Let's start with a few things we knew going in, followed by what we have learned since April:
- God had a specific child that He intended for us. A friend told me something in random conversation years ago that I have never forgotten--we were standing in the kitchen where we had probably either made a giant mess or were seeking coffee and silence--"You aren't waiting for just any child. You are waiting for your child." How right she was. Yes, our adoption process was much longer and confusing than most. But God knew. He knew she wasn't here yet. And once she was here, He knew it wasn't quite time. How thankful I am that we didn't give up on waiting. How grateful I am for those who prayed in those hard moments of decision for us and who said, "If God isn't saying no, then keep going." How precious are those moments with people who were not afraid of the tears and the questions and the hurt and who simply said, "Yes, I'll pray with you and for you." How beautiful that God always gave us the next step, even if that was all we could see.
- We knew the transition time would be a quieter stage, that we wouldn't be getting out as much for various reasons, that lots of people in a small space at once would be a little overwhelming, and that we would all need time to bond together as a family unit. I read all the books, went to the conferences--what this 'should' look like is all stored up there in my brain. What we didn't know, or at least I didn't, is that it is also a really lonely time. Sometimes excruciatingly so. My adoptive mama friends have confirmed to me that this is something quite a few of them experienced, as well, but that doesn't make it any less difficult. I am sure people are trying to respect our current phase, but I was not really prepared for the quietness and the lack of interaction that seems to have occurred in many areas. So we are also learning to be more intentional people. That may look like meeting up at the park, inviting people over for dinner, or randomly texting a friend and driving to a tiny bakery for gluten-free donuts on Saturday morning (that was an excellent decision, by the way). It takes a little bit of effort. But in order to not drown, I'm working on grabbing the hands of those who are willing to wade through it with us. Because we need them.
- We knew that going back to the 'under 3' age range would be different, especially since our other two are much older than they were when we started this adventure. Good. Grief. We are also older and tired and are now super happy to have these big kids because, guess what? They can do things! For example, "Please help me find my coffee. Or just reach up there and get it for me because I have no more energy until I drink more of it ." While the timing was different than we thought starting out, I know God is not surprised by that, either. So while it may look and feel odd to one day have a kindergartner whose siblings are completing and beginning high school, it's ok. Victor and I may have more gray hair than we'd like, but that's 'in' these days so we'll be fine. Is it bizarre that my oldest niece is about to have her third baby and I now have a toddler and ask her which diapers to buy? Yep--only because I was ten years old when she was born and, wow, that's weird. But it's also a beautiful way for God to weave a story.
- Speaking of the tired part--yes, we knew toddlers were busy people. What we seemed to have forgotten was just how busy. As in, they stop moving only when you feed them or they go to sleep. People keep saying I look smaller. Well, that's because I've lost a pant size. Forget Whole 30--try Colombia 17! Get a little altitude sickness, have a crazy schedule every day where anything at all could happen, walk everywhere (that part was great), get less sleep, and chase a toddler. You, too, will be thinner, my friends! I also forgot that you need to feed a growing toddler all. day. long. Because not only do they need three meals, they need snacks, too! And they should all be healthy or you will be judged by the Parent Police. Honestly, it's really the same as feeding Grant--I just have to be more creative with the food selections and she can't serve herself. Thankfully, Violet is not a picky eater and actually does a little dance at the end of every meal because she is so happy with her food. Yeah, it's pretty cute. She is also an excellent sleeper, so while she may be non-stop during the day at least she rests! As do we...and getting a tight-as-she-can-squeeze hug in the mornings definitely makes it all worth it.
Even at the end of a long day, this face is the sweetest.
- We knew our families would be supportive and would love all of our children. We didn't know how special it would be to see it happening. My niece (aforementioned almost-ready-for-baby niece) and I met at the park one morning and she saw a friend of hers walking. Her oldest daughter said to this friend, "And this is my cousin, Violet. She was just adopted from Colombia."
That isn't the only example, but that one made my heart smile. Family is a gift. How incredible that my precious girl has been so sweetly welcomed into ours.
- We knew Natalie and Grant would be wonderful to a younger sibling. Maybe because I do have quite a tribe of fantastic nieces and nephews and there have always been kids (ahem, people) older and younger than them around, they have a pretty good handle on how to treat little ones. What we didn't know was just how wonderful it would be to experience it. While we do appreciate their help and their overall fortitude (do you know how many hours we spent in the back of a taxi in Bogota?), what I love most is the way we get to see them interact with their sister. That bond seemed to happen immediately, and it is amazing to watch and to listen to them all laugh together at the simplest things. They can never say their little sister lacks personality, that's for sure, and neither do they. I asked Natalie one morning if it was strange to have a little one in the house. She replied, "Not really. It's just like she's always been here." And that is so true.
Since that is enough words and we do all like a few good, happy photos, I'll leave you with these:
|Bubbles are always a must. And they are much better with a crowd.|
|At encuentro, they told us she was very afraid of 'shower time' and really did not like water when they would do activities. One of our given goals was to give her 'new experiences with water.' I think she's made pretty good progress!|
|So far, the only people outside of my immediate family who can hold me are Mrs. Jame and mi amigo, Martin. Mrs. Jame bribes me with cake and combs my hair. She's a keeper. I am pretty sure Martin is one of my people. Maybe he is the first Nigerian-Colombian? Either way, he's pretty cool!|
|A girl has places to go. Hasta luego!|