Monday, August 6, 2012

Sarah McLachlan and Adoption

I just got off of work.  It is 4:22a.m. and our house is dark except for a single lamp.  The only noise: the beloved central air.  Quiet....another term: Still....both words that have NOT been used in this house as of late.   I know many people that read our blog in the adoptive community have anywhere from four to five to 12 kids, something beyond what I can imagine right now.  This blog post is not for you because you will think me weak.  This blog post is also not for someone who is ready to pass judgement.  Go elsewhere.  Nor is it for someone who says "two is when it really starts..."

I have also come to realize that there are many people who read our blog with whom I work, who are new to adoption, friends from college, or just whatever really.  Many people interested in or early in the adoption process pass by here.  People who for some reason just like reading this silly blog of ours.... This blog post is for these people....for those people who need to / want to know that there are tears behind smiles and growls behind can hide a thousand words.

I was speaking with a friend tonight who said "If people that are interested in international adoption only see the good side, then they will be in for a rude awakening when it is not all peaches and cream and Sarah McLachlan songs."  After I laughed to myself for a few minutes about Sarah McLachlan and how JT gets annoyed at her songs despite me making him listen throughout college, I realized she was right, though it was painful to admit it to myself and to her.  Honesty and transparency is not weakness and moreover, it is not complaining.  I chose to adopt so I will not complain about the perils, heartaches, frustrations that accompany it.  Yet, my friend is right. I need to be honest.  I need to get over my fear of being judged by others and continue to be an honest and transparent example for other families and allow others in so they may learn from our experiences.

I say all of that because in the last 14 days there has not always been best buddies playing cars and Leave It to Beaver family dinners at 6:00p.m. every night with prayers and a crumb-less floor.  There have been tears and regression from the oldest as he learns to share his world with someone who can't share because they have never been privy to anything to share.  There have been words of adult frustration because of refusal of children to listen both out of choice and of not understanding the English language. 

I mean, we can teach English.  Jefferson County Public Schools and their wonderful and experienced ESL teachers will help with this as of August 21st as well.  Teaching English will come, but teaching love is difficult.  You have to live love.  And sometimes that hurts because you love someone and they don't return it. And I sit and think about can he know love, accept love, give love when for three years he lived in an orphanage without truly having someone consistently, day in and day out LOVING HIM.  Mother Teresa said it best when she said, "Being unwanted, unloved, uncared for, forgotten by everybody, I think that is a much greater hunger, a much greater poverty than the person who has nothing to eat.”  To think of my son that way hurts my soul. We have to Love him, over and over and over again...that is how he will learn it. And yet, to discipline requires love.  To become a family requires love... To share requires love.... and yet with so much hurt and loss for three long years learning love is difficult... In saying this I don't mean to portray that Chernet was not well cared for in Ethiopia...he was.... I am not saying that he is not a happy, playful kid.... he is totally that.  His needs were met... but he was not tucked in at night.  He was not rocked to sleep.  He was not kissed when he fell down. He was not corrected and disciplined in love and with grace... so now we must pick up the pieces and start over and guess what.... That is not EASY.  I know, shocking, right?  Maybe I should be reading the Bible but Mother Teresa's words have been a great thinking place for me...She said "I have found the paradox, that if you love until it hurts, there can be no more hurt, only more love." We are trying to live this....each day as we pour out more of ourselves into these beautiful boys who have experienced such tremendous loss, hurt, and pain that we can not fathmom.... each little moment, we can maybe gradually replace big hurts with small pieces of love until some day there may be more love than hurt. 

My husband deserves more credit than I could ever give him in words or repay him in deed.  I have been at work every day since Chernet came home with the exception of one. All of my shifts have been 5p-9a or 4p-4a except for two days.  This leaves me sleeping when they are all awake and makes JT essentially a single dad.  He is such a great daddy and loves his boys so much.  Even so, there are moments when we both look at each other or text one another (since face to face has been a rarity) and wonder if this will get better.  Will Tedi stop imitating the bad behaviors of Chernet?  Will Chernet learn English...will he listen....will he not hit his brother....throw toys....?  Will we ever sink into a routine?  We like to think we will.... 

So here we stand, JT and I, holding hands in chaos surrounded by noise, both laughter and clatter.... praying that with each bad day there are two good ones.... for each backwards step, we take two forward.  Because there is laughter and there are tears (yep, I shed one or two tonight but I don't think anyone saw :-).  And things will get better, this we know.  I write this blog not to talk about how hard adoption hard the loss these kids suffer can be.... how hard it can be to discipline a child who does not speak English (this is hard regardless of language).... All of these statements are true.  I write this so that others know, as John Donne said, "no man is an island unto himself." and thus, neither are we.  Having a kid is hard, whether you birth a baby, adopt a baby, adopt a big is hard work and not for the weak at heart. But we if operate as independent islands from one another, we run the risk of feeling all alone in our troubles and also, sadly, in our victories.  So I write this as an invitation to cut yourself some slack, and realize you are not alone in the bad days.  I write this to encourage people to encourage others, when their kids are being total and complete little devils and when there is a good day..... I write this so we remember to lift up our spouses, remember to give them breaks, remember to honor their hard work and do the same for our friends.  I write this because I needed to be real.....because when I am real, I hope to invite others to be the same way. 

Lastly, I post this picture because it truly demonstrates the delicate balance that is parenting, that is loving...the give and the take... (and I hold my breath as I wait for the first broken arm)


  1. Another great post Natalie. We'll continue to be praying for you and the rest of the gang.

  2. Love your transparency and honesty, Natalie! Adoption is hard. It takes everything that you can give and then asks for more. When we adopted our, very needy, very neglected boys from Russia, there were times when I found myself sitting on the bathroom floor with the door shut, crying and wondering how I am going to get through the day until my husband got home. I'm glad that you wrote this. It has reminded me to continue to pray for you all!
    Lots of love to your family!!!

  3. I tried to email the night before Chernet came home, and I see now that my email failed to go through. It WILL get better! Give it a year and you will laugh again together, two years and you'll have peace again in your home. He's got this, you keep loving and it'll all be a beautiful testimony before you know it.

  4. What an amazing post--truth at its best! Adoption certainly has its rough spots but the reward in the end is well worth every tear and frustration. Your family is beautiful and God's grace sufficient to carry you through. Your sons are incredibly blessed to have such loving parents.

  5. Hang in there, you know that i love you, Dad

  6. this too shall pass and much quicker than you can ever imagine! love ya'll LOTS!

  7. Natalie, JT & Family: Chris has shared your journey with me and his excitement for your family. Your journey is the same as many parents, blended families and biological families, and you will give others hope. Parenting is the hardest job there is and the rewards are usually few and far between, but when you get the reward it is definitely worth all of the bad minutes, hours, and days. We are praying for your family daily that you will have God's grace and patience with your boys.

  8. Love this post! Too many think that adoption of any type will only be rewarding! But parenting truly comes with ups and downs and weathering storms!

  9. The Medina family is praying for you... grateful for your honest heart and real posts. Much love your way.