Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Adoptive Parenting is NOT for Wimps

In the spirit of the "Diary of a Wimpy Kid" books the boys brought along, I decided to write this post. More "Christmasy" stuff later:-)

Thank you all for being a part of this wild ride we are on. I know that even those who disagree with us and how we elect to handle things really care, or you wouldn't be so passionate about it. You have all been so wonderful and encouraging, and being this far from home and away from our "real life" support has helped in ways you can't imagine.

I would like to remind everyone gently though, that this is our life. Because I choose to be as transparent as I can here for the sake of our children reading it some day and leave it open publicly for others to learn what they might from it, does not mean we wish to be the target of others judgment. It is quite easy for others not sitting in our shoes to decide how we should act, what we should say and do...and yet you do not have the emotion invested in this that we do (OK...from some of your posts, maybe some of you DO!!! HAHAHA!) nor the previous 5 years of time, background knowledge and love we have behind us. This is a uniquely wonderful and challenging situation. I daresay that not a single reader has ever found themselves in this exact circumstance with these exact personalities. We are doing the best we can here, folks, under incredibly stressful conditions. Everything is compressed, we do not have the luxury of lots of time to evaluate, we do not have the ability to always know what is right but we do trust our gut instincts and mainly our God to guide us.

Often, God makes no sense, we all know that. Heck, one look at our entire family and we have broken every "adoption rule" out there about birth order and yet somehow it has worked. What on the outside to you all may make no sense at all in how we have worked through our difficulties here makes total and complete sense to us, as it was how we felt guided by God to deal with it. For make no mistake about it, not a single thing we have done here has felt outside the "God Box". I can't keep from grinning here as I write that as our "God Box" must look a bit like a 1960's style hippie school bus, with peace symbols and smiley faces plastered all over the outside and perhaps a little Jefferson Starship blaring from speakers inside! Hahaha!

Notice though, that I am not saying at all that we are doing everything "right", but we are doing what feels right at this place and time. I would never have the arrogance to say that I am 100% certain that our way is the only way, and we know it all. We don't, that is for sure. We ALL make mistakes guys, we all back up, we all need "Do Overs" as I posted about yesterday. To quote Billy Joel "You may be wrong, but you may be right...". Who knows?

And the fact is, we parent differently than many people I know. I don't care, I never signed on to be anyone's "groupie" and follow them unfailingly. We parent in the way we feel is best for our kids, whom most of you don't know and never will know in real life. Those of you who DO know us in real life I am sure are often left shaking your head in dismay at many of our decisions. That's OK, we get stuck with the end results, and you can have the last laugh :-)

This is the single most difficult situation Dominick and I have ever found ourselves in. We've done the best we can. God knows that, we know that, and that is all we can do.

Feel free to comment at will, to email whatever you'd like, but please, please remember our hearts too are tender here. We are raw in so many ways, and what might seem like an innocent comment on an "editorial" is actually a judgment on another human being in very unusual conditions and you are "visiting" our virtual house here. If you wouldn't say it sitting face to face over a Diet Coke at our kitchen table, then perhaps it might be best reworded here. Virtual lives are still real lives behind the screen. This is a family blog where hearts are laid open for all and don't have to be. This is not talk radio or the editorial pages of the New York Times.

You know, one reason we have kept the blog public is because there are plenty of materials, books and trainings out there from the child's perspective but there is almost nothing that is honest, truthful and open about the adoptive parent's perspective. We are the silent part of the triad. We are expected to be "Facilitators of Fairy Tales" who are supposed to bury their emotions for the sake of their child, who are never supposed to have doubts or fears or at the very least should check them at the door, and who should speak of their adoption experiences in only the most glowing terms so as not to discourage other prospective adoptive parents from being fellow "saints". I write that with tongue planted firmly in the hollow of my cheek.

If that is what you are looking for, go to another blog. This is real life. It is messy, it hurts, it sometimes triumphs, it is awkward and lumpy like the really bad pillow Dominick is currently sleeping on. Adoption is a very hard way to form a family. Not bad...but definitely hard. It requires the patience of Job, the wisdom of Solomon, the passion of John and the the forgiveness of Jesus all rolled up into one "saintly" single or couple who willingly allow others into their lives all so they can be called "mommy" or "daddy".

You know what? It HURTS to be rejected, it makes you ANGRY to see kids who are damaged by others or a system and you have to somehow put the pieces all back together, it is DEPRESSING at moments to think of all that is before you, it takes GUTS to do this and not be terrified sometimes, it is LONELY to have others judge you before you adopt...while you are adopting...and after you adopt, as they think it is somehow OK to say things to you as an adoptive parent that they would never in a million year sdream of saying to a pregnant woman or new parents. It is HARD to find yourself constantly in the position of having to defend every single thing you do, and to also have to do so with a smile on your face so that you don't offend those who mean well and yet have no idea the effect of their words.

This is what adoptive parents face, it is what is almost never, ever talked about openly. There is so much that goes into understanding the child's pain and challenges, but almost nothing that speaks honestly to the adoptive parents. I share here and keep it open, because I wish someone had done it for me. The "happily ever afters" and the "Isn't life wonderful's" are contained within this blog as well, but so is the scary stuff, the middle of the night cold sweat stuff, the "I wish I knew what to do" stuff. That keeps it real, it keeps it honest, it keeps me from appearing to be the "Perfect Mommy" that some think I ought to be.

You know what though?

I'd die for my kids. We spent 5 years trying to get these girls home. We know that love may look differently than we all expect it to look like, sometimes less a Rembrandt and more a kindergartner's fingerpaint messy masterpiece.

Team LaJoy is not a Rembrandt. Please don't expect us to be. We are absolutely the kindergarten artwork...still growing, still learning, colorful and messy and only the very glimmer of what our Team will eventually one day look like. Allow us the mistakes (in your opinion) we have made. Allow us to gingerly test the mixing of colors here until we find the perfect blend to accurately represent us all. For we are not a finished product, not by a long shot.


Joyce said...

I hope that in my ignorance about your situation that nothing I have said was in judgement or negative. YOu only have my complete admiration and support and I am so grateful that you have allowed me to learn so much thru your time there over the last 2 weeks.

Anonymous said...

I've been cheering for the LaJoy Team throughout this adventure knowing that whatever the outcome you are winners and either way the girls would be winners because of your understanding, your deep commitment to their wellbeing, and your wide-open hearts. You may not parent like anyone else (who does), but I wish there were thousands more parents like you.

Love to each of you,

Mom to 2 Angels said...

Maybe the girls could start their own blogs :) maybe password protected for a while, but I'm sure thye would love to have that to look back on.

Mom to 2 Angels said...

I meant my comment to be on the post above about ideas for ways to spend the time...

Ohiomom2121 said...

Dear Cindy,
I, too, hope that you recognize the spirit of caring that caused me to disagree with you about leaving the girls behind. I feel sure that if I were in your living room I would say what I wrote to you and that you would not be offended as you would know how much I respected and admired your soul and your intent. Yes, it is easier being far away and not seeing the pain Angela was inflicting on your boys, and I am sure that played a huge role in your decisions. I do not discount the need to protect one's family, as I am famous for being "mama tiger" when my cubs are threatened.
Part of my passion is because we are (hopefully) directly behind you in this path. Our little girl from Azerbaijan is being held up and has gone from 5 to 8 while we still have no inkling that the gov't will start adoptions, even though they keep saying they will. In the meantime, we are in process to adopt younger girls from Lithuania, so we will have the whole "out of birth order" issue if she becomes free in a couple of years. We have also committed in our hearts to try to get her out at 16 on a student visa if that is the last opportunity. I am truly terrified of the idea of bringing a 16 yo orphanage grad into our home, but we cannot abandon her.
So, we speak from the vantage point of you a few years ago, and I would hope that you forgive my not agreeing with your wavering on the girls' adoption, even as I have fully understood the very reasonable fears that caused you to do so. Even as I disagreed with you, I never thought you were bad or anything less than spectacular as a human being. I just felt that when those steel doors were shut tight and you were saying you were having trouble hearing God, that you were in the darkness created by fear. That is why your happy outcome is such a relief to me!
I also look forward to watching your struggles with older, female children, as I definitely learn from you and appreciate your thought process. I have learned much from your interventions when Kenny reverts to control mode. So, thank you in advance for continuing to lead and teach in these areas, as we will (again, hopefully) be right behind you. I do marvel that you are willing to subject yourselves to all these armchair opinions when you don't have to, and thank you so much for sharing your path. When our turn comes, if it does, I promise to let you know how your openness has helped. Please know that I have always admired you and Dominick, even when I believed you to be making a misstep. So, even when I threw out other options because I did not see them being considered, I never doubted your sincerity and bountiful spirit. You are amazing and if we are given the ability to adopt R as an 11 or 12 yo, I know much of your thought process will inform my steps.
God bless, Sherry
P.S. Again, YEAH!!!! for your current plans!!!!! SO HAPPY FOR YOU ALL!!!! Merry Christmas!

Anonymous said...

I made a comment in 'Do Overs' that may have been part of your writing this post, but I fully stand by it no matter how tender people's hearts are, because first and foremost, it's the children I have focused on in this blog. Opening wounds (your words) verbally with a child is sometimes necessary to get through the wall they've created, but to do it with a child that you haven't made the lifetime commitment to and therefore might possibly be exposing them and leaving them behind would be... well, it's a moot point because you are there for them for the long haul. I'm sure there will have to be more moments like that in the future, but with the recent choice your family made to adopt, you've proved that you'll be there when it counts.

Good luck with the paperwork, courts, and all of that frustrating, but necessary stuff. The nice thing is, now that your family made the decision, I'm sure it will give you that renewed energy you probably need to muddle through the next few weeks. Take care.

Anonymous said...

Hi Cindy!!
I just wanted to tell you that I'm one of your blog0groupies!! I love your writing and your honesty. You're one of the precious few out there who has worn your emmotion on your sleeve and done it soooo well!!!

I support you & your wonderful family with all my love and prayers heading your way.

Merry Christmas!
Nancy A. in New Hampshire

Lenore said...

So beautifully written, Cindy!! As you already know, we are behind you 500% in ALL you do!! We love you guys!!!

Tammy said...


Carrie DeLille said...

It is amazing, the different standards we are expected to live by, and you've opened yourselves up to be even more targeted. You do/have done a beautiful job through this all.... don't you just love "you asked for it" when you adopt-in other words, you can't complain. Only parents who have given birth have the right to complain-haha. The list goes on, doesn't it. You're the best and a very MERRY CHRISTMAS to the SEVEN of you!!

Antares Foundation - Laura Rosier said...

As are still my hero!!!
Love you,

Cathy Hartt said...

Cindy - I just love that I know you, Dominick and the boys. I see you grow as a family. You are an inspiration.

Maria said...

AMEN! I'll leave it at that. If you'll make a t-shirt that says all this, I'll buy one and wear it with pride!! :-)

Maureen said...

Thank you! This is why I am a faithful reader of your blog. Not because you are a "perfect" family and nothing ever goes wrong, but because you are a real family with ups and downs. I can relate to much of what you write about your family. Thank you for continuing to be open and honest and allowing us to read what you are writing for your children! It is very helpful to me as well.

J-momma said...

i love this post! and as a child with special needs (including severe behavioral/emotional difficulties) i know all about "different" kind of parenting. and i get plenty of looks out in public and questions from family and friends. but we're lucky that most people have been mostly supportive. your title reminds me of a post i've been meaning to write called "adoption is messy business" because a lot of people expect these gooey lovey feelings and then life going on as normal. nobody (outside of adoptive parents) expects that adoption is life long. the journey (sometimes difficult, sometimes not) goes on past one month home, one year home, 10 years home. anyway, just wanted to say i'm not judging you. i'm proud of you guys for doing things your way. keep at it!