Saturday, September 13, 2008

Update




Hi everyone, it's been so long since I've blogged-I'm kinda addicted to Facebook these days...
So many people recently have been asking about our adoption and I wanted to take the time to update you all on what's been going on with us. Prim's adoption was finalized in June!!! Praise God that it's finally over-well-almost. Next week when we head to San Diego for a wedding we'll be stopping at the Thai Embassy in LA to register the adoption and then. we. are. done. Really. Finished. Three years and finally we'll be completely finished. She's ours forever and ever. Amen to that, right?
There's a reason why I blogged less frequently so here is my big confession. Parenting this little girl has not been easy and because of that I hesitated to blog because of a fear of discouraging others who have taken an interest in our story. I felt that I couldn't write it and fake it and I couldn't really say what I was feeling because let's be honest-who wants to hear it? First, let me confess that this idea alone is just terribly self centered of me. I placed too much importance on myself and my experience and should have given everyone who has supported our family throughout the past few years much more credit. I really and truly thought that my struggles with Prim would discourage someone from wanting to adopt-especially a toddler-and figured that just not talking about it at all was easier. So...here I go. An update on our life:
The past year has been one of the most difficult of my life in so many ways. My decision to become a mother was never one that I took lightly. From the time I was a little girl I felt like I didn't know much about life but what I DID know was that God created me to be a mother. It was instinctive. It was natural and it was motivated by something inherently primal. When Hung and I married we (and by that I mean me) decided after a year or so to give it the old college try and see what happens...one year turned into three and at that point I began to get those first twinges of fear that something was wrong. After tests, invasive procedures and finally fertility treatments we conceived G into our fourth year of marriage. I'm not one to barter with God but in all honesty I begged for the experience of pregnancy if just one time. It happened and for that I will forever be grateful. G was and continues to be a sensitive, caring and loving little boy.
When we decided to grow our family we were overseas and the options for fertility were not available to us. Adoption was our only option, an option in which I had longed for but H resisted. One day in October of 2005 H came to me and said "let's do it!" and never looked back. I couldn't have been more surprised but his conviction was a clear indication to me that we were ready for another child and allowed God to be in the driver's seat once more. We knew that there was a child in the world that we could parent and who was meant to be ours. We were already parents to a three/almost four year old and already had the basic tools-how hard could it be?
Fast forward to before traveling to get Prim and I can tell you that the anticipation was nothing like that of having a child biologically. I was nervous and excited and could only hope for a miracle when we met our little girl. I knew that the transition would be so very difficult for her but I couldn't have been prepared for the grief and anguish she has experienced over the past year.
Coming home for us was to be able to breathe again. Thailand was great but it was emotional and exhausting and we needed to be on sure footing again to be able to start concentrating on piecing our family together. H was impatient with Prim and her tantrums, G was frustrated that he had to share mom and dad with a one-girl-wrecking-machine and I was left feeling empty from lack of sleep. I felt like I was holding our family together by a very thin invisible thread. On the outside we looked so happy and Prim looked so content. Everyone commented on how happy she seemed and how beautiful she is and how she seemed to thrive on our attention and all I could do was smile because what I really wanted to do was hide beneath my covers and cry. All I could think was that I had failed my daughter. I took her away from the only family she knew and in doing so caused her so much pain and heartache. The nights were endless. She resisted sleeping and would scream for hours. She temper tantrummed without ceasing and hit, slapped and defied all of our rules. Sure, we were consistent. But what had worked for G was not working for her and we were at a standstill. We saw a family therapist often to make sure we were using all of the necessary tools to help her adjust and still it seemed to go on. I doubted myself as a mother, H doubted himself as a father and in the beginning G resented his sister just for being there.
As the months went by and many things became easier as she began to see where she fit into our family, yet other aspects of our relationship became more difficult. Everything finally came to a head in May after having gone on a trip to Arizona for my cousin's wedding. It was our fist time staying in a hotel since being in Bangkok and on top of that she met my parents and many other relatives for the first time. I will NEVER forget the look of fear on Prim's face when we were in my parent's hotel room. It was time to leave and go to our own room and Prim instinctively thought that we were going to leave her with my parents. It brought back all of the fear and anxiety she had experienced after separating from her foster family and she cried and cried until finally falling asleep in my arms. She had been home for eight months and these feelings of insecurity and fear still lay below the surface for her. By the time my parents went home in the beginning of May, her nights were as bad if not worse as they had been when she first came home. She began slapping me across the face when I sent her to time out and lashing out physically when she didn't get her way. I felt like we had taken ten steps backwards. Prim is a very strong willed little girl and these complicated emotional issues only added to a personality that is demanding on a good day.
After some much needed counsel from friends that share our faith and values and humble prayer we decided to take a discipline route that did not come naturally to me. After witnessing the tantrums and the night time rages it became clear to H and I that this little girl needed clearer boundaries than what we had been giving her. At every turn she began to test us. Where we going to leave her? Would we go away? But most importantly-Would we still love her after the storm passed? She pushed and pushed and pushed and our job was to discipline her in love and hold her even longer after. It has taken some time but immediately I noticed a subtle change. She seemed more peaceful. She smiled easier, she laughed harder. She still pushed, but there was no longer anger behind it. Now I see that she is almost three and acting like it.
Today I told H on our way home from lunch that she finally seems happy to me. She has a peace in her eyes that gives me such joy and contentment. She takes one look at me and says "I love you, Mommy!" and is enthusiastic about her whole world. Every morning she asks about Daddy and wants to know where her brother is. We are finally her entire world and I finally feel like we've earned it.
I look into the face of my daughter and I see resilience that I do not have. She left everything she knew; language, country, food and family. She fought and grieved for a loss that could not be explained to her and somehow, someway she has learned to overcome. She has allowed us to love her and in doing so has made us better people and better parents. My daughter has a fire in her that I can not take credit for and after one year I finally know that that is okay. One day, when she is old enough, I hope that she will understand that the beginning of her life did shape her but will not define her. I pray that she grows to be a woman after God's own heart and an example to those who have experienced heartache.
I know for H and myself that as more time passes and we reflect on this first year we will realize the blessing that came with the storm. We will begin to understand that holding her tight through these times was our gift to her when we very easily could have let her go. It would have been so easy to emotionally walk away but we stayed the course and for that I am grateful. This past year I feel like we have fought the fight for our daughters heart and our reward is so generously reflected in her eyes and smile.
What a gift she is, this beautiful Thai girl. Adopting may not be for everyone but it was for us. It doesn't matter how our children came to us, they are ours and we are theirs. We are a forever family.

This blog post is dedicated to all of our friends and family who have supported and prayed for us throughout the past year.

6 comments:

JiLL said...

I am very happy to hear your family is doing good. My husband and I are in the paper-chasing processes of adopting from Thailand. Thank you for sharing with us your trying times. When people are "Real" about adoption and the issues these children face, it helps PAP better understand what our children will be feeling and what we as new parents should expect. I know not all children react the same but that we need to give up control and just be there for our children as they grieve and test us. That things won't be all happy go-lucky when we return from Thailand but that there will be many rough storms ahead with sometimes just a glimmer of sunshine in between. Thanks again for sharing, I feel it has defiantly helped me better understand what we are really in for as new parents. It doesn't scare us away, just better prepares us, and if your story does scare people away from adoption, well then maybe its not for them.

Glen and Andrea said...

You may not remember me but I have posted on your blog before. We have been home for 4.5 months with our 2.5 yr old son from Thailand. We thought we were truly well prepared for how tough it was going to be and what we would go through. We had read the books and heard others experiences. But nothing could have prepared us for what we have been through in the last 5 months. When I read your post it sounded like our life. We have been scratched, hit etc more times than we can count. And for those who wonder how strong can a 2 yr old be? When they think their life depends on it and they are deeply frightened of yet more changes, disruptions or being LEFT AGAIN, they are incredibly strong. I haven't posted nearly as much as I would have liked either as I often feel that no one wants to hear yet more depressing news. Also, for us, I honestly believe people (including my parents) think that we just don't know how hard parenting is - that Hugo is no harder than any other child. So many adoptive parents DON'T write their stories at the time for fear of putting others off but I think that people need to know how hard it is to be prepared and not to feel alone if they have already adopted and are searching for support. Thank you for your honesty and letting us know we are not alone. It is so good to hear from people who also have bio kids who can tell the world that it IS different, we are not just naive or losing our mind! I'm going to link to this post from my blog (it's private - I can send you an invite if you'd like it) so our family and friends can read it. All the best for your next year as a family!

Sarah said...

You are both truly an inspiration to all of us who think we have challenging children and lives. I love you both...and miss living closer. Maybe the Navy will bring us back together someday. You do have a beautiful family!!
Love, Sarah

Jay and Chandra Regan said...

I know it's not the same, but I have been physically attacked by children when they are unhappy about their parents leaving them with me. I'm a preschool teacher. So, I have to earn their trust, too. But, I know you can't really compare because they still go home to biological parents. But, if it is any consolation I know all of the joys and terrible frustrations of little kids without ever being able to have them call me, "Mommy" for real.

Hannah said...

It's so great to see a post from you! I wish we all could have been there for you to help support you through the tough times. I think about you so often - I hope you'll continue to blog (but if not, I'll find you on Facebook!)

Anonymous said...

thank you for your post...our first 3months with K were very hard and many times I doubted myself so many times - and I though of you of how i wish I had your phone number and how amazing God is to put people (even on the web) from whom to get some encouragement from!

hirally

i will find you in FB also - there quite a few of us there from those constant Holt Forum days

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