Saturday, June 14, 2014

1 Month Home

We hit the one month mark as a family of six.  Looking back, I can't believe it's been only 4 weeks since I was last in Ukraine.  And just over 5 weeks ago, I was still making my daily visits to the orphanage from 3:30 to 6:30.  I am astounded at how much has changed in such a short time.

Many people have asked if we have found our "new" normal.

My answer:  "Yes, every day we find a new normal."

It becomes normal that I walk to the bathroom to see the toilet seat in the upright position.  A problem we didn't have just 4 weeks ago.

It is normal that each night at 8:30pm you will find Adam and I hovering over a bowl of ice cream as we breathe in a sigh of relief that the kids are all in bed.

We normally purchase much larger quantities of fruit these days with no waste...not even an apple seed goes unconsumed in our home by our two newest family members.  Occasionally, I will find the stem laying on the carpet near the Uno game we played just hours prior.  Yes, we still play Uno.  Even that in our home is normal.

Hearing four children in unison yelling "Mommy watch this" while in the pool is completely normal and even expected.  AND, the ability to tune out all but the first child who got my attention at that particular moment is also normal.

Responding to questions and statements like, "What o'clock?", "Mommy you stay this", "May I be excuse me please?", "What time I stand up?", "May I have more vater?", "Can you help me with my sunscream?", "Me no like thisis eat"...all normal.  I don't even hear that Kate and Max aren't fluent in English.  Until we are at the grocery store and the person standing beside us in a given aisle begins to notice that my 4 and 6 year old speak better English than my 10 and 11 year old.  I forget that their broken English isn't "normal" because it is to me.  And more than it just being normal, it's amazing!  They have come so far in such a short time with very little effort to formally teach them.  Normal now is that we rarely use Google Translate or even call a translator.  Sure there are many times I wish I could sit and have a real conversation with them, but I know it will come in time and probably sooner than I would ever expect.

Normal includes lots of time spent together as a family, or at least me and the kids when Adam is working.  Normal is fewer playdates, less time spent away from home, quicker and much more efficient trips to Sprouts and later bedtimes.  It is togetherness.  It is messy, sometimes ugly and not usually real pretty.  But it is good.  It is being sensitive to their limits, according to their ability to self-regulate and adjust to new and changing environments.

Has the month been amazing?  Yes!!!  But not because it's been perfect.  Far from it, in fact.  Thankfully, we didn't expect perfect, but choose to see the victories of each day, no matter how small, as something to be celebrated...over ice cream.

One of the greatest challenges is reminding myself that just because these kids look "typical" does not mean they are.   Reminding or informing others of this is also difficult at times.  It is easy to forget that they have pasts that include trauma, things that are part of their stories that are even unknown to us, that they don't know how family works, what family truly means.  They have an idea of what it is like to have a Mom and a Dad but it is romanticized (and why wouldn't it be?).  So, they challenge boundaries and authority.  It's their way of asking, "Do you really care?", "Will you really follow through?", "Do you really love me?"  And it is exhausting, but we are in it for the long haul.  This love is unconditional and nothing they will or will not do will change it.

So, if we seem antisocial it's because we kind of actually are.  And as much as I thought that might bother me, it actually kind of doesn't.  There is so much to learn and so much growth that is happening amongst the six members of this family that I want to create the firmest foundation possible as early as possible so that we all have a secure understanding of who we are as family and how this family operates.

Normal includes constant repetition of statements like "Family sticks together," "Family looks out for one another," "Family forgives," "Family respects."  The benefit of repeating these statements over and over again is that it reinforces for ALL of us that every thing we do, say or do not say has impact.

Also normal is learning to turn to the Lord more quickly, with greater need and more dependence on Him to meet the need of that moment.  We are in a place of great dependence on Him knowing that with so much we simply have to trust.  Trust Him to lead us, trust Him with our fears, trust Him with our questions and the great amount of unknown we face.  

So, lest you thought we had it all figured out, you now have a glimpse into the fact that we do not.  If you're wondering how we are doing, the answer is "Well."  Again, not perfect, not amazing, but there are moments that I feel we are not just surviving but actually thriving.  Moments when this does seem normal...and quite honestly there are more of those moments already than I ever would have expected at this point.  There is a long road ahead...for each of us.  Adoption does not define our family, but it has changed our family.  The reality is we are two parents with four kids, we just happen to have 21 years of unknown amongst our newest son and daughter.  But it doesn't matter.  Not that their pasts don't matter, they very much do.  What doesn't matter is how we came to be the family that we are.  What matters is how we go about it from here on out.

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