I have done a lot of thinking over the last several weeks since we came home with the boys. The emotions of this entire journey have been over the top. The highest of highs and the lowest of lows. It is so unlike any other journey in life, that sometimes it is difficult to even explain it to those that have not been through it...and even those that have been through it have had their own unique experience and challenges.
I have tried to think of ways to explain to my friends the emotions that are filling my heart since the boys have come home...and I almost feel as though I might disappoint some of them because of a few of the emotions that I am wrestling with. At times I am tempted to share my emotions, and sometimes I do, but other times, I smile and share some of the antics of the twins and move on...leaving the deeper emotions out of the conversation.
Just over a week ago...I was right in the depths of working through these emotions. It was at that same time that our church sponsored a Beth Moore Live Simulcast. I have done her studies, and I have seen her live at our arena, (and I love her) but I had never done a simulcast and really didn't know what to expect. I knew that I was wrestling with some serious emotions, and Craig suggested that I go. It was at this event that I was able to get some real clarity about the emotions that I am wrestling and a way to explain them to others. I was also able to receive some serious encouragement and prayer. Bear with me as I use a story to convey our experience:
Before our family decided to embark on this adoption journey, we were amazingly blessed! Our family was incredibly beautiful to me. It was all that I had ever dreamed of, and I really couldn't think of anything that I would change.
It was almost like standing on the most gorgeous Caribbean beach and looking out at the sunset. It felt perfect in every way...I really had no plans to change a thing about it.
Then off on the horizon, we spotted something. It was far off and hazy but appeared to be a small and breathtaking island. There were only a few people that had traveled to this island, but somehow we knew that it was God's plan for us to travel there. The decision to leave the beautiful beach was frightening and more than a little exciting. We knew that the journey would be difficult and costly, but we knew that we had to follow His will for our family. So we prepared as best as we could for the journey and just trusted that He would help us along the way.
Our adoption has been a journey we have never embarked on before. Choosing this plan was a huge leap of faith.
We set off into the water and began to move toward the island. We practiced our different strokes and began to make some real headway toward the island making sure that the entire way across we held our family of five together tightly.
We filled out all of our paperwork...checking small boxes on list after list obtaining all of the paperwork required to fill our Dossier. We were fingerprinted five times, had bloodwork, background checks, psychiatric exams, shared all of our financials down to the penny and pretty
much bared our souls in the process. We tightened our budget, began to save our vacation time and really began to feel like we were making progress. This was the first year.
We had tried all of the different swimming strokes many times over, only to find that it really didn't matter...we were beginning to show signs of fatigue. We were still able to keep the five of us together, and we were still afloat, but the progress was slow and the waters were becoming rough. We could hear our friends and family back on the shore cheering us on, but we had been swimming for quite some time and their voices were beginning to fade. At times, I even yelled out to my friends and my church to cheer louder and pray so we would stay together and stay afloat. There were times that some of the waves were so big, that Craig and I held our children above our heads and sunk below the surface just to keep them out of the water.
The next two years of the adoption process we had many ups and downs. We had moments of elation over steps completed and moments of sheer despair when we uncovered untruths, setbacks, delays and falsified documents. It was a terribly difficult time to navigate because we wanted to stay positive for Aftyn, Haley and Aiden, but the pain we were feeling was so much at the core of our being, it was quite difficult at times. Some of the low points, it truly felt like all of my joy was draining right out of me, and I began to despair. My mind would tell me that the Lord would bring us out of this triumphantly, but my broken heart hurt beyond belief. I was sinking. A couple of times, I sought out my friends and asked them to pray over me because I felt like I couldn't get through it on my own. Further along in the process, I actually asked our church to please hold a prayer vigil because I knew that I had sunk to my lowest low. I felt like I needed to hear my church family praying. My heart was being gripped, torn and I feared what impact the despair I had been experiencing was having on me and my family.
We were still tired, every muscle cried out with each pull forward through the water. We still had encouragers but occasionally had people suggesting that we turn back. "Maybe this journey was too difficult, too costly, too long...or just that our efforts could be better spent in another way." It was painful to hear their voices in the midst of the waves. It brought on a whole new kind of pain, but after brief thought, we remembered why we set out on this journey in the first place. It was God's plan. We took a deep breath, pulled each other close and continued to paddle forward despite our fatigue.
As we moved through the process, we had family and friends make comments that were likely meant to protect us. Unfortunately, some of these comments were difficult to hear and made the journey more painful at times. As I look back now, I am thankful for the opportunity to witness to these loved ones of the importance of following the path the God has laid out for our family, and I hope that this truth resonated with them in some way.
The harder we pushed forward, the closer the island became. We could see that the shoreline was even more beautiful than the beach we had left. We could see that the trees were filled with fruit and the sunsets and sunrises were going to be beyond stunning. We began to imagine our family on the island...complete and rested. We began to think of our future and the ways that the Lord would guide our paths once we were settled there. In many ways, it was encouraging and pushed us on in our fight through the waves...but in some weary moments, I would glance back at the shore we had left...and begin to weep. Why had we chosen this path? I was beginning to feel so alone, and I had never been more tired in my life. It really was beautiful on the shore we had left too...
We were able to travel once with Aftyn, Haley and Aiden to see the twins and also traveled to see them on a second bonding trip as well. We have thousands of photos of this time together as a complete family, and we got a taste of what our new family would look like. It was truly beautiful...yet after arriving home...navigating all of the disappointments and losses...my heart had moments of fear...fear that I wasn't strong enough for this. Fears that I wouldn't be able to juggle everything once the twins came home. I felt like many in my life were tired of hearing about the twins...our struggles...and that we STILL didn't have any good news to share. I was weary. Many tears were shed during this time. I tried to make the most of my time with our three kiddos at home and truly treasured my time with them.
My arms and legs felt like they were not going to make it. I was barely able to keep them moving. At times Craig would hold me and push further forward though the water...and at times he would be frustrated, and I would buckle down, hold our family tight and press on. The island was just in the distance now...
We were close...we had been submitted to the US Embassy for Visa Approval. We were in the homestretch.
Just when I thought we were almost there...we were stuck. We were made to tread water for ten months! TEN MONTHS!!!!!
After ten months of time and multiple documents were done over, we were resubmitted for Visas for the third time and received our approval!! Praise God!!! The end was in sight!!! I just knew it that once the twins were home with us...we would be able to move forward with our bonding and our family would be able to finally move forward. We traveled to Haiti in July, picked the twins up July 22, 2014, and brought the twins to our home on July 23, 2014. We had a beautiful homecoming and many sighs of relief coursed their way though my tired body.
We pushed on towards the island, and I watched as Craig, Aftyn, and Haley quickly left the water. They hurried onto the island and began to recover from the long journey. We had stayed close together through the entire journey, but right at the end...they pulled ahead of Aiden and me. I really don't know what happened, but we continued to find ourselves over our heads in the water. The waves were much smaller in the shallower water, but we were still tired and we were unable to touch bottom. There was no rest for us, and for some reason...as much as they wanted to...Craig and the girls were not able to reach in and get us out. We would have to work our way out on our own. In the meantime, the twins waded into the water and began to tread water along side the two of us. What? I was confused. I thought that once we made it across, we would all step out of the water together and begin to discover our new life with all of its beauty together. I couldn't understand it. I still felt like I was struggling...was I ever going to make it...was I strong enough...could I help Aiden and the twins navigate the waters when I was struggling myself?
It's true. I was almost certain that we would come home and our bonding would happen together. I thought that it would have its struggles, but I thought that if it was hard for one of us, it would be hard for all of us. I really don't know where I got this notion, but it was definitely a delusion. Craig is the most easy-going person I know and the adjustment seemed so easy for him. The girls are wired to be little mommies, and they get to pick and choose when they want to occupy that role, and that gives them a flexibility I do not have. I have to be there through the tantrums, when the food is pushed away, when directives I give the twins are ignored and when the crying just seems too loud for my ears. I am there in the middle of the night when the twins can't sleep, when they are sick or in pain and when they have to undergo surgery. I change diaper after diaper, take them to the potty five billion times per day, prepare meals that aren't always appreciated and still do all of the mommy chores that I did before with my family of five. I fall into bed at night and sleep like the dead until a small cry wakes me. I am SO TIRED.
I am treading water. I am trying to figure out how best to manage trying to move the twins, Aiden and I towards the shore. I am tired, but I am pushing forward. I am encouraging them, guiding them and praying my way in.
Finally today, I had a profound moment of feeling like I have finally reached the turning point. I know that there will still be hard days and maybe my next blog will say that I was deluded, and we have struggles that I never even dreamed possible...but despite the multiple tantrums, the language barrier and the not listening...I feel like we are moving forward. I feel like we are connecting slowly, and like I am finally moving out of the depths.
I was kicking with all my might, dragging my three sons with me, keeping their heads above the water and trying to take an occasional breath when I could...and it happened. My flailing legs were slowed as my toes skimmed the surface of the sand. Dear Lord, I was so tired. I held my three boys in my arms and tipped my head back lifting my nose towards the sky. I could just barely touch. If I focused and held the boys close, I could rest just a little. My legs were still straining...I was on my tip toes, but I just couldn't push further forward yet. I needed to rest. Praise God...a moment of grace.
Please continue to pray for our family as this journey is not yet over. The twins are home. Yes, that is true...but the real adjustments are just beginning.
We are having to find amazing amounts of patience and are trying to juggle life with much less sleep than we would choose if we could. It is more complicated to accomplish the normal tasks of life like mowing the lawn, making dinner and getting to school or church on time.
It is difficult to know how to handle discipline, the transition to work, and juggling all of our other commitments at the same time. We have simplified life, but it continues to be a struggle at times.
I don't mean for this blog post to be negative. It is just truthful and honest. This has been one of the hardest things that I have ever experienced.
The Beth Moore event also helped me to process through my fears and inadequacies. It challenged the women attending that God has made them WOMAN ENOUGH!!! I found myself with eyes full of tears and a heart that was healing as the pain began to leave it when she said that. It is true...with God, I AM WOMAN ENOUGH! I can do this. I can juggle this. It is not easy...I have to take it one day at a time and make sure that I am covered in prayer and my nose is in the Word, but I am WOMAN ENOUGH. I have to try to carve out time to exercise and have been trying to eat well so I will have the energy and general health to be WOMAN ENOUGH! Bonding might have been a bit slower for Aiden, the twins and I, but in time it will piece together beautifully because I serve an AMAZING GOD, and with Him, I am WOMAN ENOUGH!!!
Praise God for that little nugget of truth!!! I love you, Jesus!
Standing on my tiptoes with my nose just above the waves, but buckling down and pressing on,