Saturday, June 29, 2013

Don't Ever Give Up

This was my gift the other day. "A adoption don't ever give up" and then drawings of our familyMy heart broke as it came at a time when a friend was losing hope about a kiddo that was home and in crisis and other friends were struggling to stay hopeful after months of waiting for the visas for travel. Then I opened a FB message and another friend was dealing with the hardest thing that can happen in adoption; not able to complete.I tried not to show my emotion and if you know me that is tough. I asked what prompted her to draw this picture for me today. She said it took " a year..." for you to come and get us. In reality it was four months and then I was burdened for all the kiddos that have received books with photos and presents and how long it feels like when you are a kid and waiting on the other side of the world.A new perspective.As adoptive parents we all get caught up in "our" stuff. How hard it is to wait, how we want to nest and dream, and can only find solace in networking with others that are going through the same thing and chocolate of course.Do I love Jesus, and do I believe He is in control, sure but there was a whole lot of "why" going on when I should have been have this one. In short I was trying to do it all myself. So fast forward to yesterday and the conversation with Miss G. So what did you think about when you were waiting. "I didn't think about nothing, I just kept waiting, and was getting mad at your for taking so long. I asked when you were coming and nobody could tell the answer"Imagine being an intuitive kid with a bright mind, a kid who thrives on knowledge and structure and being in control and being told, there was no answer.I wish we had known what we know now, we could have tried to make things clearer and we most definitely would never have sent presents. 

So this beautiful little girl told a tale of waiting of her own and the insecurity of wondering.
She described heart breaking stories of other children going home and always looking at the car when it drove in to see if the car would bring "her mommy and daddy".
Four months to a kid is a year...four months was hard for us, four months for her was frustrating and she said many times she gave up. She even told herself that maybe there was a mistake and we were not coming. We talked about wanting to go back to her community and what she knew. She very firmly said no, she didn't want to go back, she wanted to be part of our family. 

So as we watch home video, get pictures together and plan a one year anniversary video, because my girls love watching themselves, we realized that this year has brought us so far, it is a miracle.

If I would say my thought on "never giving up" post adoption it would be; will we ever be normal...nope...normal is a setting on the dryer. We didn't settle for normal, and we got fabulous! We have an amazing life with two littles that has exceeded our wildest dreams and some days we wonder why adoption was put off for ten years.

It was put off because these two little beauties were waiting for us and we were waiting for them. Don't ever give up!

When your big sister has the ball and you want it...a new game is born!

and that my friends is fabulous...normal just isn't how we roll. 

Friday, June 21, 2013

Random musings on relationships..and our connections to each other.

I recently had a discussion with a friend about relationships. We chatted about how some come and go, some stay for a long time, some wane but pick up exactly at the same spot, and some fall away without fanfare. I was trying to think of why some of us are relationship people and some are just not hard wired to be.

I am blessed with great relationships. I am thankful that at any time I can cry, laugh, hug or call for help to any number of people. Some are near and some are far. I have prayers and I have stayers, I have family close by and family scattered all over, but remaining in contact is important to me.  So this is where is gets do I understand people who relationships do not come easy?

This topic came up with my non relationship seeking husband. He has friends, he likes people, but he does not go out of his way to maintain relationships and most often requires his friends to call him up, more often than he calls them. He is happy and not lonely. I think they too are the same way. He has a few people that he wishes he could spend more time with but because of distance can't, he has people who just like him, pick up where they left off. He has no cyber friends. He couldn't imagine working in the retail sector, social service field, but he has a heart for people, especially the underdog.

So as I was examining differences in our people personality, mostly because I am always job seeking LOL, I saw an ad for a job in Human Resources for a local company. I considered why did I never go that path. I have gone some crazy routes in my job career.  Could that be something I would be good at? The answer was yes and no. Sure I am good at people, I actually don't like conflict, but I can do conflict resolution. I have a knack or a gut when it comes to reading people and their intentions or their spin. I tend to read into the eyes of a person, the unseen hurts, but also the thing that makes their heart sing. I am a part of a union, but I am not a great union person. So that could be a problem. I prefer to delegate and not micro manage, so I may be too independent to monitor people. I have good communication skills, and I can get to know people without ever meeting them face to face. Some of my BFF's I met  on line.  I concluded although I have tried many things that included not working with people, my vocation is best suited not as a  paper pusher, but a people person. So if I had skills to work with people why was I stumped on seeing relationships from another angle.

This is where the thread in my brain gets foggy..Am I trying to teach relationship morals and standards to a little that is completely different from me or way too much alike?

She loves to be around people, she loves having friends, she loves talking about relationships, but she struggles with the intimacy of relationships and the permanence of some and the "for a short time" of others. I cant imagine coming into understanding relationships from a kids view when I had history of being a caregiver for years of my sibling. I cant imagine using survival techniques and manipulation skills at six. I can't imagine why allowing people to love me would not be reciproical. These are the weights of the world on the little shoulders that we pray about constantly, we teach daily, and we work on coming at from a kid view.

Relationship in adoptive families is different. I never knew it but I am seeing it now. There is always another relationship, kind of like a middle man. It is the fact that DNA suggests many of personality traits. I see where my DNA came from at least weekly if not twice a week. Her DNA traits are somewhat a mystery. She has a bright mind and an incredible memory, so that is a gift. We have pictures and can see physical similarities. It is the understanding relationships that is a struggle, we know that underneath the tough exterior that others see is a beautiful kind gentle spirit who would give the shirt off her back to anyone that needed it. Underneath a guarded personality is a little person wanting to be loved and accepted. Underneath the "I am ok at looking different than my parents" is the questioning mind of beauty vs skin color, long hair in ponytails vs embracing heritage hairstyles. Underneath the wary eye of meeting new people and experiencing new things is the little exploration, I want to learn all about new things. Inside the kid with a fantastic set of questions of why and how. This is not just my little but littles that come into families that are already have been established and adopted as older children.

I liken it to  a new work place where you need to come and fit in and find your place. This is like joining a group and especially one that is going to talk about touchy feely stuff and you are supposed to open up, just because. This is like walking into a new classroom of kids when you are a teenager and you feel like everyone is evaluating you. It is tough place and our littles have done amazingly well. Do we ever stop working on relationships...nope. I have bigs and our relationships evole all the time. Some times they need me more, some times they are independent and do not want my input into decisions. Thankfully our bigs often ask for advice so hopefully we have done something right.

Relationships are hard, relationships are ambigious, relationships take work, relationships give and they take away, realtionships change, relationships come easy, relationships with family and friends blur. Some friends capture a place that can't be explained. Some friends have seen me at my worst and love me anyway. I am just one part of the relationships that make us a family.

We have 32 years between our oldest and  our youngest. We have grandchildren older than our littles. We are raising littles while our bigs are raising littles. We all value each other just the way we are. We all try to look for similarities and yet celebrate our differences. We all work trying to create a safe, loving, accepting family for two littles to find their place, while remembering we have family overseas now forever connected to our family. We will never forget how we became a family and that heaven sent us two daughters to love and care for, to teach and to grow. We just learn and live and from each other. What an amazing year we have had.

We are not defined by our circumstances of how we came together but defined by relationship...we are family...not all the same...not all different...just a mosaic of personalities that love each other unconditionally and for that I am one thankful, momma and wife.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Happily ever after as life happens...

I love June, usually because the yard is very green, I am almost done work for the summer and the cold days of winter are behind us. Last year if the locals remember, we called it Junuary, because it was SO cold, but this month it has been nice.
I am living life a little different this year, in fact it is different than any other June.

This June I am a mother again to two littles, a mother to three bigs, a grandmother to three and half kiddos, and I literally have a houseful of crazy. PS I only have twelve chickens and a cat and a dog and six fish in the house right now.

This last few years have aged me LOL. In fact the last year has been tough enough to sharpen character and wear down rough spots, increase patience, jump start my compassion and allow me to see the world through different eyes.

I would like to say it has been easy, but it hasn't. Miss G asked me the other day, if the bible says we should not worry, why do you? I told her I was a work in progress and that it was a tough one for mom not to worry.  I love people, and value relationships and kindness to strangers, commitment to friends, dedication to family and perseverance to God.

Thankfully she never scoffed and don't quite have that all yet. (She often says exactly what she is thinking)...sounds like her mother LOL.
I know what a tall order that can be, I know it is impossible to be everything to everyone.

I do not have to worry about others judging me, thankfully I worked through that in my thirties and I am ok to say, I don't have it all together. I do ask for help and I am not afraid to be real. So take this as your warning, if you don't want to hear how it is going, don't ask, and if you think you may never see me again, then read above, and don't ask.

...because life happens.

Circumstances change like the tides, and although we have had many changes in our lives, they don't change daily, but they always change.

In my lifetime of being an adult..I have been a travel agent, bank teller, animal health tech, cashier and worked in education. I have lived in Powell River, Port Hardy, Courtenay, Cumberland, Parksville, Haiti and back to Courtenay. I been married and had children that share three different mothers.....that is just for you math folks.

I have driven a Dodge K car, a jeep, a volkswagon, an old pick up a 1964 Chevy Impala, a Toyota van, Forerunner and a Ford F250...bringing me back to the family van I now drive, on alternate days with a second Volks Golf. Life happens.  If I was told I would be mom helper again and drive a mini van I would have laughed. I was going to live my days out on the mission field.
Yeah,  that one didn't pan out the way we thought it would in the Caribbean either. My mission field is close to home, well it is HOME, providing care to the widows and the orphans.

In my lifetime as an adult, I have been blessed and can only stand in awe at the times when my tears could fill a pool, when my laughter made me pee, when God showed up when I was weary, and when friends shouted with me for the miracles we have seen.
I was reminded by Miss G, that I really have no reason to worry, for every closed door, another opens, for every crisis there is resolution.

In our home a crisis could be anything from I cant find one shoe, to there is a huge spider on the window, to said sister clicking her tongue and driving older sister around the bend. A crisis is when somebody who will remain nameless loses his wallet, keys, glasses, or phone. PS If you were Jussi's phone where would you be, days after the battery died...and silenced.

You see a crisis should be an earthquake, a forest fire, a death. Worry should come from a sick loved one, a missing child, a job loss. For the rest of the little million details, it should just be life happens.

I am going to take up my own challenge and be proactive in not worrying about what I cannot change, not call most daily things a crisis, stick to a more caribbean style of event centred culture, and live happily every after as life happens!

PSS  Are these two beauties not a reason to live happily ever after..for sure. (yes, we have watched a princess movie this week)

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Are We There Yet Revisited.

One year ago I wrote a blog about our adoption journey. I called it Are We There Yet? I wrote the top ten things that we had learned about the adoption process. The incredible privilege of being a mom and dad to "littles" again has surpassed our wildest dreams, it has rocked our world, broke our hearts at times, and made us laugh until we peed.

Re printed from the post June 2012. Are We There Yet?
1. it steals your heart and captivates your soul
2. breathing while waiting for papers is laboured LOL
3. you start to nest without thinking about it
4. everyone you meet asks how how you are and instead of saying you have a any medical issues you automatically tell them where you are in the adoption process
5. there are some really great people you meet along the way...I love my cyber friends
6. the money is second, it is a lot and it is sometimes difficult to explain, but it pales in comparison to the stressors
7. time goes quick in hindsight but drags slowllllyyy when you are waiting on an answer
8. nothing is exactly what you think it should...nothing
9. there are way more opportunities for prayer than you thought imaginable
10. the end of it will be worth every heartache, every minute spent waiting

So this was then,  and today as we watch our girls play and laugh and develop their likes and dislikes their personalities shine and every day is a new day that makes us smile.

This is the top ten things I remember about meeting our girls and our first year together.
1. They have stolen our hearts and captivated every second of our thoughts, and every member of our family, and we forget that they were not always here.
2.  As they walked up the stairs to meet us, almost one year ago,  I couldn't breathe, I couldn't imagine that they were in my arms, I couldn't think.  There will never be another moment that I can explain like this, it tore me apart that it was happening, my heart was breaking for their good byes, and my heart was a puddle of emotions for our hellos, and their eyes were so full of uncertainty and fear, mixed with curiosity and connection. I really cannot explain it. The day we had waited for... was here...
3. They were so amazing, they were bigger, they were smaller, they were quieter, they were louder. They fell asleep the first night and I spent the whole night not sleeping, because I was too busy counting fingers and toes times two, over and over again. I took sleeping pictures, I watched daddy and two littles all curled up and I thought...we never have to wait to hear their voices, feel their fingers in our hands, listen to the sweet sound of their breathing, and see the soft head of curls crowning the little pink pjs. And I cried.
4. Coming home and being in Kinshasa waiting for all the papers we needed was difficult I won't lie. I always thought everyone's blogs were so truthful but now I wonder after our own experience and speaking to many others, it was tough. Did they tell the truth, was it all fabulous?  Don't let the sappy, happy adoption stories fool you into thinking transitions, travelling with two children that do not speak the same language, eat the same food or really have any idea where they are going, is a walk in the park. Couple that with intestinal bugs you pick up along the way, fatigue, and flight changes, and it is enough to make a grown woman cry. I made it home without tears but honestly I was so thankful when I made it to the Vancouver airport I thought I could kiss the ground. Not only was I home and normal and structure could start, but the girls had made it home, nothing could stop our two new little Canadians. I do remember thinking why am I not crying, because I am an emotional person, but in hindsight I think at that point I was on auto pilot. I grossly needed a shower, a meal I made, my bed, a pillow and some hot water.
4. Watching my bigs, meet their littles, was priceless. Nothing else could have been sweeter. Now I was a momma of five in the was so cool! From 35 to 3...and three between!
5. I remember the first few weeks home was nothing like I thought it would be. There were moments that seemed like my fairy tale, but the book had twists and turns we never considered to be part of the plot.
6. I remember the first day of school and now it 21 days until school is out, and I am astounded that Miss G went to school so very excited, waved goodbye, like she had done it a million times and reminded me to pick her up!She had some English but in ten short months has exceeded all the expectations for academics. That day is etched because I laughed and I cried, and I also felt bad that when my bigs were small I couldn't wait for them to go to school and never got choked up when they headed off to their first day. I must be more emotional now, sorry N and K if this is the first you have heard of my fly by drop off your first day of school. LOL
7. I remember thinking when will the firsts stop being so exceptional. The first time in church, the first time at McDonalds, the first birthday at home, Christmas, the list was endless and many times, I was dumbfounded with how many firsts, just seemed normal.
8. I remember being close to having a melt down  and Kelsey reminded me that normal was a setting on the dryer.  From that point on, I remember thinking, this is my new normal and like all parents of children that are adopted over three, life has parallels and life has junctions, and life has cross roads, and some days it seems like I am living all three. Was it going to change, probably not, so one had to dance in the day, and celebrate moments that would need to be remembered.
9. I remember celebrating many other children coming home, and how good it felt to be on this side of the process. My husband always said, one rough day home is still better than one minute of waiting. It was the toughest thing we had to do. We loved them before we knew where they were coming from, so hanging on for two years, was a daily struggle.
10. Last but not least I remember all the funny, sweet moments of childhood that we have witnessed, like learning to skate, swim, ride bikes, play on swings, color, have imaginary chats with random teddy bears, and all the play time spent rough housing with big brother Nick or Daddy. I will remember the first time they were sick and they wanted me....I will remember the first time they played upstairs without needing us there to watch...I will remember the trust that happened that allowed us to be out of their sight....I will remember picking up a kitten at the SPCA or as they called it, the orphanage for kittens and the conversations with the kitty about how safe she was now, and that we were a good family that would take care of her.....I remember catching way too many frogs for fun.....I remember the first assembly and Christmas concert and that six months before that, our daughter lived in an orphanage across the world, scared and alone, and was there singing at the top of her lungs, in her glory to be onstage....I will remember how fast English was spoken and the day they stopped speaking Lingala to each other....I will remember sad days and happy days, and I will remember memories being made. I will remember bedtime prayer so sweet my heart was bursting. I will remember watching personalities unfold, and discovering all the things we liked and disliked that were the same. I will remember conversations where lines were set in the sand...and we never looked back. I will remember the many characteristics that all my kiddos share, and that with three different moms, and three different dads, and yet loved by one mom and dad, we were brought together as a family.

in 2012 I wrote at the end of the post Are We There Yet?

In 2013 I am going to be completely honest...Are We There Yet? Yes and No...It depends on the question.
Are we family....absolutely!
Are we like a normal bio family...nope...we will probably always have challenges that families raising bio kids will never have.
Do we look normal...define normal.
Does it strike us at least one a week or so that we are really all home...yep.
Do we sometimes wonder how we ever made it through the last few years...yep.
We are so thankful for the many adoptive parents that we have shared this journey with and who without, we would have thought we were alone. The beauty of our family and friends is that they still ask, how we are doing, and they pray for us, and they keep us in the loop when we seem to fall off the radar for a few weeks.

In a few weeks it will be a year since that first day...a year since we hopped on a plane...and a year since my heart was breaking thinking will they ever come home....a year since the day we left Kinshasa and part of our hearts behind; a country that we call our own, a country that we will revisit, and the birthplace of our daughters.

So are we there yet...sure....cause I am sure "there" is a heart - a - tude.