God's Child, Our Joy

An adoptive family's journey in faith and life

The Aftermath

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This post is the third of the three part series on Eli’s adoption. The first post was about the day we found out someone else wanted him and the second was about the wait until finalization.

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At Eli’s court date

This is our 299th post, and if you’ve been following the blog you’ll know that every 100 posts we do a word cloud to show the things we’ve been writing about. You can see 100  and 200 . In preparation for #300, we made the next cloud and looked through it to see what we’ve been writing about. We both notice one thing.

Where is Eli?

I don’t know how sophisiticated the website is that creates these, if it actually uses all 300 (well 299) posts, or just pulls from recent posts. Eli is not going to pass Eva since she had over a year head start, but he really should have shown up somewhere, right?

With everything that has happened with his adoption, I always wanted to think that I never shorted him because of it. I loved him without reservation, we took pictures, we played, etc. I knew, though, that however hard I tried, everything that happened was going to take a toll in some way.

I noticed that I wasn’t posting much about him a while ago. The reasons that I had concluded were unfair to him. No matter what stage of life Eli was in, Eva had already done it. Eva would learn how to say “shoes” and we’d be in awe, while Eli learned how to sit and we’d think “about time”. Also, it was blatently obvious that I just didn’t have as much time with two to post about things, so he loses out there as well. Many more posts in the last 100 have been picture heavy as opposed to text.

And while these reasons all may be true, the events of his adoption did not help. I don’t think I ever failed to post something because I was afraid I’d lose him. The thing was that I couldn’t post about the biggest thing going on in his life. It’s like writing about LeBron James without mentioning basketball.

Steph is Facebook friends with Eli and Eva’s birthmother. That has been a valuable tool for keeping in contact with their birthmother and gives her a glimpse of what is going on with Eli and Eva beyond those packets of pictures we send and our face to face meetings. While full of benefits, this connection does have issues. It is easy to post the good moments, but hard to post the bad moments.

If Eva grabs her purse and poses for the camera, we can post that moment. But if she falls and gets a bruise, can you post that? You hesitate because maybe it looks like we are not providing them with the best care possible. Their birthmother has a daughter at home, so she knows that accidents happen and we feel that she would understand.

With Eli it’s different. It’s easy to post “He’s growing so fast!” because it’s happy and shows that he is thriving in our home environment. But what if we wanted to post “He’s been crying for an hour, why won’t he go to sleep?! I’m too tired to deal with this tonight!” Every parent has been there with a baby, and knows what’s what. But what if PBF(potential birth father) somehow gets these posts. Do we know how he’ll interpret them? Perhaps he’ll see us as bad parents for getting frustrated. What if his lawyer uses these posts as proof that we are unfit because the child is unhappy and we appear to frustrated to provide what he needs to stop crying.

Once you get stuck in that mind set of worrying about how an unknown entity will interpret your thoughts and actions, it gets really hard to do much of anything. This is a whole other post, but you can find someone that can tear down every choice, action or thought you have about parenting and brand it as negligent. If you are a working parent you’re not having enough time with your children, but if you stay at home you are taking away socialization opportunities for your child. If every statement you utter can and will be used against you in the court of law, why utter anything?

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I was diagnosed with migraines this past year, although I’ve had them for a while. Over the years I’ve gotten better at preventing them, which is to say that I tend to avoid stressing myself over things or putting myself in stressful situations. The reason they were diagnosed was that I was starting to have visual symptoms. In particular, I was seeing flashes of light. With the diagnosis, I learned that I needed to attack it as quickly as I can to hopefully prevent the onset of a migraine.

I had done a great job of preventing the migraines, but with everything that happened here it finally took me down. My typical pattern is I start to feel that something isn’t right in the afternoon, and then the migraine hits at night and I just have to wait until morning. This time however I woke up with it, and it lasted the entire day. Steph worked that morning, and when she came home I crashed for a couple of hours. Waking and feeling guilty about being home, I started to get ready for work. Steph took one look at me and ordered me back to bed. I don’t know if she saw the cracked skull or the ice pick that was poking out of my forehead, but she knew I was in no condition to work that day.

Stress comes equally from the bad and good moments in life. On the Holmes and Rahe stress scale, you can see the list of stresses that impact life the most. #1 of course is death of a spouse (bad) but #7 is marriage (good). They score the stressful moments and total them for over a year to see how likely you are to get ill from the stress.

Here’s my list from the past year.  Some things I had to guess, so they may not be 100% matches:

  • Death of a close family member (63 Grandpa)
  • Change in health of family member(44 Eva tubes)
  • Change in health of family member(44 Eli reflux)
  • Pregnancy (40 fill in for adoption)
  • Gain a new family member(39 Eli!)
  • Business readjustment(39 My job is losing funding so I switched to a new job)
  • Change in financial state (38 We are now a one income family with 4 mouths to feed….oops, 5, sorry Quinton)
  • Change in frequency of arguments(35 Symptom of tired and moody)
  • Spouse starts or stops work(26 Steph is no longer teaching)
  • Revision of personal habits (24 What do you expect with two kids, one running around)
  • Change in working hours (20 I’m going to work earlier and later than usually, and making up time at night.)
  • Change in social activities (18 Less outings, three couples in our social network moved during the last year)
  • Change in sleeping habits(16 Once again, baby = bad sleep)
  • Change in eating habits(15 Trying to cut our soda, while Steph is cutting out gluten and most dairy)
  • Vacation(13 Summer in Iowa)
  • Vacation (13 Phoenix)
  • Christmas(12 In Iowa)

Here’s the stress without values (we’ll give each a 5)

  • Bonding with Eli
  • AC/Heat died and had to be replaced
  • Eli’s heart murmur
  • Court
  • Visits from relatives (x4)
  • Baptism
  • Steph and Eli travel to Portland

The stress scales are as follows:

Score of 300+: At risk of illness.

Score of 150-299: Risk of illness is moderate (reduced by 30% from the above risk).

Score <150: Only have a slight risk of illness

My total is 549. And Steph’s is about the same, but she can add her “vacation” with Eli to Portland.

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Why do we suffer? Why does so much hardship come from love, and why do we always let down those we love? I think that when it comes to the important things in life, a fortune not earned through blood, sweat and tears is a fortune wasted.
I’d like to think that despite the early difficulties bonding, the stress of the adoption, and the withdrawn exuberance for Eli is not so much of a problem as it may be a blessing. We know that we love him, and we know what we are willing to do for him. You can never fully appreciate the value of someone until you’ve been with them during their worst moments.
Eva was and is easy to love. She’s always been smiley and she’s grown into a fun toddler. I’ve loved and adored her from birth, but the strongest feeling for her came on her worst day. When she had her tubes put in(link) she was a mess, and could not deal with anything. A toy that was moved slightly would send her into a devastating meltdown. She had no control of her emotions. In that moment, we wished we could bear that pain for her. We wished that we could provide her any comfort. In that moment we knew better how much we loved her.
The moments of the last few months have been draining us, and they have left a mark on us, but we have grown a fuller comprehension of adoption and the impact it can have on our lives. We’ve learned the strength that God has given us was more than we thought we had. We still have room to grow, and post number 400 will hopefully show Eli in big letters. The bond that holds our family together has grown in this shared adversity, and will remain strong between us.

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