Part of my decision to offer online and local groups for parents of adopted teens was related to the challenges you posed in trying to…...
Adoption Blog: Straight to Bunk Beds
My Adoption Journal: Reflections on Life as We Added an Older Child to Our Family
It is rare indeed for me to be the first to rise out of bed in our house. But on this day, I sipped coffee on our front porch as the morning sun made its presence known. I love this time, but rarely get a chance to greet the day in this way.
I had made a conscious effort to wake early. My adoption journals were waiting for me on my bedside table. I grabbed them quietly and pulled on a sweatshirt as I stepped outside.
I opened my first notebook and the emotions came flooding back to me. It had been one year to the day since we brought our son home from Poland.
Reading my journal, I found it hard to believe that I had indeed forgotten some of the earliest of days. The sequence of events was falling out of order in my mind… I’m so glad I wrote it down.
We had been prepared for this journey. We took classes, we met with our social worker, we talked with other parents who had been there before us, we read articles online. Everyone told us that the first few weeks would be hard. But we had no idea what hard was until we got there.
Our first days were filled with non-stop activity: We followed a strict routine day after day consisting of so much of the same (trips to the park, meals, DVDs, puzzles, card games) and so much of the varied (a zoo one day, a museum the next, then skating, sledding, bowling, a water park outing, and on). We strategically kept busy so that there would be no down time. Down time typically meant that there would be room for meltdowns—either his or ours…
Some of the journal was hard for me to read—the confessions of a new mom. It reminded me how tired we were. How happy we were. How many unknowns we were wading through—the overwhelming language barrier, the unexpected hurdles in the process, the testing and retesting of a 9-year-old boy being asked to trust us, his new family, for the first time.
Looking through my journals with fresh eyes also enabled me to see how much my husband and I relied on each for consistency and for support during those first few weeks of bonding time. We were already parents to one biological son before we arrived in Poland, so we had already developed and honed (some of) our parenting styles and philosophies. But adding onto a family 5,000 miles from home, made our team work a necessity, but it was empowering at the same time.
No, our first few months together as a family were not a breeze. We were often challenged and confused. Taking the time to write in my journal every night was one of the best things I did for myself. We were so tired at the end of each day, I often thought of putting it off. But I am so glad that I didn’t.
To celebrate being brothers for one year, we let our boys choose a vacation destination. Our California weekend was all about the two of them and their successes in growing into brothers. We know that it will become an annual tradition—the boys’ weekend. They are already plotting our next adventure.
And I know I will be slipping out to my porch next year on my own to re-read and reflect on those first moments that made our family complete. Same time. Same place. Next year.
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