Apr 4, 2010

Days 4 & 5: The Regrets & A Rhythm

Becoming a mom is hard. Becoming a mom in a foreign country, to foreign language speaking children, without family, Internet connection or phone service is just down right laughable. We discovered very quickly that the angelic, spoiled brat at the care center was none other than our son. While I have travelled around the world and experienced many foreign cultures, I have never travelled to a foreign country to bring home a child. So all of my survival skills were all for naught.

I knew a lot of things about Ethiopia, child raising, and psychology before we left Oklahoma City. I took all that information and must have left it in Addis airport because I couldn't remember ANYTHING we had read or learned. I responded by instinct. And I found a WHOLE lot of my mother coming out of my mouth.

One of the things I regret about Ethiopia was my own expectations. No matter who you are, there are things you anticipate, expect, desire. Unfulfilled expectations are hard to handle and can turn to doubt. Alazar clung to Le those first days. I knew this was possible. But after staring at a face and falling in love, I sincerely wanted my son to at least not scream when I came near him. So I pouted about it; I knew I shouldn't, but it must have been in one of those books I left at the airport, so I did it anyway.

I let the devil convince me that I was a horrible mom and that Le and I had made a wrong turn somewhere and we were really supposed to be enjoying two weeks on a Caribbean beach, instead of adopting two kids. And trust me, there were days that I believed him...every single word of it. I found myself counting the minutes until nap time, then recounting until bed time. The sound of their feet brought dread into my heart, it meant they were coming for me, another day of torture. The sound of their voices meant they needed or wanted something; a lot of which I couldn't understand.

One thing I came to learn about Ethiopian culture was that children are to be seen and definitely NOT heard. Under the age of five, they are given anything they want to keep them from crying. We tried time-out but when even people who worked in our guesthouse was rescuing Alazar from us and disappearing to give him bread or treats, you can see how effective our parenting would be those first days. I finally just stopped getting pissed about it. I wasn't there to change their culture and they only had a few more days to spoil him, then he would be with us. And this mama don't play...especially not on her own turf.

Le & I relied on each other more than ever and during those first, dark days, I fell in love all over again with the man I married almost 6 years ago. We were like a tag team in a wrestling match. He knew when I needed a break and I felt when his frustration would rise too high. My ten minute, semi-warm shower was my only true escape each day. In those moments while not cussing the plumbing, I cried. I let it all out. I cried for my failures. I cried for my own sins. I cried for my children and I cried to have my own mom. But in those times, I felt God more than I had in a long time. And the more I called out, the more He answered. I called out to my Father and asked for forgiveness and asked to be a better mom, a better wife, a better follower and yes, I even asked for a little warmer water! And slowly, ever so slowly, we began to figure it out. And a rhythm began. It wasn't pretty and it wouldn't produce a chart busting hit, but it was our rhythm and for now, it was working.

Ruta discovered my camera and LOVED taking pics of herself:

Preciousness in the midst of his terror:

This boy LOVES his daddy:

THIS is what made it all worth it:


Sea Island Lady said...

Thank you!!! I love your brutal honesty. It's easy to read these adoption blogs and envision a fairytale waiting for us in Ethiopia. My daughter slept perfect the first night we had her. The second night, she wouldn't sleep without one of us holding her...standing up!! The third night we took the "tough love" approach and she screamed for hours before falling asleep. There were some other issues too (and still are), but ultimately we too found it easier to parent in our own home.

Btw, we took your carepackages to your children while we were there! We let the in-country staff deliver them so we wouldn't confuse Ruta and Alazar too much. I have been thinking about you and your family a lot! So glad to hear you are doing well.

Ellen Enright said...

Oh Lindsey, I remember the caretakers giving Nati whatever he wanted after we had said no. It made parenting impossible at times. It sounds like you made it through though and are about to enjoy a lifelong wonderful adventure with your children.

Shannon Plumb said...

I am so thankful for you and your willingness to take us through your journey. As a soon to be parent, good is always what we want to hear, but the challenging times are what we need to hear! Thanks you!

Kim said...

I found your blog through Brandi, as I have adopted 2 children from the same place as her and went on a vision trip to Uganda that she led last May. Anyways, it has been 2 years since we brought our kids home from Liberia. I want to encourage you that we have felt what you are feeling and experienced similar things. Our son was the orphanage troublemaker. He has given us many challenges, but I can honestly say that it gets SO much better! Time, consistency, love, nutrition, schedules and a lot of prayer will be the channels of change. Both kids will test you to see if you will still love them or get rid of them if they are too naughty. Reassure them during those times that you will never leave them and there is nothing so bad they can do to make you leave. Our kids were 2 and 3 1/2 when we brought them home. Age 3 is definately more challenging, especially when coupled with being the pegged troublemaker. I would never ever want to be without them in my life. They have come so far and really "feel" like biological kids. Oh, we have 4 of those - bio kids. The first few months are the hardest. Hang in there, the rewards are great!!

missi said...

I met you in Cincinnati. I am friends with Amy and Sarah. I know I've not adopted kids, but I've got 4 and I want to encourage you that God has given YOU these children to LOVE. There are lots of bumps and doubts during the journey, some of that is their way of testing if still love them- (and sometimes they need to test and be sure every day or multiple times a day!). I think I developed a firm belief in the wisdom of King Solomon and that there are seasons- You guys are in this one right now, but it's just that- a season. It will end and then, there will be a new one! As hard as it can be at times, give yourself permission to live in each season- the good and the bad of them and look for the God who knows each of you and whispers your name to give you the strength to find Him in each of them.
You and your husband are blessed people and from the little I know about you, bless so many others. You ARE terrific parents. Blessings!

Gayla said...

I love your honesty, Linz. So special and so important. I think you are a kick-ass mother, and I'm sure your post about the plane ride home will prove that to everyone!!! ;-)

Can't wait to see you again!!! Have we found a park 1/2 way yet???

Jude said...

this has to be one of the best blog posts I have ever read... you captured so much of your emotion and in such an amazing...the essence of grace and faith meeting with our humanness. I love it. You guys will be in my prayers this week!!

Laura Ferry-Jimenez said...

oh, lindsey, your past two posts have spoken to my heart. I think of brave Ruta and sweet Alazar and am thanking God they will have you and Le to take care of them and love them no matter what.

as a mom of two, I too have thought why am I adding to the stress in my life and yet I know it's not my choice, but His choice. He sees in you and Le what the rest of us do... parents who love God and are gonna love their children.

good luck, stay strong. I always say that parenting is the most awful yet by far the most beautiful thing you will ever do.

ps: I kind of wrote about this on my Good Friday post, how in Jesus we have an example of dying to a situation and rising a better person. let past actions/thoughts go and focus on the present & future.

Maribeth said...

Your candor and honesty is refreshing. Most of us who have adopted older children feel every second of your pain. We were there with Melinda, and I was so grateful to have someone to commiserate with. There were at least 2 days where my eyes were so puffy with tears out of shear frustration.

Getting home was the best thing for all of us. There is no one to laugh at the bad behaviors and no one to judge about the tears and temper tantrums that we, at times, endure.

Be strong! We both know how much these children need love, structure, boundaries, and strong parenting. Hang tough through the hard days and know that you have tons of love and support from those in the same situations.

jamullins said...

Praying for you guys. Praying that God meshes you together as a family. Your children are beautiful!

Beautiful Mess said...

Thank you for honesty and realness!

I am not in anyway going through the same thing--except the momma stuff and my son is 15---and I needed a reminder to cry out to God---sometimes I think He gets sick of me--but that is not true!

Praying for! Thank you again! Voice of truth!


Micah said...

Lindsey...it will get easier. I'll be praying for you, thanks for being so open and honest. And for what its worth...I have three birth children and I have screamed and cried out in the shower...many times. Mothering is the HARDEST job on the face of the earth & also the MOST rewarding.

Amanda Purvis said...

Thank you for all of this! We are hopefully adopting an older sibling group (4 or under) as well, and your truths will be priceless to us. Thank you!

Rahel said...

I totally agree with Meribeth and resonate with you...those of us with adopted older children can totally relate! My daughter was prone to two hour long tantrums for awhile....getting home did help so much!

Leslie said...

Thank you for being so honest. I know your posts will help people like me and my husband.

J Gutwein said...

I understand :). Love, J

Mrs. McGoo said...

Thank you for your authentic post! Beautiful! Your children are gorgeous and I cannot wait to hear more about the experience of becoming a mom and dad, settling into the role and learning from the Father along the way. So cool

Tam and Kai - NYC said...

Yes, thank you!
I'm checking in at random and get excited when I see a new post from your diary of being in-country.
This is such an eye opening journey you're offering all of the waiting families.
We all have enough fantasy of how we want our union to be when we first meet our child(ren). What we need is the firsthand experience from someone willing to share it.
Thank you.

Tracy said...

what a great post. thank you for sharing so honestly.