Sunday, July 27, 2014

Thank you

Hello there.

If you’re still checking our blog after a long season of no posting, I’m really grateful. I suppose there are dozens of reasons you could think of why I haven’t posted anything for a while. Most of them are probably true.

It’s busy at our house. It’s also kind of up and down with good days and hard ones, and I find myself at a loss for knowing whether to tell the good stories or the challenging stories—or none of them at all. I don’t want to sound like a broken record, and I certainly don’t want to evoke pity, although I do appreciate understanding and support.

Our family has also shifted from being so focused on bringing home an adopted kiddo to living as family with a child who has quite a few special needs. In my earliest posts related to Matthew, I spent my time and energy focused on his adoption—and explored that wide range of emotions and feelings. But now I don’t exactly feel like we fit in the adoption community like I had hoped—we can’t fully enter into some things I expected to find myself in—like preserving a culture for a boy who knew and understood he was adopted. Right now Matthew has no clue he’s adopted—nor that he’s from China—nor that he looks different than the rest of his immediate family. These things don’t really matter right now.

What does matter is his delayed development alongside the amazing yet subtle milestones he achieves each day. What matters is this mama’s heart, adjusting and learning, trying to wrap my head around this little person and all it takes, right now, to help him learn and grow. Both Aaron and I have committed ourselves these days to being very present with our children, which doesn’t leave a lot of extra time for things like blogging.

But I did have something to say this morning—something that I feel deeply in my heart. I wanted to express my gratitude to all of you who are walking this journey with us. SO many of you play an important role in this season—whether you spend time each week with Matthew, pouring yourselves into him (like some of my family members and also some of our friends) or whether you kindly take my phone calls, even when I’m calling again to process, to tell you it’s hard, to tell you I’m scared, or to celebrate some little, tiny achievement of Matthew’s that has taken on giant-sized proportions in my heart.

Thank you to those of you who willingly keep our big kids for an hour here, an hour there, so we can take Matthew to yet another medical appointment or OT or SLP visit. Thank you for your wisdom and love—for not giving up on us when we live this life awkwardly or selfishly sometimes.

We couldn’t do all of this without the investment and support of our wider community, and I feel—daily—a deep sense of gratitude in my heart for all those who come alongside us.

And on the days when it’s actually fairly calm here at our house—when it’s not so hard (because we have those days too)—I still feel the love and support and companionship of our community, and I know our kids feel it too. All three of them are growing up with the deep and abiding love of so many people. It does take a village to raise our three—and they know it and are blessed by all the pouring in of so many people.

So we’re here—we’re busily doing all we possibly can to invest in the three small people who inhabit our home and our days. And we’re glad that you’re here too—in person or in spirit.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Summer and developmental delays

I’ve been a very reluctant blogger lately, partly because I haven’t exactly known what to say and partly because I haven’t found the time to do any post justice.

It’s summer around here and that means slower days, sunshine, hours playing in the backyard, and a mama who actually has time and energy to be a real human being (not just a professor, communications director and exhausted parent). I’m still working about half time, but I don’t have to roll out of bed so early to get kids out the door. We’re all sleeping better and we’re nicer to each other in general. I’m drinking less coffee and more water. It’s good.

Yet the challenges in our house go on too. Matthew’s development is still slow, and I feel in many ways like we are living into the title of “special needs family.” It’s hard because I feel so sad for him and am still acutely aware of the profound losses he as an individual and we as a family are experiencing because of his many delays. In a frank conversation with our pediatrician this afternoon, she basically told me straight up that she’s pretty certain Matthew’s delays and challenges will be life-long for him. That’s not really a surprise to me, truthfully. On the outside I’ve been holding up this fa├žade of believing that at some point he’s just going to snap into “normal kid mode” and life will move forward for us in the way we once expected it would. But in my heart (and my head) I’ve known for a while that our boy comes to us with a myriad of challenges that aren’t easily fixed or remedied.

It’s actually good to have a doctor finally speak these words aloud.

But then honestly there’s this other part of me that believes Matthew is developing in his own time. I’m not living in some delusional dream world where I think that one day he’ll just “snap out of it” and be speaking in full sentences. But each and every day he is working SO hard to learn and grown and change. I can just see the wheels in his head spinning each time I ask him to say a word or complete a task. His receptive language is growing in leaps and bounds. And he is definitely gaining skills and moving forward. Even our pediatrician complimented him on all his growth.

Which makes me ask the question, how much do I worry about him and how much do I just let him develop at his own pace?

Yes, we are now a special needs family. I’m the parent of a special needs child. These things are true about us, and they are things I wasn’t expecting. But I also know we have the skills, the passion, the resources and the support to parent Matthew and help him grow and thrive as much as he possibly can. When I'm especially discouraged, it helps me to remember these things.

So I’m committed to this task. But just so I don’t mislead my readers (some of whom may one day be special needs parents themselves), it’s also hard. I doubt. I grieve. I worry. I feel poignantly the many losses that both Matthew and our family have sustained because of his many challenges. And I'm tired a lot too.

There are hard moments in our days—especially when my mind starts to play tricks on me and tell me I can’t do this thing that’s in front of me.

But there are other times when I feel an overwhelming sense of gratitude for the journey that is ours to walk. I LOVE Matthew so much—and I feel so attached to him. So even when it’s hard, I’m committed to helping him be the person that he’s created to be.

I also feel grateful for the faith that sustains Aaron and me through this journey—for a sense of “call” to this path of adoption and the way that the prayers and encouragement of others buoys us and keeps us walking forward during the rough patches.

Mostly I wish you all knew this boy the way I know him—his laughter, his learning, his kisses and snuggles (a relatively new thing), the joy he takes in discovering new things. My heart almost breaks with the weight of how much I love him.

What a complicated, beautiful, hard, amazing thing, this path of parenting Matthew. I had no idea how complicated it would be.

Nor how breathtakingly lovely.

Matthew and me with sweet baby Hayden, my niece.

A couple of Baywatch beauties!

Maya and Sam are with grandparents this week so M and I get some extra snuggle time.

Taking a neighborhood walk with Daddy

Our boy playing in the backyard.