|Leaving Hong Kong|
Many of you are familiar with our story, either through this blog, through our Jet Landing Facebook page, or through our video testimony at church. In no way are we downplaying our gratitude for the help and support we received while we were in China as well as that first month home. We had people clean our house while we were gone, dry cleaning dropped off and picked up, the refrigerator stocked, freezer meals left for us plus meals dropped off for weeks, calls and texts checking in...our every need was met.
|The first hours home|
One thing happened though during that first month still stands out for me. We have friends who came home with their son approximately a year earlier than we did, and she didn't sign up for a day on the ever popular MealTrain site. Instead, she just texted and said "We'll bring you a meal in a few months. Trust me, you'll understand." I was perplexed, but I wasn't going to turn down a free meal. I'm not crazy.
As most of you know, we adopted a child with severe congenital heart disease (CHD). His file said repaired. While we knew there would be tests and routine monitoring, in no way did we expect it to consume our daily life. I still couldn't tell you if this was an "ignorance is bliss" or if we were just not ready to admit the magnitude of a special needs adoption, but we truly believed the initial tests and appointments would taper off once the "newness" of everything wore off. In fact, for about two months following our homecoming, I was seriously regretting turning down a promotion and quitting my job. We spent our summer slowly but surely exposing Jordan to his new life with us, feeling quite confident in our abilities as parents, and as parents of an adopted special needs child, but then real life set in. With a vengeance. And then twice after we had been home for more than a couple months that adoptive family I referred to earlier brought us meals on two separate occasions. And both times, I got it. I totally understood what she meant. The novelty had seemingly worn off, and we were floundering.
This past fall was incredibly hard for our family, as I was suffering from acute anxiety and random panic attacks triggered by medications that were supposed to help the anxiety. Jordan was sick or in the hospital or having tests done weekly with seemingly no end in site. Derek was just trying to hold the fort together during an incredibly stressful time at work. Altogether, I felt like an adoptive mom failure, and I didn't feel I could ask for help. I couldn't relate to friends' with kids of the same age because we were going through completely different experiences, and other adoptive moms (and dads) seemingly had it all together (at least per social media). I also didn't want to exhaust our "resources" for help--our small groups, friends, and family--which I now know was and has been pointed out to me as ridiculous. It was especially hard because I wanted to be involved in so many activities and groups and do all the things that I was used to doing BC (before children), but either Jet was ill or had a test or doctor's appointment, or I physically and/or mentally
was unable to and didn't want to admit it.
A few weeks ago, while Jet was in the hospital once again (this time with pneumonia of all things), I mentioned to some close friends that I just wanted things to be normal again, and one particular friend who has dealt with similar anxiety issues just said, quite bluntly, "They won't. But you'll find your new normal." She was right. It's taken us months to establish a routine--and that routine actually was learning to not have a routine. We take everything day by day now, sometimes hour by hour. We've learned to just swallow our pride, because really that was the only thing holding us back from asking for more help, and tell people what we need and when. Those two meals that my adoptive mom friend had brought? I will never be able to express how perfectly timed they were. I now know what she was referring to, when she said I would understand.
|Showing his brave muscles!|
So here we are, more than nine months since arriving home from the airport. And we are just now learning how to respond when people offer help. I'm trying to give myself more grace, which I always felt was an overused phrase but it fits, because yes, I do not have a normal child, and yes, it is okay to ask for help. (And isn't normal overrated anyway?) And thankfully, we have a great support system in place now. We simply don't know what the next few weeks will bring. We pray that Jet will be in the hospital for less than a week and fully recovered by May! Realistically though, we know that we may need help with meals, with the dog (why do we have one again?), with help around the house, etc. We know we have a church family praying for us, and most of all praying for Jet and his surgery and recovery. We know that all we need to do is ask, and someone will be there.
If you're an adoptive parent, especially one with a child who has significant health needs, and you've felt this way, find someone who understands. Talk to them. A friend, a therapist, a counselor, someone who has a child with the same condition(s) as yours or someone who has gone through similar things. Find what works for you. It's normal. It's not embarrassing. It's nothing you should be ashamed of. Maybe your church has a ministry that can connect you to someone. Maybe you can find a church in your area that has this type of ministry if you aren't sure. Derek and I so happen to attend a church that has a ministry such as this, and we know that we have the support of our friends and family as well.
If you're a friend of one of these adoptive parents? Call them. Text them. Ask what they need. In some cases, just do it. Bring the coffee. Or a donut. (Once, a friend brought me two chocolate donuts on her way home from work after an especially hard day. It was awesome.) Educate yourselves on adoption. I recommend reading The Connected Child, just so you can empathize with what they are going through. They may say they don't need help, so sometimes you just have to be forceful (but not too forceful--don't break any laws). Also understand that they may not be able to go out and meet at the park or attend Tuesday mornings regularly or leave their kid with a sitter. Chances are, they are secretly wanting help, but don't know how to ask. Or when. Or even for what.
The care of orphans and vulnerable children is so important, but we can't forget to support the families who do so.
As adoptive parents, Derek and I have learned a lot since we arrived home. Our faith has grown, our ability to communicate with each other and work as a team has grown, and I'm pretty sure we might be able to pass a few med school exams. People often say adoption is a process. Believe me, it was! I have a file cabinet full of paperwork to prove it. But it still is a process. It didn't end once we were home from the airport. It didn't end after we were home for a few months. For us, it still hasn't ended. Yet even after everything, the blessings far outnumber the negatives, and as long as God calls us to it, we can't wait to do it all over again.