Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Finding Normal

My friend Angela and I were talking recently and I think she summed up our transition nicely. We had the difficult "pregnancy" so we get the easy baby. Mercy has fit into our family quite nicely and I thank God for that after the horrible road it took to get here.

Her homecoming was not without a hitch, however. I would never want to paint a picture of it being totally easy and that it is all sunshine & roses. Surprisingly, the biggest struggle I have had is me. Adoptive mom & author, Melissa Fay Green, wrote an article on post-adoption panic that I identified heavily with in the first week and a half. I had feelings I never expected to have. I didn't have much joy and I really couldn't eat much. I felt trapped and scared. Mercy's homecoming also brought out a whole new level of grief over the loss of Anchise. I am thankful that these feelings didn't last long and I fully believe it is because I had so many people praying for me. I have never been depressed in my life, but have a whole new level of empathy for those who struggle persistently with this. It is horrible and something I never hope to experience again. If you bring a child home and have these feelings, please reach out to those you can trust. It was utterly freeing to know I was not alone (65% of adoptive parents report feeling this way!!!) and that so many people were praying for me.

Mercy is sleeping and eating well. She is willing to try everything and has found a love of cereal. If you know our family well, you would know that my bio kids would eat cereal for just about every meal if I would let them. I find it particularly funny that she also loves it. She also loves hot showers and going to the park to play.

She has done a normal amount of testing to see what she can get away with. Let me tell you that it isn't much. We hold our kids to a pretty high behavioral expectation and she has learned quickly that no means no and don't keep asking over and over. I think using consistent phrases over the first few weeks has helped with that tremendously - "I expect you to listen" or "I expect you to not keep asking after I say no". Repetition, repetition, repetition...

I have to also say that I am so proud of Delaney, Keaton and Brezlan. They have welcomed Mercy with open arms and treat her like a true sibling...they love her one minute and find her utterly annoying the next. I would say she is closer to Keaton and Delaney at this point. Since they are both small, Brezlan finds her to be more competition than he cares for.

Believe it not, Mercy has started school. I knew since before she came home that school was very important to her. She consistently asked about school so we had her evaluated. She started kindergarten last Friday and absolutely loves it. Her teacher reports she is very well behaved and is doing great. She has a smile on her face when I pick her up and can't wait to tell me about her day. I never imagined she would start so soon, but it is obvious she was ready.

So we are finding our new normal here and starting to gel as a family of six. With God's help we will continue to grow and bond together until this time of transition is just a distant memory.

16 comments:

Kathy Eden said...

What a WONDERFUL post! I've been praying for it! I still haven't figured out what normal is but I'm glad you have :o)

Kathy C. said...

I'm so glad she's finally home. I still have "what have I done" minutes but it's more about being 48 with four-year-olds than anything else.

The Gang's Momma! said...

An awesome update - and so true to what many folks feel. I applaud you for being so honest and forthcoming. It's refreshing and I'm so glad you found support and encouragement.

It's funny, I don't think I really have "Normal" down pat here - in fact, I just posted about it yesterday :)

Praying for continued support and favor over you all as you adjust and attach!

sea salt MOSAIC said...

praise God Stephanie. . . .

I have been praying so much for your adjustment. it can truly be challenging on so many different levels. rejoicing with you during this "settling of the dust".

Bill and Christina said...

I love the pictures! So glad that you are feeling better and things are going well.

Christina Faith said...

Excellent post Stephanie! Glad God has given you the "right" words to say! ;) You're going to be a huge blessing to future adoptive parents! ;)

Annie said...

I was about ready for this update!!!

I experienced that panic myself - particularly with Sergei, our first adopted child. Except it was not after he got home, it was the day before we left to get him. I had one more paper to get apostiled, and I was walking downtown when suddenly I was OVERCOME with panic. It was all I could do to make myself walk; I couldn't swallow, I couldn't think clearly. The only thought going through my mind was "What have I done??!! I've ruined my family! I've ruined my life! Nothing will ever be the same again and it is all my fault!!!" Well, I was right about nothing being the same again - no - just SO much richer.

I barely got through that day, with prayer and sheer self-discipline, and thank heaven, once we got in the car to head to the airport, somehow it all dissipated and I never looked back...but I remembered it clearly.

I think we were really fortunate to have the two weeks with him (and each of the children) in Russia. It is like the "honeymoon" that newlyweds take - really almost necessary for the mental transition to something so life-changing. By the time we got home, we were at least thoroughly used to and in love with Sergei (and each of our kids in turn).

Somehow I just knew she'd be an "easy" one - and how right you are that you deserve THAT!!!

kayder1996 said...

Before our Haitian adoptions, we did the fos adopt thing hoping to be able to adopt from foster care in our state. To make a long story short, that never materialized but in the wait, we agreed to do an emergency, strictly foster care placement. We knew she would be a short term stay but we were just kind of to the point of "whatever, God. If that's what you want, we'll do it." Through that experience, I was completely humbled and completely miserable. The parenting part, we did fine with. The emotions that went with it, not so much. We both completely struggled with feeling like glorified babysitters, with feeling guilty for being resentful of this little girl, for being angry at how much our routine had changed, etc.. Good lessons to learn. I think the hardest part was that no one told me that I might feel like way so then I felt terrible about it. Afterwards, I read The Post Adoption Blues and walked away with a whole new perspective on your emotions.

Jodie said...

I am so glad you're feeling better! And I'm glad you were able to reach out and ask for prayer.

Great pictures and I'm so glad she's doing so well!

Continuing to pray!

Shonni said...

I'm glad that things are settling in for ya'll.

Eve said...

Wonderful pictures. It seems you know the source of your strength, in the Lord. It's great that you have family to support you as well when you are feeling down.
You have a wonderful family, I wish you all the best.

stephanie garcia said...

So thankful to read your sweet update and how God is "gelling" your beautiful family together day by day!

Laurie said...

Mercy looks amazing! I've been checking daily to see how you are doing.

宗穎 said...

從人生中拿走友誼,猶如從生活中移走陽光........................................

Meehan Family said...

Thanks for being so honest, Stephanie. It's good to know what we might expect in the next 4-6 months after bringing our little one home.
I'm so glad that Mercy is fitting into your family so well. What an answer to prayer!
Betsy Meehan

Mama D.'s Dozen said...

So glad that things are going well for you!!!


Laurel :)