Monday, July 28, 2008

Patience with Grace

Yesterday afternoon I attended a baby shower...and it was a special one. It was for a family locally who is adopting a baby girl from Kyrgyzstan and is sadly caught up in the delays in Bishkek that will hopefully be ironed out soon. It was an unexpected pleasure to be invited to the shower, as although I have tried to help along the way the best I could, I am not a close lifelong friend of the family.

The shower was beautiful...the mom-to-be's sister had obviously put a tremendous amount of time and love into it and it showed. There were native Kyrgyz dishes, authentic (well, if you can't stick horses!) horse raises to celebrate the Kyrgyz love of horsemanship, and a Kyrgyzstan adoption quiz. I wish every adopting parent could feel that their adoption was so supported by their family. It was entirely appropriate, it helped educate their closest friends about the process and adoption in general, and was a time to celebrate that yes, she too is "pregnant" and deserves the same consideration as every other pregnant mom. While I knew no one at the shower really, I had a lot of fun sitting along a back wall with the...umm...well...how should I put this...perhaps I will call them the more "seasoned" moms. It was definitely where I belonged as this was the crew who actually recognized the photos of Eleanor Roosevelt and Nat King Cole as we played an interesting adoption oriented quiz game, while the more youthful mom friends up front had an easier time identifying such celebs as Faith Hill and Sarah McLaughlin. It was a hoot, and it highlighted for me that my age as a mom makes things more interesting...I can drift back and forth between the younger and the older moms and still have something in common with both sides of the fence.

What I have noticed most about this special expecting mom is that she has shown incredible acceptance and grace as she does what seems to be impossible...wait for her daughter to come home. Having been in her shoes more than once, and currently in her shoes again...the wait is interminable. It is especially hard the first time around when you receive a referral of a child who is a mere month or two old, and as delays continue you are watching them grow and change in photos sent to you and you are powerless to stop time as you wish you could so you don't miss a thing. With older children, the changes are slower and more subtle but with infants, a month or two can bring about significant growth, and you want nothing more than to reach through the photograph and cling on to them. You want time to stop so that you aren't missing out on your child's incredible first months. And although in your heart you may be convinced they are coming home there are still moments when you want to throw your hands up in the air and give up.

God helps. It has been obvious in this mom's demeanor that she has His reassurance that all will work out the way it is supposed to, and she doesn't need to be in control. That doesn't mean that inside she isn't experiencing some turmoil and some restless nights as the anticipation grows, and that there isn't some anxiety about the delays, but she carries it all with a sense of certainty that He is at work. It is my sincere hope that her sweet little girl comes home very soon, and I know this time will melt away the moment she holds her daughter in her arms the first time.

This family is so thoughtful, and seeing the love between the women was a treat. Mothers and sisters and aunts all recognizing that this is still a "real" way to add to their family and that this little one will be as much a part of them as if she were blood related, there was no distinction. I too received a tiny portion of their love as they presented me with a gift bag as a token of their appreciation. While I loved every item in it, the thing I (and the boys as well) got the biggest kick out of when I opened it at home later was the two custom made coupons for assistance in learning how to braid hair and make ponytails!! And if anyone ever needed help in that department, it is I. If it is not "wash and wear" boy style, I am in big trouble, so no doubt I will be calling on my new friends and taking advantage of their offer.

Interesting to me though, that while I spent time with 2 waiting families this week, for some reason I am seeing them from outside our own current circumstances. Although we are going through the very same thing right now...waiting...paperwork...expectations...it is as if I am viewing their situations from an outsiders perspective. I don't know if it is my way of distancing myself from the wait, of not letting myself get my hopes up too high in case things fall apart, or what.

Last night while in bed I asked Dominick "Do they feel like your daughters yet?" and he admitted that no, they really didn't but that neither had any of the boys until he met them. For me it is SO different, and I guess it has been for literally years with them. They feel VERY MUCH like my daughters. If I am honest, I felt something...that sense of recognition...the first moment I saw a photo of them. It continued to grow and grow, or perhaps it didn't grow but I was merely more willing to acknowledge the truth of the emotions and not hide from them. Meeting them in person was the knockout punch though, the incredible familiarity of the moment was unusual and completely undeniable. I literally felt like I was standing apart from the experience and needed to tell that woman that her daughters were right in front of her!

This is the most unusual adoption walk I have ever been on, it is more faith-filled and more quietly emotional for me than ever before. Holding a child in your arms and then walking away filled with the knowledge that they are yours and not certain that can ever become a reality...that one morning you will all wake up and sit around the breakfast table together...is simply the most profoundly gut-wrenching experience anyone can go through. I haven't spoken much on the blog about the depth of emotion of all of this, I think because I am trying to avoid it myself or I would never be able to go about my regular day. It would be so easy to sit here, pining away for what will hopefully one day be. It is not an obsession, it is actually hard to describe. For me this time around, it is this intense feeling that they are already a part of us, that we are not trying to find our child as we have always had to do in the past but that our kids are there...just waiting on us, counting on us. The yearning is deep and very, very real and it appears it is not just my heart that is feeling it.

After we left the home of the folks adopting the sibling group of 3 this week, we ended up having a very interesting discussion with the boys which mainly Matthew and Kenny contributed to. It was obvious from Kenny's questions that he is trying to process all of this as it relates to him and our family. On the short drive home he asked "Momma...why that family want to bring home 3 kids? They already have 3 kids!". I turned the question around on him and asked him "Why did we want to bring you home when we already had 2 kids?" and when he didn't answer I said "It is because they have enough love in their hearts to add to their family and they would like to help those children have a home.". Ever the practical one Kenny said "But it's expensive...very, very expensive...to bring home kids. Why they want to do that? They rich? They have a lot of money to take care of SIX kids?". Dominick and I both laughed and I said "Kenny, are we rich? Is their family any different than ours? Do you realized we will have almost as many kids as they will when the girls come home?". He got very quiet all of a sudden and then said "But God take care of us." very matter of factly and I added "And God will take care of their family too."...and he said in only the way Kenny can "Ohhhhh...." and by then we were at home.

We got in the house and all gathered on the couch and I asked Matthew as he snuggled next to me what he thought about all of this, as he had been pretty quiet. I said "Does it seem weird what they are doing?" and he said "No, not really but I think it will be hard for all of them." . I then asked "What about our family? Is it weird that we are bringing the girls home? Will it be hard for us too?" and Matthew thoughtfully pondered that for a minute and said "Mom, I can't wait until they get home, I think they are supposed to come home! It might be hard for awhile but it wasn't really hard with Kenny and he is cool! I don't really think it will be too hard. I don't know about the other family but I know with our family they are our sisters." and Kenny added "Yea, I can't wait either!". I then asked them both "Even though it means mommy and daddy will have two more kids to take care of and more of our time will be taken away from you?" and Matthew, my ever quiet one jumped in quickly and said "Mommy, we ALL have enough love to go around. We'll have two more really nice kids to play with! And we'll get the work done twice as fast with two more kids to help." and Kenny jumped in and sincerely added "Love just grows and grows, like you tell me mommy, it not stop, you tell me our hearts just get bigger and bigger and our hearts are really big!" and then he dissolved into Kenny-giggles as the image of that was so funny to him. Then Matthew said "Mommy, I really can't wait until they come home. How much longer? Do you think they'll like us?".

Yea Matthew, I think they'll like all of you...a lot.

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