Merry Christmas, Happy New Year and all that jazz

It’s been a bit, I thought I should write. I know some people were worried about me after my last post. Then it worried me that I worried people and well you know.

Life’s been difficult the last few weeks, not because of Miss or anything she’s doing because actually she’s doing really well. It’s been me. I’ve been a problem or had one anyway.

I’ve walked through some stressful times in my life. I’ve endured separated parents, called off a wedding, my husband worked out of town for 18 months while I reared our two VERY YOUNG boys, while being pregnant and juggling my mom’s cancer treatments, being my mother’s care giver and ultimately holding her as she took her last breath, watched my husband’s sense of self get crushed as he lost a job he loved and endured a job he hated, and now weather the storms of self-employment and financial strain. I’ve lived it people. This adoption has stretched me in so many ways I couldn’t have imagined. But it’s broken me too. I over think, I want to fix, I want to make better, I want my littles to be happy, grow up to good, solid contributors to society. I’ve been juggling spinning plates for so long, I didn’t realize that I had used up every appendage to keep them going and I neglected to spin a plate for myself. Finally all the plates dropped and I was a hot mess in the middle of pile of broken glass.

So I went to my doctor on that blistering cold Christmas Eve and spilled my guts, my tears and my snot to her. She agreed things were a miss, I shouldn’t be this upset when things are going so much better. I should be on an upswing, much like my daughter is as she slowly heals. But when you are in the weeds as Jen Hatmaker so perfectly describes in this post it’s so difficult to see the positives no matter how small. And it’s those small positives that YOU HAVE to celebrate so you can get up the next morning and do it all again. So I was demonstrating all the signs of depression, which a portion of the adoptive parent population can develop. She started me on some light meds. I’ll fast forward the story, they made me crazy. Like bat-shit, clawing my skin, crying like a pimply-teenage girl crazy. I was irrational, irritable, miserable and everything else you can add with -able that’s negative. Oy. I had nearly every PLEASE CALL YOUR PHYSICIAN IMMEDIATELY IF YOU ARE HAVING ANY OF THESE SYMPTOMS. So I stopped. I just breath a lot these days.

I know that this all very personal, my dad is mortified that I share anything with anyone. Truthfully, I like being open. I want my friends to know if I haven’t called you to talked to you or set up a coffee date it’s because I’ve been paralyzed in a state of panic. One usually doesn’t feel very social during those times. I also am not sharing this because I want a pity party or “poor Annie’s” it’s a chance for me to explain, it’s a chance for me to help. When my mom died of cancer, I tried to make something good come out of it. I tried to offer information and advice to friends who had loved ones walking the same path. Do something positive with the crappy knowledge of mouth sores and nausea and pain meds. So I feel the same obligation this time around, not to scare anyone against adopting, but let someone, anyone know that it’s okay to admit you’ve dropped the plates. It’s okay not to be the person all #adoptionrocks, it’s okay to say I didn’t think I would feel like this. It doesn’t make your love less, it doesn’t mean you are a failure (or at least that’s what Ryan tells me.)

We had a great first Christmas. Miss was happy, grateful and seemed to like all of her gifts. She didn’t seem overwhelmed and she used all the polite manners I lectured into her and my other children’s head. Mom 1: Kids 0. We spent the day with my dad and it was a quiet, relaxing day.

The day after Christmas my brother and sister in law and niece came over and we had Christmas part 2. It again, was a good day, happy, the kids loved their gifts, I got my baby fix and Miss was more present than she had been. She even reached and held baby Mary and enjoyed my great-grandmother’s sauce recipe for our Christmas dinner. After they left my dad got a chance to see her at Taekwondo and we had another good night. Friday I woke up – well this is where the blog began. That evening Miss went out on her first girls night with her new friend. I was suppose to go, but was unable. After some discussion she agreed to try on her own and she did great. She had a wonderful time, has made a great new friend, whom she adores and I could finally breathe for the first time in several weeks. Just that break, those few hours of her being gone, just being a teenage girl allowed me to feel just a bit normal. She came home all smiles and on cloud 9. This is what it’s about. THIS is her chance for God to redeem her life and make it whole and good again. She went to bed happy and woke happy.

Last Saturday one of her besties from her orphanage came into town with her family. The live in northern Indiana and have family in Noblesville, I know I’ve mentioned it and God’s hand in that  is not lost on me. I packed her and Penny up and took them over to the extended families house for a day and overnight. I want to brag on this family a bit. They are wonderful, the mother orchestrated this so that I could have a day off, I am eternally grateful for her and her husband for being so thoughtful as they are also acclimating their own daughter home. Her friendship has helped me in so many ways I just can’t even put words to it. They are awesome. Plain and simple. The girls were off, I had a chance to talk and then I ran errands and came home and cleaned and did laundry and all those exciting things I couldn’t muster enough energy to do in my former state. I made it through the day. I teetered on anxiety like a tightrope, but I managed.

Ryan and I were blessed with a kid free night as other friends took pity on us and had our boys stay the night. We had wings and a beer and went to bed at 10. Don’t be jealous. Our passion is real people.

Our kids came home cranky, but pleased. I’m happy to have them all home. I’ve been able to reflect on how far we’ve come in just 7 weeks. Here’s a few celebratory moments only other adoptive parents may “get”, but bear with me:

  • Miss got up while watching a movie, went upstairs and got herself a glass of water and ice.
  • When I talked to her about being nice to her little sister who she clearly is over spending time with – she said okay in a normal voice. Not a whisper, a normal voice.
  • When she took some candy downstairs to share (which she is awesome about doing) I said, “Miss, come here.” She replied, “I know Mommy, I know, I know what you will say.” I followed her down and she shared with her brothers and then went and found annoying little sister and shared with her too and turned to me and said,  “See, I know.” and smiled.
  • We’ve gone from – “Mom?” to “Where is mom at?”
  • We can correct her without her running to her room or hiding under a blanket.
  • The excitement on her face when we gave her a present for “Genna” or Ethiopian Christmas. It was a doll, which may seem squirrelly to some, but I’m not sure if she’s ever had one before.
  • Her genuine apology after having been less than respectful.

and some funnies –

  • Penny wanted a hot dog for lunch, Miss’ reply, ” No, Penny, no dog meat!” She actually thinks that hot dogs are made of dog, I pretty sure she still believes it and thinks I’m lying.
  • During a low point, I hadn’t cleaned much. I told the kids they needed to help me clean one day. She replied, yes we clean, this house very dirty. Which made me feel worse because she lived in an orphanage. In Africa.
  • Africans add -es to everything. Mathes, Thankes, Friendes. I border on trying to get her to stop and enjoying the imperfection at the same time.

Our break is coming to a close, I originally wrote this post a week ago, I left it here and I’m glad. In retrospect, this two week break, however stressful, was a blessing because it gave our entire family time together, intensely. It’s exactly what we needed to connect, bond and attach. I’m grateful for it, especially being on this end. School will start tomorrow (hopefully) and we will go back to a more normal routine. We’ll have crabby kids for the next few days because the mornings will be early and cold. I am looking forward to the quiet and a bit of solace.

All I ask is that our friends and family keep us in their prayers and thoughts. That we continue to heal and grow as a family. That we navigate the stress of this season with grace. Thank you to those who continually reach out to support us.



Jen Barney - January 8, 2014 - 10:19 am

Girlfriend…. no words of advice- no thoughts- no explanations- no amen…. just I love ya girl and a big cyber hug from me to you.

Darcy - January 8, 2014 - 11:59 am

Oh Annie, I am so sorry & heartbroken that you have had such a horrible time recently. I assumed the quite was because of your time to get acclimated w/ one another, that no news was good news. I had been praying so much for Meseret when it was you who was needing it! Thank you for the courage to share and be so open w/ the world & Ryan is right, it is Ok to be imperfect & not be top of the game all the time! You are in our prayers just as much as she is now. You have made it through so much in your young life & this too shall pass. Say your prayers, enjoy the still as often as possible and take care of you. Your children are depending on you to be healthy & happy to care for them! Love you dear!

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