Friday, April 26, 2013

Tears into Joy

I went to a benefit dinner for another ministry last night. It was really amazing and I had a great time with my friend and co-worker Rachel who went with me. Another friend watched Mihretu.

I found out when I got home that he cried for an hour at bedtime which seriously made me want to just sit and cry my eyes out. That broke my heart. I had said I lay down with him until he falls asleep but she didn't realize that he has never fallen asleep without me in there. He doesn't fall asleep by himself alone in the room. She stayed in there for a bit but ended up leaving the door open but going out of the room. He finally fell asleep after about an hour and a lot of crying. I just kept hearing "don't let adopted kids cry it out" over and over in my head when she was telling me this. In reality, it's just one night and she truly just didn't realize that we don't do bedtime like that and I'm sure this one night will not traumatize him for life. Next time, she'll know. And the next night, I'll lay with him like we always do. But just knowing my sweet boy cried himself to sleep - man, that makes me emotional. I got ready for bed super lightning fast and then went in there and got him out of bed and brought him in with me. As soon as I picked him up and he halfway woke up - he started crying. I just whispered "Mommy's home. It's ok buddy. You're gonna sleep with mommy." He snuggled up to me like he was holding on for dear life and fell back asleep in seconds and slept like a rock the whole night. My sweet boy.

When he woke up this morning, he kept hugging me and smiling this huge smile like he was so happy I was there. He woke up about 30 minutes before we needed to so that was good cause that allowed some snuggled time before we had to rush and get ready for school.

I talked to him about the night before and told him "I heard you were crying at bedtime buddy. Auntie didn't know that you don't go to sleep in your big boy bed by yourself. I'm sorry you were upset buddy." Then I asked him "Why were you crying buddy?" and sweet boy said "mommy come" and I said "because you wanted mommy to come?" and he said "yes". Break my heart that I wasn't there when he needed mommy. A night out here and there is nice but when it means my sweet boy is upset - not even worth it. I know this was a rare occasion though and my friend who watched him felt bad when I told her he has never fallen asleep alone. Next time she watches him - I know she'll change how she does it. And of course, I'll be sure to stress that detail with any future babysitter from here to kingdom come:) I can't assume everyone would just know that. I'm glad Mihretu and I talked about it this morning. And I'm really glad she told me that he cried like that so I could be extra sensitive to him this morning and give him extra snuggle and us time.

I was just thinking this morning about the overwhelming love I feel for him. And how different these things affect me now than they did at first. It was a neat confirmation at how far I've come in the attachment process. I finally feel like how I thought I would as a mom - connected to his emotions like that. It seems like literally every day, it grows more and more. I had thought it would be instant. It wasn't but it's been a beautiful growing process. And everyday it's deeper and stronger. Perhaps this is how the process is for him too. Not instant in every way but growing over time as he learns to trust me and begins to understand I'm his forever momma. He's never had that before. I've never had a son before. We're growing in this bond together. So thankful for that little man and how God is in this. He's providing, He's guiding, He's working with me on my junk and teaching me new aspects of His ways, He's giving me new revelations of His love for me through the love that I feel for my son. He's an amazing God. He even uses a night of tears to reveal things to us. I think Mihretu and I both appreciated each other a little bit more this morning. God uses everything! Adoption is a beautiful story of redemption and love and healing and a reminder of how God has adopted us as sons and daughters. I'm so thankful to be on this journey with Mihretu. I'm blessed beyond measure to be his momma.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

All the Single Ladies... and men too

Sorry, couldn't add this post without quoting that song:)

In all seriousness though, when I was starting the adoption process as a single - I was having a hard time finding blogs about single adoption. Now I'm finding tons of them but for whatever reason - the key words I was typing in on google, just weren't bringing up many results. In case you're having the same problem...

Just came across this blog that actually references my blog on a list of other single foster and adoptive parent blogs - guys and girls. Cool!

Wanted to link to it for anyone who comes here hoping to find such info. Click here for for a list:

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Making Mommy Smile

Mihretu made me smile this morning.

The fact that the morning was positive and resulting in lots of smiling is awesome considering he also had a big ole meltdown at the table because he wanted to dump out his water and get cold water and I told him I would do it and he needed to stay at the table and finish his breakfast because I know how long the water filling process takes with my water-loving kiddo. He melted down and took off running into the other room and let out the loudest frustrated scream you can think of from a little person. I stayed calm and didn't react. I just told him right away in a very calm friendly voice that is not how he gets what he wants and he needs to rejoin me for breakfast when he's ready to let it go. It was less than 2 minutes of letting out his frustration and he walked up to me calmly. I said "do you want to sit on my lap and finish breakfast?" and he said yes and climbed right up and ate his breakfast and smiled at me like nothing had just happened. Wow - when I stay calm - these situations really do blow over so much faster. And then we're having a sweet little breakfast moment with him on my lap showing me all the strawberries he's finding in his oatmeal a minute later. YAY!!!!

That makes me happy but the specific things that made my morning were 3 things on the way to school.

1. We turned on the next street over and the house on the corner that had a big nativity scene at Christmas time was being passed. I hear "no Jesus" from the back seat. I turned and looked back to see what he actually said and then I saw he was looking at that house and realized he was commenting that the nativity scene isn't there and therefore there is no Jesus. I just started laughing cause that was 4 months ago and we talked about it not being there in January but haven't brought it up since. But today, he just remembered it had been there and wasn't there now. I just thought that was so cute. And although I'm pretty sure he had no idea what I was talking about, I replied with a very cheesy but true Christian answer "Jesus isn't there but He's always here in our hearts." He just looked confused and started talking about something else. ha ha

2. We were almost to school and about to pass the entrance to Briley Parkway which is one of those on-ramp entrances. On the way from school to swimming lessons, that's the way we take. It's not the way we take any other time. And on the way to school - we've never taken that way nor did I even realize he was paying much attention to our drive. Today as we passed it, he points and says "swimming - that way". Smart little buddy - I was amazed and of course encouraged him that it was indeed the way to swimming and that was such a smart boy to notice that. It amazes me the things he notices.

3. We got to school as many other parents were arriving, including a little girl that LOVES Mihretu and likes to hug him, follow him around and walk in or out of school with him whenever possible. She came running to go in with him. He turned around to give me a hug and then ran in. A few seconds later she ran up to him to walk up the hill with him. I was watching from the van at this point and saw him say something to her and then he handed her his sweatshirt to carry for him. That cracked me up. He talked this little girl into carrying his stuff.

Anyway, he made me smile this morning and I just wanted to share:) 

Monday, April 15, 2013

6 months and spring has come

Mihretu had his first sleepover last weekend with my friend and her family. I cried a little bit when Rachel's van pulled away with him in it. I was excited to have some me time and to see how the overnight went but was also just realizing how much of a big boy he already is and how far we've come in this journey together. It's crazy to think about how many years biological families would have had up to this point of a first sleepover for a 4 year old. It's been just 6 months for us since he came home - he's already 4, he already had a sleepover. What a whirlwind. I missed him like crazy and the house felt strange and quiet. The dog was confused and kept looking for him. I had almost like a flashback to life before him and the cool thing is - it didn't feel right. I would not want to go back. I don't want a quiet house. I missed my little man and his questions and hugs and silliness. It's nice to have moments like that to step away so you can really see how blessed you are.

It's been 6 months since we became a family. It's been hard and I've had to wrestle with issues I didn't know would rise up in me. And although I didn't realize it fully at the time, I really didn't enjoy being a mom at first because it was so overwhelming and unfamiliar. I only realize it now because I am experiencing joy in parenting now so I am seeing what that looks like and I can see now how it wasn't that way at first. It was almost like an out of body experience or a twilight zone episode. Like my life was so different that I didn't recognize my life or me in it. I remember feeling all kinds of unfamiliar, unexpected feelings. Like being resentful of how needy he was and how little personal space I had. I remember feeling guilty that I felt that way and thinking something was wrong with me. I remember feeling shocked that I didn't always feel like his mom or attached to him. I didn't know that could happen. I felt guilty about that too. It was so much pressure (especially from me) and such a huge jump from single life to wow you have a toddler life. Even though it was a 15 month process - it still kind of felt like I was an instant mom and as much as I prepared, I really didn't feel prepared at all once reality hit. I wasn't feeling very patient at all either. My junk was getting stirred up. Buttons were pushed in me that I didn't know were there. And quite honestly, I felt really awful and depressed about it. I started thinking negative thoughts about myself and thinking those thoughts and feelings meant I was a bad person. I felt alone, like no one would understand.

And then God spoke to me. I know He was trying to all along but I was so wrapped up in negative thinking and being overwhelmed that I didn't hear him. But the more I was honest with my friends and talked to other families, the more I realized I wasn't alone and that a lot of these feelings are ones many adoptive moms have dealt with. I have always been a believer that when we realize we need healing or something is stirred up in us and we have baggage we didn't know was there - that it's an opportunity to deal with it and grow. This is why James 1:2-4 has long been my favorite scripture: "Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.'

In that light, I did a few prayer ministry sessions with a friend from church and God really said some cool things to me in those times. Things like: "I don't condemn you. I love you. Choose joy. Experience joy. I have created you to be a wonderful mother. Keep your focus on me. Find rest in me. I will help you. I will equip you with everything you need." Over the past 2 months, there have been sermons at church, blogs I've read, things I've heard other people say, things that are coming up at work in the study we just started called Counseled by God and all of these things collectively are building on each other and reminding me that I am created in the image of God - therefore I am good. The other stuff - God will walk with me to deal with it. But it's not who I am. Thank you Jesus for that revelation and truth!!!! I also realized I need to be intentional every moment to take my thoughts captive too. And I need to choose love, even when I don't feel it. I think I would have learned this one a bit more had I ever been married. I've heard and I believe that it's true - love is not a feeling - it's a choice. But when you don't have anyone else living in your house with you - you don't have to practice it as much and therefore you don't really really know what the statement REALLY means. I'm seeing what choosing love means now and realizing now more than ever that my responses to my son need to be intentional, patient and loving... even when I don't feel that way at all. This is not easy. But the Lord is helping me.

I'm writing about these things because I believe the very things you don't want people to know are the things the enemy uses when you don't bring them into the light. But when you bring them into the light, God can use them. I have felt like the Lord has said many times since I started this process - that He was going to use me to connect with other single adoptive moms, including those praying about it or in process. I feel a responsibility to be honest because I feel like other single adoptive moms may experience similar feelings and thoughts and without knowing anyone else has been there - they might believe the lies of the enemy telling them they are a bad mom or that they can't do this or that they are a horrible person or whatever negative thing that gets stuck on repeat in our heads. I want you to know, my sisters, that it's not true. That is not who you are. God has a bigger plan for you and you are created in His image. Therefore you are good. He also has given us the holy spirit to live within us and therefore we have access to all His attributes. After all, the fruits of the spirit are love, joy, peace, faithfulness, goodness, gentleness, kindness, patience and self-control. We can't be those things on our own but with Him, we can.

The first 6 months were hard but I am happy to say that joy is more the norm now as I do life with my son. I find myself now feeling overwhelmed with love for him in just normal everyday moments. I find myself coming alive in parenting. I find him coming alive more as I come alive more. I find that we are sillier and laugh more and although he's still a toddler and has plenty of meltdowns or tantrums - I find that I'm becoming more and more patient and less and less overwhelmed in those moments. I find that I can't imagine life without him and when I am at home and he's not there - I miss him. I find myself thanking God over and over for bringing him into my life. I love his little personality and the faces he makes and how he loves to help me around the house and his cute little voice. I've loved those things all along but I finally feel connected & attached to him like I thought I would months ago. Thank you Jesus! It was hard not being there instantly and I didn't expect it so it was really depressing and overwhelming. But I can look back and see God at work and I really, really, really appreciate all the people who have encouraged and walked with me. I don't know how I would do this as a single parent without this amazing group of people around me. I'm not alone. I have the Lord and I have an awesome village of people investing in Mihretu and me. I am overwhelmed with thankfulness. God is good. God is faithful. And He wastes nothing. I'm a work in progress. Aren't we all? But He's with me in it and He's equipping me with all I need - moment by moment. I just have to choose life and allow Him in each moment.

I'm so glad we made it through the first 6 months and can move into the next with joy and excitement. It's fitting that it's spring because it really does feel like new life. That excitement that the weather is getting warmer and the sun is shining and all the beauty is in bloom on the trees and flowers and everything is green again. I feel that way. I feel like I was just going through the motions but not thriving. Not really alive. Even though I know God was working all along. There was life underneath but it's finally in full bloom. There is joy and excitement for the days to come. Spring has come. And I welcome it with open arms.

photos by Amber Beckham

LOVE our Ethiopian family

We just returned from Ethiopia and oh boy - my heart is completely wrecked. Mihretu and I traveled on our own last March (2018) over his ...