Monday, December 07, 2009

Jet Lag Musings

It's 1:45 AM here and I am up while everyone else is asleep. I am awake not because of discontent in my heart, but because jet lag is still attacking me as it always seems to do longer than my menfolk. I have read many of your supportive comments, from those who know us as well as those who don't, and you sustain us in ways you can't understand.

After blogging last night we had a family meeting, first Dominick and I talked at length and then we met with the boys. We were trying to regroup and take our collective family temperature, and see how the boys were handling that they witnessed today. We feel strongly that they need a voice in this, and if one of them articulated that they felt we were really making a big mistake, we would give that serious consideration.

Dominick and I sat in our little kitchen here and hashed over the day together. Surprisingly friends, we both seem quite at peace with this all and are not deeply troubled by our experience today. Saddened, yes, troubled, no. Dominick echoed my sentiments perfectly in saying "I don't feel at all as if we are doing something we shouldn't do. I think it will all be fine and the shock of it was too much for them.". I agree. I remember leaving the orphanage with such a heavy heart when adopting Joshua, literally felt like it was going to fall out of my chest. While I wouldn't exactly say I was light hearted when we left today, there was no heaviness...no feeling that we were ignoring some sign or anything. I felt empathy for them, that leaving will be traumatic in some ways and the grief will linger. Kenny spoke up in the room with them and reminded them that he went through the same process and understands, and that we have made efforts to remain in contact with his friends. Kenny's personality alone made his departure easier for him, he is Mr. Adventure and yet look at the moments of grief we have experienced through him..and he would never leave his family.

What we forget is that grabbing on to something else with both hands also means you are letting go of what was in them before. You can want something else and yet miss what you leave behind. We all only think of the wonderful life we assume any adopted child will have versus residing in an orphanage. We don't think of the "adopted siblings" they have there who have been their life support for years. And children who have never had a family life or not a decent one in the first place take enormous leaps of faith to assume that might be preferable to the relative safety of what they have now in an institution.

In many ways, it is similar to the life a prisoner feels when released and they end up back there because they don't know how to live out in the world...and because the prison has become "home" to them.

Like so many of you pointed out, what we witnessed today was not exactly a bad sign. It shows connection, it shows great ability to love, it shows maturity in understanding the permanency of this sort of change. All are very positive things when it comes to assessing the ability to attach to a family.

We also have made it clear we will leave without them if they don't want to go, that we are not pushing them into anything and they have freedom of choice here. Would that be hard for us? Certainly it would...but it is not about us, is it? Never has been, never will be. It's not about "saving face", it's not about creating the fairy tale others would like to see. If they come home with us, it will be because they have made a choice and weighed the pros and cons. It will be because they have started to feel that leaving just might be better than staying after all. It will be because they sense there is love waiting for them. As many staff here reiterated several times yesterday, this has not been a false dream or connection between us all...the girls have forever clung to the hope of one day being part of our family and made that known to almost everyone that knew them. This was not us imagining something, and that gives me comfort.

This is about fear of the unknown, and worry about the known that can never be returned to.

By everyone's comments, both here and in the past, these are two terrific young ladies who have a lot going for them. Their social worker spoke to us at length and after being around us for awhile and having read our paperwork said she feels this is a perfect fit and thinks the girls will ultimately do extremely well with us...and that we are well prepared to parent them. And she revealed they have not always felt that confident in a pairing of child and family.

And my mantra for years has always been "Just because something is hard, doesn't mean you don't do it.".

Will we rip them away kicking and screaming? Absolutely not. Will we pressure them into coming with us because we have gone through so much to get to this point? No way. Will we give them time and space...and simply be present...to allow them to digest it all and to get to know us? Absolutely. Will we offer them respect and love as we do every member of our family? Of course.

I was heartened by their almost immediately coming back to us and saying firmly "Yes, we will go with you.". It wasn't 5 days later, it wasn't anyone standing near them and prodding. It was their own decision to enter that office and tentatively offer their hearts to us forever. Sure, they could flip flop as fear overtakes them, and they could decide at the last minute to say "No" in court. And that too would be OK. Again, it is not about us. And they are young children who are only 9 and 11 years old. They don't understand what the future holds for them, what they understand is that they are currently safe.

I also took away a mental picture of Olesya leaving to go get her backpack and Dominick gently asking if he could go with her, and Olesya taking his hand and grinning a quick grin. As we spoke last night he told me that when they entered her classroom, Olesya introduced him to her teacher as her "Papa".

Love takes time. Thankfully, due to the process here, we have that time. And we will trust that at the end of the visitation, it will be clear to all of us what God wants for us and them. We are prepared for it to go either way.

In talking with the boys later, we asked if any of them felt we were making a mistake or should walk away. All of them immediately said "No", and we talked about what they were thinking and thought about the girls. Despite the chaos and emotion, each of the boys said they thought it appeared the girls were very nice. Matthew said "Today backfired on all of us, but it could be different tomorrow.". Kenny talked about how they must be scared and how he had been too but had been told we were coming a few days before. Joshua was pretty quiet but not in a subdued way, more in a "it's all good" kind of way. We talked about how each of us has been scared of new changes in our life even when we knew ahead of time it would be good. Matthew leaving school for homeschooling was a big one and very conflicting for him about leaving behind his friends. Josh being terrified of starting Kindergarten even though in his heart he really truly wanted to go to school. And Kenny, who of course, has experienced this same thing.

We also explained to the boys that if the girls ultimately decided not to come with us, it had nothing to do with any of them or us as a whole. That it took great courage to leave your life behind and go away with strangers, and they just might feel safer staying here and we would respect that if it comes to that. We told them we wanted them to speak up if they feel any where along the line that this is not right for our family. As usual, the boys always surprise me with their positive and upbeat "can do" attitude, and their compassion and understanding.

As I sit here and type this in the middle of the night, I really have no idea how all of this will work out. Will we eventually be coming home with them? I think it is likely. Will they be too afraid to take the leap? Might be. Will we at some point feel hinky about this and walk away by choice? Not likely but always possible.

Keeping it real is essential. Not playing head games with ourselves is the most important part of it all, for each and every one of us. Listening to that little voice which I call God is the single best thing we can do. Thus far, there is peace.

I told Dominick last night that I feel in some weird way that every experience God has ever placed in my path has led to this time, that I am being called upon to be a mother to the deepest marrow of my bones right now, and need more wisdom and insight than I have ever had to know what to say, how to react, how to be around the girls. Sort of like this is my Final Exam to see whether or not I move up to "Mothering 201". In many ways, our life as a family together up until now is what kept me calm and rational yesterday. I am grounded, I am not taking this personally, and I have been saying all along that it might be very hard. No surprises there I guess, even though others have wanted to see our family building process as "magical", I have fought internalizing that for just this reason...it is a long and difficult road. Nothing is magical about it. It is hard work, it is filled with twists and turns that are unexpected. And we have a very healthy family to lean on as we go through the challenging times. Will the girls be part of that family? Will they be emotionally healthy? Your guess is as good as mine, but I think signs are good and we will know more later as we move through this time.

Thank you for being there for us, for your strengthening comments and your support. Many of you have adopted infants and not older children, and I know this might be an eye opener for you. We are all learning as we go along here, I am no expert myself, that's for sure. We are together, we are going to go through so much emotionally here, and I need to keep my wits about me as I realize much is being gauged off of my own actions from all corners. The warmth and complimentary comments from the staff yesterday on how we handled everything is a good guide for us. Your prayers and encouragement will carry us through, however our story here ends. Dominick is reading every comment from friends both near and far, as am I. Thank you for being there for us, for not yelling out "Fools! What are you thinking?".

I have said all along that I will be honest on the blog, that I won't sugar coat it. I have done that for the past 3 years to the best of my ability, and I will cotinue to do so. Welcome to the grief involved in older child adoption. Welcome to NEVER wiping the slate clean as they join a family and erasing their past, for that is insensitive and impossible. Welcome to having much love to offer and wondering if it will ultimately be rebuffed...as their own love was rebuffed by biological parents long ago. Life is messy and complicated. It is also wonderful and filled with goodness. Often it is not a straight path, and we are surely on a winding one now.

And the story continues...

19 comments:

Anonymous said...

Good morning! I was just reading the boys blogs when this one came through. I'm thinking of you, half way around the world, wishing that I could give you a huge hug. Knowing that you are prepared for what lies ahead, it kind of all has been leading up to these moments...
No one knows what the future will hold, but I do know that you all will be honest and open to whatever happens. That is just who you are. The weeks ahead will be full of emotion and love. And, regardless of what happens, there will always be love and respect. For that is just who you are.
I love you - I'm praying for all of you - and missing you to the core.
Jill

Heather said...

I think you have the right perspective. The girls need time to get comfortable with the idea of a family again since they have pushed it away as a dream and not a reality. I think you are taking the right approach in allowing them time to get to know the family without any pressure. I'll pray for you all!

Kelly said...

I have followed your blog for years and am always inspired by your wonderful family. I have only adopted infants (Russia 1999, and Kazakhstan 2002)and do not have experience with older child adoptions. However, I wonder if the initial meeting would have been different if the girls had been told you were coming at least a day or so before? They didn't even have a moment to process what was about to happen before walking into that room. I'm sure the staff were trying to spare them in the event of more delays.....I think your kindness, patience and validation of their feelings will go along way in the bonding process. I am sending prayers to all of you and hoping for the best. Kelly

Betsy said...

Cindy, thank you for both of your updates. I am sorry that your reunion with the girls didn't go exactly as you hoped, and I applaud your courage in sharing that for all of the internet to read.

We are strangers to older child adoption but treasure your experiences for how they may help us later down the adoption road. God has truly put you in a teaching position on this blog and I have so much to learn from you!

I will be praying for all of you. I believe your desire to parent these girls is a God-given desire and that He will honor the desires of your heart. Who knows how that will look when His work is done - but you are most definitely in these girls lives for a reason! I will be praying for all of your hearts as you travel this road, especially for the tender hearts of the girls and your wonderful sons.

Hugs and prayers from Texas,
Betsy

Anonymous said...

My prayers are with all of you and the girls. Preparation is extremely important and your arrival was a surprise to them. Take one day at a time. Give this time, treat each other with respect which your family does well, and get to know each other. And see what happens. You remain in my heart and prayers.

Carol said...

Cindy, I was surprised when I first started reading your post about meeting your girls. However, the more I read... and the more it all sunk in, it actually didn't seem very surprising at all. Disappointing, for sure. However, reading your mesmerizing description of the event... and putting myself in their shoes... doesn't surprise me at all that they reacted the way they did. It fits in with the fact that they are sweet, caring human beings. You are so wise in how you handled... and are handling... the situation. I hope tomorrow is a better day.

Kim said...

I wanted to add my voice here amongst the many others in letting you know that it sounds as though you handled the situation wonderfully. The compassion and empathy you have shown, and will continue to show, the girls is beautiful. I am hoping and praying that the girls will come to realize how blessed they would be to become a part of your family.

As always, you are showing honesty to us all. In a world where so many try to sugar coat things, it is nice to have someone speak the cold, hard facts. Thank you for doing so.

wilisons said...

Cindy and Dominick,

I am sure that whether or not the girls choose to come home with you, you are their parents! Only a true parent would respect their children enough to give the time and space to make the decision while being present for them whatever they choose.

Keep the faith and continue to be the amazing parents you already are!

Shanna
mom to Tamar and Libby both born in Kaz

Bob; Carrie DeLille said...

I think it's beyond mothering 201 now, dear. I think you've done skipped your 401 even and are well into your Masters :o). You're so wise and your faith comes shining through. Only He can bring you that peace and we all know who it was that told you they're yours anyway. I doubt He's changed His mind :o). You are dear and special as are Dominick and the boys and your daughters will realize that and I know they will quickly trust you. That doesn't mean there won't be tough times. It's truly a gift to be able to go through this experience with you. In our prayers...

Anonymous said...

God bless, Cindy. Praying here in Montrose County for you all.
-SusanC

Kelly and Sne said...

It sounds like you have put things in perspective in a very healthy way. I'm sure that God will lead you all in the direction that is the right one.

smctiver said...

Hi Cindy & Dominick,

I admire how well you and your family are handling this difficult situation. You recognize that your daughters DO come with a past history that needs to be acknowledged, respected and cherished. Time is on your side - get to know them and let them get to know you. God will lead them to a decision that is right for each of them.

My prayers will be with all of you.

Anonymous said...

Hey Team LaJoy! I say listen to your hearts and listen to your men, Cindy! Dominick, the quiet, yet wise one - "I think it will all be fine and the shock of it was too much for them." Matthew, wise like his father, "...but it could be differnt tomorrow." Kenny's empathy with how he had been scared too but he had known you were coming so understands the shock the girls must feel. Josh - the REALLY wise one - just quiet, knowing "it's all good." And who might know that from the bottom of his heart? He pushed you away as an infant when you took him in your arms - you survived that heartache, he survived the fear. Look at him now! He knows....God knows....the girls know...and I think in your hearts you all know that it will be okay. No matter how this ends up? With all their fear and confusion the girls came back and said, in spite of their shock and fear, "Yes, we will go with you." You will help them, as you have done with your sons, through the loss, you will not deny them their history or their memories, you will embrace their heritage, you will give them all that you have as parents, as good, grounded human beings who love them with all your heart. How do I know this? I have been a recipient of your love and I have seen and felt the love, devotion and abilities you have as parents. No, this is no fairy tale. But darn close! In fairy tales there are life threatening struggles. In real life there are miracles, there are rainbows, there is TEAM LAJOY!!!
Love you and miss you all!
Miss Joan

Anonymous said...

Your whole family is great! Everything will work out one day at a time because each day is God's. He has a purpose! Tony is excitingly waiting for pictures of everyone. God bless you in this grand endeavor. Love, Becky & Tony

Ann said...

Cindy, and Team LaJoy, I can't offer any words of advice or wisdom that you don't already hold in your heart and in the depth of your soul and your belief that you are doing the right thing. I watch and anxiously read in awe of your family's strength and love that is carrying you through this experience. What I can offer is my virtual hug, my virtual shoulder to cry on. And the knowing that 7000 miles away we are praying for you and your family and the girls. My hope is that as I am writing this (1:30 am my time) you are having a better meeting with the girls. and that each day will open their hearts more and more to be ready for the journey ahead. Blessings to all of you!
Ann

Kim Adams said...

Praying for you all. As I sit here trying to come up with words to type, this song comes on:

"He gives beauty for ashes
Strength for fear
Gladness for mourning
Peace for despair

"When sorrow seems to surround you
When suffering hangs heavy oer your head
Know that tomorrow brings
Wholeness and healing
God knows your need
Just believe what He said ...."

Do you know it? (Crystal Lewis) Seems beautifully fitting. Sending my love,
Kim

Becki Stone said...

You are on the right path. When I ran a daycare center we had a lot of children that didn't trust anyone, that were in foster care, and were scared. It took time to get through to the kids. One thing that really got through to one child (11 years old) that I fondly remember was to talk to him about "daily life" he would ask questions about what my daughter and I did as a family, and what activities we did together. It seemed he wanted to know about the down time when I was at home to relate to me as a person he could trust. Tell them about your family- things you collect, about the area you live in, your favorite color, favorite things, hobbies- it seemed that when he saw me as a "real" person he started to trust me. There was a game we played at daycare with the kids- we had number cards and they were in a cup (1-5 on the cards) you take turns pulling a card and whatever number is on the card you pull you have to say that many things about yourself. It was a fun way to get the kids to open up without trying too hard. We always had a teacher go first to start things off.
Good luck, and hang in there! I'm praying for you! Hugs!

Maria said...

Well, I'm certainly not an expert in older child adoption, but sometimes I can have a clear thought or two fly by while I'm reading. And, there are a few things that I felt certain about. 1) It's good that A. feels comfortable enough to show her emotional temperature around you. 2) It's good that you are giving her the space she needs to make decisions and choices (I have one of those sweet humans called a "12-year-old" and man these hormones are tough things to deal with) and allowing her to feel the way she feels without trying to change her. 3) I absolutely think God wants those girls in your family. The road has been too long, and too perfected by Him, to be a mistake.

Having said all that (and this is JUST ME playing Devil's Advocate and wanting to hear your take on this in maybe a later post), is it fair to allow them to make the decision of whether they (as 9 and 11 year olds) want to be part of your family? Now ... again, I make NO claims knowledge on older child adoption, but I'm curious as to how you decided that you would allow them this decision. I'm not against it -- in ANY WAY (so I really hope you can feel my heart here) -- but is it fair to leave them if they say they don't want to come when their angst over making this decision is so obvious. I'm hearing you say that it's not that they DON'T want to come with you, it's that they don't want to leave there. Now, if they were telling you they didn't want to come and be part of your family, I think I'd be concerned. We girls are some fickle creatures. All the girls of Josh's that are friends are so "on" one day "off" the other that I just can't keep up with them. I can't think that these girls are "wired" differently in their abilities to make a life decision of this magnitude. Sometimes, it's our role as a parent to make decisions for our kids based on the facts that we know things they don't -- decisions that they just might not like or understand at the time they happen.

SO... I look forward to reading your thoughts in a post when you have time. I'm NOT judging, telling you what to do or thinking you are wrong. I'm just curious.

Who knows -- there might be an older child out there for us one day. God was certainly talking to me at the pediatrician's office today about a sweet foster child that was there. :-)

All comments offered in the spirit of love and while covering you guys and these hard choices in prayer.

Anonymous said...

Cindy,

I love you so much and hope everything goes well...reading this made me cry because i know that you and the girls deserve everything. I hope they are safe...I love you all...my heart is with you and you are so special to everyone that knows you. The girls also deserve a great home... you guys will "Defy Gravity."

Elisa