Tomorrow marks two months since we met Ben.
A famous blogger recently posted about her experience in the first year after adoption. At least a half dozen of my friends linked to that post with exclamations of how perfectly it describes what they’re going through. I eventually read the post and was surprised to find that I didn’t identify with it much at all. In fact, I thought it sounded terrifying and would probably deter anyone who was thinking about adoption from ever taking a step in that direction. So, I’ve been thinking about it, and I want to write about my experience (so far – yes, I’m only two months post-placement) so at least the few people who read this blog will have a different perspective. Not that her stats and mine are remotely similar. 🙂
I would dismiss the post as being from someone who enjoys drama, but at least one friend who strongly identified with the post is not at all given to drama, so on the basis of her testimony I will try to tone down my natural cynicism and assume that it truly described what some people go through in adoption. But not all of us.
She talked about the pre-stage, waiting to meet your child. She describes the obsession of that stage, and how you “can’t think of anything else.”
Nope. Not how it went for me. We got Ben’s file in August 2010 and received travel clearance in June 2012. Can you imagine if I couldn’t think of anything else for 22 months? Yes, I was diligent in the paperwork, I worried over the expense, I applied for grants, I enjoyed all the photos and videos we got along the way, and I loved him before I met him. But I live with three other people who rely on me to buy and cook their food, to clean up after them (yes, all three), to offer them clean clothes. And then there’s that pesky home education thing we do.
I never even called the “visa hotline” in D.C. to find out when his visa interview would be. Some people reported calling that number multiple times in one day! I always wanted to say, “Woman, don’t you have something to clean? A friend to help? Something to cook? Something to read?” I had enough to do without obsessing over each step. I knew it would happen when it happened.
Next, she talks about the honeymoon stage, when everything and everyone is perfect, followed by a completely scary extended melt-down stage.
I don’t think we really had a honeymoon stage, unless you count the first day we had Ben. He was happy and energetic and funny all day – until bedtime, when he cried and then fell asleep. Since then, every day has had good moments and bad moments. For the first couple of weeks, he was sad, sort of listless and mopey. He carried around a picture of his foster mom and kissed it repeatedly. He drew pictures of people and told us it was “Omma and JoonSeokie” (him and his foster mom).
But he doesn’t throw screaming fits that last 2 hours and leave us both sweat-drenched. As that post described.
I don’t ignore my other kids. (The author of the post confesses that she mostly ignored her other kids for months.) That whole home education thing? Still going on.
My house isn’t perfect, but I’d like to think it’s reasonably clean. In fact, we’re about to put it on the market.
My girls aren’t begging to go live somewhere else and are, in fact, doing just fine.
We go to church, the store, the library, the park and to visit friends. And, you know, on a road trip or two.
Again, my point is that not everyone has those crazy, drama-filled, extreme times of highs and lows. I guess they make good posts for famous bloggers, but some of us just plod along the path calmly. Sometimes you bring home your adopted child and life just goes on. The circle extends by one and we all carry on.
If you’re waiting to bring home your child, or if you’ve thought about adopting, just know that the adjustment time doesn’t have to include six months of insanity.
I mean, it might. 🙂 No one knows until they’re there. But it doesn’t have to.
Here’s what two months home looks like for us:
My son stopped being sad and listless after a couple of weeks home, and now he is mostly happy and energetic and funny again. He loves to sing. He loves to impress older kids (neighbors and friends who stop over) by doing silly things. He eats almost anything we offer him and he sleeps all night in his bed. He makes really cool things with his Legos. He is super-duper good at puzzles. He gives me hugs and kisses all day long.
He loves books and will sometimes grab a few and sit down and look at them alone. He rambles to himself as he looks – sometimes it sounds like Korean and sometimes it sounds made up. Maybe he wants to sound like we do?
He says tons of English words — Mommy, Daddy, Abby, Emma, Miley, Maggie, please, thank you, sorry, ow, excuse me, you’re welcome, rice, bacon, sausage, milk, more, all done, yes, no, bad, good, good morning, night-night, hi, hey, hello, I don’t know, and There ya go. (Those are the ones I can think of right now. There might be more. Also, some words, like hamburger and pizza, are the same in Korean and English so I’m not counting those.) He also counts to five in English, and then throws out some other numbers in random order, just for good measure. He is very interested in the alphabet.
This week, he started calling me “Mom” instead of “Mommy.” So grown up already!
Sometimes he gets mad at me and makes himself cry. It’s clearly manipulative, so I tell him to stop. And he does.
His sisters love him dearly, but sometimes they get upset with each other. Once he was crying and pointing at a particular sister. I asked her what happened and she calmly confessed, “I hit him.”
Welcome to the family, buddy. She hits. We’re working on it.
The point is, every day has good and bad. Like any normal day with any normal family. The kids fight. They’re – we’re all – selfish. They want things and get upset when I say no. I’m tired sometimes and wish for more alone time. But it’s normal. It’s manageable.
No, it’s more than that: Life is full and good.
And I’m thankful.