Well, I have not had time to write many of my feelings down over the past two weeks. To be honest, I wanted to wait until my head cleared a bit so I was not writing my experience purely based on emotion. I also know there are readers here and there that have adopted or are thinking about sibling adoption so I want to be as fair and accurate as possible. I am finally caught up with posting pictures, so I’ll give it a go.
We have officially had the children for two weeks now. And I can say that I have not cried since last Wednesday–so I guess that is a full week now. The entire first week I cried every single night. The first coupe of nights I cried because 1. I couldn’t believe this was real and 2. I hated the thought of being at Zuetana for six weeks. I felt myself starting to panic.
After we moved into the apartment, our children’s behavior began to quickly deteriorate. We knew it was coming, we knew to expect it, and we were as prepared as possible. However, that doesn’t mean that it made dealing with issues any easier. It quite literally took all three of us for three straight days to manage. I am not talking about emotional support–I am talking about physically restraining and managing two or three semi-violent melties at once. And, we are not talking the typical, “Sally, go to room or you will get a spanking,” or “I think you need a timeout,” scenarios. We are talking three days of pure hell, if you will.
I remember one day last week I had Juan P. locked in his bedroom so he would not bite and pinch me while he calmed down. He was kicking on the door and screaming for his sister. At the same time, I had Daniela locked in my bathroom/closet with me while she was melting down and screaming at the tip-top of her lungs for her brother and trying to hit me in the face. Oh yeah, let us not forget that Adam was out front holding Daniel down at the same time because he wanted to watch cartoons instead of obeying our regularly scheduled quiet time. That has been the only time so far that Daniel has tried to physically fight with one of us. Once Adam got Danny quieted down, he came back to rescue me and check on Juan P. who had since fallen asleep on his mattress. Daniela was curled up under our sink sulking so I was able to open the door and lay on my bed for a moment. At that point, I just cried and cried and cried on Adam’s shoulder.
I was crying, as I had been for a few days, because I knew Adam’s and my mom’s time in Bogota was quickly coming to an end. I was/am not capable of holding three children down at once. It is not possible, and that is what scared me. Also, (I promised to always be honest on this blog) I was crying because, although I have never thought of giving the children back, I did have the awful, albeit justified, thought that it is absolutely NOT fair that this is how we had to create our family. Please do not kick me off the adoptions forums–I am just being honest. It is not fair to me or the children that we were not together from the beginning, that they are not flesh of my flesh, that they have had trauma as a part of their tiny existences, and that I do not have the ability to nurture a child from its infancy. Nothing about adoption or fostering (and fertility treatments) is fair–to us or our children. That makes me angry. And after visiting the orphanage yesterday–it makes me even more angry!
That day was the worst day so far. I think I lost two pounds of sweat. 🙂 And it has gotten progressively better since–really! I mean we are not talking horror story here. For the most part our time with the children is super positive. They have begun to bond with each of us. Neither of us has been rejected. And all of the children love to give and receive affection. You have all seen the pictures, and a lot of you have heard or seen the kids on the webcam. They are genuinly happy, special and amazing kids. I don’t know how they came out of the orphanage so very healthy and vibrant. They are all smart, talented, and are able to take pride in a job well done. Daniel and Ezzy thrive on schoolwork–Daniela is getting better every day. And we generally can venture into public without any major mishaps.
I know some of you have been begging for the realities:
Right now, Juan P.’s room has only a mattress–no pillow, blanket, books or anything. He longs for mommy. And when I stay in the room during one of his tantrums, he feeds off it and it gets worse. So I have started explaining why I am leaving the room, and then I do until he calms down. It seems to work better, and is a lot less violent. I hate using the word violent because we are not talking “problem child,” at least I do not think so. Juan P. is the smallest and so he has no memory or understanding of what it is like to actually be a part of a family. It is a huge adjustment for him, and he has gotten so much better this past week. He goes to his room a lot less. Thank heavens for that.
Daniela got all of her belongings including her clothes taken from her two nights ago. She is able to earn back one pair of clothes of my choosing and one personal item every day if she goes to bed without a tantrum. So far it is working–our little princess’s currency was not hard to figure out. She has been so good the past couple of days. And she was perfect for Professor Mario today.
Esmeralda is acting out a little more lately, but still not like the others. And she cracks me up. Yesterday, Adam had to literally drag her home over his shoulders as she kicked and screamed (I tried, but kept dropping her). Maybe 20 minutes after putting her in her room, I went back to check on her, and she had cleaned her entire room–even making Daniela’s bed–because she knew she had done something very wrong by walking away and not listening to me. She is a pleaser through and through.
Daniel has such potential. But he is also learning that being a part of family is not all fun and games. We have rules and expectations. We have consequences, good and bad. We love each other, and we do not hurt each other. And when mom and dad ask for something to be done, it is not a request, we expect that it gets done. (Adam learned “it’s not a request, it’s a command” in Spanish the other day–and he thinks it is hilarious to use it on the kids.) Daniel is adjusting to that. For so long he has been able to run wild, or should I say free, in the orphanage. He is fairly amiable considering his rough start. But he has never had a mother and father that demand respect. He is learning, but it is slow. Daniel’s favorite thing to do is pout. He is such a good pouter. I hope he grows out of soon because he has so much to offer this world. I see it in his eyes.
This process has not been more difficult or challenging than expected. I would say that it is right where Adam and I thought it would be. We are in it for the long haul. But sometimes our family and friends catch us right down in the mire. We promise that we are okay, and things are going well. We have not had a single thought of turning back or giving up. 80% of our day is filled with joy and fulfillment. After visiting the orphanage yesterday, I would say that working through behavior issues with my children is an honor and privilege. I want them to grow into this family and LOVE it. I want them to know that everything we have done and continue to do for them is done out of love. We are very very firm. We know we have to be right now. We stick to our schedule. We stick to what we say we will do. We stick to our consequences. And we are very consistent with it. That has been our only saving grace through this storming stage of building our family. We have had the unfortunate pleasure of time to observe other families and situations to see how we want our family to be run. Hopefully, our children will be better for it.
One more note, after doing this for two weeks I believe that not everyone can do this. And I don’t mean that in a “rach, you’re so awesome” kind of way. Before actually being in the thick of it, I truly believed that all the well-meaning people who told me they could not do it really did not believe what they were saying. I mean, we are all put into circumstances that stretch us. And sometimes just because we do not WANT to do something doesn’t mean we CAN’T do something. But now I know that really truly…not just anyone can take on three, four, or five children at once. The last two weeks has taken two very in-tune, very devoted, very patient partners. (And one full-time grandma to keep the house running) And we are only at the beginning of this familial journey. If I had a different personality, or if I had a different husband, or if I was not 100% committed to this forever, I would already be back in Las Vegas enjoying the emptiness of my home.
But we are still here! Yesterday, the children’s psychologist at the orphanage asked if we had any thought at all of sending the children, or even two of them, back. Adam answered for both of us and said, “No. Not seriously, anyway.” 🙂 Although it has been challenging and very hard work, when the children are all laying on the bed snuggled up in our arms before bed, there is no question that this is what we want…even if there are moments when I question what we have done!
We know that the work we are doing is far more important than the comfort of the childless life we have left behind. We continue to be grateful for the opportunity.