What About "Our" Kids?

Tomorrow will mark Noah's 20th day home from school since Christmas break began. Snowpocolypse 2014 still has us snowed in, and to be honest, we are loving it! After spending the first 6 weeks home from China cocooning, staying home is kind of our new thing. Don't get me wrong - I have needed breaks and have been thankful for a girl's night and my first date with Ryan post-China (breakfast at Panera and Saving Mr. Banks afterward - so good!). However, I LOVE having Noah home with the boys and me. Seeing them play together for the past 19 days has honestly made me think a lot about what adoption does to the biological kids in a family.

One step closer
Throughout the adoption process, Noah gained the knowledge that there are children in the world who need families. He learned about a little boy in China who lived in an orphanage. Noah understood that Tucker was waking up just as he was heading to bed, and that when Noah was waking up in the morning, Tucker was getting ready to sleep. He watched Ryan and me go through the emotional roller coaster that our wait for LOA brought, including me completely falling to pieces and crying harder than I have in my adult life, thinking that Tucker would never come home.

Meeting Noah

Meeting Liam
Then while we were in China, I watched as Noah and Liam met their new brother for the first time. I saw them having fun with their grandparents while we were away, and then toward the end of the trip, I could see how ready they were for us to come home. When we flew home and first met eyes at the airport, I saw them look at Tucker for the time. I knew, without them saying a word, how much they had missed us. Lord knows we missed them.

I still get tears in my eyes when I think about this moment
I saw how after we first got home, the honeymoon quickly ended. The excitement to have a new brother faded away. Noah missed the days of our family of four, and Liam did not want to share a single item with Tucker, which resulted in LOTS of screaming. I prayed for God to soften Liam's heart...that he would accept his new brother. We showered Noah with lots of one-on-one time and gently worked with Liam and Tucker, showing them how to play with one another.

The transition was hard on every single one of us. This is exactly what parents think about when they are considering adoption. They wonder, "How will this affect our kids?"

I get it. I really do get it. It is a natural thing to consider and to question, just as you do when you are thinking about having another biological child. However, many kids who are adopted come from hard places. That is the key difference. You are bringing a child into your home without having any idea what he or she has experienced and how those experiences will affect the child's ability to form relationships with your other children.

If we hadn't brought Tucker home...

...Noah might never have SHINED like he does in his role as big brother. He leads his little brother in ways I never would have imagined. When Liam and Tucker need something, Noah is often the first one to help them out. When the little boys want to watch Noah playing a game, he pulls up chairs for them or moves to a place where they can see. When Tucker wants to play with something Noah has in his hands, he oftentimes says that he is all done and happily gives it to him. Noah has showed his brothers how to pray, helps them when they are in the middle of a conflict, and leads them in games and activities. I have told Noah many times that God chose him to be the big brother in our family, and although it is a big job, God knew that Noah could handle the job. I can say with all honesty that Noah's heart grew 10 times bigger having Tucker in our family. He looks out for Tucker and is more gracious and patient with his brothers than I feel sometimes. It gives me accountability and makes me a better mom.

Baby burrito, anyone?

If Tucker never came home...

...Liam might never have learned how to happily share and take turns with his toys. Seriously, this child went from having a death grip on anything Tucker looked at to later playing with something for a short time and then handing it to Tucker saying, "Here, Tucka, it's your turn" without anyone asking him to do so. When Liam finds a toy to play with, he will often find Tucker something similar to play with, too. With Noah at school all day five days a week, Liam now has a best buddy to play with all day long. He consoles Tucker when he gets hurt and laughs hysterically when playing with his brother. Liam also is teaching Tucker how to pray, and without knowing so, he is helping Tucker learn English, climb stairs, run faster, and how to follow the rules in our home. Tucker has given Liam the opportunity to be a leader, and he often steps up to the plate.

Our boys - Noah, Liam, and Tucker - will grow up with the knowledge and belief that EVERY CHILD DESERVES A FAMILY. Adoption won't be as scary to them. It will be their norm, the familiar, no big deal. I love that!

We all want our children to grow up to be these amazing, incredible people who love others and leave a positive print on the world, right? One of the best ways to create those kinds of kids is to give them opportunities to be just that. If we don't challenge them with difficult situations, how will they grow? If they have the chance to love the least of these as children, maybe they will find it easier to continue that behavior as adults.

Of course this isn't easy. Raising a family is not easy. Having siblings is not easy. Someday, someone will tell Noah or Liam that Tucker isn't their real brother...that we aren't his real parents. Someday, someone will ask us how much Tucker cost us...in front of our children. Someday, someone will make fun of Tucker because he doesn't look like us. We are teaching Noah (and someday Liam and Tucker) how to handle those situations. They will be prepared to show how love makes a family and nothing else.

So you wonder how it will affect your other children? I hope this post helps you see that even though it's not always a cake walk (few sibling relationships are 100% of the time), the way that I've seen Tucker's presence in our family grow Noah and Liam in nearly 12 weeks brings tears to my eyes. Our boys have become REAL brothers even when my own heart sometimes falls into hard places. They inspire me. They help me see that even when my heart feels disconnected (which still happens every couple weeks lately), glue has already connected the three of them through and through. These brothers help me believe that we are a REAL family.

On December 14th, I saw the picture of a child who caught my eye. Our adoption agency has given him the name, Tate, and he lives in Chongqing, China (where Tucker is from) in an orphanage called Love Manor. I have heard incredible things about Love Manor in terms of it being a very nice orphanage where the children are well-cared for by the nannies. He will turn 9 years old in just a couple months. He has a repaired cleft lip, and his palate is 98% closed. Is he beautiful or what? My heart seriously skipped a beat when I saw this precious boy. He lives with a foster family within the orphanage, so he has the ability to experience a more natural family situation than many kids who are raised in a more traditional orphanage setting. He loves to play outside, shares with his family, and cares for his younger siblings. For reasons we will never know, his file to be adopted was just created this summer. This means he has waited a very long time for the chance to be adopted. In just five years, he will "age out," and his opportunity to be adopted will end. Please do not let this boy wait any longer.

The unknown can be overwhelming and even scary. You might wonder what having Tate in your family would do to your other children (if you have other children already). My guess is that his presence would bless your children and your family in ways they would never experience otherwise. I pray his face sticks in your mind like it has in mine. All he needs is a family. I hope you are his family.

1 comment:

Trina Stull said...

Hi Amy!
I do not know you, however, I went to high school with Tara Tracy. My name is Trina Stull. Tara posted a link to your blog on FB on one of our mutual friends page. Anyways, I just read your first few posts and they have been so encouraging and heart warming to me!! We are also in the process of adopting from china, and have two biological boys of our own too! I especially appreciated your thoughts regarding what the adjustment has been like for you biological children. As much as I know we are in the Lord's will and we are so excited for what lies ahead, we know there will be struggles along the way. I would love to connect with you sometime, if that wouldn't be too weird!! You can find me on Facebook. I love finding others who have adopted, learning about their journey, what to expect, and gaining any ounce of wisdom we can! Thank you for sharing your story!

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