Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Paperwork and Push-ups

Going into this process we were warned by everyone who has ever adopted before that there would be mountains of paperwork. Even our adoption counselor warned us but you never truly understand it until you have to fill it out and make copies. I truly believe it is the way the governments and the agencies involved make sure you aren't wasting their time and that you are serious about wanting to adopt.

It's a stark contrast to having a biological child. No where does someone ask you to fill out a questionnaire about your past, take a hard look at your emotional baggage (and anyone who has lived a life has baggage), and really take a look at your marriage, disciplinary style, parenting skills, etc to find out if there is anything there that would keep your from being a great parent. No one looks at your financial information, your last will and testament, or your decision about guardianship if something were to ever happen to you when you have a biological child. Frankly, maybe they should.

These questions have forced us to continue with our growing pains but to also be crystal clear about how we want our children raised, what we want our family to look like and to be, how we want our relationship to run, etc. In short, it has be an awesome wake up call for us to grow closer together and closer to Christ because we are really learning to rely on Him in all of it.

The other unintended positive (well, sort of) side effect is that we all had to have physicals and submit them to the agency. Getting on a scale for my physical was a shock. I now have the motivation I need to lose the few pounds that I need to in order to be healthy and live a long life for my children. It also unearthed some really dangerous things about Nick's health that are not necessarily something within our control. We eat pretty healthy, watch our cholesterol numbers,etc but when it's a hereditary problem, that may not be enough. In the coming months, we will be watching our diet even more closely and retest Nick's levels to see if the few changes we can make will help. More exercise, even the dreaded push-ups, should help both of us in the long run. Maybe I will learn to like it...Maybe...but I am not holding my breath.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Lots of Growing

Nick and I have been going through some major growing pains together in the past few months. I have been feeling pretty empty and run down and it was affecting everything and everyone around me. I have been blessed with a pretty patient guy though so we had some long talks and probably longer arguments. I have taken steps to get myself out of my funk and get filled back up spiritually. Of course, school being back in session is really helping also. It has given me some breathing room.

I have a friend whose child was diagnosed with something called RAD - Reactive Attachment Disorder - and it just breaks my heart and makes me think. RAD is essentially where the child doesn't form healthy attachments when they are infants or toddlers. It could be because of changing daycare providers frequently, divorce, or some other similar trauma. The poor child just doesn't know how to form those loving, healthy attachments. It can lead to other symptoms like depression, aggression, and as they get older promiscuity, etc. The truly sad thing is that there isn't a magic pill to make it go away. Years of individual and family therapy can help and there are some drugs that may help as well but the news is pretty discouraging. I love this child and I know her mother does as well. There isn't anything she wouldn't do for her children. The problem is that they need stability and consistency to improve and anyone who is a single mother knows that that is next to impossible. Love and support is no problem but consistency is HARD!

This RAD diagnosis made me really think. I went through similar experiences as a child, why don't I have it? I have baggage for sure. It is part of why Nick and I have been doing so much talking lately. My mother passed away from Cancer when I was 5, I had 5 or 6 au pairs in about 3 years, my dad re-married twice. I became a little mom of my two younger sisters, whether my dad needed the help or not, and they were not impressed with me. I missed out on a lot at school because I had to come home and babysit and get dinner ready. I could easily have developed any of a variety of social or mental health issues. The truth of the matter is that I was in and out of counselors offices my entire childhood. My father knew it was out of his scope and got me help, as much as my friend is doing for her child. What's the difference? I am not sure I have an answer. I had the support of my dad, and an amazing extended family that included actual family, great neighbors, and a few close friends. Maybe I do still have some problems since I NEVER ask for help and truly don't know if I can. I am the "fixer" and have no idea how to let others help. It tends to make my husband frustrated and angry because he can see I need help but he keeps hoping I will ask. I also don't open up about my thoughts or feelings. I am a pretty introverted person and opening up is hard to do. I can see where that would be really difficult for the person on the other end of a conversation.

With all this, there is the added worry that realistically, any older child that we choose to adopt could have this disorder or some variation of it. Are we equipped to handle the emotional aspect of this? In all honesty, I think God has brought these things to light now as part of our journey. By looking into my own baggage and learning how to lean on others and ask for help, I will grow more dependent on God and on my family to help me. By helping my friend through this diagnosis and trying to help her child, we all will have an idea of what we could be in for. I truly believe that everything happens for a reason and God gives us exactly what we need when we need it, even if we don't agree. So, thank you God for exposing my flaws and weaknesses and helping me to improve them and challenging me to do something about them now! Thank You for giving me a husband with his own flaws and weaknesses so that we can work on those together as well. Life with You is never boring and we have to trust the You know what You are doing!

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Expectations and Trepidations

As we begin our journey, Nick and I are so excited and yet we're terrified. We have been talking about adopting for years but the timing never seemed right. At first, I wanted more biological children, then we were both in school, then our job outlook didn't seem so great, so many excuses and reasons to wait. We debated, argued, and shelved the discussion over and over since Mike was just a baby and have been throwing around the "We are planning to adopt our 4th" line since Elizabeth was born.

I am not sure what made us decide to start now. There have been so many little things that just added up. Ellie is older now and I am getting that mommy urge again. Not so much to have more babies but to be a mom to more. I went to an Adoption conference at our church last month and really learned a lot. Nick had gone a few years before and came home excited but this time seemed different. We were in a much different place this time. Nick also volunteered at a GiGi's Playhouse fun run and saw the joy on the children's faces. That put him along a path to adopt a special needs child (preferably Downs Syndrome). We have known from the time Ellie was born that we wanted an older child and neither of us were opposed to Special Needs but I think I was hoping for mild instead of severe. We know our limits and we will have to explore that more closely with our case worker and do a lot more research.

The thought of a special needs child is overwhelming and terrifying and yet so exciting. All sorts of questions are running through our heads right now. Is this the right decision for our family? Will our kids be ok with it? What kind of financial commitment will it be? Will the timing work with our current crazy schedule? Is this really the path God is leading us in? Are we really equipped to handle what God is throwing at us? I have these crazy dreams of my perfect family and although I know reality is far from that, it is nearly perfect for us.  How will this change that vision?

I find myself full of excitement for what the future holds but also full of fear and worry. Only God knows what his plans are and I have to trust He knows what He is doing.  "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." Jer 29:11 (NIV)