Sunday, November 09, 2008

A Double Feature...

9 months home...
An Attitude of Gratitude.

I was going to write about these two subjects separately, but they are so closely related today that you are getting a double feature.

Today our semon at church was on being blessed and being grateful. I am always amazed that God always knows what I need to hear most.
Here's what I heard:

1) God knows your situation.
2) God is with you in your situation.
3) God can help change your situation.

God knows what is going on in our lives. He knows our situations with family, career, finances, health. He is standing in those situations right beside us.
We need to be grateful for all of our imperfect gifts. We are all imperfect gifts. My kids are imperfect gifts. My spouse is an imperfect gift. And yes, I am an imperfect gift. I was reminded that I need to be grateful for these kids... these kids I prayed for... these kids I would have given my right arm for.... all 6 of these kids God has blessed me with. I need to be grateful for them in their imperfect state. I need to replace the anxiety and frustration I feel with gratitude. When God brings me through another day, another "situation," I need to worship him and give him thanks.
The kids service was about gratitude as well. Family theatre is as much fun as educational for the kids. Today they had a video clip about a kid who realized how much his mother did for him and how ungrateful he had been. I sat in kids church with silent tears rolling down my face, as I realize that gratitude or lack thereof is one of the things that is really gnawing on me. Josh did come home and take out the trash (one of his assigned chores this week) without being told to. This is a first.... ever. So maybe I'm not the only one who heard something useful at church today. I can only pray that everyone took something home with them from that sermon.

Tomorrow marks 9 months home for Josh and Jameson. Wow.

We continue to deal with the little things. The little things that I hope are just normal for people who were strangers 9 months ago and are now living in close quarters. There are days when things are perfect. There are still those days when all of us are struggling. Sorry to those of you who were thinking 9 months might be that perfect time for things to fall into place.
Jameson is doing great in school. Her reading has improved so much! I have never seen a child who tries harder. She is so eager and willing to learn. I believe Jameson has some real learning disabilities and has a much harder time grasping new concepts. It took her 30 minutes to figure out what number came between 209 and 211 last week, and we have been working on this for 12 weeks now. But she tries so hard and she wants to learn.

Josh remains a huge mystery to me. He continues to be SO disconnected from all of us. There are days when Josh just exists, and then there are days when he seems to be awake and interacts with us. I'm sure that things are better with Josh than they were months ago, but it gets harder to see that. The longer they are home, in some ways, it becomes more difficult. It becomes more difficult and annoying to have to tell him again that sweatpants and a button up shirt and flip flops in November are not appropriate for church. It becomes more difficult and annoying to have to tell him again to speak in sentences instead of one word caveman commands. It becomes more difficult and annoying to see him spaced out and not paying attention again. Unfortunately I can sense that we are all losing our patience with him more often now. I think this is a collective family UGH. We are all tired.

School is going well. We have considered putting Jameson in third grade at Gloria Deo next year with the other kids, but I don't think Josh will ever be able to do that. The social anxiety and lack of motivation will hold him back from this very difficult school. He just officially finished first grade and we are skipping second grade, but I would say he's probably more like a third grade level. We are going to try to get through fourth grade this year. He is a very smart boy. He just does not apply himself. He does the least amount to get by and still thinks that I won't notice if he skips pages in his work. We motivate him through soccer. If he wants to play soccer, he has to do well at home and in school. Unfortunately this is the only way to motivate him to do anything.

It is so easy to get caught up in the stuff that is making me crazy that it sometimes is difficult to appreciate the kids for the wonderful, imperfect gifts that they are. I am trying to see them for who they are. Who God made them. And I am trying to be grateful for who God made them.

I seriously feel like some sort of wicked person because I am always correcting, always telling no, always getting on to, and seemingly always remembering only the negative. It really isn't all negative. It really isn't all bad. It just isn't all good either. And so we just continue on our goal of becoming a united, engaged family. Here's to month 10.


Anonymous said...

I know it probably isn't much comfort, but nine months really is not very long yet. I know what you mean about the longer it gets to be the more you begin to sink into despair that things might NOT work out as you had originally hoped/anticipated/expected. We have had our son home four years now. For REAL attachment to occur took a fully three and a half years...I remember at the three year mark despairing that this child would ever really put his roots down into our family. Then, one day, something just triggered in his heart and he finally realized that he is ours forever. Now, what is hitting his father and I is the realization that we cannot "fix" his disabilities. It hit us hard recently as we finally looked each other square in the eye and discussed what we will need to do before this child turns 18 to establish permanent guardianship for him...realizing that he will probably never be able to function completely independently. That didn't hit us at first. But, the longer a child is in your care the heavier some things become.

I know what you mean about becoming more despondent over the bumps in the road with Josh...what was tolerable in the beginning becomes demoralizing further on down the road because things are suppose to get "fixed" with the passage of time...and it starts feeling devastating when time has passed but nothing has gotten any better. But, nine months really is so little time. Josh and Jameson lived so much of their life before you...nine months is just a single breath. When they have been with you as long as they were without you, THAT will be closer to the real beginning point. Adoption is hard. Especially when the child is older before you adopt them. I never understood how people could have "disrupted adoptions" (turn a child back in that they had already adopted), until I adopted an older child. It is not for the feint of heart, adopting older children...and to take on TWO at have truly taken on a heart-breaking, discouragingly hard journey. But it is a journey close to God's own heart.

I read a quote the other day that spoke to my life: "Grant me the patience to deal with my blessings!"

Your post encouraged me...reminded me that I need to practice GRATEFULNESS, instead of focusing on how things have not turned out as I thought they would. I think that is often the heartbreak for an adoptive parent of an older child...things don't turn out as we thought they would...or at least not on OUR time-table.

Laurel said...

Right there with you, as we are at month 8 with our 3 from Ghana.

The "concept" thing is HARD for all of our new kids. They can "read" the clock, and tell me what time it is. But, they cannot tell me what time it will be in one hour, nor what time it was half an hour ago. Rachel can tell me that 2 + 2 = 4, but she can not tell me with pictures what 2 spoons + 2 forks equals. They memorized LOTS of facts at the orphanage (which we are thankful for), but they do not understand the concepts behind the facts. Yes, it can drive a parent crazy!

We also have a rather despondent one, like Josh. Oh how you want to see a real smile and feel a heart-felt hug.

Prayers and Hugs for YOU!

Laurel :)

Kay Bratt said...

Prayers going up for you and your family--


Peculiar Smith Family said...

I'm alway so blessed by your honest and realistic posts! You often mirror whatever I'm thinking! Thanks for putting yourself out there for us!