As I have discussed in the past, this blog is a love letter to my family, primarily to my children. When I sit down to write, be it late at night or early in the morning light, I don't think of the hundreds...or do I daresay thousands...of you who are reading it in an attempt to glean something from it of value to you as you perhaps walk your own adoption path. No, instead I think of our sons and our future daughters, I quite literally picture them reading this as older teens or young adults and I think about what I want to share with them. It allows me to approach the writing with an honesty that comes straight from the heart, as I have nothing to hide from my children. If I thought too much about the rest of you, I might find myself freezing up, or writing in a more stilted, less open manner. Of course I know in reality that Dominick and I made the conscious decision to continue to keep the blog public, and we know that there is an "audience" beyond our children who are reading about our daily lives, our struggles, and our triumphs. We have allowed ourselves to be "on display" so that others might learn from our mistakes and successes. What I often don't discuss is how much your support, encouragement and insights have helped us as well.
Today I received an email from a long time adoption buddy in response to yesterdays post. In that post I shared about the very real and justifiable fears of older child adoption, about worrying that your child will not know how to love and that they will be unreachable or will find you unlovable. Having already battled for one child's lost soul it is not an enviable position to be in and is far more tangible to me than just a title to a chapter in an adoption training book. My sweet fellow adoptive mommy pointed something out to me that helped me see things from a different vantage point.
In her email, she spoke of the powerful impact that siblings play in families, and how the dynamics of positive and negative sibling relationships can affect the ultimate happiness within a family. I hope she won't mind my sharing her comments anonymously with you:
"I think Matthew was probably a factor in Joshua's healing, and I think that Matthew and Joshua have been big influences for Kenny- especially in what you have shared about Matthew's heart... wow. And now, you have three loving children to help the girls learn... how to behave, how to love, how to respond to difficulties, and how to enjoy family life. You are in a great place!" .
Once again, I was humbled and realized that Dominick and I are not in this alone, that we have another leader in this family in Matthew, and other foot soldiers as well in Kenny and Joshua. We are often asked how we think we can manage this with 5 kids from such backgrounds that most people wouldn't touch with a ten foot pole. We receive looks of utter disbelief when we describe traveling around the world with 3 kids in tow and actually are incredibly joyful about the opportunity rather than filled with dread. I can't count how many times I have had anticipatory comments thrust at us about how poorly the kids will get along once the girls arrive and the adjustments that will inevitably have to be made.
And yet, none of the naysayers lives in our family. For that, I suppose I am thankful as the LaJoy's are simply not naysayers. Instead of thinking "Why should we?" all 5 of us think "Why not?", and then we jump into the water with both feet.
It is impossible to explain how the solid, steady, supportive character of a 4, or later on a 7 year old boy can make all the difference in the world. Matthew was 4 1/2 years old when all hell broke loose as we brought Joshua into our lives, and yet in many ways it was Matthew who held us all together with his calm demeanor, his patient spirit, his understanding soul. His grace under fire was so far beyond my own, I probably don't even recognize the number of times when I actually looked to him to keep me going when it felt as if all hope was lost. He was 7 when Kenny came home and although his place as the eldest in our family was usurped by Kenny, his maturity secured his role as the eldest, and his kindness, understanding and welcoming acceptance of a new sibling so close in age was something I doubt few adults could muster.
The girls will have far more than us parenting them and providing them with role models, they will have 3 brothers who truly know how to love and show it daily, who are respectful with each other and with us, and above all else who see our family as a team and offer themselves as members of that team to do whatever is necessary to accomplish the goals of our family. Kenny, Matthew and Joshua all will be helping us parent by example as they reflect the values of what it means to be a LaJoy, and as they model the qualities we have come to admire so much in each of them.
Aside from their family, there will be others in their lives who will make a profound impact. Family friends, caring teachers, involved activity leaders, and therapists if necessary all contribute to who our children ultimately turn out to be. Often we don't give credit where credit is due in this area, as it is oh-so-easy to want to claim the glory for ourselves..."Gee, aren't we Super Parents? Aren't we great?"...when at times it was a 7 year old boy who helped you keep your cool, a caring therapist who accepted your call late at night, a beloved friend who listened to you cry over your child's struggles, or a teacher who did all they could to help your child reach his or her potential. In this area Dominick and I have been bountifully blessed, so many have touched our lives who have made a tremendous difference and aside from the "Support Team" we have in 3 wonderful little guys we also have a "Supplementary Support Staff" provided by God which has made it possible to have the incredible family we have, against all odds.
So to my friend who wrote, thank you for the reminder that was much needed. Thanks for helping to quell the fears that occasionally creep in. To all of you who give so much back as you read this blog, I can only hope that you have received half as much from me as you all have given.