what has been given to me through the gospel, may I remember in humility the One who laid it all on the line for me.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Gotcha Day

The Ethiopian 787 Dreamliner airplane was beyond a blessing from the Lord. What a way to head into Ethiopia for a busy and emotional three days than to cruise with plenty of leg room and just all around service! I highly recommend anyone using that airliner if possible when traveling to Africa!

We walked through sea after sea of people that were just as anxious to see the beautiful light of day after being on airplanes for the last 17 hours as we were. People were pushing, cutting and all around crazy. I think planes do that to people. The thing about a third world countries airport is, there is no for sure system. So you might go one time and the next time it is completely different. You have to have a willingness to just submit to whatever might come your way. So we finally made it through the throng of people and stepped out into the most beautiful, sunny day. Here we were, exhausted and about to pick up our daughter forever. Wow, what a thought, ours on earth forever.  No more a threesome but a foursome. Nothing was ever going to be the same, in a great way!

As many of you know I have been fretting about all the small details of finally becoming a full-time parent to this vivacious girl. What schooling, what hair, what extra activities, how to bond, how to discipline, how to love, and the list goes on and on. So much to think through. So much to consider. So much to choose. However, with as much planning as we do we can never know fully what will happen until we are thrusted into a situation and we are forced to begin taking inventory on what actually needs to happen. Before we left, Amelia and I were driving and Amelia pointed out a bird in the street that was drinking water. She was so exited because she said he was thirsty and needed some. I reminded her of the story in the gospels of how God provides for the birds of the air. (Matthew 6:25-34) There are so many things to worry about in regards to bringing Tsihon home and beginning to form our family of four. Things that in wisdom, we have thought through and tried to make a plan for. However, things do not always go to plan and life has a funny way of throwing curve balls at you, so those are the times I have to remember that worrying brings about nothing but by prayer and thanksgiving, peace and truth will come. (Philippians 4:6-7) Jesus was right, there are too many things in a single day that bring trial, there is no need to worry about the things of tomorrow. He is in control. She is a child from a broken past, with hurts, hang ups, anger and grief. She is also beautiful, caring, loving, vivacious and fun. I cannot heal her heart and make it okay. It would be arrogant for me to try. So I must not worry and rely on the One who can do those very large tasks. He will heal her heart. I must walk in daily prayer and constantly hand over every situation to Jesus. Things work better when I do! Right now, I have decided to take every day one at a time. I have the broad picture of what it will look like but my main goal right now is to bond and help Tsihon make this transition. Everything else can wait until another day.

We took a much needed shower and headed over to the transition home. I was so excited to hold her again. Everyone had told us that she was counting down the days. It made my heart glad to know she was so excited that we were coming rather than being ambivalent about the whole thing. We pulled up and a very thoughtful family offered to take pictures for us. AWAA families are awesome, I cannot say enough about them. Anyhoo it was time to meet again. We stood outside the door and waited and waited and waited. It seemed like forever but I am sure it was like 3 minutes. She finally came walking through the doors and her mega-watt smile came busting out. She took off running, yelling momma, daddy in her husky little voice. This time Pete had the honor of having her jump into his arms. It was so precious and you could tell Pete was thrilled with that idea. Tsihon is already a daddy's girl. She grabbed me next and it was so good to hold her. A couple hours later, after saying goodbye to many people, we walked out the gate hand in hand saying goodbye to one home and walking into another.

Things have been going well up to this point. She is listening the best she can with a language barrier and she is sleeping well. Our largest issue is food. We knew food hoarding and stuffing could be a problem with a child from an orphanage because of the previous lack of food. She has yet to trust that food will always be around. So we are dealing with her always wanting to eat the snacks that I brought. I mean tons and tons of food. The worst thing right now would be to tell her no because we need to build the trust that we will always provide food. Right now we are trying to give her a few of those snacks and then hiding them. When she asks for more we tell her that she can have another after our next meal, breakfast, lunch and dinner. This seems to be working. The snacks are the only American thing she will eat otherwise she will not touch our kind of food. It is all Ethiopian food for our girl, I cannot blame her, it is good! So we will have issues at home but again we are going to start taking this one day at a time, not week by week or month by month. So right now God is blessing us with peace and bonding. We know there will probably come a time when the grief will begin and we will deal with that as it comes. Right now we are enjoying laughter, hugs, kisses and lots of I love yous!!

We are no longer a family just by blood but a family of adoption just like our Father did for us! That beautiful picture that is painted in the bible about our salvation is more alive than ever for me. However, like one adopted mom so beautifully pointed out, our salvation started with great brokenness and grief. So I imagine there will be lows before we enter true peace and hope. Here is to the journey ahead. Welcome Home Tsihon Evangeline (Eva) Hathaway! We are blessed to call you daughter!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Cocooning for our family

There is a saying in the adoption world that describes the bonding and attachment process when bringing home an adopted kiddo, it is called cocooning. These children have suffered great losses, abuse, malnutrition and for some a lack of bonding and attachment which is crucial to forming a healthy family.

Cocooning is the process by which you completely close yourself off from the world with your child, husband and other children and let no one else in until the child really starts to attach and recognize you as the mother and father. It is important because these kiddos can easily attach to anyone and do not really have an understanding of what family is, so they need to be taught. You let friends drop off meals to you on the door step, you don't go to church or ministry functions, you don't let anyone touch or comfort your child except you, you provide EVERY need that child has until they realize who you are and what your role is. I know that it sounds harsh to someone who has not read Karyn Purvis's book "The Connected Child" but trust me it is a very needed process. :)

However, after praying, seeking out families that have %100 cocooned, %50 cocooned or did not at all, and realizing that it will be just me for the first month and a half with my toddler, new 8 year old daughter and our crazy basenji that we have decided to do partial cocooning. This will also depend on how Tshion is after she comes home. This is the first plan but as with all plans, one must hold it open and let God do what He will do. What this means is, I do not think it is healthy or helpful to either of my girls for me to lock myself in the house with just the two of them and never come out. I am not seeing much fruit come from that option. So, here is my request to those that will be around Tshion in the next couple of months. I will have a friend or two help me with Amelia but not Tshion. ALL of Tshion's needs will be met by me. When she is upset, I will provide the comfort. When she is hungry, I will feed here. When she is tired, I will put her to bed. When she needs help in the bathroom, I will take her. So on and So on. This is so Tshion begins to understand that I am her mother and I meet all of those needs. I will go out in public and to church but just to one sermon and Tshion will be with me the whole time. I will make play dates with a couple of people I know of , knowing that I will need those people to encourage and help me with my crazy three year old. From that point on, we will go day by day and see where the Lord takes us.

My most important request is this, if you see Tshion in the next couple of months please do not hug or hold her. Try to avoid touchy, feely contact. Again, do not meet any of her needs. I know this sounds cruel but it is so helpful. The way we parent Tshion will look a little different than the way we parent Amelia. I just want everyone on the same page so that you are not hurt or offended when I ask you not to hug or help my child. You can say hello and be excited and even play with her, I just need to be the most important figure in her life. Pete is as well but since he will be gone, I am referring to myself. Please pray as we begin this HUGE transition. Pray for our precious daughter's heart as she is about to leave the only place she has ever called home. Pray that we will walk in grace and utter dependence on Jesus. Thank you for your continued love and support!!