Saturday, June 9, 2012

Change


We didn't share our reservation about adopting Selah publicly but I want to share it now in hopes it will be an encouragement to you!

If you've been following my blog, you know that Selah was a surprise to us in this adoption. When the little guy we were going ot adopt, became unavailable, we found out about her and made plans to adopt her. What you do not know is what happened when we met her...

Before we left for Ukraine I had a disturbing dream about Selah. We did not believe she was blind or that she had CP as was reported to us. She didn't look blind in the photos and she was obviously walking ( I know you can walk with CP but we didn't think she had it) In my dream she was just out of control! I didn't freak too much about it, I knew it was probably just my own fears coming out but..... We were concerned knowing she had mental delays, but could get around. Sam & Sarah being blind/low vision are very vulnerable to being hurt, pushed down etc.. and we knew Sam isn't really verbal and assumed Sarah was even more delayed than Sam.

The day we met Selah & Sarah....Sarah was just like we expected, we have a son who is delayed and born blind so we knew exactly what to expect from Sarah and were drawn to her. With Selah, we were drawn to her & felt love & compassion for her. But she scared us. I don't know if I can do justice to how she was acting but I will try. Her eyes darted around like she was on speed. She was jittery, NO focus whatsoever...she fell all over Sarah which of course worried us. She acted like Sarah wasn't even there at all. She didn't want to be held but for a second at the most. She was nervously pulling strings off her clothes & making noises. No connection whatsoever. We do not feel she was on drugs although we asked!!!! We really feel it was all emotional. I could easily tell Jon was very disturbed and I let him answer the question "will you take both of them?" He answered yes without hesitation, thank God, Jon is a committed type of guy!

We couldn't talk freely till we got back ot our apartment. Then we started talking. We talked about her need, our family and the fact God had provided the money for her adoption and so many assurances that we were on the right road. We had some major fears but we had no one to talk to, no doctor to take her to, nothing...But we committed.

We met them on a Wednesday to be quite honest we only saw them a little bit that day, and the next two then it was the weekend! Thank God that we had it free, we really didn't want to see them right then. We needed to kinda regroup with Selah and needed some space. As far as me, I was just having to die to myself, in my mind over and over...I kept it inside, didn't even talk about it too much to Jon. Sometimes we've found if we talk about something TOO much as we are going thru it, it makes it worse. So I was dealing with it...And he was dealing with it alo. But we are the type that f we set out ot do something, we're going to do it come hell or high water!

We kept seeing them, kept going forward in the paperwork, kept trusting, seeing NO change in Selah. We also had to deal with different people coming through the area we would see the girls in and distracting her even more so. I finally had to be almost rude to some of the older ladies (residents) in order to get them to leave as we knew we needed one on one time with Selah. I want to clarified we had a love for her but we couldn't know if that love would be returned.

We would play with Sarah and Sarah would laugh, and Selah would watch and sometimes, scoot over on her bottom. You could tell she wanted to join in but didn't know how. She'd get upset fast if we tickled her like we did Sarah but she seemed to enjoy watching us play with Sarah. How sad is that?

Sarah is much more obviously disabled, but emotionally, she was right with us from day one! Where Selah looks more normal, nothing obvious much with her but her emotions were so damaged!

We began bringing in treats and that seemed to help some. We began seeing little break through, she'd hold a glance for a minute, or maybe reach out to hold our fingers. THEN it got warm enough to go outside. For the first few days, it was just us and the girls on the veranda. Finally we started seeing some smiles and laughs even.

It happened so gradually with Selah, but by the last week or so, she'd cry when it was time for us to leave, even tho she still didn't want alot of touch and didn't look us in the eye much. We were happy for her cries! At least it showed she preferred us! YOu have NO idea how happy we were that she cried! We'd get in the van and be laughing and talking about how she wanted us to stay!


On "Gotch day" we had NO idea how she would do...first we went back to our apartment and finished packing and gave both girls a bath. Then a 1.5 drive to the bus station. Then the overnight train ride...she did fine. On the train she was the happiest I'd ever seen her, she couldn't' sleep and she did rock her head back and to some but she was happy.

Things just got better and better...the time in Kiev, the trip home...


And now a month later, I can tell you this little girl relates to her family, interacts with her brothers and sister, smiles, looks us in the eyes...emotionally she is healing. Selah is delayed and probably has a chromonsal disorder and will never be "normal" but she learning LOVE!!! And learning trust!

Selah's story is uniquely sad...she and her biological siblings were taken from the home (all I can say is it is a poor country and if they were taken form the home because it was "unhygienic" it must have been bad!) She was two at he time. She first went to a hospital for 6 months! Then a shelter, another shelter, a baby orphanage for a few months and then to the institution at 4 years old. So at 4 this little girl went ot a mental instiuion....it might have been the most stable thing in her world to be honest. In the past year, she was given an individual caregiver through Life 2 Orphans. That caregiver taught the now SEVEN year old Selah how to walk! She walks funny but she walks! Selah would give little smiles to her caregiver & that gave us hope in the beginning too. There was an older girl in Selah's room, a girl too old to be adopted, with twisted legs, but that girl would play with Selah like she was her own baby...thank God! I think of both of those ladies as the only thing that kept Selah from losing her little mind! As emotionally handicapped as she is, I believe she would have been far worse if it weren't for those two ladies in her life!!!

We stepped out in faith, not knowing what the outcome would be, just knowing she was placed in our lives for us to care for her. We're not saints, there were days, when I jsut wanted to run away from her and the situation. Days when I thought "what the heck do we think we are dong???" I was afraid of the future, afraid of how she would react in our home. I've seen enough reality tv to know some kids are like wild animals. But I said yes to God, although I had fears, lots of fears... And we feel in love with her and her funny little ways, often we compared her to my funny grandmother who certainly had her own ways & was quite grumpy in a funny way. We started looking forward to seeing her, we celebrated each new thing, even if it was just her standing by Jon's leg during a little program. Or her taking one of our fingers to hold ...whatever..we thanked God for it and told each other we'd help her to have a better life. We didn't try to make some type of goal, for that life, just that it would be better than it was then!

And now a month later, she follows me around the house, laughs, looks us in the eye, reaches for us, cuddles on our laps for an hour at a time..you have no idea what a miracle this is. WE are so thankful! And FYI, we don't think we are "super parents", in fact we've done little but love on her, include her in everything and give her a sense of family. We are NOT saints. Actually I've used all my years of working with stray animals to help me with both girls. I don't' push them emotionally, if I feel them tense up, I back off and give them their space. And of course we learned alot from Sam who was so tactical defensive from birth! He was a great teacher LOL and of course from Shad's adoption also. She still has a long way to go, and may never heal completely but we are committed to her for the rest of our lives & we are honored that God gave us this special little girl!!!!

I'm sharing this with you to give you HOPE! HOPE that anything in your life can change, in the broad sense and hope for adoptive families... Sometimes people only hear the glowing stories, they don't' hear the truth. I feel once a situation is under control, it is good to share with others. I didn't share this except with a few friend as it was unfolding...it was too tender & I really didn't want a lot of input, no one else was living the situation like we were, no one could even meet her so it did no good to put it all out there. It was something we had to settle in our hearts & minds that we were committed WHATEVER the outcome! I thank God for the peace and love He gave to us as we walked through this. Now we look at her and think "we couldn't have missed this..." Thank God we didn't let fear keep us from LOVE!!!!!

So don't let fear rule your life....step out do something for God. You only have ONE life in which to live & make a difference! When I get o the end of my life, I don't' want any regrets of things I should have done, or things I'd thought about doing...JUST DO IT! If it is something that God commands us to do, and it's on your heart, don't let fears keep you from it! You may have battles along the way, battles with fear, yourself...but trust God! And do it for Him, you'll find the sweetest peace & joy, I can assure you of that!

Monday, June 4, 2012

What's LOVE got to do with it?

Last night we got everyone to bed but Sarah. We have to put salve all over her for her rash (doctors really don't know what it is and we're working on finding the right cure) But after I got that done and her teeth brushed I just held her and sang made up songs to her for an hour. She listened & I could feel her tight little defensive body relax. I sang to her all about her story, how we saw her picture and went and got her....we love her so much, maybe even the more for all her disabilities.

From the moment I saw her picture, there was such a drawing to her. I couldn't get her out of my mind. Couldn't' sleep, had trouble eating, wondering if she had enough food to eat...it was a very strong emotion.

I'm pretty realistic, I really wondered if I'd feel the same when we actually got to the real child...and I did and even more so. She had a rash on her, smelled awful, kinda a garlic smell, burp so bad (probably from the garlic), had on the same outfit for weeks but I adored her...

Now I love Shad very very much but our love and bond grew with time. And Selah is just the dearest little girl to me, she was like the icing on the cake to be able to get her also. They are both loved and cherished completely. But this bond with Sarah is unreal. I'd often heard adoptive moms say they felt the same for their adoptive child as if they'd actually birthed the child. Honestly, in some ways I felt that about Shad and now Selah but in a few ways I didn't. I loved them, with all my heart but that instinctive way a mother "knows" her child wasn't there from the get go or even before we met them like it was with Sarah. With Sarah it is an overwhelming feeling, and it was there before I even met her. With Shad, there was LOVE from the second we saw his picture, and at the moment I met him...but it continued to grow with him. I'd compare it to "falling in love" Selah too, we loved her, but loved her more with each day...

Selah we only knew about for about a month before we left and we didn't know alot about her. There was alot of unknowns about her that were scary for us. Our hearts were a little sad because we had lost Seth and we just were not 100% sure about her and our ability to raise her. When we met her, she was like a child on crack. She could not focus at all. We had never seen anything like it, her eyes would dart all over, she didn't want to be touched in any way and seemed very unhappy. We felt a love & compassion for her & REALLY stepped out in faith and accepted her referral! To be quite honest, we went back to our apartment and said "oh my GOD what did we commit to?????" But there was a love there & we began to just love on her. In some ways we had learned from Sam how to love a child who had problems dealing with touch or affection so we just used the skills we had and didn't try to overwhelm her. She would sit and watch us love on Sarah, roll on the floor, tickle her and Selah would edge closer. It's like she wanted to be a part of the fun but didn't know how ot join in. It was sad to watch her. We just were constant day after day and we began to see some changes... Then it got warmer and we were able to take them out on the veranda and swing her. MIRACLE, she began focusing on us & her eyes didn't dart around so much. She was able to look at us and actually smile. She still is distant to some degree emotionally but she has come so far since we met her on April 2nd. We see her trusting us and coming to one of us for comfort! That is huge and we love our funny little girl and know she was meant for our family! but we started with her IN FAITH that she was meant for us! I didn't' really share about it on here or on FB, but Jon and I had to really commit to her, knowing she might never really respond emotionally. We had NO idea and still don't have a diagnosis on her. We know she went thru alot of drama in her life and that she has mental delays that are probably chromnosal due to several physical factors we know but we don't really know what her diagnosis is. There were some fears in the process for us. I can write about it now because those fears have gone. We committed to Selah EVEN IF we never saw a change in her! We knew she needed a family, god had provided for us to adopt two and we were taking her! And then the miracles started happening. Now we look back, just a mere two months from the day we met her and it's hard to think she is the same girl! She has come so far emotionally, she stayes with me all day long, no matter what I'm doing, I have to watch out for her, because she will be right up under me. She craves our attention now! And she responds back, maybe not as uninhibited as Sarah but it's ok, we love Selah right where she is:)

Sarah just seems like a part of me/us that somehow ended up in Ukraine...maybe because of her eye problem being so like Sam and how much the two of them look alike, maybe that's why I feel the way I do about her...I don't know...all I know is I regret that we didn't know about her sooner. We are trying to give her all the love and she just soaks it up like a sponge. She is extremely delayed, maybe on a 9 month level but emotionally she is so open to love. She responds and coos and smiles and laughs. She melts us...last night all I could think was "I'm holding a little princess, my little process" I don't care if she has rashes, one eye, an overbite, whatever she is the most dearest child to me. I can't imagine how her family could leave her in a hospital...that boggles my mind!

So having three adopted children, I can tell you the LOVE is there from the beginning, but grows. It can be different for each child. I never expected the overwhelming feeling like I've had with Sarah but it's there...I have seen my love for Shad increase from the day we got him, and I've seen love replace fear of the unknown with Selah. They are all mine, just like I gave birth to them, each os special, with their own special unique story...I wouldn't trade any of them for a million dollars:)

Honestly I'm a person that finds it hard to love others. I'm pretty selfish in my love and I know it. I'm not a "natural adopter" meaning I'm not a person who finds it easy to love someone just out of the blue. Not to say I hate people, I am not a touchy feeling, hugger sort of person. I generally like most folks but that don't' mean I want to get to know you or spend time with you or bring you into my family LOL So the love that is in my heart for these kids amazes me. I am NOT a kid person...at all. My nightmare job would be to be a teacher or a work at a nursery school...LOLOL BUT with my kids I can't get enough of them! go figure:)

I think when we announced we were adopting Shad, alot of folks were like "no way". Actually I think when we announced I was pregnant with Steve alot of people were like "no way" LOLOLOL I really was NOT a kid person years ago! When i was pregnant with Steve, I had alot of misgivings about the pregnancy and the responsibility of raising a child. Then when we found out he was a boy! I was scared to death. I remember walking down into Times Square from the hospital telling Jon I knew nothing about boys & what were we going to do???? LOLOL!!!! BUT when they handed me that bloody little boy after almost 3 days of labor and all kinds of problems...it was like someone sprinkled pixie dust...there was an immediate overwhelming LOVE!

With Sam and such a difficult preganncy, I tried to keep my heart out of it, we really didn't think he'd live with all the problems we had so I tried not to love him & stay as emotionaly distant as I could...but i felt a love for him the whole time. When he was born, premature and blind, I just loved him so much. I was going to fight for him with everything within me from the first moment. Loving Sam was full of so many risks, almost losing him, going thru so many surgeries....he just broke my heart in two...but it was healing, loving even with so many risks...


So today my heart is full, I have five great kids to love and raise. What a blessing from God. They each are different and unique but I love them all with everyting within me. never in a million years did I ever think I would have five kids! LOL But it is wonderful, nothing could be better....

So let me encourage you if you are thinking about adopting...but worry about your abliity to love, or you've adopted a child and the love isn't there like you thought it would be, just keep loving them, keep taking care of them...relaz and enjoy them, let yourself "fall in love" with your child, let the love grow, each situation is different but love does grow...