It's been a week since we came home and I think both my cold and the jet lag are finally going away. Hallelujah! I was getting tired of feeling fuzzy. Despite my mental haze, the past week has gone well. We've had our ups and downs, but that's pretty much business as usual around here.
I'm sure all the help we have experienced has contributed to our general feeling of well being. I didn't mention it before, but a friend had stocked our pantry and refrigerator with food so well, that the first time I had to go to the store was on Saturday, and that was only for essentials such as milk and cheese sticks. We still have a week of dinners being brought in, so I haven't had to do any menu planning. We feel very blessed and supported. Thank you to everyone who has helped to take care of us.
In some ways, bringing home an older child is not a lot different from bringing home a newborn.The biggest difference is that our new child sleeps well and the last babies which came as newborns decidedly did not. But the level of helplessness is in some ways similar. I have read other's accounts of bringing home an older child and one thing they all had in common was how tiring it was. I didn't discount their feelings, but didn't quite understand as well. Now I do.
We have taken a child who was pretty competent in her own culture and environment and placed her in a completely foreign one. For all the sense it makes sometimes it might as well be on another planet. While we do the same basic things, the details of how we do them are all different. Like an infant she has to learn everything all over again. It makes it difficult for me to determine what she is truly capable of doing, but just unsure how she should do it, and what she genuinely hasn't ever done. H. wants to please and do things 'right', which makes her a bit hesitant sometimes. I have been doing a lot of encouraging that she can do somethings herself. Getting dressed and undressed, for instance. Other things, such as tooth brushing, I'm happy to continue supervising. Learning correct dental care is a steep learning curve as the blood in the sink after every brushing shows.
My rational, compassionate, I'm-the-one-responsible-for-all-this side realizes that this is normal and her need to be with me and double-check that she is doing things correctly is understandable. I am patient, and try to be encouraging and pleasant so that she feels secure and loved and cared for. But, in an effort to maintain honesty for those who might be considering adopting an older child (or for those who are interested in the real process), there is a small part of me that feels just a wee bit claustrophobic. (Her personal space is much smaller than mine.) And impatient. (Just learn to pull the pants off already. Or step into the van. Or any other small abilities that all of my other children can do and which I took for granted.) And grumpy. (No, I didn't want you to ask someone to fix you a bagel which you then turn around and say is for me even though I'm a good 45 minutes away from eating breakfast. No, I don't need you to yell at the little girls even if they are doing something wrong.) To purposefully act on the better, rational impulses and not on the selfish, emotional ones is tiring. I know that in actuality, this transition phase is really very short. But just as those nights with a newborn can seem endless, when you are in a difficult phase it seems as though it will go on forever.
Don't get me wrong. I have no regrets and H. is a loving and charming child who has maintained her good naturedness through changes so immense that most of us can't even begin to imagine what it must be like. I am thrilled she is my daughter. But even things which are very, very good can come with some hard stuff. Our dratted human sinfulness gets in the way and makes things difficult.
But God. God can redeem, remake, renew anything, including my selfishness. I read in my devotional this morning that a successful day is one in which you turn to Jesus every single time life gets difficult. I immediately loved this idea. With 10 children, I have been provided with many opportunities to practice this. And I need His help. Left on my own I could never begin to do what I do.