It’s what they all want to ask when I say, “It’s going great!” or “He’s adjusting so well!” or “I cannot imagine this transition going better!” And this is all the truth. It IS going well. Caleb HAS just fit right into our family. And his siblings and Mommy and Daddy DO adore him. It’s been relatively easy around here. But there is always some hard to anything in life that’s worth it. Don’t worry. This isn’t my big breakdown post where it all hits the fan, and I crumble in front of you in tears, covered in Oreo crumbs, sobbing that this was all just a big mistake. But, I do want to keep it real because I know several of you reading this are considering adoption. (Yes, you!) I truly feel that we have had it easy in comparison to others. There are some adoptive Mamas that I know that struggle every. single. day. with adopted kiddos that cry all day or tantrum all day or refuse to eat or suffer from one medical need after another. God bless them. I can’t even imagine the dread of the sun peeking through the windows knowing that it’s all about to start all over again. They are in survival mode. They are in the trenches. And I honor them for keeping on every day when they feel like they are getting nothing back from their sacrifices.
I feel like we won the adoption lottery with this guy! He’s so happy!
We’ve been home for just over a month now. I have not had an ounce of regret about adopting Caleb. He is an absolute joy to all of us. Whether it’s his frantic excitement when he sees our cats (“Dat! DAT!!!!”) or his nonstop giggles when one of us is “chasing” him around the couch, he is just fun and adorable. I don’t have any concerns that he recognizes Kevin and me as his parents. He truly does prefer us, and it is very rare that he will go to a stranger’s extended arms.
Now for some of the other moments that I haven’t posted about yet. Let me revisit jet lag for a moment. I know. You’re like, “Shut up already! So you didn’t sleep well for a few days.” No, you will respect the jet lag. It is killer! For 14 days after we got home, I didn’t sleep through the night. I was asleep at 10:00 pm, and I was awake by 1:00 am. WIDE AWAKE. Not because of Caleb because that little guy adjusted on day one. By night number 10, I would cry when I woke up in the middle of the night, knowing that it was all over. Then during the days, I couldn’t keep myself awake. Here’s a fun little story. We got home late Thursday night. On Monday, I was still ok…functioning. I got up and showered, took Waverly to school, and went to the grocery store. By Tuesday, I was a wreck…a fact that I didn’t really reveal to anyone other than Mom and Kevin. It must have been her sixth sense because my sweet friend Denise INSISTED that she drive Waverly to and from school that Tuesday morning. I finally said OK, and I went to sleep when Caleb napped at 9:30 am. I didn’t wake up until Denise called my from outside our house at noon to tell me she was back with Waverly. I was a complete zombie. Let me tell you. That woman saved lives that day by insisting to drive Waverly. I was coherent enough to manage the kids and feed them lunch before they both went down for a nap, at which time slept again for three hours. During the jet lag period, I would literally fall asleep sitting on the couch mid-conversation. Braden was trying to tell me about his day once, and I fell asleep halfway through. While I no longer consider myself in the jet lag zone, my sleep still isn’t back to normal.
I’m totally jealous of how peacefully he sleeps.
The same Tuesday that I was partially comatose, I took all four kids to cheer and tumbling for the first time. After I got there, I groggily realized that I had forgotten to pack a bottle for Caleb. Fortunately, there is a gap of an hour and 15 minutes in between classes, so I drove back home for the bottle, only to realize during tumbling that he wouldn’t take it there with so much commotion.
Let’s now discuss the effects of going from zero immobile kids to a 20 pound toddler. Oh my goodness. My entire body aches. It doesn’t matter how good (or bad) shape you’re in. If you instantly begin hauling around 20 pounds on your left side for a good portion of the day, everything hurts. My left bicep is going to be amazing. At one point I texted my friend Kelly from our travel group and said, “What is our agency thinking giving a baby to old people???” I have begged Kevin to try to crack my neck. I fantasize about a chiropractor’s office.
Now onto other things, namely the other kids. They fight. A lot. It’s sometimes over a tv channel, or maybe it’s over what is considered a reasonable and/or parent-recommended amount of Pop Tart consumption. Their struggle is real. I initially thought this was for attention, but now that I type this, I realize that they fight all the time. Over everything. Including the precise wording to the Months of the Year song with the “Macarena” dance moves. Thanks, kindergarten teachers (and Los del Rio). GET YOUR LYRICS ALIGNED! And speaking of attention, our little Waverly will be receive an award for best actress in a drama one day. Her attention seeking behavior has included tripping multiple times for several days. It’s like her legs were suddenly jello, and she could not support herself. Fortunately, that cleared up when I told her since she couldn’t hold herself upright, it was far too unsafe for her to go to Gianna’s party where she would be riding horses. After the miraculous leg healing of Jesus and the crippled man proportion, she told her Pre-K teachers that she was on medication and that she had to do a breathing treatment. I’m sure it was quite convincing as she lay in the preschool floor, unable to participate in any activities. I reminded her in front of her teachers that, in fact, it was her baby brother who was taking an antibiotic and breathing treatments.
Next, we will address the stares. Yep, he’s mine. Signed, sealed, and delivered. He’s mine. In China, at the electronics market, a Chinese woman acted utterly confused over how I was walking around openly with this baby who clearly did not share my genetic makeup. She questioned me liberally about it. It’s all good. It totally prepared me for my return to the US. Most people start the convo with, “Oh, he’s adorable!”…silence. In which time, I fill in the space with, “Yes, we think so. We got home _____ weeks ago!” People want to ask, and I really love talking about our adoption, so I welcome the opportunity to tell them how God worked this whole thing out.
One of Caleb’s biggest challenges is the car seat. To my knowledge, he was never transported in a car seat until he was 12.5 months old. He haaaaaaates the car seat. If the trip is five minutes or less (preschool, grocery store, church), he’s pretty tolerant, but if it’s longer, you can plan on nonstop screaming after the five minute grace period has expired. We were driving home from a baseball game 30 minutes away the other night, and he screamed and cried the entire drive home. I couldn’t take it. I had to turn the volume up super loud in an attempt to drown out the sound. I could still hear him so I began singing along with whatever was on the radio. “Wild, Wild West”…I know those lyrics! Madonna…OK! Whether it was appropriate for children did not matter, as long as the music and singing stayed consistently loud. Hopefully Annalise was too absorbed in her book to notice.
Caleb’s first time in the car seat. He didn’t know what he was in for!
Now, the next topic has been a bit of an adjustment for me. Being housebound twice per day for naptime has been challenging. I went from 3 hours each weekday to run errands, meet with Denise to plan Moms group, or peruse Target alone down to 1 hour each weekday with a baby in tow. We can run one errand before we head back home for nap because we all know that it is scientifically proven to take 42 times longer to complete any task with a baby. Perhaps it’s because there is a diaper change factored into every outing. What? Five minutes, you ask? Well, think again.
I saved the best for last. Poop. You can stop reading now if you find this offensive or gross, and just know that poop is now a major player in our lives. Caleb’s food:poop ratio doesn’t work out in any mathematical equation. I have never seen poop of this proportion. You can guarantee that this baby will poop at the most inappropriate places and times, and it will be massive. When you are praying on a daily basis that the poop was contained in the diaper, you know it’s bad. I found myself in a restaurant meeting with some other church leaders when I knew it had arrived. I prayed the whole way to the bathroom, knowing that my two spare changes of clothes for Caleb were in the back of the car. I thanked Jesus out loud then and there when I did the big reveal on the changing table. Apparently, I have been very thankful for God’s grace in the diaper department, because Waverly is now adding, “Thank you, Jesus!” as a tagline to her commentary. “We have hot dogs? Thank you, Jesus!” “I don’t have to go to baseball tonight? Thank you, Jesus!” I don’t know whether to laugh, or cry, or reprimand her, or say, “YES, Waverly, we SHOULD be thankful to Jesus for everything!” During one particularly bad poop-splosion, I had to change Caleb in the car at a baseball game. It was everywhere. I should probably have the car professionally sanitized. Annalise said, “Mom, I feel like people are staring at us.” So, I not so quietly said, “What? You’ve never seen a naked Chinese baby in the back of a Buick??? Nothin’ to see here, FOLKS! Move along!” At least we all laughed.
If you’d like to hear more about what it’s REALLY like, check out No Hands But Ours, an absolutely amazing site with all kinds of info about adoption, special needs, and true day to day accounts of life as an adoptive family. Mommy and The Mess Makers was given a mention there a few days ago! Thanks, No Hands But Ours!