[box] Every Saturday morning, I will be sharing a little snippet from my own personal walk with God...straight from the heart. God has work to do in me too, and sometimes it's not pretty. But my prayer is that as I am honest, He is more able to do that work in me...and at the same time, encourage you as well.[/box] Last Saturday, my husband and I attended our final class in preparation for our adoption. At first, I have to admit that
I thought, "I already have 3 kids. What else do I need to know?" Apparently, a lot. Now, after completing these classes, I am realizing that we are going to be embarking on the biggest challenge of our parenting careers.
I'm sure that God was up in heaven chuckling at our naivete. I guess He got the last laugh with us! As I sat through the class, I realized that even though Anah is older, I may still need to deal with sleep problems. Yes, she is toilet trained, but the shock of the transition may make her revert. We talked about attachment, and how some adopted children refuse one parent in favor of the other. Some have even been known to scream, cry, push and kick the "unwanted" parent.
These are issues that we may need to deal with simply because she is older. Even healthy children may undergo this. Then there are issues that may arise with her Down syndrome. That is a complete unknown to us. Dan and Janna have been trying to learn some very basic Mandarin so that there might be an option to communicate. (They've been taking these lessons from a lady at church, right when I'm teaching my Sunday school class.) From what we've heard, she does not speak much, though her comprehension is good. Like most kids, she has selective hearing, doing things when it suits her, not because she cannot do them at all.
Because of her Down syndrome, it may be easier for her to trust us, but then again, she might just trust anyone. Our social worker told us that we will need to help her establish boundaries, who we trust and who we don't. Having been in and out of several orphanages and foster homes in her seven years of life, we don't know her history, if she has suffered abuse of any kind, or what kind of medical issues may arise from her parentage. Large pieces of her life will go unknown. We may just never know. And she may never be able to tell us.
Then there are the adjustments for our own three kids. Janna may actually have to do the most, as she goes from having her own room to sharing one. Jonathan may need to adjust to having another person his size in his space, playing with his toys. Matthew, being my middle child and being the flexible, easy-going boy he is, may have it the easiest. He's already used to having a younger sibling in his room and space. He doesn't mind being interrupted. Hopefully that will serve him well when Anah arrives.
All in all, after the class, I was feeling a bit overwhelmed. What did we get ourselves into? From a human standpoint, all I can see are obstacles, roadblocks and hardship ahead. What I am realizing is that from our side of the story, adoption is a great thing. She's going to live in America, the "land of plenty." She's going to have a family of her own, with siblings who are eagerly anticipating her arrival. She's going to have food to eat, clothes to wear, and the medical care she needs to help her to live a productive life.
But that may not be what she sees. She may see strange people taking her away from her homeland, boarding a plane and not knowing where she is going. For many older adopted children, this may actually be a time of grief, not joy.
As I sat thinking about all that we covered that day, all I could think of was that the God who is helping us to raise our three natural-born children is going to be the same one who is going to teach us how to raise, love, and care for Anah. Dan and I came to the conclusion that it is of no use to worry our heads about what might happen when she arrives. We can plan. We can talk with the kids. But it really is not going to help to be anxious.
I felt like the Lord was trying to remind me that Anah, though the way she enters into our family is different, is His gift to us. We may have a steep learning curve when she gets home. But He has asked us to be stewards of her life, and if He has asked us, He will also equip and strengthen us. I am trusting that through this journey, He is going to teach us things I would never have dreamed of.
Heavenly Father, Thank You for adopting me into Your family. As my perfect Father, You have raised and parented me, despite my shortcomings, weaknesses, failures and fears. You are the same God who gave us our other children, and I can trust You to help us care for Anah as well. When anxieties and worries arise, I pray that they will remind me to trust You and not in my own ingenuity and skill. It's beyond me. And I am so glad that You are enough. I love You. In Jesus' name, Amen.