Yesterday marked five months since we brought Seth and Lizzie into our family. In addition to the other things that we are deliberately Remembering today, we are also going back over the past several months and storing it all in our hearts.
Five months. How blessed are we that we are finally able to write words like that? Though in the scheme of things, five months is such a short window in time, so much life has happened in the day-to-day since we made that life-altering trip to the Transition House to take our two new children home with us.
When you carry a wee one in your belly for nine months, it's a big big deal, perhaps especially when you've tried for a long time to be in that pregnant state. You wait anxiously, joyously, full of wonder at the miracle of birth, full of hope and fear about what the future will be like. You wonder what the babe will look like, what they will be like, how they will grow and mature over the years, what kind of parent you will be. It's an overwhelming life transformation.
It's another thing altogether to wonder what your five- and three-year old children are going to be like when you travel to another country to finally bring them home. They have lived a life before you, and you have never met them. They are not babies to mould and shape with tender love and care and nurture. Despite these facts, and despite the fact that you have no idea what to expect when you take them by the hand and lead them home, you sign a paper agreeing to take them into your hearts and family. Forever.
If life with a newborn babe is a permanent life alteration, I have no words to express the impact of that day five months ago. The questions in my mind were so huge. Will their personalities mesh with the rest of ours? Will they manifest delays or health issues as a result of severe malnutrition? Will they love us? Will we love them? Will they attach to us? Will we attach to them? What sorrows will they carry with them throughout the years? How much impact will be able to have on shaping the lives of children who are already beyond the age where every bit of research suggests that their formative years are behind them? How will we help them with their woundedness, day after day, night after night, month after month, year after year? Did our hopeful, faith-filled choices wreck our family? Will Matthew survive the transition or have we permanently ruined his life? Will we have regrets? Quite simply, will it work to merge the lives of strangers with ours, to form one family? Looking back on all of those years of waiting, nine years instead of nine months, adoption seems like something of a gamble. Maybe that's not the 'right' thing to say, but it is a risk.
Quite frankly, there have been challenges. A lot of them. And we're not through them all. Issues that people won't see by simply looking at, or watching, our kids. To see them, they're pretty average, neuro-typical kids. And they are those things in many ways. Our kids are like pretty much like the typical kid out there...but then there's this added depth of complexity, this added burden of unique issues and history, this extra dimension of intense emotion and pain and woundedness that most kids (and most parents, for that matter) never have to deal with. That's the part that we're wading through very carefully, more than a little unsure of our footing.
It can be a very difficult walk at times.
But you know what? The tough stuff only makes me appreciate what we have all the more. Up until the day we received our referral of Seth and Lizzie, life felt like a waiting game - just as it did in the years we spent trying to bring Matthew into our world. That stress is gone. 100% gone. When I think of the friends I have who are still waiting for their referrals, for their children, I know how fortunate we are to be at this point. It's such a blessed relief, coupled with a deep and abiding joy that the wait is over and we're a family complete...for five months now. I rarely take it for granted, knowing what it took to get here.
Despite all of the challenges, I still look at my kids at night sometimes and simply marvel at the fact that they are all three here. They're the manifestations of youthful and adult dreams, and the most clearly miraculous part of my life. We are a family of five: awkward for car pooling; a pain when waiting for a table at a favourite restaurant; way more expensive in pretty much everything; troubling when trying as one person to find a hand for three children; etc etc. But we're a family of five and I am absolutely loving it!
Yay to five months home...and onward to six!!