So far we’ve written about some of the ups and downs we’ve had with the kids. They’ve been an absolute joy on the whole, and we are *so* excited to be a family. But we have to admit that things have definitely been quite difficult at times.
Whether it is picky eating, having to ask them multiple times to do the same simple task, or dealing with silly squabbles that are pretty much impossible to referee (mostly because of the language gap), I find myself at my wits end more than I imagined I would.
Patience. I need patience. A wise man (our premarital counselor) told me that marriage was for our sanctification. And that kids are also for our sanctification.
In adoption there is typically a honeymoon phase. You all get along, everything is new and exciting, and there are no real issues. Sure, we had a toddler, but when the other two are angels, he was easy enough to manage.
In our case, this lasted about a week, maybe 8 or 9 days. I can’t recall exactly. The kids were extremely well behaved, and it seemed like things were going to work out just perfectly.
Except this *wasn’t* reality. They simply didn’t know us yet. They weren’t pushing boundaries. Any frustrations they might have had with us were kept to themselves. Soon enough, though, we were facing plenty of typical kid issues.
A healthy dose of reality
Real life is messy. There is friction and frustration. You don’t always get along. But you always love. And you always keep going.
Even when Kels and I feel exhausted and overwhelmed, we remember that we want to provide our three children with all the love and nurture that we possibly can. Even though things are hard, they are worth it.
Last week we had a couple really tough days. There have been times when the older two cannot go two minutes without one getting upset with the other and calling for us. Ninety percent of the time I have no idea what to do. They play the he-said-she-said game, and I really can’t do much more than shrug my shoulders.
The little things also get to me. We have a toddler that leaves anything and everything everywhere in the apartment. I’ve had to look for his shoes more times than I’d like to count. It’s gotten to the point that when one of the older two ask where something is, I simply have to ask them to find it themselves (since 99% of the times they are the ones that left <insert item> wherever it is).
I’m done. Keeping up with one child’s stuff is plenty. I can’t handle three.
But we also had some great days as well. One of my fondest memories of the trip was sitting at the top of a hill, taking in a view of San José, while watching our older two slide down on pieces of cardboard. Seeing them laughing and smiling was a joy.
Adoptive versus “traditional” parenting
While our kids seem “normal” in many ways, Kels and I have to constantly remind ourselves of the challenging past they’ve been through. Remarkably, they have already told us multiple stories of their lives in different institutions, as well as before that. Alisa has plenty of memories of her “old life”.
The key for us is to figure out what is driving certain behaviors and to help the kids work through any trauma. It is imperative that we connect with them during this time and have reasonable expectations.
The kids crave our attention and approval. This is a very good thing, but it gets overwhelming sometimes. Being asked papi, vea 27 times in 20 minutes can be overload. But every bit of attention they get from us is critical for bonding with them. They don’t have years of history with us that helps them feel secure and attached. Therefore we have to accelerate this with the time that we do have.
Our first date!
I promised my wife that we would take a date this week, and it happened yesterday. Our in-country coordinator kindly offered to babysit for us.
Kels and I needed some time to ourselves, even if it was just a couple hours. We dearly love our kids. It’s just apparent to us now that we can’t parent them at the expense of our marriage. Two hours to ourselves was wonderful.
Can we go home yet?
Wanting to go home is becoming a recurring theme. We have received our adoption decree (well, not quite. Our attorney has it), and now we are waiting on new birth certificates for the kids. Once we have those, we can schedule the next appointment(s).
We’re hoping that we’ll be out of here before the end of the month, but my gut tells me that we’ll be here into November, which is when I tentatively booked our return flights.