We spent Scout and Jem’s adoption anniversary at the beach. We didn’t plan it that way; it just happened to work out as the best timing for our family vacation.
A year ago, at adoption finalization, I couldn’t begin to imagine going on vacation with these two. By that time, they’d been with us six months — the hardest six months of my life. In addition to personal issues unrelated to the kids (including the death of my Dad), we were dealing with the children’s rages, sleep problems, potty-training regression, lying and stealing… and although I was committed to sticking it out, I really couldn’t get my head above water. I didn’t know how I’d make it through each day, and surely didn’t try to think very far ahead because it was too overwhelming. I hoped things would get better, but I couldn’t imagine the next decade or so of my life if things didn’t improve.
One of the best things I did during this time was to journal what was happening. Mostly I wrote in a little line-a-day five year journal. When I started that journal in 2013, I had no idea we’d have so many changes that year, including a foster adoption. Now I’m on the second line of each page, and it’s neat to see what we were doing on the same day last year. In looking back over those journal entries, I remember how hard it was, and how much better it is now. That’s immensely helpful to me on the hard days because I’m reminded that they aren’t all hard now. In fact, most days are pretty good — but there was a time I was begging God for just one day that went mostly okay so I’d have hope for the future.
We’ve come a long way.
I still struggle with in particular with Scout. If I could plan and orchestrate every waking moment of her day, she’d be an absolute angel. But given ten minutes left to her own devices, she almost always gets herself in trouble because she doesn’t think before she acts. I’ve written before about our polar-opposite personalities, but in short, she changes the dynamics of everything around her and flat out exhausts me mentally.
Although our bond is still not what I hope it will be someday, parenting her no longer feels like a never-ending babysitting job for someone else’s child. Over the past year, I’ve talked with other moms who struggle in relationship with their children and I’ve finally learned in more than a head-knowledge sort of way that struggling in relationship with a child does not indicate poor parenting or lack of love on either side — and does not depend on how the child came into the family, whether through birth, adoption, or otherwise.
And there are more positives to celebrate:
- We’ve gotten to experience so many firsts, from first lost baby tooth to a whole slew of firsts on our recent beach trip.
- We still have run-of-the-mill kid meltdowns, but no more rages.
- [Almost] no more daytime potty accidents, plus one is out of nighttime pull-ups, and the other is making progress in that direction!
- We’ve seen big improvements with sleeping, and we’ve figured out how to manage our nighttime explorer.
- Biggest of all, we see healthy inter-family relationships developing and can tell they’re beginning to know what “forever” feels like.
Like I’ve said before, I refuse to candy-coat adoption. There are days I have to remind myself why we chose this path — but it is worth it. And to all of you who have read along throughout our journey (as well as those who have only recently joined us), I’d like to say thank you for every encouraging comment and/or prayer for our family; your words have made a difference.