Friday, September 02, 2011

And Still It Grows

Here we are, a year and a half post-adoption with the girls, and just when you think things can't possibly get any better, just when you think you are fully bonded and securely tied one to another, you learn that God has something even deeper in store for you.  What a gift Love really is.

Dominick and I were just talking in the car about what a miracle Angela is.  This is not to leave out Olesya, but she has always been a cuddle bunny from day one.  There was nothing prickly about her whatsoever, and she was easy with her affection from Day 1.  Angela, on the other hand, was the one who the caretakers at the orphanage warned us not to expect too much from.  They said "She will always be a respectful and good daughter, but she will never be one who likes hugs.  Don't expect her to be as warm as Olesya, she will never be like that."  They were first.  That girls stiffened like a fence post when hugged, she perfunctorily hugged back because it was expected and proper, but it was quite obviously a gesture she suffered through.

A couple of mornings ago while in the shower that conversation popped back in my mind, and I literally laughed out loud for a moment.  If only they could see the transformation in Angela these days, they would never recognize her.  Interestingly, even this week we have seen changes in her...something a little unexpected as I thought what we had was already wonderful, but it seems there were still a few bricks left to be pulled down from the wall she had built so long ago.

I have no idea what caused this little shift, but Angela has been positively cuddly this week.  She has reached for my hand all the time, asked if we could snuggle in bed together one evening where we both crawled under the covers and giggled over YouTube videos for a couple of hours...her head on my shoulder and her leg slung over mine. Even sitting at the kitchen table the other night she found my feet with her toes and gave me a foot hug :-)  It is something I often feel from Kenny, when he comes up and gives me a hug as his entire body sort of melts into me.  Lately, it is almost as if Angela wants to crawl inside my soul and curl up there, resting. 

And maybe...just maybe...that is exactly what she wants. 

Of all our children, it is Angela who has weathered the most emotionally.  It is she who desperately needed to feel she had a safe harbor, a place where she could lay her 13 year old weary head and simply "be" for awhile.  I can't even begin to put into words what it feels like to know that she has found that place. 

We spent the evening at my buddy's house tonight, and early in the evening I found myself with not much to share about what's going on in my life.  There are times when this stage of life for me seems a little dull (Don't laugh people, hear me out!).  I have little that happens in my day to day life that is of consequence, and it seems I never have a whole lot to add to conversations these days.  There is a sameness to each day, and few are interested in the fact that this morning was simile and metaphor morning in writing, and that yesterday my day was spent up to my elbows in laundry and frustration over fractions.  Not exactly stimulating dinner conversation, and I realize that, but it is the sum total of my life right now.  Unlike a regular teacher, I have no colleagues to share a little gossip with in the lunch room, nor parents to chat with.  It is just me, myself and I along with my five little students.

But I think I realized something tonight, and that is that maybe it is that very sameness and dull routine which has allowed a blanket of security to fall gently over Angela.  Maybe that which at times keeps me from being a stimulating conversational companion is what allows space for attention and trust to develop.  If me becoming a very boring person is what it takes to help my child heal, than I willingly rush headlong into the World of Boredom. 

Then there is another reward for our decision to have me become a homeschooling mom.  Today we received the results of last spring's state testing (CSAP).  I don't have actual numbers yet, but get this...Kenny, who started off last year being held back in 4th grade and reading at a mid-late 1st grade level moved to completely proficient in reading for his grade level.  We did it!!  We have a long way to go in figuring out how to work with Kenny's other deficits, but this was one HUGE success that I didn't expect so quickly.  Kenny looked at me with the biggest grin on his face when I gave him the good news and said "Mommy, you promised me you would help me learn to read and you told me I wasn't stupid.  You were right!!  Thank you for teaching me, now I can read anything!!" 

Somehow, that sort of surpasses anything else I might find to be more important to be doing right now with my life.  Thanks, God, for the reminder of what is real...what is my true calling in life.  It is NOT to be witty and full of wonderful conversation, it is NOT about being viewed by others as fascinating or to have false pride in some job that I mistakenly think is somehow more important than the job You have already guided me toward.  It is NOT about me at all, really, and yet it is.

It is about me in the sense that it is shaping me into a different person, one who is gradually coming to recognize that who I am...and who I am about more than what others think of me.  Oh, of course I have always given lip service to saying I don't care, but I certainly do care and always have.  We all do, and very often we care way too much.  It is about me putting my own needs aside somewhat, as others come first...and about recognizing the great sense of accomplishment that can come from helping others succeed. 

Mainly, it is about following a different path and trying to do so with grace and awareness that for this season, I am being who God is calling me to be.  It may have come as a complete surprise to me, but time and time again I receive affirmation that this oddball path is the one I am supposed to be on.  It is a path with no recognition attached...I will learn humility.  It is a path with no financial reward...I will learn fiscal responsibility.  It is a path with many frustrations and challenges on a daily basis...I will learn patience.  It is a path that is still off the beaten path...I will learn courage.

Most importantly, it is a path that leads to a previously motherless child settling into my arms as naturally as if she had been laid there at birth.  It is a path that leads to a child who faces enormous challenges on a daily basis because his brain just doesn't work the same as others knowing that he is not alone as he faces the world.

Yea, it's definitely all worth it.  No engaging conversation I could participate could ever be as rewarding.

I guess I'll go on just being boring old me :-)


Lisette said...

Cyndi, I remember following your blog closely 1 1/2 years ago as I waited my turn to go to Petro. The struggles you went through with the girls then were heartbreaking. My how things change! What a testament to your love for one another! If this is boring, bring it on!

Anonymous said...

Somehow the Declaration of Independence statement "...the pursuit of happiness..." has become the pursuit of excitement, variety, stimulation. A shift in the definition of happiness seems to be occuring along with the opening up of the world with electronic windows across the globe, into space, and widening our imaginations. Along with that comes the use of stimulants and mind altering substances, extreme sports, reality TV which drastically alters our perception of reality.

I think the LaJoys have found the deep, inner peace of happpiness not the transient thrill of artificially drug or thrill seeking highs. Boring, maybe by some standards, but I'll take the "boring" of peace and love and growth any day, and I'll bet most of us would not only take it for ourselves but wish it for the world.

Cindy, I know you have mourned the lost years with the children and also the experience of giving birth and raising a biological child, but you are now watching these children cycle back to a childhood that veered into the terrifying and begin somewhere back at that point and rebuild a new foundation and safe structure. Your metaphors of platforms and building are quite apt. You, Dominick, and the circle of brothers and sisters has given each child permission and support to go back, learn, experience, and grow into being loved and loving.

I'll take LaJoy boring anytime.

That's why I love each of you.

Anonymous said...

As usual, this will be long, as your thoughts and what's going on in the hearts of your kids is always of interest to me, Cindy. Those of us who have adopted older children have connections through similar experiences.

Boring, dull. Yep, that's me, too Cindy. But like you, I know this is the path God chose for me, and I enjoy the challenge of raising kids...ok... most days. Our teens are currently four ages, but in three months, we're back to having two 17yr olds and two 15yr olds. When things get a little challenging around here, I have to remind myself why!

We celebrated our 30th anniversary this summer, and in a couple months, our oldest will be 29. We didn't waste any time starting a family, and a good thing, since we're old enough as it is to be raising our last four teens.

Being a mom is the job I've held the longest and most consistently. Aside from some small or very part time jobs through the years, this is what I've "worked at" most. I homeschooled K with six of the eight, fighting what I felt was criticism for not sticking my kids in preschool and K, for they would surely not be "socialized" or up to snuff academically. That proved quite untrue. I've fought the "worthless/am I making a difference" feelings at times through the years, too. But in my heart, I know by being home with my kids, we were able to build strong memories, pass on our values, and just spend more time than might have happened had I worked outside the home. Nothing to say those things can't be done by working moms and dads, or that we couldn't have accomplished the same if I'd worked outside the home, but I just know I'm a person who would have been stressed trying to do it all. I'm so thankful staying home with my kids was an option for us.

Moms do what they can and feel is important for their kids. I've made some big mistakes, but I've also seen much fruit from those times we built relationships and memories together. You are doing what God called you to do, so keep remembering that, Cindy. We all know that kids cannot "accidentally" be adopted, so we know in our hearts our kids were meant to be in our families. Rewards come in the small things, and sometimes the huge things we don't notice right away...but our kids know!

What a miracle has taken place in Angela's heart, as your homeschooling, personalities, and life choices have allowed her the time and acceptance to become all God intends for her to be.

I still marvel at how God knows which family each child will best fit into, where they will not only receive the exact things they need to grow...but the exact family where they can teach what each set of parents is needing to learn.

I always tell people, when I've had the chance to speak about adoption, that each of my kids has taught me something unique. It's taken me eight kids to learn what I needed to might not take them that long or that many kids! I'm a slow learner, or else had more gaps in my education than most, I guess!

Older kids coming into families need so much to catch up. The extra time/effort/thoughtful decisions are so important to their futures. I have no doubt that you and Dominick will continue to spend all the time in the world on your kids.

Nancy in the Midwest

Anonymous said...


Boring doesn't have to do with going places, or doing has more to do with one's inner existence. We have known you a while now and boring is one word I would never use to describe has more to do with your thoughts, your personality and your pursuit of happiness for you and your family, not if you had been to the latest movie or traveled to some wonderful place. Cindy, a quiet complacence is not boring, it is friendship, it is comfort...and if it were all that boring, we would all stop reading your blog! Love to all there - Kelly

Anonymous said...

Me again! My theory, only proven by our two daughters who came home at 1oyrs and 11yrs, is this...

It takes a good year and a half, and close to two years before our kids really "settle" in. They're going through sooooo much when they first arrive... language/culture differences, never having lived within a family (or a healthy, permanent one in most cases), school changes and challenges, doing academics in a second language, making new friends, adjusting to being told what to do by a mom who just became their mom and to new siblings, etc, etc. I noticed that it seemed to take at least that long before our girls really felt a strong part of us. I know that time varies with each family.

It's hard for others to understand what all our kids are working through. They often present themselves in public as being totally adjusted in all those areas, as well as having developed great social language skills. they are also adept at pretending to be someone they are not, as a result of having to "survive" among other orphans and to receive the attention they felt they needed. Our girls came with some behaviors, though nothing wild or dangerous, that needed changing for their emotional growth and maturity. While never wanting to make excuses for the girls, I've often felt I would like to remind others (when academic or social issues arise) of the mountains of changes they've endured and worked to accept in their lives.

Nancy in the Midwest

Tammy said...

Congratulations on such wonderful milestones with both Angela and Kenny. I know both have left you with a lot of angst over what the future held and I am thrilled to hear them each taking that next leap forward.

As for bring boring and needing to reassure yourself your job is important...being a parent is the most important job ANY of us have. I am social worker and make life changing decisions about people every day. Yet I can promise you that the most important job I do is the one that doesn't have an office...or any set hours LOL! Why? Because only a family can make the kinds of deep and genuine changes a child needs. Only a family can help a child heal. NOTHING I do in my professional life compares to what I do with my child. So you can stop feeling like you need to compare what you do to what the rest of us do. You are doing what is best for your family, just as we are all doing what's best for ours. But at the end of the day, the most important job for all of us is raising our children.