Wednesday, June 4, 2008

5 Months Home

Tomorrow and Friday we will reach the 5-month mark of the boys leaving Ghana and arriving home in Iowa. Lately, I've been reminiscing about these past 5 months and thinking about what life was like for that first month or so.

Z and I went from having no kids to suddenly having a 4 year old and a 5 year old in our home. We knew from reading about other adoptive parent's experiences that the early weeks and months could be HARD. We were bracing ourselves for hard times and at the same time trying to soak up every little piece of their personality that they were willing to share with us.

During those early weeks we ate a LOT of rice, bananas, and oranges. I quickly learned that the boys LOVED pancakes, red beans and rice, fried rice, and chicken (of almost any sort). Now days, the boys have decided that pizza and cheeseburgers are their all-time favorite foods (how American, huh?). The switch was almost immediate. After their first week at daycare (the boys go twice a week) they suddenly realized that other kids like pizza and cheeseburgers and they would be missing out if they didn't like them, too.

During those early weeks, I would lay down in bed with them at bedtime and wait for them to fall asleep before I left to spend the rest of the evening with Z. Almost every night I would wake up in the middle of the night hearing crying and sobbing from their room down the hall. I would get up and run to their room to find one of them sitting up in bed, tears streaming down his face. "Mommy, I wee wee" would be whispered as I entered the room and I would take him to the bathroom, help him get settled down a bit, and go back to bed. These days, the boys sleep easily through the night (almost all nights) and when they need or want something from me they just yell "MOMMY!" and I come to check on them. There's no more more waking up in the middle of the night...and no more need for mommy to stick around at bedtime...

When the boys first arrived home, they had a hard time playing with their toys. Instead of playing they would grab as many toys as possible and try to keep the other one from getting their "stash". They were so worried about the other one stealing their toys that they couldn't really play. We quickly put an end to this...we no longer allowed them to put toys in their pockets, hide toys under their pillows, or have a private toy stash. Instead, all the toys belonged in one basket, they had to share, and when they were done they ALL had to go back into the basket. If they were playing with Legos, their "creations" needed to be taken apart before going back into the basket. At first, the boys HATED these rules. When we caught one of them breaking the rules (which happened OFTEN), we reminded them of the rules and made the offender sit with mom (or dad) for a time-in. Oh how they cried and cried and screamed and cried and flailed and cried and screamed when they got disciplined for these offenses. When they would play with Legos and someone created something they wanted to show mommy and daddy, they would lift it up proudly for display. If, however, during this display the creation accidentally broke apart they would crumple to the floor in agony, crying uncontrollably, kicking and screaming. It took a long time for them to understand that if it broke they could just rebuild it. We would help them and eventually their tears would dry up.

I can't even begin to estimate how many hours Z and I would sit with one of the boys on our laps (either for cuddles or for time-ins). I didn't get a whole lot of anything done during those early weeks. I do know that I ran up and down the stairs countless times during the day to take one or the other to the bathroom, to get new toys, to get clean clothes, or to take one boy away from the other to settle down for a bit during an especially difficult tantrum.

Yes, those early weeks were hard...but they were also really great. Z and I were parents for the first time and we had these two very handsome boys who we were suddenly responsible for. We would watch them experience eating something new or experiencing something new for the first time and we would stand back and smile, thinking "this is exactly how I thought I would feel at this moment". We had rough moments, but we also had some really amazing moments during those first weeks. Hearing "Mommy!" for the first time, watching them sleep peacefully in their beds in OUR house, holding them on our laps, getting sloppy wet kisses on our cheeks, hearing their infectious laughter, taking them to the movie theater for the first time, introducing them to our families for the first time, and hearing "I love you, too, Mommy" for the first time are moments I will never forget.

Today I watch my boys and I realize that they are no longer scared little boys. They are smart, funny, athletic, musical boys who very desperately want to be BIG boys who can do EVERYTHING by themselves. When they first arrived they wanted me to do everything for them (which I happily did)...but now, those little boys have suddenly turned into big boys who don't have as much need for their mommy to help them out. Once in a while, though, they throw me a bone and ask me to help them with something that I know they can do for themselves. I smile, help them do it, and hear "Thank you, Mommy!" before seeing them run off to do something else.


Jim & Laurel said...

Thanks so much for your honesty. I have been reprimanded several times for being honest on my blog, but I don't believe it's fair to anyone to pretend that adopting children is a fairytale, with everyone living happily at all times.

While adopted children are an amazing blessing ... they also bring challenges home with them. Challenges that bring us to our knees in prayer ... challenges that may bring tears to siblings (or to mommy) ... challenges that we learn from ... challenges that bring us closer to the Lord and to each other, as we walk through them.

Blessings to you and your sweet family!

Laurel :)

Heather A. said...

I looked back through the photo's of the boys that you posted shortly after they arrived home, and they look like totally different boys. Before they smiled, but seemed a bit more reserved in their photo's. Now, they have big beautiful heart-felt smiles that only the love of a family can bring out. It's nice to hear the process of getting to those wonderful smiles.

Your boys are just so handsome!

Sarah Riedel said...

Thanks for the little glimpses into your family's life. I feel like we're more a part of it all when I read what you write. Sarah

We're Ghana Adopt said...

That was an amazing post. It was so good to read the comparison of how the boys were to how they are now. You have done an amazing job with this journey so far. God Bless you and Z! :0)

Leslie said...

That is fantastic. It is not easy but nothing worthwhile is.

Nic and Megan Olson said...

Beautifully written!