Friday, September 21, 2012

Learning to Love

I almost don’t dare write it just in case for some reason making it permanent in typeface somehow undoes the truth of it: life is pretty good around our house these days.

I’ve realized in the past few months that the best way to attach to a new child is just to give it time. Time to learn to love each other. Time to become familiar and develop some shared history.

Life isn’t perfect—tied up with a big red ribbon and smooth around the edges. We are still settling into what this new family looks like, as we share space and time and moments together. But more and more Matthew is one part of a whole—one person in a five-person family that we are becoming together.

And I’m grateful.

There are subtle ways that I know Matthew is feeling more connected to us—like how he comes up to me and raises his hands to be picked up, or the fact that when he gets hurt, he lets me comfort him. Tonight after his last bottle of the day, he stayed in my arms and sucked on the empty bottle for a good 20 minutes while I rubbed his belly and his feet, and he was content to be with me and feel comfort being held in my arms.

And today I swear he did the sign for “all done,” shaking his hands when he was ready to get down. It might have been coincidence—I can’t say for sure. But when I sign words and phrases to him, he watches intently, and I know he’s learning so many things and making a zillion connections right now.

I must admit that adopting a child isn’t at all what I expected in many ways. I was hoping to feel attached from the start, and instead it’s taking time and effort. But that’s the way it is parenting any child, I’m quite sure—you have to put in the time and effort to really be a parent. That’s how you do it. There aren’t any shortcuts—not now and not then.

Here you can see how his lip is healing so nicely.

On Sunday we will have had Matthew for four months. Four. In some ways that sounds like a long time, but when I really think about it, it’s hardly just a a few months scratched off a calendar in the whole scope of a lifetime. Four months we’ve had together, and we’re on our way, though we’re not there yet.

And Maya and Sam are the best examples to me of just letting things go—of not over-thinking everything. They have welcomed Matthew into our family with open arms, never questioning his presence from the moment he came home. Sure, he annoys them once in a while like every little brother does, but they are also the ones who can make him laugh the loudest. Sam has taken to letting Matthew chase him around the dining room table, and I giggle with delight when I hear my two boys laughing and chasing around, one after the other.

And Maya spends a lot of time each day playing with Matthew—bringing him toys, maneuvering him around the house, and making sure he’s not alone or without something to do. I see in her the “mother hen” instinct.

I feel grateful that Matthew has two such loving siblings who have welcomed him into our family with such love and laughter. 

So I’m happy to honestly report that we are doing well. We still have hard days—and I feel, often, this transition of adoption deep in my heart where I wish with every ounce of me that this sweet boy could have been spared such a rough start to life. But then I’m struck once again with the knowledge that without the early losses in his life, he would never have been part of our family. And although I know that I’d give him back his biological family in a second if I could, a part of me is also so grateful that he will be part of our family forever.

It’s like the rest of life—lovely and complicated and messy too. But it’s our life, and we are grateful to have each other, and we’re grateful to have you too, dear friends who continue to read our blog. Your love and support and kind words mean so much to us along this path.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Some happy scenes from our house

Life moves on as we start school and begin another academic year, this time with Matthew here too. Some days are easy and some are hard, but we are settling into a new normal, for which I am grateful. I haven't been the best blogger, I know, because my focus has been in a zillion different places. But here are some sweet shots of life at the Russell house these days.

The kids at Aaron's friend John's wedding on September 1

First day of school for Maya and Sam (2nd grade and preschool)

Our second grade girl!

They are both smiling--that's good!

Sam heading off to his second year of Acorn preschool


We made this tie-dye t-shirt at Holden Village this summer

And now he walks EVERYWHERE!

My friend Emily came to visit and meet Matthew