Monday, December 10, 2012

Challenges and "Joys"

Two months ago....we were on our way home from getting our new daughter from the Philippines.. I haven't written a lot about our trip, but it was definitely not a vacation! The trip there was long...including 2 hours of severe turbulance when we flew through a typhoon on our flight into Tokoyo-(this resulted in two sick kids, !). I was never so happy to be on firm ground again, but then we had to run through the airport to make our connecting flight to Manila and board right back on another airplane!

Manila was croweded and I mostly felt claustrophobic the whole time I was there. The people, though, are genuine and friendly. I would have loved to had time to get outside of the city and see some of the beautiful country, where I hear it is not so crowded!

When we first met Joy, she was shy, but she clung to Natalie right away. We had told her that Natalie was her "Ate", which means "big sister", but we found out quickly that she called all of her caregivers "Ate". She thought that Natalie was going to be the one taking care of her, so she had decided in her mind that she would love Natalie.  Me, on the other hand, not so much. She had really no concept of what a "mother" or "family" was, and I think she was angry at me for taking her away from the only "family" she had ever known and quite possibly terrified of the whole situation! While we were in the Philippines, she did not warm up to me at all and it was a challenge, to say the least. We did not get a "honeymoon" period like I have heard some families talk about! As we have been at home, she fairly quickly warmed up to me and now she is very affectionate with all of us. It is definitely a "joy" to feel those little arms tight around my neck! She loves to give hugs and kisses! :)

We've had the challenges with language barrier, but also laughter. Joy heard the song, "Feliz Navidad" on the radio and she began to sing loudly "Police and a dog". Now that is a standing joke in our family!  Joy loves to laugh and has a great sense of humor.

We've had challenges in meshing the "family" together, but already, I have seen a change in Micah and Natalie and how they get along with Joy.  Oh, they still have normal arguments and annoyances like any brothers and sisters, but Joy is now a part of our family and I can't imagine it any other way. It is a "joy" to see the kids become a family together!

We are facing some big challenges with Joy's special needs and learning delays. We noticed quite quickly that Joy has difficulty learning in certain areas. I am looking forward to seeing her learn and grow as we work with her and find her the help she needs. 

 We have come so far in the past two months. Do we still have difficult days? Absolutely. I have read some blogs where everything seems to be going just so perfectly and peachy keen from the very first day...and I this for real? Some people are afraid to blog about the realities of adoption because they are afraid of judgment from others. They are afraid that people will say, "You asked for it by adopting an older child," or "This was YOUR choice". BUT the reality is, adoption is not God's first plan for a family. It is not always perfect.  It is not always beautiful. It is born out of death or abandonment. It is born out of tradgedy and pain. Don't get me wrong.  I am an adoption advocate and I BELIEVE in adoption. God wants us as His children to take care of orphans, but I also want others to know the reality. It takes a strength that sometimes you don't have in and of yourself. It takes a willingness to deal with unpleasant behavior, to love selflessly, to sacrifice time and money for a child who might not always ACT lovable, and definitely doesn't always feel thankful (maybe even resents you for taking them away from the only home they have ever known!). It takes a determination and commiment to parent a child that has been broken and hurt and may be a totally different personality than you. Adopting an older child, especially one with special needs, is not for the faint of heart. To be honest....I struggle. I am not always willing to give selflessly like I should. I have seen a side of myself that I am not proud of. I have been frustrated, brought to tears, and even asked God "why" at times...but God is stretching me and making me into someone with a greater understanding for a hurting child, a greater compassion for parents of children with special needs, and a bigger heart for those who do foster care.  I pray that God will make me into the mother He wants me to be so I can help others who might be struggling with difficult adoptions. Once again, this adoption journey has been much more challenging than I expected; but God never said following His plan would be easy or comfortable. I pray that He will continue to change me and make me into the person He wants me to be. I will revel in the joys and trust God to help us overcome the challenges and through it all, I pray that He will be glorified in our family.