We have just been home over 2 weeks now...hard to believe! Abel's doing really well. Poor guy came home with an ear infection, mono virus, cutting his first tooth, major belly trouble, and severe jet-lag to name a few (no wonder our flight home was so horrendous). All of the above are finally starting to get better though! He's been a trooper and is a really happy baby most of the time as long as he's not hungry, stinky, or tired. Once he cuts a few teeth I think the sun will shine a little brighter in our home. So, I'd say he's a pretty typical 9 month old, right?;)
He truly is a sweet gift for our family. While the transition with Abel has it's own challenges, it's been much different than when M and H came home. With M and H it was an intense cannon ball and we did not come up for air the first 6 months, haha. Seriously though, going from two to three has been a totally different adjustment. It hasn't quite had the "turn our world upside down effect"-I'm already a stay-at-home-mom, we're not first time parents, there's only one...ONE of Abel (this makes a huge difference...we can actually tag-team at night), we already have 2 kiddos on a schedule so what's it to add another, and our marriage has already adjusted and made space for children. And, we're living at my parents right now so our support system is just a flight of stairs away:).
Now, I don't want to sound like we're some super star adoptive parents who have it all together 2nd time around, because we DON"T! There have been serious tears from all parties (esp Abel and his mama), fears, uncertainties, painful trial and error, frustrations, serious sleep deprivation, grieving, messy misunderstandings, and probably about every emotion in between. It's been very overwhelming at times. Nights are hard, but getting better. Our little one does not like to sleep and it seems he's very used to demand feeding every 2 hours through the night. Some nights he's up from 11:30-5:00 and other nights he's only up once. Hadassah was sleeping through the night from the time we got her home. Abel is his own little person; this I'm learning, accepting, and enjoying more and more every day. I've really had to let go of expectations of him to be like his big sister when she came home. Much of what we did with Haddie is simply not working, so we're having to be creative and try different things. We're finding our way though and the long difficult nights only come every few days it seems. Now, that's summing up some of the "hard"...but, there's been tremendous joy, laughter, contentment, peace, and grace that have surrounded these bittersweet transitional days as well.
I believe it's important to share the hard stuff. So many families come home with their child and expectations are shattered and the reality of adoption and what that really means is a little kicking stranger screaming in their face 24-7. Their child suddenly is not the child they had fantasized about during the long wait and they're left with feelings of depression, fear, and deep guilt. I know this is not everyone's experience, but I think it's more than we'd probably think. I had a very hard transition with our first two and some precious adoptive mamas reached out and told me, "you are normal"! Go through the steps, love them, trust your gut, more so trust GOD and one day "it" will come. "It" for me was a sense of family, togetherness, rightness, confidence, knowing my children and being known by them, routine, and feeling that everything ultimately would actually be ok. And for me, those things came through learning beautiful messy truths about trusting my gentle Shepherd and letting Him lead and knit our hearts together as a family created, called, and equipped by HIM. So there's my little tangent on the adjustment home. I think people are talking more and more about the hard and I love that. I think it's a conversation that should be had more. If you're recently home and struggling...hang in there! Reach out for support, love your kids fiercely (even when those gooshy emotions aren't there), and pray for grace moment by moment.
How are M and H adjusting? They LOVE Abel. Haddie's had moments where she realizes she's not the "only" baby anymore and she cries herself a little river...gets some lovin' from us...and she's good to go (notice I said only baby because she still is and always will be our baby:)). If I'm feeding Abel, she's feeding her baby doll, if I'm swaddling Abel, she's swaddling her baby, if I'm changing his diaper, she's changing her baby's diaper, if Abel's in his crib, her baby is certainly in it's crib. I have a little mommy shadow and it's so endearing to watch. Bringing Abel home has deepened my love for her (and Malachi). She's in such a fun season right now and so full of laughter, words, and love. I'm researching how to extend her 2nd year of life to last longer! She's getting way too big, way too fast! Anyone who knows Hadassah understands;)...she's just a blast right now and you want to savor every minute.
|Hadassah loves laying in Abel's crib with him.|
|She loves giving kisses as long as Abel does not grab her hair.|
|Mommy's feeding Abel and the bottles come out to feed their "babies."|
|Abel's laying on his mat, and Hadassah's laying her baby on the mat too.|
|Abel gets food prepared for him all day from M and H.|
|We snuck out for some Ethiopian food last week:).|
|Snuggled up with her Ethiopian baby dolls...her absolute favorite sleep companions.|
Now to Malachi:). Malachi is Mr Big Brother. He takes his role very seriously; he puts Abel's nuk in, gets me diapers, tells me when he's crying, feeds him, helps dress him, holds him, plays with him, sings to him, and really does anything and everything we let him do. I'm convinced he would fully care for Abel if we allowed him;). Malachi has been Abel's prayer warrior since the day we found out about him and he still is; every prayer time, he's lifting Abel up in prayer. I've realized with bringing Abel home just how perfectly God placed Malachi as the eldest in our family. Malachi's full of compassion, is assertive, and is an amazing big brother with a very special heart. This adoption has been very special for Malachi and he definitely is learning more about his own adoption through being a part of Abel's. Our oldest son is full of questions about life, hugs, and words of encouragement. He told me the other day that God had a plan for my life and that it was that I should eat lunch. And boy was he right! I had been pushing lunch off until 3:00 everyday and my afternoons were not going well. The 15 minutes it took to eat lunch gave the energy and boost I needed. Love you Malachi!
|He sits beside Abel every mealtime is so quick to help his baby brother.|
|Putting the nuk back in...thanks buddy!|
|Such a sweet big brother.|
|Cupcakes for everyone!|
|Waiting for Ethiopian, one of his favorite foods right now.|
|Malachi's always asking to hold Abel. We just need to work on the choking affect.|
|He daily looks through our Ethiopian trip that he was along for. He loves seeing pics of Ethiopia and all the people he met there.|
|He LOVE his hands and looks at them all day.|
|I have 50 pictures with this expression because he hates the flash, lol,|
|Love his daddy...and his hand:).|
|M and H threw Abel a birthday party. Yes, he's in their doll stroller and it's probably not safe. But, it was such a cute idea, I had to humor them!|
|Abel doesn't have much neck strength and tuckers out quickly during belly time.|
|Have I mentioned how Abel laughs? He is a giggly boy and oh so ticklish:).|