Monday, August 29, 2011

As the Saying Goes.

First and foremost, thank you so much for all of the supportive and encouraging comments and emails - they have meant so much, and I have read each of them over and over.  I feel a bit embarrassed by how desperate I've been feeling, and by how much I have eaten up and clung to the words that so many have offered.  But if there's one thing I'm learning (again!) in all of this, it is that I need a community of people around me, and that my community comprises of family, face-to-face friends, fellow adoptive parents and want-to-be adoptive parents, and online friends - many of whom have come to mean a lot to me.  Thank you.  I have to say, too, that Geoff has been pretty terrific over the past 48 hours: he let me cry and rant and profess that things are never, ever going to get better; and he hugged me and told me that I was wrong.

Last night, for the first time ever, I gave Matthew a few milligrams of melatonin, to see if it might help him fall asleep.  Normally, if Geoff or I lie down with him at around 9:00, it is easily somewhere between 11:00pm and midnight when he falls asleep - this is partly anxiety and partly (I think) that he's a bit of a night owl.  Last night, I lay down with him at 9:00 and he was asleep by 9:08!  It was unbelievable!  Hats off to melatonin.  I was so elated to have some evening time that I couldn't fall asleep until close to midnight (stupid, huh?)!!  Sadly for me, Matthew had a nightmare somewhere around 3:30am and ended up in our bed for the rest of the night - something that I'm totally fine with, and it happens often, but which usually means that I won't sleep much more during the night.  So I was up at 3:30, unable to fall back to sleep until about 6:30...and by 7:00, Geoff was off to work and I needed to be up with the two younger kids.  I was pretty exhausted.

But I have lovely and supportive parents.  My mom and dad have been a little worried about me lately, and worried about Matthew, too, so when my Mom called this morning to see how we were doing, I told her how exhausted I was.  She asked how they could help and the first thing that came to mind was to ask if they would consider taking all three kids out for lunch so that I could try to sleep for a while.  They did just that.  They were here by 11:30 and gone with the kids by noon, and all three kids were totally and completely happy to go with them - they adore grandpa and grandma and this is the second time we've been able to leave the kids with them for a short time!  They came back around 3:00 and during that time, I slept for over 90 minutes.  I must say that I feel like a bit of a new woman...a little more capable of handling whatever comes up.  It was a very, very supportive thing for my parents to do and I'm very grateful for how much they love their grandchildren, and how much they love and want to support their middle

Matthew fared a little better today, probably because of the needed eleven-hour sleep he had.  It was still pretty rough in parts, particularly in the late afternoon/early evening, but it was better.  I've also just started getting some personal therapy again, and went tonight - which was very helpful.  There's something about being able to be utterly frank in a confidential and supportive environment that is very cathartic.  Tonight's session enabled me to dump some of the anxiety and gain a little perspective...something I've been both lacking and sorely needing.

One of the things I've been thinking about all day is how I never really anticipated set-backs/regression.  When things started getting better a few weeks ago (for all three kids), I kinda thought that the hardest times were behind us and things were starting to look up.  I should have realized, but didn't, that there's a reason for the expression 'two steps forward, one step back.'  The past week has felt like a definite step backwards and I've been so discouraged and heartsick.  Furthermore, as I've seen Matthew suffer, it's affected my attachment to the younger kids - particularly with Seth, who is the harder of the two for Matthew to accept (given the closeness in age, similar interests, desire for parental time and love, etc etc).  The more I've seen Matthew reacting to Seth, the more my own attachment to Seth has felt strained and the more my displays of love and affection have felt, well, affected...put on...not from the heart.  I've been struggling with so much guilt about what Matthew is going through that I regressed in my need to attach to our newest family members.  Thankfully my regression been pretty short-lived and, now that I recognize it, I can deal with it.

So much about the adoption world is like living on a roller coaster.  In the years leading up to our referral, there were so many ups and downs; it was crazy-making.  And now, after our children are finally, finally home, apparently the slow climbs and sudden descents are to continue...only there's not nearly as much discussed openly about this part of the journey, particularly when it comes to the adoption of older children, and surprisingly little about the adjustment of existing siblings.  Perhaps because parents feel guilty about feeling the ups and downs, perhaps because it's just plain hard to acknowledge the complexity of the emotions involved, perhaps because those emotions can be so dark and challenging to deal with, perhaps because it's hard even to acknowledge the tarnishing of long-held dreams...whatever the reason, there's not all that much really candid talk about some of the emotional challenges and the extreme ups and downs post-adoption, at least in comparison to the volume of discussion pre-adoption.

Having said everything that I've said, and despite everything we've been going through around here, I continue to be amazed by all three children that Geoff and I are blessed to parent.  We truly have three remarkable children - it's not always evident, and I'm sure that I don't appreciate it often or fully enough...but it's true.  I am thankful, with regard to the younger children, that they have clearly been well loved by their first family; this will make all of the difference for them as they continue to adapt and attach and develop.  And as I think about Matthew's ongoing struggle to do the adaptation that he needs to do, I feel comforted by two things in particular:  First, he had a great start in life that I hope will stand him in good stead and get him through this very difficult time; and second, as one friend pointed out to me last night, God has a plan for Matthew's life in all of this, and this challenging situation is precisely what Matthew needs for the perfecting of his character and the shaping of his heart.  For those who are praying for Matthew, for us, thank you.

Over time, you'll continue to read more of the ups and downs that I/we am/are going through.  It's inevitable.  I hope you stick with me because I think all of this is about learning to live life to the fullest and I want to talk about this stuff and work through it.


Well, we made it through another day after not knowing yesterday how to get through the next hour.  There is much to be thankful for, indeed.


  1. Hurray for sleep. It helps all of us see things in a better light. Keeping all of you in my prayers

  2. I am so glad that things were a bit better for you today, Ruth!

    And you are right, very few people are willing to talk openly about their post adoption challenges. Thank YOU so much for putting you neck out there and giving those of us that follow a heads up :)

    I also wanted to pass this blog link on to you: I don't know if you have read this lovely blog, but the family is going through some similar challenges as they complete an out-of-birth-order adoption. Lori has some great tip for helping siblings to adjust to each other!

  3. Melissa, I'm going to check out that blog right now...thank you!!


  4. Oh, Ruth, I can relate to SO many of your feelings. You are not alone. This is such hard, hard work.

    It has been really hard for me this past year and a half seeing the sibling relationships in the state they have been. We have come a long way as a family, but I still feel surprised (I don't know why) when we take a few steps back...sometimes it feels hopeless and other days are wonderful!

    So glad you have support from your husband, your parents and professionals.

  5. p.s. I second the comment regarding the Rooney's blog-check it out.

  6. Dear Ruth,

    I am thankful for your honesty and your willingness to share your heart. It helps me put into perspective that adoption is not about instantly falling in love and being a bed of roses. Thanks for being real.
    I am thinking of you and your family as you walk through this season.

    Love and prayers,

  7. Well, you KNOW I am not supposed to be reading blogs this month, but I wanted to give you a virtual hug, Ruth! I'm so sorry that things feel really hard at the moment. I think it's fair to say that siblings are really, REALLY hard - another thing that people rarely want to talk about is the fact that kids do NOT really like sharing their parents, and trying to care for more than one of them is a constant and often bloody battle. I try to taLk about how badly my kids get on and basically - nobody wants to hear it. I can't imagine how much more complicated that feels when you've got the bio / adopted thing going on too.

    My kids are not exactly angelic towards each other, so I do not hvae any answers. But all I can think is this - having a brother might have ruined Matthew's day, today, but it has NOT ruined his life. Totally different things, although sometimes it's hard to see past one to the other. Sending you love!

    (ps, I totally third the recommendation to read Lori's blog! Back in 2008, that was the first blog I ever read begining to end, pretty much in one sitting - she's one of my favourite bloggers!)

  8. I want to thank you for you honesty and openness in your blog posts. We have a nine year old and are seriously considering older child adoption when the time is right. It has been very helpful to me as I try to prepare my self for that step. I know a lot of people do not write about their post adoption experiences, so thank you again, for putting your heart out there, it is not in vain.

  9. I missed reading blogs the other day, and I'm sorry to hear about the 'step back'--praying for you that things will continue to move forward again.