On Adoption After Four Years Home

I share this update as a testimony to God’s glory and no other reason. If other adoptive families are encouraged by it, I am so grateful! But our stories are always God’s stories first and His glory should always be shared by His Spirit and how He leads.

If you would like to read more of our story, you can do so here. {I apologize in advance that the pictures are missing. When I changed blog hosts a few years back, they didn’t transition over. But I put a few progressive photos below.}

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I realize it has been some time since I’ve offered an update on how our Ghanaian daughters are doing after being home getting close to five years now.

The truth is, I can’t imagine life without them. They are so much a part of our family (and have been since the very first time we laid eyes on their photo), that it feels like they’ve been with us all along.

2012

2012

But that’s not how it feels for them. See, they were pulled from everything and everyone they knew. Although they had been anticipating our arrival to bring them home for 16 months, nothing could have truly prepared them for that reality.

While there have been many good changes, there have been many more hard ones. Many of the struggles are buried, even for them. It’s been 4 1/2 years of slowly digging those things out to bring them to light. It’s been hearing harsh words from one and silence from another.

It’s been the undoing of some beliefs about themselves to replacing it with God’s Truth about who they are (and this is always ongoing).

In Ghana 2013

In Ghana 2013

As a mother who has obviously never mothered adopted children before them, it’s learning to be sensitive to their traumatic past. It’s learning they won’t respond the same way my biological children will in certain situations. And it’s learning it over and over and over again. For a while, everything will feel “normal” and something will trigger and a struggle ensues without warning.

It means trying {so hard} not to take any mud-slinging personally but to get to the root of where that hurt is coming from and truly listening to the heart of my child.

The one thing I have been super fortunate with was the ability to find ways to connect with my Ghanaian daughters in ways that feel non-threatening but allow them to express their hurts and their needs with me. We keep a journal. Each of the girls (along with my other children) have their own journal with which we use to communicate some hard things. Or we use it when there has been a confrontation. One of my daughters often shuts down talking at all if she feels unsafe sharing (fight or flight). But she will write it down if I ask her to. And then I will write back.

2014 in Ghana

2014 in Ghana

One of my daughters often writes about just how hard her life here is. And while we may scoff at the notion that life here in America could be harder than life in a third world country, remember there is more to living then the ease and comforts that come with it.

While my girls now have clean water, plenty of food to eat and are no longer sick with anything other than a mere cold, their hearts (and brains) are not often in a state of comfort and felt safety. In other words, even though they ARE safe, they don’t always FEEL safe. And it’s not necessarily physical safety so much as it is emotional safety.

July 7, 2014 - the day they came home

July 7, 2014 - the day they came home

This is why adopted children so often lie. They don’t feel safe to tell the truth—even when it’s something silly {to us}. For them, it feels like life or death. This is something that I have tried to work with and wrap my brain around. It’s something I try really hard to remember.

Even adopted children need boundaries and consequences but they also need heaps of patience and heaps of understanding (because most of the time even they don’t understand why they lie or steal or act out). Trauma does strange things, not just to the emotions, but physically to the brain. Couple that with malnutrition (even the best orphanages cannot afford the best nutrition) and there are all kinds of deficiencies we’re working through.

Early childhood trauma shapes so much of who children are and who they become because those years are so incredibly impressionable and transformative as the brain develops and continues to. It takes much more time to undo the damage then it did to form it.

Anytime a child is taken from or loses a parent or both parents, it is considered trauma. It doesn’t matter if it happened straight out of the womb or as a teenager. The struggles of that loss still exist. They may reveal themselves in different ways, but they exist just the same.

Margaret and Christiana may have appeared to transition with ease into our family and into a new country {and in many respects they have} but much of their trauma is deeply buried. Not so much on the surface. It takes digging and asking questions and offering a safe place to be honest and raw in their own time. It also requires some extra effort to go out of your way to show them they are loved.

How have my other children transitioned?

I seriously could not have asked for better children. The evidence of the Holy Spirit is truly written on each of their hearts and I truly cannot take credit for that. Sure, Jonathan and I point them in the direction of Jesus, but ultimately it is them who grabs hold of it and allows God to work.

They have welcomed our girls in without a second thought or jealous bone in their body. Since the very beginning as we kept them informed of all the adoption process and delays that were happening, God worked in their hearts to love two girls they had never even met yet as their own siblings.

When they came home, Gabriella and Margaret were literally inseparable for a solid year. They were always at each others side, chatting away, drawing and playing together and became the best of sister-friends. Sure, Margaret has learned to have her own interests and hobbies, but they are a couple of lucky girls.

Does everyone always get along 100% of the time? No way. There are definitely specific children who tend to clash more often then others, but over the years they have learned how to handle such conflict and it happens less and less.

2015

2015

God’s original design was not for Margaret and Christiana to be torn from their family. But in this fallen and broken world, that’s just what has happened. So now, He is in the process of building something new and beautiful and strong {even though it’s painful at times}.

Are there times I worry about their future? Absolutely. But I don’t have to because I will never stop being their mother and I will never stop being there for them no matter what needs arise. There is no rush to sending them out into the world.

We first received the referral to adopt them when they were 6 and 8 years old. They came home when they were 8 and 10 years old. Today, they are {almost} 13 and 15 years old. While they’ve come a long way, they still have a long way to go, too. Just like the rest of us, we are always a work in progress.

If you have any questions or want to me to write about a certain aspect of our adoption, please don’t hesitate to ask!

Christmas 2018

Christmas 2018

Expect the Unexpected {Coffee Break}

A Broken Wrist & 6 Weeks Out of Work

A couple weeks ago threw some unexpected trials our way. After being home with our girls and settling in, it's not surprising that life decided to pick back up again and keep us busy and learning to rely on God.

A couple Sunday's ago my husband was running with our dogs (picture a 6-year old greyhound and a 1 year old great dane). Our great dane decided to cut in front of my husband while running and there was no time for him to catch himself before falling over her and landing {wrong} on his wrist. He broke his wrist and it put him out of work for 6 weeks. But God has been so faithful to provide for us. We are two weeks down and have four to go.

Honestly? I see this as a gift to our family to be able to have my husband home to be with his family for six weeks following a major life change in our family and in the life of our adopted girls, who are no doubt feeling apprehensions of their own.

Power Outage

Then, Tuesday evening we had a severe thunderstorm that took out our power for 24 hours. I know, not really a major crisis, but we had to spend money we didn't expect to spend and I lost time on working on my Moms in the Word post. You know, sometimes in blogging you just have to admit you can't always do what you plan to do.

I was excited, too, to write about bridling the tongue. I don't know about you, but I know I struggle with that --- more than I'd like to admit.

What's so exciting about talking about bridling the tongue? Revelation. Admitting it and talking about it is a great start to stopping the issue. I don't know about you, but reading and applying God's word actually excites me. The Holy Spirit has put a desire in every Christ follower to walk in His truth and that's what I desire.  Only God working through me can accomplish His good work. Nothing in my own strength will produce fruit. That much I know well.

 Labor Day Weekend

I was hoping to get all my homeschool lesson planning and organizing done before Labor Day weekend, but it just didn't happen. So, I had family in over the weekend and come Monday evening, I was scraping together our plans for lessons on Tuesday. I decided to be satisfied with a half day of lessons and it seemed to work well that way.

Quite honestly, my blogging is being pushed lower and lower on the priority list as my family has grown over the years. There just isn't time for everything and in this season of homeschooling seven children, ages 12 and under, there isn't much left at the end of the day for anything extra.

This is the second week in a row I have missed putting up the Moms in the Word link up and while my goal for the Moms in the Word community is to be in the Word, it's not necessarily to blog about it. I find that Instagram is the best place to connect the Moms in the Word community, so I want to encourage you to find us there by looking up the #MomsInTheWord hashtag.

At The End of The Day...

At the end of the day, I'm exhausted and I do not have a sense of completion that brings me rest. Not because I feel unfulfilled, but because there is always something left undone; always something I need to "catch up" on, and as my family has grown, so has the "incomplete list of things to do". And quite honestly, it's becoming rather overwhelming.  I'm talking just everyday life: laundry, cooking, cleaning, homeschooling, bathing kids, caring for dogs, and some work I do from home on my lap top (1-2 hours a day).

As I finish up this post, Wednesday is Margaret's 11th birthday and she has requested Homemade Chicken Pot Pie for her birthday dinner. This is about a two hour ordeal in the kitchen -- one I wasn't planning on until I asked her at dinner Tuesday night what she would like. And I totally know it will be worth the effort, of course. But such is life, something's gotta give and a regular blogging schedule looks to be the case.

It may be best to find me on social media during this season, where I can share shorter bursts of motherhood quotes and wisdom: Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest I don't show up to each one everyday, but I do show up to at least one each day. ;)