Monday, June 16, 2008

Advice On Adopting An Older Child- RLC Blog Buzz

Blog Buzz Question #2 this week was- If you adopted an older child (age 6+), what advice do you wish you had been given or would give yourself to someone considering this journey?

Wow.... well this is a tough one. Answering questions about this for me has been walking a tight rope.
First- I am just now out of the thick of things and able to look back on the big picture. We have had Zoe home for 1 1/2 years. She was 7 when she came home.
Second- I have wanted to be certain of Zoe's feelings on what she w
ants me to share and what she wants kept private. I feel more confident on this now.
Third- many of the things we experienced I considered normal and full
y expected. So I didn't share them cause they didn't surprise me. However, I am realizing these things may be something that was unexpected for someone else. My heart is to share in any way I can to help others on this journey.
So h
ere goes.... How do you put all this into one little post. I guess if I was gonna have to give one piece of advice you must know when adopting an older child it would be this. If you are going to adopt an older child it will force you to get over yourself. I don't mean that in a bad way. It's just the truth. You are going to have to get that it's not about you. It really isn't.
Adopting an old
er child was one of the most amazing and life changing experiences of my life. It turned me inside out and upside down. It rocked my world and changed my heart. I would consider our transition with Zoe very good overall. That doesn't mean it was seamless. For about 3 months Zoe had major melt downs every week or two. Her longest one lasted about 7 or 8 hours.... weeping, yelling, kicking, biting... yes the Zoe you know and love. I had to learn that it wasn't about me... it was about my heart condition and about a precious little girl who had lost everything.

When she screamed at me that she hated me and wanted to move back to Guatemala... I had to know deep inside t
hat it wasn't about me. It was about her being afraid I would send her back. She was going to leave me before I could leave her.
When she t
old me I wasn't really her mother it wasn't about me. It was about her not knowing whether I would always be her mother or whether I would leave her like everyone else.
When she sunk into herself for hours and wouldn't even look at me it wasn't about me. It was about her hiding from her own pain.... trying to escape into herself.
When she lied about things that didn't even matter it wasn't about me. It was about her using survival skills that kept her safe and fed when she was in Guatemala.

When she hit me and told me she didn't w
ant to hug me it wasn't about me. It was about her not knowing how to receive comfort.

When she had a major melt down weeping session in the middle of a store and I had to practically drag her to the car it wasn't about me. It was about fear.... FEAR... FEAR!

When I co
uldn't remember it wasn't about me I ended up in a ball in my bed weeping- asking Russ how I could do this. When I couldn't remember it wasn't about me I couldn't feel the bond I wanted to feel with this wounded little bird.

When I could remember that this wasn't about me through my frustration- I could handle it better. I could talk to her about what was really going on. I could call her on her fears and watch her melt in a sweet little puddle every time. Suddenly my ferocious cat was a purring kitten thanking me through tears for understanding her fears and not making it about me. Suddenly my heart was melting with hers and she was mine. Deep in my heart I loved this girl with something deeper than I understood. She is my own personal miracle.

My Zoe
is not one dimensional. She was a wounded and deeply afraid and angry girl. She is healing. Her melt downs got further and further apart and shorter and shorter. Now they happen seldom and usually don't last long. Now I seldom make them about me.... my heart adores her and I know she adores me too.

Zoe is one of the m
ost amazing people I have ever known. She is an inspiration for me. I love her deeply. She is kind, loving, helpful, compassionate, fun and just plain wonderful. She has made me a far better person because of who she is and what she has taught me. I can't picture any other child being more perfect for our family. She is woven so tightly into the fabric of who we are. She is a part of us. She IS us. I am so thankful I was able to figure out that it wasn't about me. If I hadn't learned that lesson I would have missed out on the treasure of who she is. Hugs, Angel


Laura said...

WOW Angel! Thank you for sharing about this! Zoe is AMAZING! I am so thankful that God brought you all together! Thanks for continuing to inspire (both you and Zoe)!

Nikki said...

That was a beautiful post. The first time I found your blog I sat at my computer and read every single thing you had ever written, and the next day I told Alex I would be adopting an older child down the road when I have kids!

And I am glad to hear that (RLC)- I have been feeling guilty with my lack of involvement! I really do think it's an awesome idea and want to get more into it!

Anonymous said...

WOW! What a great post and a teasure for Zoe to read when she gets older. I am speechless...that is hard for me....thanks for sharing.--Jennifer Mayes Houston

Greta Jo said...

OMG- what a beautiful, thoughtful post. I've been waiting to read about your thoughts regarding adopting an older child. Its my prayer that one day I too will be able to adopt an older child from Guatemala.

Thanks for sharing!

TNKerry said...

Angel -

You are awesome!!!
So real.
So inspiring.
You are all very lucky to have each other.

Anonymous said...

My Dearest Angel Face,

As I read this post...tears once again fill my eyes. Having watched you walk through this entire path with Zoe...I want to say that I witness you to be truly a model mother in the honesty you have with yourself and others. In a world in which people have become less and less vulnerable, I have personally found that what people are starving for is authenticity. The world has found that in you.

I love reading your post...and I would have to say that this one is one of my favorites...because it you really paint the image of who God is our lives...the way that our Creator approaches us is exactly what you have found to be truth. I see that our Lord is not wrapped up in self...but selfless...freely the point of death on a that we could be set free and find freedom. Truly it is not about is about the one wounded, the one bound in chains and prisons of may types. It truly is about those rejected, abandoned, excluded, misunderstood, alone, bewildered, starving for truth....and true love. Truly the path the you have been Divinely led to has brought you to a clearer understanding of what has been done for you. I think of the Scripture, "Freely you have receive, freely give", "and greater love hath no man...than laying down his life for his friend". have found a key to true love.

Thank you Angel for taking the time to share "the secrets hidden in darkness (Isaiah)"

Much love from me to you,
Mia Momma

Cat & Mark said...

Thank you for sharing. I'm still a bit "in the thick of it" with more to come, and this post provided some much needed perspective. And thank you for sharing the "obvious" and "expected" - at least for me, we are dealing with issues I completely expected, yet it doesn't always make them easier to handle... ;)

kim p said...

Thanks for reminding us of a truth that is relevant to every area of life-- "It's not about me!" Lately, I've been having issues with our 2-year-old special needs foster child, and this reminder was very timely for me. Thanks! : )

David and Marianne said...

wow! thank you for sharing! i appreciate your honesty tremendously... we hope to "someday" adopt an older child. what a beautiful tribute to your beautiful daughter.

julie said...

Great post . . .SO True in so many areas of our lives when dealing with ANYONE God has brought into our path. When will get it through our heads?!

I loved how you took so many of the different areas and uncovered the truth of what she was really struggling with. . .so poignant.

Thanks, I know this will help so many moms considering this path!

Love you guys,

K said...

Thanks for this honest, heartfelt post! I have been reading your blog but have never commented before. This post brought tears to my eyes. I really admire your courage and strenghth! Thanks for sharing this.

Tara said...

OH MY GOSH Angel....I have read this post before and I did not get it, i mean 'really' get it until now! I am in tears and I can't believe how much I can relate with this post. I read it aloud to Jacques and BOTH of us were in tears by the end of the post. It all hit home and I realize now more than ever that I need to surround myself with people that 'get it' and I mean 'really' get it for my sanity!!!

Thank you so much and I hope to chat soon and often!!!

*big huge hug*