Friday, September 7, 2012

Tears, Tantrums, and Triumphs

We've been home from Ethiopia for 10 days, and this is my first post.  Partially because my main home computer hasn't let me write on this blog when I have sat down to do put words on a blank screen.  But, frankly, partially because I have struggled with the words to let loose.

America has been a shock. 

A shock to my eyes.  A shock to my body.  A shock to my heart.

A shock to my children, new and old.  In undefinable ways.

We arrived home on last Tuesday, and our family was thankful to have a large homecoming at the airport.  Many family members and friends showed up to welcome Yohannes and Paulos to America and welcome our family home. 

We are very grateful that those moments will forever be etched with pictures and videos for our sons.  If you came to the airport, thank you!!  You are a part of their "forever" memories.  If you sent well wishes to our family, thank you!  We have cherished every email, facebook message, and card that we have received.  Please know that if we did not respond to your message, it wasn't that we didn't read it, it's because these past 10 days have been tough.  We love you and we thank you.

Now to the hard part. 

This whole transition is difficult.  It just is.  I'm having a hard time explaining all that I'm feeling and experiencing. 

I'm angry.  A lot.  I'm sad.  A lot.  I'm mourning.  I'm happy.  I'm relieved.  I'm stressed.  I'm thankful.

I am mourning what my family used to be, and so are my children.  If that sounds mean, just skip this part and wait for the next post.  I knew from reading other adoptive family's blogs that I would experience this emotion, but to actually feel it is unnerving.  I don't want to feel this way.  So I am praying and waiting.

Yohannes and Paulos are beginning to adjust slowly to American life.  They are starting to realize what it means to have a mom and dad.  That's not always what they want.  They want to do what they want to do without being told "no".  Just like other children.  But they're getting off to a late start. 

They have fits frequently.  If you've seen us out in public you may wonder at that statement and think, "Really?  My kids have fits, too."  But these are not like the fits that a toddler throws at 2 years old when they are angry.  They are fits of anger, loss, and grieving.  Our boys are angry that they are in a new environment.  They have lost their family, homeland, food, and way of life.  They are grieving for "E-toe-pee-ah", as they call it, which is evidenced by the screaming of their country name sometimes when they are inconsolable.

Yohannes will cry and withdraw at the drop of a hat and many times we just don't have a clue what set it off.  He will cry for an hour or more and not allow us to be near him.  Other times he will be angry and throw things or trash a room and at that point he will be physically restrained by one of us for 45 minutes or more (a full arm and leg hold) until he stops resisting.  Now I know why God allowed Natalie to whip me into shape in Ethiopia. He was preparing me for the muscles He knew I would be using when I returned home! 

Those fits are getting progressively fewer and farther between.  Still, it's difficult to plan to go out in public.  We're never sure if the boys will be able to be seen or will scream for so long.  There's nothing to do to stop those episodes but wait.  Can you understand why it'd hard to be in a public place with the possibility of physically restraining a 10 year old child in the middle of dinner or a store aisle? 

We've had to say "No" a lot.  Had to not go places we would love to go.  If you have been the recipient of a cold shoulder on our part, please know it's not because we didn't want to see you or do something with you, it's because we couldn't leave the house.  Or sometimes, we leave and then turn around an drive right back home because a child has melted down in the car. 

Our bio kids are having a very hard time, too.  They feel left out.  And they are.  They feel neglected.  And in lots of ways they are.  They feel like Yohannes and Paulos are getting all the attention from their friends.  And they are.  In many instances, Easton especially is acting out. 

Our family needs grace right now.  We need all of you, family and friends, to know that when you see us in public, we need some space.  We are not ignoring you.  We are not trying to not speak to everyone.  We are just trying to get through that particular hour.  Our kids are not well behaved at the moment.  None of them, from the oldest to the youngest.  If they offend you, we are asking for mercy and forgiveness for the next few months, or however long it takes. 

Thank you to everyone who has sent a message and brought a meal.  It was a blessing not to have to cook for the first 10 days. 

If I cry when I talk to you, just ignore me.  I feel like I have post-partum depression, except I did not just give birth. 

Don't get me wrong, there were a lot of firsts this week that were wonderful, and I will post pics of those moments soon. 

I'm just venting a little here right now.  Bear with me.

Thank  you for everything.  All of you.  We love you.

2 Corinthians 12:9

"9But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me."

Let me tell you, I am weak right now, so my Lord has to be strong.  He is who I am leaning on.  I said I would not sugar-coat this adoption stuff.  I want to be transparent. 

I want to tell you that adoption is a beautiful thing.  It is.  So if you're thinking about it, there's a reason you're thinking about it.  Do it.  If you're being called to support someone who's adopting, do it.  But support takes many forms, and that means being there and being understanding and forgiving when they come home. 

I am weak, and Jesus is strong.  Thank you, Lord, for carrying me.


  1. lifting you up in prayers... I had prayed you would be spared from this part of the journey... now I will pray that God will strengthen you to bear it.

  2. I understand so much what you are feeling. The whole post partum depression feeling is totally true and you really do mourn your old life. It is hard, but I promise , it does get better and things will become a new normal. Good advice I received was to make no judgement calls for 6 weeks. On any of your kids or yourself. Then at about the 6 months mark, things start to feel normal again. I will be praying for you and if you need to cry or vent or need advice...dont hesitate to contact me.


  3. PRAYING!! Wish there's something more I could do. So Amazed at your family's strength and determination to do what God has asked of you!!!

  4. Thank-you for being so open and honest. Jesus is where reality is. He is right there with you, in your weakness, you discover Him again, a person. I am praying for you.

  5. Ugghh! I ache for you. I can't imagine the roller coaster you are on.
    I do hope, Momma, that you are not putting any sort of expectations on yourself. None. Not for a clean house, not for a dinner to be prepared, for makeup, nothing. Eat peanut butter and jelly and cereal or whatever. You know what I mean. If one of your kids has a tantrum in public, you do what you have to do. If you have a tantrum in public, you do what you have to do! Gracious. I really am so sad for you right now. I am so sorry!

    I have no frame of reference but I KNOW that everyone will survive, including you. Not only that, but you and Alan and your kids are going to come out on the other side of this shining in the light of the One who carried you.
    Sister, the grace you are asking for has already been extended to you.
    'Waller' in it.
    You are so loved. So loved.

  6. Dawn, your honesty and humility are amazing attributes. You will make it thru this, one day at a time. Your family dynamic has changed so much and so does your life. I am so proud of the way you are following your faith and stepping out and trusting God. Remember that everything is changing and new for the kids, but also for you and Allen too, Give yourself some grace too! Thank you for your willingness to share the struggles and pain as well as the joy and love thru your journey. Keep working your way thru this survival mode and hang in there girl!

  7. Hello Dawm. I was just thinking about you last night and wondering how you were all doing. Thank you for your honesty. We are so thankful that we were able to meet you and your beautiful children in Ethiopia. Our homecoming hasn't been a bed of roses either. But we're already seeing progress. Already doing things that we couldn't have imagined doing a month ago. So hang in there.

    I think that this time that you are in now was one of the hardest for us. You've only been home 10 days, and everything is so new and so hard, but the help from outside is starting to slow down. The meals aren't coming. And the requests and demands start coming in from people on the outside. You just have to put your family first. Tell people no. Ask for help. I think this post was excellent and so true. Wish you'd written it six weeks ago, so I could have shared it then. ; )

  8. Dear Dawn,
    Nothing like one of your heartfelt blogs to get my water-works flowing. Hubby & I were talking about your struggles and he thought maybe God gave you more than you can handle. I very quickly pointed out NO - God never gives us more than we can handle.
    I can only imagine the desperation of a small child taken from all he has ever known to a place with language and culture so unlike his comfort zone. I would be totally freaked out. Sounds kinda like your kids are too. Give yourself and the kids (all of them) time to adjust. I would think, in a way, you would have to start over from the very beginning of your relationship. Life in Ethiopia vs. life in Plant City - re-group, re-start and revitalize - one moment at a time. God led you to it and He will lead you through it.

    Ya'll are in my prayers!

  9. Aw, sweet thing - I'm just reading this tonight, Friday - and I'm so proud of you and your whole family. All of you are trying - doing the very best you can - each of you.
    You know how, when you want to get somewhere, and you're on foot - you have to take one step after the other - one at a time - to make it to where you're going? Daily life, whether in tough or smooth times, is the very same way.
    We are all for you. If one of us misbehaves in what we say to you - ignore it. We love you, very much.
    There is nothing magic I can say to make it all better - except what I always say - it's all about Jesus - all about Him. Just keep looking up, sweet thing.