On Monday night, I met again for two hours with an amazing woman who works with a lot of adoptive families and who has met my kids as well. She heard me out on a bunch of issues, encouraged me in so many ways, and offered me a bunch of really practical suggestions to supplement my own ideas.
The last time I saw her privately was just before Christmas and we've arranged for a number of further visits so that she can offer further support and suggestions to our family. She wows me with her insight and practical suggestions.
She thought that, although it's been very difficult at times, the kids are doing extremely well; she mentioned at one point that, given that we've only been home with S&L for nineteen months, all three kids are developing incredibly well. She noted, for one example, that all three of my kids are able to cry, which is not very common for older adopted kids home only nineteen months, and which is very very encouraging because they have soft hearts rather than defended hearts. She was a boost for me personally, too, because she said that my instincts about the kids are great and that it was a real gift that I was able to be at home with them and work with them and school them here. I went home feeling soo much better, and encouraged by someone who does this work for a living and who knows the good, the bad, and the ugly and still thinks we're doing great!
I also got a card on the weekend from a dear friend and fellow h/schooler who sees me often with the kids and who knows me (and them) well. Amongst other things, she wrote this: "Over and over I watch in amazement as calm, encouraging, joyful even words come from your lips in the face of all kinds of behaviour. You are able to keep your 'natural' reaction in check and respond with the best that is in your heart." I already felt emotional by this point, but broke out into a full set of blubbery tears when I read: "I've never known someone with as much tenacity with regard to the welfare of their children. Your desire to learn and keep learning is inspiring."
I share this not to be self-flattering (believe me, I have felt pretty incompetent at times, particularly in the past weeks and months), but because my soul felt flooded by peace knowing that someone who sees me in the nitty gritty of life can still see what I am trying so hard to do and be with/to my kids. Tenacity is probably the one thing that I have clung to in the past few weeks - sheer determination that I was going to do right by my kids and that we are going to come through this. Her words were nuggets of gold for me.
It's always a tough thing, knowing how much to share here because, regardless of what I write, it's still only a snapshot into the window of our lives and it is impossible to provide the full context. My goal when I write about adoption-related issues is, in large part, to enable other adoptive families and prospective adoptive families to understand what kinds of issues one might face in the course of older child adoption and to feel not so alone in parenting their own children. At a personal level, it's also cathartic for me to share with others things that are happening and even to work some things out with paper and pen. It's taken me a long time to feel real about the struggles, and not just feel like I should share the good stuff that happens. But every time I get a comment or a private email from someone (anywhere in the world) saying that they could so relate to what we're going through or saying thank you for helping them feel understood, it's worth it.
I am a blessed woman. Not only do I have a great family and supportive family and friends, but we are so fortunate to have top-notch, gifted professionals in our lives who are working with us and who are both an encouragement and a practical support.
Two steps forward, one step back...isn't that what they say? Well, the past two weeks would constitute the part about one step back; now, with some confidence, I'm hoping that we're currently in the middle of taking two steps forward. High five!