Tag Archives: family

One year ago today…

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One year ago today, after 24+ hours of travel, almost no sleep, and incredible anticipation… we laid eyes on our sweet Ladybug for the very first time.

I will never forget the emotion of that day. I remember feeling this huge shock reverberating throughout my life – this small child that we had committed to love and cherish forever and always was REAL! She actually existed!

It is nearly impossible to chronicle the changes the past year has brought to our family individually and as a whole. We are not who we once were. We have deeper joy and more painful wounds than we could have ever imagined. Ladybug has grown in amazing ways.

One year ago today, she met her family for the first time. One year ago yesterday, we were but strangers. Today we are the only mommy and daddy she has ever known.

One year ago today, she spoke a language that, sadly, she no longer remembers. Today, she makes up silly songs, counts, sings her ABCs, proclaims her love to her family, rambles on, and says, “I’m sorry.”

One year ago today, she met two of her sisters. Today, she is learning that her sisters (now three!) are her best friends and pose no threat to her acceptance, attachment, and survival in our family.

One year ago today, she ignored us as best as her curiosity would allow her. Today, she seeks out our comfort for owies and good morning hugs.

One year ago today, she was an orphan. Today, an orphan no more, she has a mommy, daddy, three sisters, grandparents, great-grandparents, cousins, friends, church family, and the future of more family to come.

One year ago today, she was exactly five months away from coming home for the first time. Today, she has been HOME for exactly seven months.

The past 7.5 months have been inexplicable for our family. Building and growing a family is never easy, and the task can become even more daunting when so much baggage tags along for the ride. The challenge feels ultimate. The reality and complexity of adoption will forever draw me to the cross of Jesus Christ. He alone could complete this great work and knit people from different parts of the world together into one home and one family. One love.

We have so far to go, but I stand in awe at the work God is completing. I so look forward to our future!

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Ladybug is HOME!

On August 13, 2015, Ladybug spent her first night with her new family. And on August 23, 2015, Ladybug spent her first night in her new home in her new country.

She is home!

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We saw her again for the first time since March on August 3, and I haven’t spent a day away from her since then. The past 9 weeks have been just oh so much. So much joy and so much pain. So much of every imaginable emotion.

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Welcome home, sweet girl. Daddy, Mommy, and your sisters are so glad you’re here.

When we come home

This post is difficult for me to write because it forces me to articulate some difficult things about adoption. It necessitates vulnerability. If those around us don’t understand some core things about adoption and how the related issues can affect a child and a family, then our plan for homecoming won’t make much sense.

A key thing to remember is that all adoption is possible because a child has first suffered an incomprehensible loss. Yes, adoption is beautiful. Yes, God works powerfully through adoption – as a Christian I know this in my soul firsthand. There is so much – so very much – good that can and is born of adoption. But, as adoptive parents, we must never forget the loss and grief and previous hurts that our child has experienced.

I don’t want to come at this too heavy-handed. It’s true that we do not yet know what Ladybug will struggle with as it specifically relates to her coming adoption, but we as her parents need to be prepared for anything.

Additionally, when a baby is born, there are a lot of things that the baby’s parents do almost instinctively that work toward creating attachment between them and their new baby. Much of the time, birth parents do not go out of their way to foster excellent attachment, it’s just a God-designed by-product of how we parent our babies and young kiddos.

Because we have missed those early days and years with Ladybug, we will be focusing more intentionally on attachment: helping her to learn what “mommy” and “daddy” are, helping her to trust us, helping her to learn what it means to be a part of a family, helping her learn appropriate dependence (to later learn appropriate independence), and more.

All of this to say: we may make decisions or choose to parent in ways that are confusing to others or that others may disagree with. While we welcome respectful guidance and wisdom in our lives, we also want to let you know that we’ll be doing the best we can with the knowledge we have. This may include “babying” Ladybug, seeming to tolerate undesirable behaviors, or making a big deal out of something that doesn’t make a lot of sense to others.

Just remember that while our homecoming is the culmination of the adoption process that you all have lovingly followed us on, it is only the very beginning of a lifetime we have spent the last few years preparing for!

When We Come Home

1. We are super excited for all of our friends and family to meet our new daughter! She’s pretty fantastic, and we can’t wait to share! However, we need to keep her world as small as possible to give her a chance to adjust. Please don’t expect to meet Ladybug right away. If it’s days or weeks, or sadly even months longer to meet her than you had hoped, just know that we, too, wish it could be different.

If you stop by the house and we can’t invite you in or ask that you not stay too long, we’re sorry! We will probably try to avoid a lot of interaction at church or other places initially; I promise we’re not trying to be rude!

2. Please refrain from kissing or hugging Ladybug. Indiscriminate affection can sometimes be an issue for kiddos who have been adopted. We don’t anticipate this being a problem for Ladybug, but please stick to a “hello” and a smile, anyway.

3. This may sound silly, but please don’t feed Ladybug. Feeding and attachment go hand-in-hand: think of the breastfeeding baby and the touch, eye contact, met needs, and satisfaction that the mama and baby experience. So, Chris and I really need to be the only ones to feed Ladybug indefinitely.

4. Please don’t ignore us! I know it feels like I’m asking everyone to allow us to live in a cave, and while we do need some good quality family time, we want and NEED to have the support of our loved ones, too. We would love for you to call, text, or Facebook us; send us some fun mail; bring by a meal; offer to pick something up from the store, help with an errand, or help in some other super tangible way. We NEED your prayers! Celebrate with us!

Many adoptive families implement really structured time frames for a lot of these rules: they may commit to not leave the house for the first 6 weeks except for doctor’s appointments; or they may say no visitors for “x” amount of time; etc. In general, it is recommended to “cocoon”as a family for at least 1 month for every year a child received care outside of your family. For us, that would be at least 3 months. We’re staying away from firm boundaries for a few reasons – the greatest of which really probably has to do with Gumdrop’s impending arrival. For example, we will need my mama’s help with the girls during labor and delivery, so I can’t very well prevent her from meeting Ladybug for six weeks. So instead of imposing firm boundaries of time on ourselves, we’re going to listen to the Lord’s prodding and follow Ladybug’s lead with as much grace and wisdom as possible!

Thank you for caring enough about Ladybug, our family, and learning how best to support this transition by reading this post!

Gumdrop

At the very start we were but two
As our love grew, that two became one
It wouldn’t be long before there would be a third
Having only three we desired more thus we became four
Hearing a call from a far off land, we decided to add a fifth to the band
Wouldn’t you know that God knew best and that’s when He added number six to our glorious mess

-written by my husband, Chris

Introducing Gumdrop

We are happy to announce that a little “Gumdrop” will be joining our family, due to arrive in October!

Keepsakes

I’ve always been a sentimental sap. Even as I increasingly desire to minimize and purge “stuff,” I struggle with sentimental items. Things from my childhood and the things that my children are creating and collecting now are important to me! I keep their hand tracings, first drawings, paintings, and more.

I believe it was our second day in Ladybug’s country that one of Ladybug’s caregivers offered us an invaluable gift: Ladybug’s keepsakes. She presented us with items that Ladybug has drawn and colored and created over the last year or so of her life.

When she handed me the pile, I gingerly leafed through everything. “We can take these things with us?” I asked, incredulously.

She shrugged. “Only if you want them.”

“Oh! Of course I want them! Thank you so much!”

So now, beyond the future we will create together with Ladybug, we have even more of her past to help her hold on to. Amazing.

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I wanted to photograph everything to document here and to have in case the originals are lost. Enjoy this precious two-year-old artwork 🙂

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Getting to know our girl

As much as I purposed to carefully record each day’s happenings and emotions, it didn’t happen. I think I will do my best to record our trip in potentially fragmented glimpses, impressions, and memories. I wish it were more polished, but this first trip was a whirlwind like no other!

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It’s still surreal to consider all we put ourselves and Poppy and Bumblebee through in that first day. Exhausted doesn’t even begin to describe how we were feeling; we were remotely functional only because of the adrenaline and pure amazement. The grace of God carried us clear through our travels and, indeed, through our whole week.

As I remarked to someone in the moment: it’s always exhausting to meet your child for the first time. 🙂

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Napping a bit before getting our day started.

Because we had only a few hours to sleep before heading off to our official appointment, the girls slept in Chris’s and my arms the whole time. I think that we were all a little dazed with that first day of visits at the orphanage. I remember feeling like I needed a good night’s sleep so I could come up with a way to actually interact with Ladybug and not just smile at her and watch in wonderment.

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Headed to our appointment. Girls = OUT like lights.

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Our first visit was rather short – we got there a little later than would be our usual for the rest of the week, and we had to leave after only about an hour so she could take her nap. Our translator took us to a popular-for-adoptive-families restaurant for lunch. Poppy enjoyed a Nutella and banana, Chris had something I can’t remember, and Bumblebee and I shared angel hair pasta with herb sauce. Bumblebee quickly fell back to sleep after eating a little, and it wasn’t long before we were picked up to return to the orphanage for our afternoon visit.

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Our first lunch

 

We met all of the children in Ladybug’s group that afternoon, and we got to see more of Ladybug’s personality since all of our attention wasn’t directly focused on her. We had a nice balance of 1:1 time and group time all week which enabled us to observe and interact with her in a variety of ways. It also gave us a chance to love of the other little ones – three of whom have families now pursuing their adoption and many others who still wait.

I didn’t know how to anticipate how Poppy’s and Bumblebee’s presence would affect our visits. It was challenging because we remained in parent mode 100% of the time, no matter how much we wished to direct our attention elsewhere or how tired we got (kind of like parenthood at home, huh? 🙂 ). However, there were unanticipated benefits: primarily that usually Chris and I traded off on parenting when the need was intense, which actually resulted in time for the other one of us to direct attention solely to Ladybug. Additionally, Poppy fell in love with a little girl there her age, and it was so sweet to see our oldest thriving in such a new situation.

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Our littlest on our second morning visit.

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A family who had adopted from Ladybug’s orphanage in October sent these awesome ZipZac mobility chairs. They only arrived a few weeks before we did, and Chris was so happy to have the chance to put them together for the kiddos!

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Sitting on Daddy’s lap

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Photography by Ladybug

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Afternoon visits – her “cheese” face 🙂

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Photography by Ladybug

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Happy girl on day three

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Joining in on the game Daddy and Ladybug started.

 

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Our week began to develop a somewhat predictable pattern: we’d awake no later than 9:00 AM to be ready for our 10:00 AM pick up. After a 15 minute drive, either via taxi or via our driver and always with our translator, we’d arrive for our morning visit with Ladybug. We’d play and visit and get to know her until about noon when she’d go down for a nap and we’d head back to the city center for lunch and walking/sight-seeing – this city is known for its many tasty diners and cafes and has plenty of points of interest to find! We’d return to the orphanage around 2:30, where Ladybug would be waiting for us following her nap and afternoon yogurt snack. Bumblebee was usually asleep in the carrier by then. We’d stay and play for 2-2.5 hours, leaving when Poppy and Bumblebee began to melt… or when Chris and I began to melt. We’d return to our apartment, 1-3 of us falling asleep on the way. We’d make it into our apartment usually no later than 5:30 PM, and we’d crash for about 3 hours. Then, it was up and at ’em for a night stroll to eat supper before returning to the apartment for bed, anywhere between 10:30 and midnight.

It was not a sustainable routine.

I don’t think any of us really ever adjusted to the time change, and the emotional tax on our days was high! Yet, our days were peaceful and spent playing, dining, walking, and sleeping. It was no frills, and our priority each day was always our time spent with Ladybug.

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Bumblebee’s lunch-time nap

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More memories and recollections to come!