on a serious note…

Well, I have not had time to write many of my feelings down over the past two weeks. To be honest, I wanted to wait until my head cleared a bit so I was not writing my experience purely based on emotion. I also know there are readers here and there that have adopted or are thinking about sibling adoption so I want to be as fair and accurate as possible. I am finally caught up with posting pictures, so I’ll give it a go.

We have officially had the children for two weeks now.  And I can say that I have not cried since last Wednesday–so I guess that is a full week now. The entire first week I cried every single night. The first coupe of nights I cried because 1. I couldn’t believe this was real and 2. I hated the thought of being at Zuetana for six weeks. I felt myself starting to panic.

After we moved into the apartment, our children’s behavior began to quickly deteriorate. We knew it was coming, we knew to expect it, and we were as prepared as possible. However, that doesn’t mean that it made dealing with issues any easier. It quite literally took all three of us for three straight days to manage. I am not talking about emotional support–I am talking about physically restraining and managing two or three semi-violent melties at once. And, we are not talking the typical, “Sally, go to room or you will get a spanking,” or “I think you need a timeout,” scenarios. We are talking three days of pure hell, if you will.

I remember one day last week I had Juan P. locked in his bedroom so he would not bite and pinch me while he calmed down. He was kicking on the door and screaming for his sister. At the same time, I had Daniela locked in my bathroom/closet with me while she was melting down and screaming at the tip-top of her lungs for her brother and trying to hit me in the face. Oh yeah, let us not forget that Adam was out front holding Daniel down at the same time because he wanted to watch cartoons instead of obeying our regularly scheduled quiet time. That has been the only time so far that Daniel has tried to physically fight with one of us. Once Adam got Danny quieted down, he came back to rescue me and check on Juan P. who had since fallen asleep on his mattress. Daniela was curled up under our sink sulking so I was able to open the door and lay on my bed for a moment. At that point, I just cried and cried and cried on Adam’s shoulder.

I was crying, as I had been for a few days, because I knew Adam’s and my mom’s time in Bogota was quickly coming to an end. I was/am not capable of holding three children down at once. It is not possible, and that is what scared me. Also, (I promised to always be honest on this blog) I was crying because, although I have never thought of giving the children back, I did have the awful, albeit justified, thought that it is absolutely NOT fair that this is how we had to create our family. Please do not kick me off the adoptions forums–I am just being honest. It is not fair to me or the children that we were not together from the beginning, that they are not flesh of my flesh, that they have had trauma as a part of their tiny existences, and that I do not have the ability to nurture a child from its infancy. Nothing about adoption or fostering (and fertility treatments) is fair–to us or our children. That makes me angry. And after visiting the orphanage yesterday–it makes me even more angry!

That day was the worst day so far. I think I lost two pounds of sweat. :) And it has gotten progressively better since–really! I mean we are not talking horror story here. For the most part our time with the children is super positive. They have begun to bond with each of us. Neither of us has been rejected. And all of the children love to give and receive affection. You have all seen the pictures, and a lot of you have heard or seen the kids on the webcam. They are genuinly happy, special and amazing kids. I don’t know how they came out of the orphanage so very healthy and vibrant. They are all smart, talented, and are able to take pride in a job well done. Daniel and Ezzy thrive on schoolwork–Daniela is getting better every day. And we generally can venture into public without any major mishaps.

I know some of you have been begging for the realities:

Right now, Juan P.’s room has only a mattress–no pillow, blanket, books or anything. He longs for mommy. And when I stay in the room during one of his tantrums, he feeds off it and it gets worse. So I have started explaining why I am leaving the room, and then I do until he calms down. It seems to work better, and is a lot less violent. I hate using the word violent because we are not talking “problem child,” at least I do not think so. Juan P. is the smallest and so he has no memory or understanding of what it is like to actually be a part of a family. It is a huge adjustment for him, and he has gotten so much better this past week. He goes to his room a lot less. Thank heavens for that.

Daniela got all of her belongings including her clothes taken from her two nights ago. She is able to earn back one pair of clothes of my choosing and one personal item every day if she goes to bed without a tantrum. So far it is working–our little princess’s currency was not hard to figure out. She has been so good the past couple of days. And she was perfect for Professor Mario today.

Esmeralda is acting out a little more lately, but still not like the others. And she cracks me up. Yesterday, Adam had to literally drag her home over his shoulders as she kicked and screamed (I tried, but kept dropping her). Maybe 20 minutes after putting her in her room, I went back to check on her, and she had cleaned her entire room–even making Daniela’s bed–because she knew she had done something very wrong by walking away and not listening to me. She is a pleaser through and through.

Daniel has such potential. But he is also learning that being a part of family is not all fun and games. We have rules and expectations. We have consequences, good and bad. We love each other, and we do not hurt each other. And when mom and dad ask for something to be done, it is not a request, we expect that it gets done. (Adam learned “it’s not a request, it’s a command” in Spanish the other day–and he thinks it is hilarious to use it on the kids.) Daniel is adjusting to that. For so long he has been able to run wild, or should I say free, in the orphanage. He is fairly amiable considering his rough start. But he has never had a mother and father that demand respect. He is learning, but it is slow. Daniel’s favorite thing to do is pout. He is such a good pouter. I hope he grows out of soon because he has so much to offer this world.  I see it in his eyes.

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This process has not been more difficult or challenging than expected. I would say that it is right where Adam and I thought it would be. We are in it for the long haul. But sometimes our family and friends catch us right down in the mire. We promise that we are okay, and things are going well. We have not had a single thought of turning back or giving up. 80% of our day is filled with joy and fulfillment. After visiting the orphanage yesterday, I would say that working through behavior issues with my children is an honor and privilege. I want them to grow into this family and LOVE it. I want them to know that everything we have done and continue to do for them is done out of love. We are very very firm. We know we have to be right now. We stick to our schedule. We stick to what we say we will do. We stick to our consequences. And we are very consistent with it. That has been our only saving grace through this storming stage of building our family. We have had the unfortunate pleasure of time to observe other families and situations to see how we want our family to be run. Hopefully, our children will be better for it.

One more note, after doing this for two weeks I believe that not everyone can do this. And I don’t mean that in a “rach, you’re so awesome” kind of way. Before actually being in the thick of it, I truly believed that all the well-meaning people who told me they could not do it really did not believe what they were saying. I mean, we are all put into circumstances that stretch us. And sometimes just because we do not WANT to do something doesn’t mean we CAN’T do something. But now I know that really truly…not just anyone can take on three, four, or five children at once. The last two weeks has taken two very in-tune, very devoted, very patient partners. (And one full-time grandma to keep the house running) And we are only at the beginning of this familial journey. If I had a different personality, or if I had a different husband, or if I was not 100% committed to this forever, I would already be back in Las Vegas enjoying the emptiness of my home.

But we are still here! Yesterday, the children’s psychologist at the orphanage asked if we had any thought at all of sending the children, or even two of them, back. Adam answered for both of us and said, “No. Not seriously, anyway.” :) Although it has been challenging and very hard work, when the children are all laying on the bed snuggled up in our arms before bed, there is no question that this is what we want…even if there are moments when I question what we have done!

We know that the work we are doing is far more important than the comfort of the childless life we have left behind. We continue to be grateful for the opportunity.

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12 Responses to on a serious note…

  1. Shauna says:

    Wow! Rachel, you and Adam are awesome. I’m amazed at your attitude and determination. And I admire you for it. You are constantly in my thoughts and prayers.

  2. Valerie says:

    Rachel, I also admire you guys so much! I, honestly, could not do it! You are incredible people and our lives are better for knowing you. (Don’t worry, some days I threaten to send Carter back too!)

  3. xraymom62 says:

    Adam and Rachel,

    You’re doing a great job. And you’re right adopting more than one child at a time is not for everyone. It is alot of work and from our experience it will continue to be that way. Although with our boys it seems to have worked out that only one of them needs dealing with at a time now. So nice of them to take turns! :) But, when they’re having a great day, it is so much fun! And when they lie in bed asleep at night you wonder how they could have done and said the things they did earlier in the day. I need that time every night to look at their angelic faces so that I can start all over the next day.
    Keep up with following the schedule, meaning what you say and following the rules you have set up closely – it will pay off. I have so enjoyed watching your familiy come together. Thanks for letting us follow along.
    Karen
    http://www.baker2ndtimearound.blogspot.com

  4. Jaime Lynne says:

    Thank you for sharing the light and the dark, the good, the bad and the ugly. You are right… not just anybody could do what you are doing. I am grateful there are people like you and Adam who DO do it! I am grateful you have shared so much of this with the rest of it. I am grateful for you!

  5. isockermom says:

    Well as I wipe the tears from my eyes because I totally understand how you feel. Although I adopted my Colombian daughter when we was 9 months I experienced some of the same feelings. She was a failure to thrive baby because of the suggestion she was but into. She cried and cried and I cried along with her. That awful thought of stopping the adoption to crossed my mind. However, things did get better and I look at my 14 year old baby today and know that bringing her home was what I was suppose to do. In my heart, as I start this journey for number 3 the 15 year old boy we met through KidSave this summer I know that this is what we are suppose to do. You have confirmed that with your post. God Bless all of you and please email me directly when you have time. isockermom@aol.com

  6. wendia says:

    You are sharing the realities of sibling adoptions… I remember too well of the tantrums in the room in Florencia. Andrew was our most difficult, and Tatiana was VERY protective, and would often hit us when we had to isolate or restrain Andrew from hitting Diego. Let me just say, hang in there, it gets better! That adjustment period is difficult… the tantrums are hard, but once you get back in the states…I promise it will be so much better!

    I don’t think we were all meant to build our families in the same way… if that was the case, these precious kiddos that we’ve been entrusted with wouldn’t have a mami or papi… You, Rachel and Adam, are special people. It takes a special person to adopt, and I thank God for people like that -who are willing to stand up and be a mami and papi to those who have been left behind –for whatever reason… I think we, Ben and I are so blessed by our 3 Colombian jewels…and am so glad we adopted! We did have moments where we laughed sarcastically and said, “No turning back…no turning back” or “there’s no return policy…” It is hard, and that is no joke initially…but hang on it gets better!

    We’re rooting you on from Mississippi! Love the Wood Family!

  7. I appreciate your honesty. It helps those of us out there in the world that must decide, is this something for me? Love ya tons.

  8. Gina DeMarco says:

    Rach, you are right is not fair all the pain and suffering you and Adam have had to go through to have your family. It is not fair that your little ones are going through so much and did not have you from the start. I admire your courage and strength. I love the fact that while this is by no means easy you have are able to go ahead, push through, because you know the worth of these precious souls Heavenly Father has given you. May our loving Heavenly Father continue to bless you. All of you are in our prayers…that things will continue to progress day by day, that the Spirit will continue to guide, love and trust continue to grow and that all of you will be safe and sound very soon. Love you guys.

  9. Gina DeMarco says:

    Okay, that was suppose to be home safe and sound very soon. Love you guys!

  10. basford family says:

    You are one of the strongest women I know Rach and marrying Adam has made you one of the strongest couples I know. So if anyone can do this it is the two of you. I wouldn’t expect to hear anything other than the truth from you Rach that is what makes you, you. I think that you and Adam are spot on with the structure it has to happen for these kids to have the life they deserve. Love y’all!

  11. rlwilson1213 says:

    Thank you for keeping an honest blog. It is refreshing to read about real life. You and Adam are amazing parents with amazing kids. Thanks for sharing both the good and bad. I hope I get to meet them and Rachel and Logan can play with them.

  12. babyltx says:

    Wow, that WAS honest, and real. Overall, that is how kids are but you guys are having to get used to them all at one time instead of getting used to them one by one. Mixed with a communication barrier, learning how to be a family, getting to know them, teaching them how to behave,…yep,…you have your hands full. It all makes sense. I am so glad your mom went with you and I am sure she is so glad she could be there to help. What would we do without our mothers for these life changing experiences??? You guys will be so blessed both because you have done a hard hard thing to give little children some parents of their own, and because you have these special little kids to love and take care of. Everything that is worth it is hard right? Do they at least sleep through the night so you aren’t dragging in the morning? Please tell me yes! :) Keep on keeping on, strong couple! (It’s always pure survival when a baby comes home to us and I see this as no different…survival mode!)

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