Going to talk about the good, the bad, the ugly. A little parenting heads-up (as applies to me anyways):
I was thinking about a couple of families who recently made it through court. These families are amazing and I LOVE reading their thoughtful bloggy blogs and took to getting anxious for them to get referrals, court dates and PASS court. In fact when I read the news about one of them passing court today on mobile facebook both me and my mother got choked up about it. My parents, Lucy and I were on our way to a little fishing/boating trip and yeah my mom and I were cheering and tearing up and my dad was shaking his head and Lucy was shouting at us to look at her.
I never really had a wait for referral (45 minutes), and back then had no idea about the court process or when court was so I found out I passed court when I got my travel date. Still, I waited my whole life for a child. I waited anxiously to pass my home study, finish my dossier, get my CIS approval and to travel. I found out Lucy was soooo sick in Ethiopia. I got an update that almost made me pass out, my little 5 month old baby weighed less at 5months then she did when she was referred to me at 2 months old. So yeah, I experienced anxiety, I really thought she was going to die alone in Ethiopia.
As soon as I had her in my arms, got her visa and successfully passed immigration in DC I took a deep breath, had a diet coke and declared in my naive little head that "the worst is over now".
Aside from Lucys 100% effort in every sickness she got, it was true ... babyhood (despite the lack of sleep) was a dream. I loved it. Going back to work pained me, still does but Lucy was easy. Yup, I thought ... easy.
All of a sudden she hit 20ish months and all hell broke Lucy. Suddenly I didn't know what I was doing anymore. I DIDN'T KNOW HOW TO PARENT!!! Ironically my job as a social worker focuses on parenting education. Each day I reluctantly dragged my butt to work and laughed inside my head as I home-visited offering parenting advice. Then I would go home and stare at my little toddler, dumbfounded, in disbelief. MY child was systematically disabling any sense of security I had in my ability to parent her. First the eating, then the sleeping, then the illnesses, the pinching, hitting, biting, screaming, ... ugggh
So here's my warning to you (as I experience it):
When your children are home, and they are settled into your home and lives expect that all of your emotions will be greatly amplified.
1. They will step as close to every ledge, street, steps as possible. If your child is like mine you will soon learn to NOT lunge toward them to save them as it will only cause them to independently jerk back and fall off the ledge, into the street or down the steps and they will look at you like you just pushed them.
2. They will LOVE you so much that they seem to HATE you at times. Such will be the level of trust and the deepness of the relationship you will develop. Good luck not letting this sink your heart every time as you ponder attachment, mental illness ...
3. You will spend a month looking forward to a night away (thanks mom and dad). The chance to sleep in (don't get a puppy), relax, listen to music with swear words ... ahhhh. Then you will find yourself folding their little clothes, vacuuming their room and MISSING them.
4. The doubts. OH THE DOUBTS. Wait until the doubts come. Did I do that right? Am I doing this right? Is this the right choice? What daycare? What school? TV? No TV? Pizza two nights in a row? Time outs? Time ins? Yelling? Food as reward? ugggghhhh
5. Then there is this one. Work hard doing the daily day to day. Exhausted. Get through the day, bedtime ... all of a sudden it occurs to you ... gawwwhhh she's 4. What am I giving her? How am I helping her grow as a girl? As a black girl? As an adopted girl? As a black girl with a white mom? As a child of a single mom? As a child in the world? I mean there are so so many levels and this one is hard because, I don't' think those thoughts left my consciousness for at least the first year. I remember being aware and purposeful a lot of the time. These days ... these days are harder but but in a little over a year I am sending her off to public school and I need to re-focus and give her tools. I imagine a lot of people don't think they'll actually FORGET for a time who they are parenting.
6. There will be a time when you know that they need something that you will be unable to give them. This one stinks.
7. It is astonishing how quickly a little hug, kiss, smile, laugh can undo an entire days worth of stress.
8. You will not know when that last time they fall asleep in your arms will be. This makes me cry. I rocked her to sleep until she was almost two, and occasionally (very occasionally) we'll both be in a place where we need to rock. Each time, I think... maybe this is the last time. Don't be in such a hurry for them to give up rocking to sleep.
9. They will remember and repeat swear words at a much greater rate then any other word. Consider yourself warned.
10. They will make you laugh with intensity, cry with intensity, and ache.
11. News stories about child abuse, kids dying, hunger literally SMACK you in the face, squeezing the breath out of you.
and finally .. at 10:45 on a Friday night you'll find yourself too tired to finish your blog post.
Congratulations on all the new families. I can't wait until you hold and rock your children. I can't wait until you are busy finding the new balance in your lives!