Adoption is about so much more than having a child join your family. It's about growing and stretching in faith and capacity, it's about learning hard lessons you didn't think you needed to learn. It's about adapting and letting go of expectations.
We've had to do all of that, and will continue to. Having someone join our family doesn't begin and end in one day. It's a life-long process of learning about one another, slowly being knitted together as a family over time. Solving problems and learning that many things won't be fixed over night. It's steps forward and steps back. There are moments of pure awe of how far he's come in a short time. There's also moments of pure exhaustion and even questioning what on earth we've done.
Lessons we're learning:
-Patience. Clearly God is not done with me yet in this arena. I am not a patient person. I see a problem, I want to fix it immediately. But I'm reluctantly learning that not all of our problems are going to have quick fixes. We're not going to have the perfect vehicle right now to fit all our needs. We're not going to have every part of our house be independently accessible to Joey. Heck, we're not even going to have a working lawn mower sometimes. And THAT'S OKAY.
-We can't do everything all at once. We can't address all of his physical needs at one time, it's a process. Thankfully, none of his needs are life-threatening, and he's lived with his body the way it is for 8 years. It's okay that we're not addressing everything all at once. There are things we can do in the future to help improve his function and independence, but there's no huge rush.
-It's okay to take a break. After more appointments with doctors and therapists than I can begin to count over the past 8 months, we've decided to mostly take the summer off. There are a few follow-up appointments here and there, but we're intentionally choosing not to do any therapies, surgeries, serial castings, etc. for a few months. He needs a break, I need a break, we all need a break. He needs to feel the freedom of just being a kid. (Pray with us that he doesn't have any new breaks or developments that would require more appointments!)
-We can't make up for all that he's missed. He's come a long way in learning that we're his family, but he's still trying to figure out what "forever" means. He's still coming to terms with all that he's lost. We get more and more stories about his life in China, some of it good, some not. We get lots and lots of questions about why we came to get him, but why we can't get his foster brothers. Why do we love him, why does God love him? Regardless, he has to come to terms with the loss of all of it. He has had no choice in any of his circumstances. It's not an easy thing to wrap your brain and heart around, and it will be a part of him for the rest of his life. But we'll be beside him the whole way.
-There will never be enough time in the day! I'm a do-er. I love to organize, clean and get projects done. But with 5 kids and their various needs, I don't get to everything I want to. Most days we feel like we're spinning our wheels with cook-clean up-repeat, along with 1-3 loads of laundry thrown in for good measure. I'm (reluctantly!) learning to let go of a lot of things.
-This is our new normal. Things have improved for sure from the really hard days, but things will never be as "easy" as they once were (not that things were easy with 4 kids, but definitely easier than 5!). We're always tired! Let's just say, we both have picked up a coffee habit that we never had before. :)
-We won't ever have a perfect balance. Before Joey came home, we confidently believed we would find a way for him to experience everything our other kids do. It's been a slow realization that there are some things he just cannot do. He can't play on a swing set because he can't climb up the ladders or hold onto a regular swing. Most parks do not offer one piece of equipment for him. He can't play tag in the yard, he'll get hurt. Sometimes we just have to tell him no when the other kids get to have a yes. Sometimes we say no to everyone, so that he's not left out. It's a really hard balance. In fact, it's probably one of the hardest things we do each day, figuring out what he can/can't, should/shouldn't do and how that fits in with everyone else in the house. Sometimes it's an enormous source of frustration for everyone, but it is what it is.
-Blessings. It's easy for me to get wrapped up in the hard things, but when I take a moment to realize all that we do have, I'm blown away, especially thinking about the blessings we've had in the last 8 months.
We had an entirely new front deck and wheelchair accessible ramp built for him for his walker/wheelchair. I never thought I'd be so excited about a ramp in my life! It's beautiful. We use it every single day.
We were gifted a small grant from our county to buy him a ride-on toy that he can drive independently. You should see him zipping around our yard in this! Then we had an engineer from a local volunteer organization add on a front "bumper" to give his feet some more protection. So cool! The same grant paid for a swing that he is able to do... it's a huge hit for everyone.
Blessings to be found even at the grocery! Our store now has this cool cart with a handicap seat on the front, so he can ride while I shop!
Some volunteers from a local church volunteered to add a step to our back deck so he can get down to the lower part where the sandbox is. And they even brought us a meal! So sweet!
-Firsts are just as sweet. Although we missed his first tooth, first step, first word... there's still so many firsts we're getting to experience with him. Like when the Tooth Fairy came for the first time. He was so confused about why we wanted him to put his tooth under his pillow, but boy was he happy with the money he found in the morning!
First time having Maggie and I visit him at school lunch!
According to him, his first time playing in a puddle (cast and all!).
First Fine Arts Night at school!
First trip to the Zoo!!
First train ride!
First movie at the theater!
-Focus. Our kids are our number one focus... and what a blessing that is! We are so incredibly honored to get to be the ones to feed them, dress them, read with them, hear about their days, wipe their tears, listen to their dreams. Lucky, lucky, lucky we are.
-This is a season. This time won't last forever. They won't always need us this much (and surely we won't always have 4 kids in pull-ups at night!!!). Someday I will go back to work, someday Jeremy and I will have time alone together again... and then we'll miss this time. So as hard as it is right now, we're also (mostly) content with where we are today.
At the end of the day, there's no regrets. I mean, how lucky are we that we get to walk through life along with these amazing little people!!! Truly, we are the lucky ones. We're thankful that God is using us and stretching us in this way. We're thankful that our kids have one another for life. And we're thankful for the lessons we're learning along the way
September 2016 May 2016
The Energizer dogs... they just keep on living.