Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Putting Aside the Rose Color Glasses

Ben is amazing.  The few that have seen him, even from a distance, have seen this amazing delicacy of his face...a sweetness.  He's a very special little guy.

A friend private messaged me the other day and shared a thought to encourage me.  Many think that once a child enters the house...a family, it's over.  The final joy has been accomplished.  The goal has been met.  This friend wanted to check on me because she knows personally that isn't true.

Another friend mentioned the "crickets" (what you hear in the silence) once she arrived home.  I haven't heard silence.  My close friends and family are resilient, so I'm not writing because of silence. 

I've also seen the train of thought that if you're a veteran, having adopted before, then you've got this down.  Every child, adoption, day...is so different.  Each journey has it's own fingerprint.  Whether the first child or the tenth (as with any child) the unexpected is the expected.  This is especially true of a child you are only beginning to know.

I write because of honesty.  I'm writing this because I don't "do" rose colored glasses.  They definitely have their place.  Their pinkish, so if you throw a little bling on them, my girls will steal them.  They really don't match my outfits, as I don't think I own anything pink or rose.   They are not heavy enough for a paperweight, though I'm thinking it might be fun to put on a cat (though I think I'd need duct tape).  So I set them down, and proceed with the honesty that I hope will help the next family coming home.

As we proceeded with the adoption of our twins from Ethiopia, we had families in front of us waiting in line for an embassy date.  The appointments were coming at regular intervals at that point.  You waited in line after passing court (at that point NO ONE was passing court the first time, though we actually did) and your embassy appointment would come.  Things have changed since then. 

Things didn't work that way with us though.  Somehow our embassy appointment leap frogged over the families in front of us.  We wondered, only briefly, why.

Rachel was sick.  At ten months she was severely neglected with a case of ringworm covering her back (the likes of our international adoption pediatrician had never seen before) and the worse case of giardia (which is common).  Our child couldn't roll over and she kept her legs curled like a newborn, but that wasn't it.  Her weakness was really not the reason.  Rachel was vomiting constantly and couldn't keep anything down.  The orphanage Rachel and Gabe were at...well...it was NOT good.  We were up all night and constantly trying to keep any liquids down her.  Because of her illness, we don't feel like she would have made it if we had been assigned a later embassy date.  She would not have had the attention that she needed to survive.

The journey home took 31 hours.  Thomas (my husband) and Sarah (our then 12 year old) were sick.  Tom (then 14) and I took care of the twins on the way home.  My eyes looked like a horror movie.  The entire whites of my eyes were blood red.  I walked through the airport, went to the bathroom and threw up, and kept going.

As we arrived home Gabriel and I started cycling fevers.  High fevers for three days and three days with no fevers.  Gabe was actually hospitalized.  A diagnoses was never made, though the possibility of malaria was brought up and testing was done (not conclusive because of when it was done).  It was after four months home that a medication finally worked and we were fever free.

These things happened without any behavioral issues to deal with.  These things occurred with our twins that were adopted "healthy".

Obviously, a situation like the above can be very isolating. 

Whether health, institutional behavior, special needs, or just attachment work being done (a series on that in the near future) coming home is only the first, and usually easiest, stage of a marathon.  Adoption is not a sprint to the finish, but an all encompassing  and lengthy run.

Many children come home very broken.  All have suffered trauma.

Ben's past is horrific.  It is and there is no way around that.  It is reality. 

The month away from my children was hard.  The things we saw, traumatic.  The last two weeks have left me feeling like I imagine those with PTSP have felt.  I will NOT diminish those with the diagnoses.  I'm sure it is so much worse than what I'm going through.  It's rough though.  There is always a time of processing, but this one has been especially rough (not that it's ever easy).

The last time I remember feeling this was after the fire (during Jael's adoption).  I couldn't smell smoke without having a physical reaction.

Ben is beautiful.  He still does wake up with blood around his mouth occasionally from chewing on his tongue (a common result of neglect).  His gums are inflamed, infected as his teeth are rotted.  He stims less.  He hits less.  He IS beautiful.

He also needs 100% supervision, as his past make his responses less than predictable.  Our older kids can't watch him very long (just for a quick shower or bathroom run) because he finds his security in Thomas and I and will start stimming and hitting more if we aren't around.  Damage created by almost ten years is not easily undone...and never completely undone.  It is never erased.  It makes him who he is, just as our past experiences makes us who we are.

Going out in public is also extremely hard.  Ben gets easily overwhelmed and his aggression increases (pinching, hitting, kicking...though not as extreme as before).  He literally doesn't know what to do with himself. 

Our newest blessing sleeps fitfully and is in our room.  He needs us after nine years and it's not a sacrifice. 

Ben does not eat solid food.  A friend has brought homemade soups for him since my cooking time is down to zero with 100% supervision of Ben.  The kids have stepped up during the day and once my husband is home it's easier, but the occasional meals, and groceries, and errand running have been such a blessing.

God's Healing Hand is on our son.  We have seen such amazing changes, but they don't all come at once.

As million pieces of a puzzle make up our Ben,  life continues...

All our children need us and we spend much time in cuddling.  Life has to go on.  Teens enrolling in college, home school planning for next year, fun time planning that Ben can handle.

Yet, when first home, wagons are circled and life is at a standstill.  We are beginning the next stage of the marathon.  Rose colored glasses are off (or covered with bling and on a four year old) and we continue the war for our son.

Thank you, genuinely, to those who stand beside us.  This is long term.  We are battle weary, but thankful to be at the place we are....getting ready for the next part of the marathon.


If you want to know ways you can help families newly home, see the link below.

Please continue to pray....

*For Ben's healing.  God knows the ways Ben needs to heal and fissures in Ben needing to be filled.

*For our family, protection again satan's schemes physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

*For Ben's doctor's appointment TOMORROW to be thorough and referrals  to be given to all the doctors needed. We are concerned how long term drug use may affect his kidney's and other vital organs.

*For Ben's teeth to be taken care of quickly and by the hospital we hope for (in order for all costs to be covered and for it to be by the BEST doctors).

*For me to be able to successfully be able to do what I need to for home school, and college for next year...as well as for the extensive lists of "have tos" that I can't delegate.

*That an unnamed need is met.  It's necessary, but we can't figure out how to do it.


"About Benjamin He said: 'Let the beloved of the Lord rest secure in Him, for He shields him all day long, and the one the Lord loves rests between His shoulders.' Deuteronomy 33:12


  1. You and your whole family so inspire me....I am too old to adopt (64) but not too old to pray and provide support for those who can. I look at your family and all those beautiful children and can't help but think that the Lord led you to adopt in preparation for adopting Ben. God Bless you and your beautiful famiily. Pam Clark, Tallahassee Florida

  2. Hi Kat! You don't know me, but I have been so inspired by your journey. I just wanted to chime in with a nugget of advice (which you can feel free to ignore!)You shouldn’t discount that “PTSD” feeling. You have adopted and traveled before so I’m sure you are aware of how insidious secondary trauma can be! But, I just wanted to pass on this book: http://www.amazon.com/Trauma-Stewardship-Everyday-Caring-Others/dp/157675944X/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1372253780&sr=1-1&keywords=secondary+trauma. I work with torture survivors and this book actually had some helpful advice in how to pinpoint secondary trauma symptoms and deal with the fallout!
    Best wishes to you and your family!


In the joy of following our Heavenly Father, we sometimes choose to proceed with a whisper, a verse, or a downright shove...no matter how we follow Him, the momentum that follows is like nothing we've ever experienced before.

Join the momentum...it is a beautiful place to be. It's not always easy, but then the best things never are.

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