God is still using Dr. Karyn Purvis’ bible study guide as a huge blessing in my life, mainly in reminding me of concepts, facts, and approaches I learned pre-adoption that now need to be applied post-China. One of the most important points I’ve been reminded of is the need of adopted children to develop trust, self-worth, and self-efficacy. As a parent to Caroline, my role right now is to help her believe “I am safe, I am precious, I am heard.” (page 12 of Created to Connect)
Through awareness of Caroline’s history and needs, Dr. Purvis teaches that I can, with God’s help, lead her to healing and restoration. The challenging part is creating a balance of nurture and structure, and discerning which is appropriate for each situation. From a practical standpoint, I’ve realized that I’m more likely to be compassionate and employ the best approach when I’ve: (a) prayed that day; (b) had enough personal time to be refreshed. In fact, a child psychologist I once consulted said that the four most important things moms can do to maximize their impact is to get good rest, exercise, spend time with the Lord in prayer and study, and have an hour of personal time each day. Unfortunately, I tend to feel guilty when I take time to read, nap, or do something I enjoy. Because I can’t help but think of the bills I need to send, or the 4-day old emails I need to return, or the friends I need to check on. Then I’ll get the bright idea that I can cram all things into one day. So I make iced coffee in the afternoon, drink myself silly with caffeine, and try to stay up as late as I can still be productive. This lasts until 1:30 pm the next day when I crash on the couch during naptime and I lose valuable hours in the day to achieve the very things I hoped to get done.
Does anyone else feel the same way? This isn’t a complaint by any means…it’s just a question of how to balance everything and make personal time a priority when you feel selfish in doing so. At some point, a ball has to be dropped. And even when I’ve succeeded in simplifying our lives, the to do list seems endless. While driving the kids around to lessons has been a relatively new experience this summer, I actually enjoy the guaranteed down time that comes along with it. For instance, during Caroline’s piano lesson (the toddlers were at summer MDO), I had an hour to read and do my quiet time. I think I may like this development in our schedule!
Anyway….moving on! Caroline and I have had some really fun moments during the last few days. Sometimes I am so overwhelmed with fondness for her. And what do you do when you feel love for your small child? You scoop them up, embrace them with a bear hug, and cover them with kisses and zerberts. I’m not sure that would go over well with my 12-year-old. So instead, I restrain my zeal and just look at her with crazed eyes and a goofy grin and hope she can sense how big my heart feels because she’s in our lives.
One of the challenges of adopting an older child is connecting her with friends, assessing talents and skills, fitting her into existing groups, etc. These are things that typically happen organically as your children grow up. In Caroline’s case, we’re essentially grafting her in to social, academic, and church contexts and opportunities. And with all the options and connections that have come up, I feel like I’ve got a bunch of puzzle pieces that I need to figure how to fit together. Does that make sense? Carter and Grace’s involvement in all these areas will happen naturally as they grow and develop and make friends each year. There is a great website that friend Kelly started last year called We are Grafted In, and it’s a great adoption resource. I never realized before now what a great title she chose!
We feel blessed that, despite the challenges, God is truly grafting Caroline into our family, and she seems to be taking to our roots. Kelly wrote an incredible blog post on grafting as a metaphor for adoption…you can read it here.
Have we really been home THREE weeks today? Impossible! 🙂