Hoping to someday find M's brother adopted in the U.S. -
Myckola Oleksandrovych Markov - 8/26/2003

Saturday, May 25, 2013

The Unexpected Joys of Adoption - Friends

So far in this series of posts I've done

The (Unexpected) Costs of Adoption

The (Unexpected) Joys of Adoption

This post is about all of the new and unexpected friends I've gained since we made the decision to adopt over three years ago.

When we decided to adopt, we knew nothing about it.  We didn't know what a home study was and we didn't have a clue what orphanage behaviors in post institutionalized children could look like.  So I began to read blogs of people who were in process to adopt or had already adopted once before and were doing it again.  I would find a blog I liked and add it to my blog's sidebar so I could read along and learn.  I appreciated the people who didn't sugar coat things and I appreciate it even more now, because from them I learned the most.  I eventually found a few of the blogs author's on Facebook and connected with them through email and messaging.  Through some of them, I got to experience adoption in Ukraine before we ever went over.

Nothing really could have prepared me for how M would react when we brought her home though.  I wasn't prepared for my reaction to her reaction and it scared the living daylights out of me.  I called the one person I knew who had adopted 3 times.  She immediately said, "Oh that's normal!  I am still falling in love with one of my kids.  Its a daily choice."  I would NEVER have guessed that from just viewing their family from the outside.  She made me feel so much better simply by telling me that I was normal.

As life with our new "normal" went on, I felt increasingly isolated.  M's behaviors didn't just go away.  They got worse.  After dealing with things completely on my own for a year, I finally desperately reached out sort of vaguely on my blog.  My desperation must have come through because another adoptive mom emailed me asking if I was ok.  I was NOT.  She requested that a group of adoptive mom's with special needs kids, add me.  It was like instant relief.  Not only was I not alone, my problems were NOT the worst and they were so similar to some things others were dealing with that it was uncanny.  That group of ladies that I have never met has become my lifeline.  They are the only ones who really understand.  I can vent away on a horrible day or post how proud I am that M could finally stand up by herself and they get it.  I don't have to explain why I feel the way I do because they've all been there.  Without that amazing support group of other moms, I think I would have been top cadet at a loony bin in a few more months.  Together, they helped me figure out what was going on with M and develop strategies to help her.  No judgement.  No advice from people who have never seen the inside of an orphanage.  Just moms who had been there and worked through it before me.  I am proud to call some of them my friends.  Together we have supported each other through what has been the hardest times of our lives; together we have rejoiced when those who walked it, owned it, got through it, and decided to do it all over again.  We all get it.  We get why its so hard and we get why its so worth it.  I would never know these ladies if I had not been struggling.  I would never have been added to that group and I would never have got to read their stories or be a part of their lives.  What was the lowest point in my life turned into one of the greatest blessings.  I would never want to lose the friendships I have gained.

Other friends have come through the therapies that M has needed.  Her PT also has 2 adopted children from Russia and she is another one who just gets what it can be like to be the parent of an adopted child.  I usually would just smile and say, "Great" when people would ask me how M was doing.  I didn't have to do that with her PT.  I was able to explain M's attachment issues and how we needed to proceed with her therapy so that she felt safe yet would comply.  Her PT has turned into one of the people I look forward to seeing each week.  She gets what its like to have a special needs adopted child and just that is enough to make me feel more at ease around her than most people.  After having to defend my positions on a few things with M in the school system to people who did NOT get it, I tend to be tight lipped about some things and very guarded and careful in how I choose my words when explaining things about M.  With her PT, I don't have to do that.  She understands and she respects my wishes as M's mom.

M's OT is another person I also look forward to seeing because she has helped us understand her even more.  I had pieces of a puzzle with M's behavior and abilities that didn't make sense.  She has been able to help us put them together and piece together the puzzle that can be M.  She is another one who does NOT judge me and respects my observations and opinions.  She listens to me and because of that, we have been able to put together therapies for M that have really helped her achieve more in a short time than I thought possible.  Her OT has even gone so far as to say that I am such a great mom that she wishes I could give parenting classes to some of her other parents.  After walking through such a hard time with M for over year, it nearly brought me to tears to have someone recognize how hard I try with her and that it is all because of how much I love her and want to help her succeed in life.  Do I always get it right?  No.  But never hearing someone tell me that they think I'm a great parent leaves a lot of room for self doubt.  Sometimes I joke that M's therapy is also therapy for ME because I get to be around people who understand!

Another group of people that have become my friends have done so AFTER we adopted M.  They are the people who met me around the time that we were in process to bring her home and watched us go through it all.  They are the ones who after seeing us do it, have become increasingly aware of what its like for orphans around the world and are authentically interested in asking me questions to learn more. I appreciate these people so much because there are so few people that really care about what it is we do.  There are people who have offered to help me fundraise, offered free photos of our family while we were hosting, texted me to say they were praying for me after I put my kids back on a plane to Ukraine, and they are the ones who ask me every time they see me, "How much longer till they come back??"  They have seen us walk this path God has put in front of us and they care.  Some of them have even gone a step farther and after seeing us host, have decided to host this summer as well.  That really brings more joy to my heart than I can express in words.  For others to look at us and realize that they can do it too is really what I have hoped for since M touched down and became a U.S. citizen.  Our hope has been to help others realize just how desperate the need is and how they can make a difference.

One of the most unexpected joys I've had was yesterday as I was dropping my kids off to their last day of preschool.  One of my friends asked me, "How do you think V is going to take not coming with his brother for summer hosting?"  First off, that is what I've asked myself since we realized we needed to host D to ensure we could adopt them all together but realized we could not afford to host V as well.  Its been breaking my heart to pieces, and in her heart, she went to the same place I did.  She was worried about my boy too.  I just started crying because some days it seems that no one else cares about him and they certainly don't care that I spend my nights crying tears into my pillow and my days plastering a smile on despite the ache in my heart.  But she did and she promised to pray for me and my little V until we can be together again.  I went around crying most of the day because my heart had been heavy with knowing he couldn't come for summer and hoping he would understand.  Having two sweet friends hug me and tell me that they were praying for me and my little guy was such a relief.  They saw my pain and they didn't patronize me with "Oh he'll be here before you know it."  They recognized that my son is halfway around the world and it makes my heart hurt.

I have come to realize that there are a lot of people in this life who want to be your friend when you are happy and fun to be around.  There are not a lot of people who are willing to be there for you when you are trying to do something ridiculously hard and crying over it.  I feel really blessed to have found a few people that are.

Oh and if you have ever thought about donating to our adoption, now would be a fantastic time.  We are approximately 3 1/2 months from when we hope to travel and we still have to raise about $20K.  Even typing those words makes my head spin BUT I firmly believe that God doesn't bring people halfway just to leave them there.  


ErinL said...

This is so, so very true! I only hope to be counted one day as one of the friends you have met ;).

Mama of 3 said...

Yes ErinL! You & Ellen were the first 2 people to really reach out to me. You guys will always have a special place in my heart even though we have never met <3

We witness a miracle every time a child enters into life; but those who make their journey home across time and miles, growing within the hearts of those who wait to love them,are carried on the wings of destiny; and placed among us by God's very own hands. --Kristi Larson