Sunday, June 19, 2011

A little example...

I totally borrowed this from my friend Lori Stark's blog that she used last winter while explaining to her family and friends about bringing home her 4 year old son Markos from Ethiopia. It touched me at the time, and now that I'm watching Ben live it I wanted to share it with you as well.... This is a little of what Ben's life has been like.. and he has no idea that it WON'T happen again.

Immense Loss; Walk a Mile in Baby’s Booties

Imagine for a moment…

You have met the person you've dreamed about all your life. He has every quality that you desire in a spouse. You plan for the wedding, enjoying every free moment with your fiancée. You love his touch, his smell, the way he looks into your eyes. For the first time in your life, you understand what is meant by "soul mate," for this person understands you in a way that no one else does. Your heart beats in rhythm with his. Your emotions are intimately tied to his every joy, his every sorrow.

The wedding comes. It is a happy celebration, but the best part is that you are finally the wife of this wonderful man. You fall asleep that night, exhausted from the day's events, but relaxed and joyful in the knowledge that you are next to the person who loves you more than anyone in the world…the person who will be with you for the rest of your life.

The next morning you wake up, nestled in your partner's arms. You open your eyes and immediately look for his face.

But IT'S NOT HIM! You are in the arms of another man. You recoil in horror. Who is this man? Where is your beloved?

You ask questions of the new man, but it quickly becomes apparent that he doesn't understand you. You search every room in the house, calling and calling for your husband. The new guy follows you around, trying to hug you, pat you on the back,...even trying to stroke your arm, acting like everything is okay.

But you know that nothing is okay. Your beloved is gone. Where is he? Will he return? When? What has happened to him?

Weeks pass. You cry and cry over the loss of your beloved. Sometimes you ache silently, in shock over what has happened. The new guy tries to comfort you. You appreciate his attempts, but he doesn't speak your language-either verbally or emotionally. He doesn't seem to realize the terrible thing that has happened...that your sweetheart is gone.

You find it difficult to sleep. The new guy tries to comfort you at bedtime with soft words and gentle touches, but you avoid him, preferring to sleep alone, away from him and any intimate words or contact.

Months later, you still ache for your beloved, but gradually you are learning to trust this new guy. He's finally learned that you like your coffee black, not doctored up with cream and sugar. Although you still don't understand his bedtime songs, you like the lilt of his voice and take some comfort in it.

More time passes. One morning, you wake up to find a full suitcase sitting next to the front door. You try to ask him about it, but he just takes you by the hand and leads you to the car. You drive and drive and drive. Nothing is familiar. Where are you? Where is he taking you?

You pull up to a large building. He leads you to an elevator and up to a room filled with people. Many are crying. Some are ecstatic with joy. You are confused. And worried.

The man leads you over to the corner. Another man opens his arms and sweeps you up in an embrace. He rubs your back and kisses your cheeks, obviously thrilled to see you.

You are anything but thrilled to see him. Who in the world is he? Where is your beloved? You reach for the man who brought you, but he just smiles (although he seems to be tearing up, which concerns you), pats you on the back, and puts your hand in the hands of the new guy. The new guy picks up your suitcase and leads you to the door. The familiar face starts openly crying, waving and waving as the elevator doors close on you and the new guy.

The new guy drives you to an airport and you follow him, not knowing what else to do. Sometimes you cry, but then the new guy tries to make you smile, so you grin back, wanting to "get along." You board a plane. The flight is long. You sleep a lot, wanting to mentally escape from the situation.

Hours later, the plane touches down. The new guy is very excited and leads you into the airport where dozens of people are there to greet you. Light bulbs flash as your photo is taken again and again. The new guy takes you to another guy who hugs you. Who is this one? You smile at him. Then you are taken to another man who pats your back and kisses your cheek. Then yet another fellow gives you a big hug and messes your hair.

Finally, someone (which guy is this?) pulls you into his arms with the biggest hug you've ever had. He kisses you all over your cheeks and croons to you in some language you've never heard before.

He leads you to a car and drives you to another location. Everything here looks different. The climate is not what you're used to. The smells are strange. Nothing tastes familiar, except for the black coffee. You wonder if someone told him that you like your coffee black.

You find it nearly impossible to sleep. Sometimes you lie in bed for hours, staring into the blackness, furious with your husband for leaving you, yet aching from the loss. The new guy checks on you. He seems concerned and tries to comfort you with soft words and a mug of warm milk. You turn away, pretending to go to sleep.

People come to the house. You can feel the anxiety start to bubble over as you look into the faces of all the new people. You tightly grasp the new guy's hand. He pulls you closer. People smile and nudge one other, marveling at how quickly you've fallen in love. Strangers reach for you, wanting to be a part of the happiness.

Each time a man hugs you, you wonder if he will be the one to take you away. Just in case, you keep your suitcase packed and ready. Although the man at this house is nice and you're hanging on for dear life, you've learned from experience that men come and go, so you just wait in expectation for the next one to come along.

Each morning, the new guy hands you a cup of coffee and looks at you expectantly. A couple of times the pain and anger for your husband is so great that you lash out, sending hot coffee across the room, causing the new guy to yelp in pain. He just looks at you, bewildered. But most of the time you calmly take the cup. You give him a smile. And wait. And wait. And wait.

--Written by Cynthia Hockman-Chupp, analogy courtesy of Dr. Kali Miller

The blog post I haven't written....

So... last you knew we cleared embassy. Since then the flurry of preparation for Ben's arrival happened, the epic journey to get Ben happened, and the having of Ben here at home has been happened. It's been happening now for over 2 weeks :-)

Yes, all the happenings of the trip are safely typed, at least most of them, in a word document I updated while we were there. Lots of pictures have happened... lots of Facebook status updates have happened.. I will get all that put up on here moving forward in life. I think.

Even knowing where to begin is hard. Do we talk about all the great stuff? Do I unload the extreme challenges? Do I even attempt to explain the fact that I am SITTING here able to accomplish ANYTHING at all is a small miracle? The fact that I even want to spend this blissful moment doing THIS and anything more than laying in the floor stretching my back is a miracle.

So, I have learned from my sweet saintly adoptive girlfriends and from my own experience that knowing to whom and how much you should share is tricky. People are full of advice... and I'm REALLY tired so being gracious 100% of the time is more challenging than I would like to admit. Unless you have adopted a terrified little person....... well lets just say I understand that advice is well meaning, but a lecture on why my 3 year old should be potty trained right now isn't timely? Or why I should just remember what he has been through... as if I didn't have a clue :-)

I will trust that anybody reading this blog must love me, and must love my family. I'm not really a big enough deal to attract total strangers.

So we'll out with the biggest point first: you think you can prepare, but you CAN'T. You just can't prepare for what trauma and loss is going to look like to a little person who has spent 95% of their lifespan away from you. And this isn't just some little person. This is a little person that I LOVE and prayed for and worried about daily for a long time. And I'M the one who took him away from his life. Although growing up in Care Center #2 in Ethiopia is his only alternative life, it still doesn't mean I don't feel like a giant jerk for ripping him away from where he seemed to be happy. Or at least understood.

I don't have biological children, but I DO have another adoptive child who I was able to parent at Ben's current age of 12 months... BUT the difference being that Lucas had been home long enough to understand English and to know the routine and trust that the routine and consistency and Mommy were always going to be there. I didn't have to toddler train and console simultaneously. Furthermore, even if I had had to do that, Lucas was my one and only. If he needed to be held? Fine. If he needed to be up at random times? Sure. I could sleep when he slept. But THIS... this is hard because I need to maintain order and consistency for a child who is thoroughly Sibley-fied and is still learning about life at the age of 3, but I need to be 100% available at all moments to console a terrified little person. A BIG terrified little person. A big terrified person can really kill your back, break some eardrums, give you a bloody nose, give themselves a bloody nose,and climb you with their fingernails because they are strong enough to do it. The 3 year old wonders why the terrified little person isn't getting a time out, because that is only fair.

Yes, I just listed some sad things... but what I want you to understand is that I COMPLETELY understand why he is reacting this way. Why shouldn't he? He has lost everything. EVERYTHING. Everyone and every thing that was ever familiar or made sense... and the thing that makes the most sense to him in his new environment is ME and he trusts me most to tell me so. The first few days in Ethiopia and when we first got home he was in shock. Smiles happened now and then... but he mostly shut his eyes to block out the overwhelming shock of it all. Now that we have been home two weeks... it makes sense that he has to grieve that just maybe he isn't going "home" today. Maybe his nanny who knows him much better than me isn't going to show up today and take him back to where the world makes sense.

Probably the most surprising reality that would surprise anyone who has seem him publically is that being home is the scary place. Home is where there is only one person to meet his needs with no back up plan. Home is where he could possibly be alone, or 5 feet away from that one person for 2 seconds thus igniting extreme panic. At least in public, his favorite person could walk away some some lady somewhere would surely come meet his needs... but in this house he looks around and it seems like he is WAY too close to being alone for his liking. He has never been in a scenario with less than 8 kids or so sleeping in a room and less than a few nannies at any given time for his entire life.

At church, or a family party, or when family is visiting, he will get down on the floor and play after assessing the situation. He would still very much rather be with Mom, but he will take this compromise... but at home? Not even being on the floor holding my pant leg is good enough. What if he lets go and I walk away and he is alone? When he has let me go for a moment and I keep talking as I move about you see this scream of panic and frantic walking/power crawl to get to where I am as soon as possible.

Understandable? Yes. Exhausting? More than you would think.

The Ergo carrier has saved me. It still hurts after awhile, but it puts most of the wait on my hips. I can put him on my back and still have the use of my arms and can do some housework and it works great at the store. It helps me "do" some life.. but it also means hauling 30lbs at all times which is more than 25% of my actual self.

We have made only slight peace with the high chair.. cause food happens there.. just don't think of moving more than 12 inches away from him while he is in it.

We hate the car seat. We grab hair and clothing and anything to keep from being put IN the car seat. Once driving it becomes almost okay, because he can at least see me and I can't get out of it while its moving. Once parked, I might be able to get out, thus it is not acceptable.

Strollers= dislike

I have lost 5lbs and the Ergo pushes on my pants anyway. We have had 2 incidents of de-pantsing at almost very bad times.

So how was I able to sit here and type? After a few days of adjusting to Lucas' new freakishly early wake up time and staying up later pattern and trying unsuccessfully to let Ben sleep when he seems tired... we finally tried keeping Ben up a little later than we should until 11am, feeding him and laying him down, and then waiting a bit to put Lucas down thus giving some blissful overlap. Once Ben gives up the fight to keep me in the room and finally rests he is out cold which is SOOOOOO helpful. Lucas knows the nap time expectations and welcomes lunch time alone with Mommy.

The first 2 days this magical plan worked were life changing. I could eat :-) I could speak to my husband if he were here. We could hold hands and assure each other that this was all going to be okay. Just having a few moments to BREATHE.. even if for a short time... to just have a cup of tea and stand in the kitchen to gear up for whatever will come my way for the rest of the day is amazing. There are moments when I have to call on God and repeat James 1:27 back to him... regarding being blessed for caring for orphans in their distress.. and how hard I'm trying to do that. I don't think of my children as "orphans" because they no longer are, however I do think that my sons have a special place in God's heart and sometimes I need reassurance and God's strength to do my job.

There is so much more to say, and will be said, but in this moment, the fact that I was able to eat a little food, and clean the bathroom, and redo my ponytail before attempting this means that I CAN do life, even only little pieces at a time. It's not that there is two of them, its that one of them has sssooooo much to grieve, and it's so hard to watch.