Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Words Are Difficult to Find

It has been too long since I've updated, and for all of you who have been following our story, praying for us and BLESSING us with food and so many other good things, I am so sorry!

I have had profound thoughts swirling in my head since the very first day they arrived home, but then, as night comes and the last one is fast asleep (eleven kids makes for a serious bedtime routine!) I am so tired and also so deeply touched by the day and this crazy life and the ways God has been so real and right-here-with-us that I simply cannot find the words to do it justice.

I'm going to try tonight because I think it is important for two reasons:  one, because I don't ever want to forget these first days, and two, because I think it is really, REALLY important that you know the WHOLE picture thus far.  I am realizing that so many adoption blogs paint a one-dimensional picture of what this experience is all about, and, as with most all of life, it is so much more than that.

The first couple of days were mostly a haze for all of us.  Rob and the kids home from Africa were jet-lagged and probably completely overwhelmed with America, American Christmas, and snow!  Once we got through Christmas morning (Gifts for eleven kids take a LONG time to open when certain people insist we go one-by-one.  I won't mention who that certain person might be.) the reality began to set in for all of us that this is real.  Forever.  No take-backs, no do-overs, no pause and rewind.  The first few days were a novelty.  Everyone was on their best behavior, giddy over Christmas gifts, intrigued by all the gadgets that mark American lives, but by days three and four . . . well, the bio kids were getting slightly agitated with the noise level (it seems LOUD is a cultural norm in Ethiopia and I think especially when you've been one of so many kids trying to be first for food, first for the cute outfit, first for the nannies to fawn over) and frankly, sick of stepping aside and yielding to whatever wants and needs the new kids had.  They were sick of finding their 'stuff' messed with, sick of having to answer questions and explain every last minute detail of everything.  It was beyond difficult for them and they were clearly growing fatigued with the whole experience.  The language barrier was beyond exhausting.

For Rob and I, well . . . most of those same feelings were haunting us.  Add to that the immense pressure of making sure ALL of the kids were doing okay emotionally, ALL of the kids were getting some face time with Mom and Dad AND making sure we were setting down proper boundaries with the new kids.   Add some unnamed, very loud, very demanding little girls to that mix . . . one loud, demanding little boy who up until now had rather liked being the loud, demanding one (but was now being handily outshouted, outdemanded, and outeverythinged) . . . and you get the picture.  For about 90% of my waking hours I thought my head might.just.explode.  Really.  One of the days I'm pretty sure I was hitting myself in the head saying, "I CAN'T TAKE THIS ONE.MORE.MINUTE!  CAN'T DO IT!"  Pretty sure because after that and for about two days, my head hurt like nobody's business.  Felt exactly like someone had hit me repeatedly.  :-) 

Those days were beyond difficult and I want to be so totally truthful about that.  Fear and yes, even regret, began to creep in and I cannot tell you what that was doing to my heart and mind.  I have never prayed so much, begged prayer from others so much, and felt so totally out of control.   So totally aware that unless God reached down and gave us some sense that things were going to be okay, we might just have made the pivotal, worst mistake of our lives.  Does that sound horrible?  I know it does.  But I want to let you in on the secret that most blogs won't . . . it is the down and dirty truth.  Because when you decide to love and care for children that are abandoned and hurt, and bring them into your home forever, it is hard.  And so very messy.

Here's the thing though.  God.  HE is faithful.  HE is good.  And He heard our cries and at some point in that first week, we both had some supernatural peace come over us.  We down-shifted and moved into survival mode.  Do only what's necessary, keep EVERYTHING simple, get some play breaks for the bio kids and SURVIVE.  We stared at one another with glazed over eyes, asked one another, "Are you sorry?", and both knew way, way down deep that we were not.

Somewhere in all the craziness, God met us and we have all been given a measure of grace that is astounding.  Because in all of the scary adoption BOOKS, they tell you to not expect life to look anything close to normal for six months to a year.  I believed that totally the first week. (I was, however, sticking fast to the six month end of the spectrum.  Rob . . . well, he leaned waaaay toward the year end.  :-) )   The miraculous thing is that this week and most of last and every day that comes is growing exponentially better.  Life is taking shape, the day-to-day routine is coming back and there is ORDER in this house of 13 people.  The boys love school, love to help (who knew a vacuum cleaner could be so fun?), and LOVE to play.  The bio kids are back to their homeschool tutelage and back doing school with me, Rob is back to work, and very most, most beautiful of all?  ALL three of my little girls are napping AT THE SAME TIME!!!  Praise God!  :-)  There has never been a more appreciated hour and a half (two if I'm lucky!) and most certainly never a more enjoyed cup of coffee (made only better by the HEAVY CREAM added to it.  Let's get serious folks, the 2% milk just ain't gonna cut it!).

The weird and beautiful and wonderful thing is that over the past few days, there have been more moments of joy and awe at what God has done, and fewer and fewer moments of crazy.  Bad crazy. There will never be a shortage of good crazy around here!

Stay tuned for part two . . .


  1. yes, your hubby actually had a bright smile on his face yesterday when i saw him. and he was very happy about the Sunday experience, i could tell.
    you are so right. it's messy. and those feelings, just sayin', they'll return. at odd moments through the years. because parenting adopted children is a different beast, and it brings different issues than parenting our bio kids. that's the other dirty secret that no one ever tells you or wants to admit.
    but so glad that you are finally finding a rhythm, finally getting a sense of routine, and experiencing God's continued hand on you and yours as you all adjust to the "new Thomas family!" i'll be over soon for coffee :-)
    love you much.

  2. LOVE this Jennie...I am hanging on every word. : )
    Love you guys!!

  3. Praying, praying, praying here.

    I appreciate your honesty. It's hard for me to be real about the struggles of adoption sometimes b/c it sounds like I'm complaining that God finally brought the children home that I prayed for. Your honesty is refreshing.

    Sounds like you are seeing progress! Praise God. I'm so glad you are having more moments of "good crazy" and fewer moments of "bad crazy." Let me know if I can do anything to help.

  4. Thanks for sharing honestly!! We are getting ready for three kiddos...and we are excited- but DEFINITELY nervous!! Can't wait to hear more of your story =)