***So, I truly think the trip to Ethiopia was awesome and wonderful!! My only worry was leaving my 4 other children behind...and when my hubby decided he should stay home..well..then I had nothing else to worry about!! I headed to Ethiopia on a Saturday morning with my big sister, Kelly...and well..we had a GREAT TIME!! She knew not to touch or even look at LL too long...cause we were going to be BONDING!! :) So, it was just the two of us the entire trip....Once Almaz handed LL to me....I was in love and I wasn't putting her back down. Now this was very similar to HOW I DEALT WITH MY BIO NEW BORNS...I was very much a BABY HOG...I didn't want anyone else to hold my babies, help me with them, or to really even touch them...and that pretty much includes my hubby too...I never wanted him to get up at night or to change a diaper..cause I honestly wanted to do it all my self...Yes, crazy I know!! :) Control issue there, maybe?? Hmmmm, Maybe!! :) So......after 4 bio babies..(and I FELT the same way over all 4)..I knew I'd be a GREAT adoptive Momma!!!
***So, I was given LL...and well...I just never put her back down...I lugged her around Africa never letting anyone else touch or hold her basically. I slept with her...took her in the bathroom if I was going, and attached her to my body with a sling and there she stayed!! The trip was wonderful!! I got more sleep in Ethiopia than I ever get back home with my 4 other little ones...so I actually came back home feeling GREAT!! I napped in Ethiopia when she did..and she slept better ONLY getting up a few times a night THAN my George was doing back home!! I hadn't slept through the night in YEARS...so getting up with LL was a breeze..I was very much used to it!! So this gets me to WHY DO I THINK OUR ADOPTION AND BONDING WAS SO EASY/SUCCESSFUL??
1. I was already in the midst of babies, diapers, sleepless nights, no showers, exhaustion with my other 4...LL just mixed right into it all...I find people have a hard time with adoption/birthing a new child WHEN THEY HAD GOTTEN OUT OF THE BABY STAGE AND TRIED TO RETURN BACK TO IT!!! When you are right in the thick of it already...adding another one just doesn't make that big of a difference!!
2. I had already birthed a "highly sensitive", "colicky" , "high maintenance" baby ONCE BEFORE...I was determined that NO ONE could be any harder than that experience...and well...LL was just EASY compared to my past experiences. I'd also birthed a sick baby that was hospitalized and was taken by ambulance from her sicknesses as an infant..and well...I was mentally prepared for a sick, screaming baby if that was what came my way...BUT...it didn't!! LL seemed to like me from day one!! She wasn't a screamer...she was actually kind of funny and smiley!! She seemed to LOVE all the attention she was getting..and well...I really liked her too!! Oh, and she was VERY healthy too...no hospital stays or weekly doctor visits like I'd done in the past with one of my bio babies!! So, already...things were easier than what I'd dealt with in the past!! Perspective is everything!!
3. Ok, Ladies...this will be the hard one for ya....You must reach in deep and find your "Laid Back Bone"!! I know...some of you are thinking YOU JUST DON'T HAVE ONE!!! But, i promise you do....Instead of getting stressed at the situation of being in a third world country and up to your eyeballs with baby poop and bottles and no water, no electricity (we seriously had none all week), no food, no hot showers, no computers or phones...LEARN TO LAUGH AT IT ALL!! I LOVED experiencing such a place cause I knew it might not ever happen again!! And, I hear all the time, "Oh, I just can't go with out my sleep"...Oh, really you can!! I used to think the same thing...and I promise your body will adjust..and you can go on way less sleep than you think you can!! You will survive!! Now, doing it with a good attitude might be the challenge though!! :)
4. Ladies, STOP BEATING YOURSELF UP!! Ok, so I find that most people having a hard time with their adoption experience is because THEY ARE PUTTING SO MUCH PRESSURE ON THEMSELVES!! I hear things like, "Oh, NO i'm failing....I don't feel LOVE at first sight..I feel like my child is a stranger" Ok, so WHO CARES!! YOU will eventually feel something for your child ONE DAY...so..as the professionals say: FAKE IT UNTIL ITS REAL!! You won't be able to NOT LOVE a child that is attached to your body 24 hrs. a day after a few weeks...For some people, it just takes time...AND THAT IS OK!!! I have so many friends that didn't feel a thing for their new borns and called me to ask me IF THEY WERE CRAZY!! No...this is normal for some people...Some people really need to spend the time with their child whether birthed or adopted before some day waking up and realizing "Hey, I kind of LIKE you now!! " Which leads me to:
5. Raising Children is just HARD whether you birth them or adopt them....I have talked MORE friends OFF the fence after giving birth than I've ever done in the adoption world. We as American Citizens are just selfish and spoiled...there is nothing harder than realizing that THE WORLD DOESN'T REVOLVE AROUND US ANYMORE!! It revolves around this new person in your life...Again..some people handle this with ease...others FREAK OUT and really resist this new way of life...And, again...everything levels out eventually: The new mom gets in a groove...the mom going from one to two learns how to juggle...the mom who births a screaming baby that won't stop while two other toddlers stare at ya wanting your attention EVENTUALLY learns to calm the screaming baby!!! Everything CALMS down eventually and it is just learning to smile during the difficult times and ALWAYS praying to the Lord asking HIM to give you the skills to get through the hard times with GRACE!!
3. Just REALIZE that you don't know what your getting whether you birth a child or adopt a child!! All of my 5 children look different, act different and react differently to the same situation put before them. It is just the way of the world. You may birth a screamer or adopt a screamer...You may birth an easy child or adopt an easy child....Either way....that child is YOURS..and I promise you that God has a plan to help your GROW through the difficult times...and well...we could all use some spiritual growth in our life...so take it, accept it, smile and move on!!
4. So, my hubby said once that " I " just thought LL was easy because I was SO used to kids now and "IF" someone else had adopted her that they probably would have thought she was "hard"!! What...my LL hard?? NO WAY HUBBY!! :) Ok, so he meant that she isn't perfect...BUT SHE'S SO NORMAL!! She, from day one, LOVED for me to hold her all the time, SCREAMED very dramatically and could break glass if she didnt' get her way, didn't sleep through the night for the first 7 months home, and LOVES to make huge messes to get a reaction out of us!! She's gone through her "hitting" stage, her "throwing her self back" stage, etc. BUT all this is normal...She acts just like all my other kids did at certain times...so..yes, I'm used to it...but children are children..and there would be something wrong with them IF they weren't throwing fits!! :) So, I say...bring on the fit...I praise God and thank HIM for allowing her to be SO normal and NOT BROKEN after going through the loss of her birth mom and her orphanage workers, her country etc.
5. Ok, so I personally think the things I did for the FIRST YEAR home made it VERY easy to bond and attach to LL...Here are some of them:
* I seriously held her and comforted her as much as humanly possible...If she grunted or made a noise, I ran to her to let her know I was there for her.
* I've been co-sleeping with her for a year now..I did this with all my children..and it really makes for great bonding.
* I've still FOR ONE ENTIRE YEAR never left her. She's never been out of my sight day or night except for a hand full of times where my hubby watched her while I HAD to run to something for a VERY short period of time..and even then, I tried to make sure she was sleeping. So, that means: no nurseries, no babysitters, no family watching her, nothing...just 365 days/24 hrs. a day of us being together...Ok, so i know this is the time you're thinkin i'm nuts..but hey, I promise it works for me/us. :) I gave up all girls nights, book clubs, etc. for this entire year...
* I did/still do all the feeding, diaper changing, putting down for naps, getting up at night, etc.
* I KNEW we weren't going to be able to "stay at home" once we were back...so...wearing LL in the sling all the time is what kept us close and her comfortable to her new surroundings...She never cared where we were as long as she was in the sling.
***Well, I'm tired and going to wrap this LONG WINDED sucker up...My point here tonight is...Do what works for you and your child..and realize that ATTITUDE is about 99% of the game. YES, there are some incredibly HARD situations out there that have NOTHING to do with attitude..I get that...but for the majority...take it slow...pour love into your child whether it feels REAL or not..and eventually...all the hard work will pay off....because ONE YEAR LATER..I can honestly say that I'm so thankful for all the sleepless nights, the constant one on one with LL, and all the work cause it has made us CLOSE and we share a BOND that can't be broken!!
Happy Friday to you all, kj
ps...next post will be HOW her siblings and Daddy handled the adoption, how they bonded and dealt with it all...just an fyi if you were wondering :)