Bedtime

April 19, 2010

For the last 7 years, the word bedtime has really had no significant meaning to my life. It was just something I did. Steve and I would spend a quiet evening together or we would come home from a youth event late at night and we would just go to bed. It was never something I thought about, never something I planned, never something I spent time envisioning. It just happened.

The past 2 months have redefined the word bedtime for me. Steve and I have spent a lot of time reading and studying about bedtime for an adopted child. About how bedtime and nighttime are really “battlegrounds” for trust. We all know that our biggest fears and scariest thoughts come to us in those quiet moments as we are drifting off to sleep.

Now imagine if you are a little person and for the last 2 years of your life, you have fallen asleep in a room with 15 other little people. All of a sudden, your whole world turns upside down and one of those changes is that you now sleep in a very quiet room…completely alone.

So, Steve and I made the decision that for the first few weeks, Dima would sleep in bed with us. Not a popular decision, I know. But, one that we felt peace about.

So for the 10 days in Russia with Dima, followed by the next 2 weeks, Dima would fall asleep in our arms…looking into our eyes. Most nights, he would end up with his head on my chest and his feet on Steve’s chest – ensuring that we would not leave.

Once we felt like he understood his new home and new family, and that we weren’t going anywhere, we moved him to his own room. But we would sit beside him until he fell asleep assuring him that although he was alone in his bed, he wasn’t alone in his room.

But, as he gets more and more adjusted to his new family life, and continues to trust us more, we feel the responsibility to give him new ways to expand his trust in us. So, this past week, we made the decision to “leave the room”. I know, for many of you, you may be thinking, that’s no big deal. But, for me, it was one of the hardest things I’ve done.

We told him before we began our nighttime routine that after mommy and papa finished reading him his books, we were going to leave the room. I’m not sure how much he understood, but we felt like it was important to try to prepare him. So, after we read “goodnight moon”, we gave him kisses, turned of the light and left the room.

We stood outside the door and every time he got out of bed, we would quietly come in, lay him back down and then leave the room once again. After 35 times of him getting out of bed, and us putting him back in, he finally fell asleep. In the midst of these times, a lot happened.

He first went through all of the words that he knows. At one point he sat up, smiled and said, “cheese” (glad he couldn’t see us laughing). He then went potty (or as Dima says, “polly”) in his diaper…not once, but twice. Again, we entered quietly, change his diaper without saying anything to him and laid him back down.

Once he realized he wasn’t going to win this showdown, he started to cry and say, “mommy, come eeyah…mommy, come eeyah…” My heart melted, but within 2 minutes, he was sound asleep. Since that initial battle, bedtimes have gotten easier. When Dima wakes up, he sees that we are still here in the morning. It has given him a “big boy” victory as he is learning a redefinition of independence within a family.

In light of this, I’ve been thinking about my relationship with God…about how He builds trust in my life. Sometimes in my life, especially through the process of this adoption, there would be times when I “felt” God wasn’t there.

I couldn’t see him, I couldn’t sense His presence like I normally do. At times I felt as if He wasn’t listening to me or responding to the deepest cries of my heart. Many times, my heart would cry out, “Daddy….come here”…and I would feel nothing.

Now, after this week of “bedtimes”, I wonder, was God expanding my trust in Him? What would happen if God gave me everything I wanted right when I wanted it? Would I ever learn trust? Would I ever learn patience? Would I ever learn to give up my control over my life? Would I ever learn that even in the dark times when He seems absent, that He is still there…and that His joy comes in the morning.

And His joy really does comes in the morning.

Updates:

  • our battle with scabies has been extremely frustrating. It requires us to wash everything any of us wear, even for a short time, and vacuuming every room every day. 2 baths for Dima a day, changing his sheets after every nap and every night, washing every washcloth, towel, pillow, shoe…
  • We are doing another round of prescription cream tonight after experimenting with natural cures for the last 2 weeks

Prayer Requests:

  • that scabies would leave our home forever
  • for friends of ours who are finally cleared to travel to Russia to finalize their adoption, despite all the news we’ve heard in light of the case involving the Tennessee woman and the volcano ash

Until next Monday, love Kate & Steve.

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Never Forsake Me

April 12, 2010

This past week, I opened up my computer to do my regular internet “stuff”. I check my email, check my facebook, read my favorite blogs and then look at the weather and news.

A very disturbing headline appeared, “Mom Sends Adopted Son Back to Russia.” I quickly clicked on the headline and continued to read the story.

What I learned was that a 7 year old boy showed up at the door of the Russian Ministry of Education in Moscow, after being sent back to Russia from the US on an overseas flight by himself. There was a note in his backpack from his adopted mom saying, “After giving my best to this child, I am sorry to say…I no longer wish to parent this child.”

As I read that, my heart began to race. My eyes filled with tears, hurting so much for this little boy. I also thought about the hundreds of families that this one decision may affect. For those who don’t know much about the relationship with between the US and Russian in regards to adoption, I would say it is shaky at best.

This is one of the things you are told in the beginning of the adoption journey when you are filling out paperwork, that there are no guarantees with international adoption. Even when you sign on the dotted line, or pay the money in full, at any point, one or both of the countries involved in an international adoption may change policy, effective immediately.

I remember having fears a few months ago when we heard that there were talks of the Russian government suspending adoptions. After hearing this story and the implications it may have, my heart and mind go right back to where I was 6 months back, when a similar story took place.

My heart hurts for those waiting families. I think of at least 3 that I know personally and the countless others who are waiting. It is a reminder to me of the responsibility I have as Dima’s mom, not only for his sake, but for the sake of those who are coming behind us in this process. And so I pray for those waiting families- those who have already met their child and who are waiting for their second trip, and those who are waiting for a referral.

But more than anything, I continue to replay the image that has been seared in my mind of this little boy in a yellow coat and back pack, fear in his eyes, being “sent back” like a pair of jeans that didn’t look as good in the mirror at home as they did in the store.

Then I thought about what a loving, patient, long-suffering God I have. I started to imagine what it would look like if God were to send me back. What would the note say?

“I’m sorry, I’ve given it my best, but Kate is just too selfish. She gets angry too easily. She is afraid even when I tell her not to be. She gets annoyed with her husband and child too quickly and after giving it my best, I can no longer parent this child.  Sincerely, God.”

I pictured myself, with my backpack filled with baggage, being sent back to my “former” life because I couldn’t make it in this new way of living that God has prepared for me.

And I was overwhelmed with gratitude in knowing that I worship a God who gives a promise that He will never forsake me. That He is a God whose patience far outlasts my stubbornness, whose love far surpasses my selfishness, whose faithfulness is so much stronger than my ebb and flow faith.

I am grateful that I am in a relationship with a Father whose love is not dependant on whether or not he can “handle” me, but a Father who says, “I hold you in my arms, I go before you, I come behind you, I hem you in.” I know there is nothing I can do that will cause God to turn His back on me.

So now I pray that I live that kind of love to those whom God puts in my path. That I would love Dima and my husband, friends and family, acquaintances and strangers, with an unchanging, selfless, never-giving up kind of love.

Updates:

  • Dima’s vocabulary grows day after day with new words and concepts like “bus” and “eat”
  • We’re now using all natural means to battle his scabies, its frustrating to have to wash all his stuff every day

Prayer Requests:

  • for all of the families waiting in limbo as a result of this Tennessee woman’s decision
  • for continued bonding with Dima

Until next Monday, love Kate & Steve

Door to the New World

April 6, 2010

This past Sunday was a very special day for us. April 4th marked one month since we have been home. In so many ways, it feels like Dima has been here so much longer than a month. He has grown so much and learned so much.

He has learned quite a few English words including his favorites like, “more”, “buddy boy”, “I love you”, “come here” (which for whatever reason he says with a New York accent, coming out more like “come eeyah”).

He loves to be outside. He runs, jumps, kicks, throws, goes downs slides, climbs up rock walls, twirls, does somersaults, rides his bike, dances, and sings. He loves to eat. I think I have counted that he has eaten over 60 bananas since we have been home.

He loves all kinds of fruits and smoothies. He loves deviled eggs, scrambled eggs, boiled eggs. We’re still working on chicken and other kinds of meats, but for the most part, he eats like any other 2 year old.

In one month, we have seen our hearts and lives intertwine more and more. I can tell in the way that he smiles at me sometimes – a smile that says, “I know you love me”. I can tell in the way he nuzzles his head into my neck when he meets someone new.

I can tell in the way he will call for “mama” or “papa” as he falls asleep in his little bed for one last hug before he drifts off to sleep. It truly is amazing to me what can take place in just one month. We are so grateful, we are so blessed.

This past month has also brought with us new challenges as we navigate through parenthood. We tell people that right now, we feel like we have a newborn and a 2 ½ year old wrapped up in one cute little body.

In many ways, Dima is like a newborn. He is a newborn to our family. He is still learning our tones and our eyes and our faces. He is learning what makes us smile and what makes us frown.

We are learning him. We are learning his personality. His likes, his dislikes. And we are also working on building the trust that a newborn builds with his/her parents. Trust that comes naturally to a newborn is one that must be taught to Dima.

He doesn’t know that when we say goodnight that we will be there to greet him the next morning. He doesn’t know that when he is finished with the food on his plate that there is more if he wants it.

He doesn’t know the concept of “mommy” and “papa”. We are defining those words to him as we feed him and change his diaper, as we bathe him and teach him and play with him, and as we hug him and kiss him and discipline him.

But he is also like any other 2 ½ year old boy. He is so active and so curious. He wants to know how everything works and isn’t satisfied until he figures something out. He tests the boundaries. He tests his abilities to share his opinions and stand by his opinions. So we find ourselves at the end of the day, completely worn out…and grateful.

But what was even more special about this past Sunday was that it was our first Easter together celebrating new life. I will never forget the words that Ludmila, our Russian interpreter, spoke as we walked out of the orphanage, “this is the door to a new world, to new life.” Life, as Dima knew it, would never be the same again.

On Easter Sunday, as I held Dima in my arms during our church service we sang, “it’s all because of Jesus I’m alive”. In a fresh way, I was reminded in my heart of how my life, because of Christ, will never be the same again. He is the door to a new world, a new life. And I am so grateful. I am so blessed.

Thank you for continuing on this journey with us. It has been so fun to bring Dima to church and to parks and to retreats and everyone coming up and giving him high fives and smiles. I think he thinks he’s famous 🙂 It has been so great.

Updates:

  • we continue to treat his little body for scabies. We’ve gone through 3 bottles of cream and he’s still not fully healed.
  • his comprehension of the English language is amazing, and he is growing in his ability to speak it

Prayer Requests:

  • for our friends who are adopting from the Pskov region right now. It wasn’t that long ago we were in their shoes
  • for Dima to continue to adjust and bond with us

Until next Monday, love Kate & Steve.