Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Lessons Learned ... so far

I have been thinking about this topic for such a long time. We have been with John for five months now. In some ways it feels like yesterday in others it feels like this is how it has always been. Since John has been home, I have combed over other's blogs looking for some help on this transition. What I have discovered, is there are not a lot of people talking about the specifics of the first few months home.  The result of my discovery is feeling a little isolated in this experience. So .... I thought I would talk about some of the nitty gritty details that we went through in these first few months, what we have learned and what we still need to learn. The hope is that others will see a light at the end of the tunnel, and feel supported through this cyber friendship.

In case you didn't know, making big life changes in a family does not come without some hiccups. Even though I have experienced bringing 5 babies home from the hospital, multiple moves, job changes, etc. adoption has been it's very own experience - totally different from anything else, so the learning curve has seemed greater. Some of the hard things I have learned:

1. Just because I was a mom of five already, it did not make me an expert on parenting a 6th
2. Bringing home a two year old is NOT like bringing home an infant
3. There is a learning curve that takes some time to understand
4. Flexibility is essential
5. Some days are just down right hard and less joyful
6. Don't set each other up for failure
7. Dreaming of how it will be can be different in reality

Some of these may seem so obvious, I realize that. I really had pictured how this experience was going to be, and there was very little if any negative I could imagine. Our agency had us take many hours of adoption training, we had 5 kids already, one with significant needs - how hard could this really be? Many people compared this experience to bringing home a newborn. I LOVE newborns - no problem! Well that brings in point number 1 and 2. For me this experience has been completely unique. It is not like bringing home a newborn, unless your newborns have come home hitting and hurting your other children. That was so hard for me to watch Kate getting hurt. It had never happened before in our home, and it was not a pleasant experience. I wanted so desperately for John to feel loved and accepted so I was not sure how to help him feel that while I was feeling mamma bear protection over Kate. Time heals and with some patience and some love and some discipline it has worked itself out. Now they love each other like siblings, but in the beginning it was just hate and jealousy. That was really hard to experience.

I want to talk a little bit about setting each other up for failure. This was something that took awhile for me to figure out. Here is an example of what I mean. Nap times were a combination of a necessity and a nightmare. We had the kids sleeping in the same room, which they loved. However, at nap time they turned into Tasmanian Devils and absolutely destroyed their room. I mean they would take every book and throw them on the floor, sometimes they would rip the books to shreds, they would empty all drawers of clothes, they would urinate all over the beds and bedding and sometimes I would find feces smeared all over anything they could be smeared - including Kate! It would take me hours to clean the room back up. I needed alone time so desperately that I would continue to put us through this nightmare. Then it hit me -  I was setting the kids and myself up for failure. So I started slowly eliminating problems, by the time I was done with the "elimination" they only had beds left in their room - nothing else - no books, no book shelves, no dressers and no clothes that they could reach. I even went a step further and bought zip up jammies that they would wear back words - and when that wasn't enough, I would zip them up back wards with a safety clip attached for safe measure! Yeah - it was extreme. We were in desperate times people! But once I realized that we were all failing, and that in turn we all deserved some success during this transition, it was an easy choice. Nap times became pleasant again and good for all of us.

I am not going to hit on all points. After that last paragraph do you really want me to say more? Yeah, I didn't think so. Time is a great healer. Be gentle to yourself. Some days you may just be a baby sitter instead of mother of the year - that is ok. Things are so much better now, that those really hard times feel like a distant memory, and something that we can just remember instead of experience daily!

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Lincoln's Baptism

My boy! What can I possibly say about this cutie. He made the decision to be baptized. I am so proud of him. He had always said, "NO!" every time we suggested getting baptized. But after getting sealed as a family in the temple, he had a change of heart. He came to me one day a few months ago and said that he wanted to get baptized. We waited a few months to make sure that he wouldn't change his mind, and he didn't. The day was beautiful, and had so much love and support from family. I couldn't have asked for a better day. I gave a talk about Baptism, Cora gave a talk about the Holy Ghost, and his cousins and siblings sang, "I Am a Child of God". Then we had a get together at our house afterwards. I feel really blessed today.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Surgery for our Sweet John

We joined the post adoption surgery club yesterday. John had his third lip surgery to date, but first with our family. Can I say how much I love Primary Children's Hospital? They know kids and know exactly what to do to help the families and the children feel comfortable. Thankfully one of Rick's best friends is a Pediatric Anesthesiologist at Primary Children's, so we requested him. Honestly he was a saint (Thanks Miller!), and he was instrumental in helping me feel comfortable. He came and personally got us and walked us through each of the steps. John got dressed in his cute little hospital jammies (notice his baby Zhe Nan in his hospital attire), and picked out his mode of transportation to the surgery.

I was able to walk down the hall to a certain point and then had to leave him in Chris' very capable and loving hands. John was so enjoying the ride that it was not at all traumatic for him - I can't say the same for myself. If I ever wondered if I felt the same about John as the other kids in our family this experience absolutely solidified the fact that there is no difference. I had all the emotions of his mom. I love this boy. He is without a doubt my boy.

Chris took John back to the O.R. and told me that he sat John on his lap while he administered the anesthesia, while letting John play with a balloon. How sweet is that imagery? Then the surgery went very smoothly with Chris giving us text updates along the way.

All in all our boy was a trooper and so brave. I can't tell you how grateful I was to be in the room with him when he awoke. This experience has further bonded us. Overall I just feel so thankful for the kindness and the training for the physicians, and especially my sweet boy, who I am so thankful to be able to call son!