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Thursday, April 23, 2009

My New Mantra... Perfectly Chosen

Below is something I wrote to a new mother that used the same agency we did and adopted a baby girl. She has recently returned from Vietnam and is no doubt sleep deprived and overwhelmed being a first time mother. In an on-line yahoo group for our agency, she expressed her concerns of wondering (doubting?) if she was the best parent for her newly adopted daughter. I felt compelled to reply-

Oh Carol, my heart reached out when I read this. Welcome to real motherhood...full of worry and doubt and uncertainty and surrender and joy and hope and promise. And I don't think it matters at all if your child biologically came from your womb or came to your family through divine intervention and adoption. I want to very very purposefully say that being a mama is not without it's uncertainty and even mistakes. And in the long run, ironically it is these difficulties that make the rewards so very great. The love you have for your daughter will suffice and carry you through the tough times. As mothers, we do the best we can, with what we have. Sometimes that means making mistakes. Sometimes that means putting yourself first so that your sanity can stay in check. Sometimes it goes against the advice given from others or what's written in the know-all books. It certainly means wondering if your making the right choices as a mama and wondering if perhaps a better choice could be made next time. And later, we mamas will look back and may wish we had chosen differently. But the best we can do is all we can do, and it will be enough.

I'm not sure if your a woman of faith or not, so if you are offended by talk of God, stop reading here. I've always believed that the Lord places His children with just the right mama. And this really really made me wrestle with the concept of adoption. And I'm not sure that I entirely get it enough now to articulate it. But as soon as I was handed these sweet babies, I knew, that God placed these sweet children into my arms so that I could be their forever mama. I wasn't certain that I could do it better than someone else, (actually I'm certain I can't) but I was certain that I could try my best. God selects the perfect parents for His children. Perfect... with no mistakes. This is certain and makes me know, that even when I make mistakes and times are tough (and oh my has our family had our fair share of tough times) God chose me, perfectly, to be my children's mother.

Maybe I needed to hear this from someone else a while back. Maybe I just needed to write it down to assure myself. I hope you find some comfort in it.

As if I was looking in the mirror, I could feel her soul wondering if she made the right choice to adopt her daughter. I recognized those feelings. To me there is something so unnatural about "choosing" or rather even "ok-ing" a possible child, yet at the same time, so necessary. And after thinking about it a while, I realized that I had these same feelings with each of my children. With our first daughter, 15 years ago, I worried I was too young. With our second daughter, I worried they would be too close in age. With our 3rd child I was consumed with guilt when he was born prematurely and in the neonatal ICU. With our 4th I succumbed to the pressure of others and worried we would have too many children to spread our love. And the same was true when we adopted and were faced with an uncertain future for our newest daughter. But it truly is this knowledge that the Lord chooses the PERFECT mama for each of His children that gives me the reassurance that even though I may not being doing my job as mother perfectly, that at least I was perfectly chosen for the job. Thank you God.

Our Sunny is now at an age that she's starting to spread her wings a bit. She's off to get her driver's license in the next few weeks & will start dating soon. So many scary things in this big world. This leaves me to wonder if I did it right. Probably not. Certainly not all the time. My mantra... not perfect but perfectly chosen for the job, perfectly chosen for the job... Boo and Patch give us opportunity to correct many of the parenting mistakes we made the first times around. But these are all questions I've been wrestling with recently. Homeschooling? Was that the right decision? Tackle football or touch? How 'bout shaving? Is above the knee acceptable? What about shaving your arms? Repeat after me... not perfect, but perfectly chosen for the job...

The answers seemed to be so much easier when they were littler. Don't put things in light sockets. No you can't have dessert if you don't finish your dinner. Yes, you have to taste broccoli. Don't throw sand. But as they get older the answers get less black and white and I find myself thinking in grey. I want and need to carefully watch the women in my life that have children older than I do. Watch how they do it, what shades of grey they think in. I think I'll be repeating my mantra a lot more frequently in the future.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Packin' on the lbs

Well we finally crammed in enough sour cream, spam, ice cream, whole milk, LOTS of Duocal, cookies, edemame, Costco mini-quiches, peanut butter waffles... Tess finally hit 20lbs 0 ounces last night when I put her on the scale! YEA! I know that this number is really quite irrelevant, but it somehow sets my heart at ease. After several weight checks at the pediatricians over the last 6 months, it is obvious that both Tess and Jude are on a steady curve on the weigh charts. Granted Tess's curve is well below the 0% mark. She is on a curve of her own and steadily putting on weight. She never had a big jump in her weight after coming home from the orphanage like Jude did and like so many other institutionalized kiddos I know of. And she's gonna be a tiny wee one. She's even so small by Vietnamese standards at 0-5% on the Vietnamese growth charts. I'd like to claim that these extra fatty calories were all "good foods and good calories." But sadly Tess's diet and eating habits, although she is eating enough, are still strange. Don't know how much of that I want to get into as it still breaks my heart. But many of these extra calories are honestly anything we can get her to eat at anytime! There's something so primal about a mama feeding her child. And when it doesn't work, it can be upsetting and hurts my heart to the core. So feeding therapy is still underway and is much about me as it is about Tess.

As you can see, her chompers are all coming in. Both babies have been teething constantly since the moment we got them nearly 7 months ago now. Her work in physical therapy is doing excellently! She's running, learning to go up stairs, and climbing like a monkey. Her speech therapy hasn't progressed as well. Thankfully over the last month she is starting to make some noises. We're happy with ANY noises for now as she has always been the quietest baby and really doesn't even hardly cry. Another side affect of living in an orphanage and largely ignored the first year of her life. Babbling and eventually someday words will come too, soon I hope. 6th child and all, she does have a whole houseful of folks who talk for her. Including Jujube who now "helps" her say what she wants. "More" and "up" or he calls her name (more like hollers it!) when he's looking for her around the house. It is too stinkin' cute.

Jujube has been giving a lot of lovin' to Tess these days. Bringing her snacks and smothering her with hugs and usually has one eye on her, keeping track of her. Again, I am amazed that the Lord kept these 2 children together. There are real reasons that she needs him. Through his official classification of being "special needs" he was able to get her out of institutionalized care faster and into our arms where we could sooner start the care she needed. And reasons that he needed her too. She has progressed so rapidly with her physical therapy, that she is that one that finally got him to walk. He now has to push himself to keep up with his very quick sister and his wobbly balance is so much better than it would have been without Tess. All that in 20 short months of God's matchmaking handiwork! I wonder what else He has in store for them together.

Occupational therapy is still is still progressing, and then on Fridays we also have a therapist that works on Tess's cognitive and social development. Add 'em all up and that's 6 therapy sessions a week. I'm exhausted some nights.

And did I mention that I started to home school my 10 year old??? I know... crazy. But necessary and truth be told, I love love Patch's company and spending this extra time with him has been a surprising blessing. God again continues to surprise me with His plan.

We continue to go to the Vietnamese market as much as possible. It's become our weekend routine to find a couple recipes to try, go to the market to get the ingredients then make it our weekend project. I must say I am quite proud of my Vietnamese cooking skills, especially for a beginner. Our older girls have become expert spring roll wrappers! Yummy!! I found a great VN cookbook for beginners, that has pictures of all the ingredients so that we we go to the market, and it is SO much easier to find the ingredients. I mean it can be SO hard to pick out fish sauce in an entire ISLE of fish sauces! Ya, you should just see us towering white-people with two Asian beauties in tow, and our cookbook in hand trying to match the pictures to the plethora of jars. We stick out like sore thumbs, but it sure is fun trying! Jujube looks Vietnamese, but Tess is not stereotypical Vietnamese in appearance. And when we go to the local VN market, the Vietnamese community here still ask us where she is from. Even when we say she was born in Saigon, they still aren't sure and shake their heads and immediately come up with several theories for her irregular appearance. Maybe some Caucasian blood leftover from the French or soldiers from "American War," or maybe she's actually from Cambodia, which is actually quite close to Saigon. They comment on her dark skin tone, her big round eyes, curls in her hair, (I tried to straighten it in these pics) Who knows?! We'll never really know. She's a beauty to us!

Well, I'm not sure how much longer I'm going to continue to blog. Not sure there is anyone out there who is still reading or interested with the daily minutia of a crazy mama of 6.
PS- I HATE my camera. Hate its not a word i use lightly, but in this instance, i am very carefully selecting it. I have these wonderful people in my life that have been blessed where they can afford a nice SLR camera.  Heck, let's just be honest and call it what it is... jealousy! I am so so jealous! My old 35mm (left from my senior year in high school) did suffice when I was doing my photo/portrait work about 10 years ago, but it just doesn't hack it any more. And every thing's digital these days. Still, I LOVE to shop online for a new camera late at night and dream. So still I am using my little digital point and shoot. Not bad for a little pocket camera, hu? Maybe someday...
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