This blog has always been a place for me to share my heart and be vulnerable so I have to confess that these past 11 days have been very VERY hard. Ryan and I have learned that redemption does not take place as soon as the child receives a new name.
Redemption is what we are fighting for every second of every day.
It is tiring.
It is testing our faith beyond everything we can physically see with our eyes and believe with our minds.
Patience has become something I need as much as my very breathe and heartbeat.
I know that I could just show off pictures of our stinkin adorable family and no one would have to know about our trials and intense growing pains, but I believe there is power in humility and honesty.
I have always told myself that I would be open about our life because people need to know that adoption isn't just "rescuing a child". Adoption is "redemption" and redemption does not happen over night.
A part of me wants to announce that everything is awesome, he fits right in, and we can't imagine life without him... and there are definitely moments where we feel those exact things, but there have also been moments of doubt, moments of heartbeak, of anger, of hopelessness, of helplessness, of depression and desperation. I don't want to admit those feelings because I am prideful and I want to prove all the people wrong, who told us that we were ruining our lives by adopting our precious boy.
The truth is though, they were all right.
We have ruined our lives.... at least the life that we once knew.
There is no going back now and at times that is absolutely terrifying, but you know what?
Ryan and I wouldn't trade this new life for anything. Sure, we have had moments where we wonder, what the heck we have done, but that is because we are not God. We cannot see the beautiful outcome of our ruined lives. We cannot see the beauty that God is going to bring from all of the ashes of our selfishness, pride, and longing for perfection. We also cannot yet fully see the beauty that God is going to bring from the ashes of the abandonment, unspeakable neglect, and consuming fear that our little boy has embedded in his heart and brain right now... but we have gotten glimpses of that beauty and like a glimpse of the shekinah glory of God, once you see it,
NOTHING else compares.
NOTHING else matters.
Our life has never been so tiring and hard, but let me tell you, it has also NEVER been more beautiful and fulfilling!!
So without further ado, dearest blog family, please meet our amazing, silly, and incredibly sweet and smart eldest son.
Ivan (pronounced eh-von) Abraham Maxwell (6yr)
Pics from the past 11 days as a family of four!
|After almost 24 hours of navigating airports and trying to get through long flights, we finally made it to our destination and could see our family right behind a pane of glass!!|
|One beautiful reunion between a boy and his daddy!|
|Family of FOUR!!|
|Strapped in and heading HOME!!|
|YAY!!! My brother is finally here!!|
|First night at home... umm Dominos anyone!|
|He LOVES baths!!|
|So tiny! But not for long :)|
|Snuggling with mama before bed|
|First full day at home. Morning play!|
|My little bundle of JOY!! Oh how I missed that toothy smile!|
|He has a little obsession with anything with wheels. Two hands just isn't enough!|
|yeah, so I'm in love with his eyelashes :)|
|Learned how to push the lever and make the cars go|
|He likes to put the car up to his ear and listen to the sound it makes|
|Learned where to put the car. Little smartie!!|
|Just two brothers playing with their cars :)|
|Then Landon decides it's more fun to ride the track haha|
|Melts my heart EVERYTIME!|
|He was enthralled with grandma's glasses|
|Showing grandma where his nose is|
|He loves the rice bin|
|A Toby Mac song came on the radio and Landon had to start dancing. Yeah, he is hilariously crazy... we know :)|
|I was trying to get a picture of uncle Matt with Ivan when Landon came and bent right down to look in the camera lens haha. Love that kid!!|
|Being silly with Uncle Matt|
|Loves to be tickled!|
|More rice bin fun!|
|This was taken yesterday. Looking at a book together :)|
|Landon was pointing at his shirt showing him the helicopter.|
|See I have one too!! We're twinsies!!|
|I love you brother|
|I have my hands full in the very best way!!|
Okay so here is the update!!
The child we have today hardly resembles the little boy that we carried through our doorway 11 days ago.
The first couple days all Ivan wanted was to be held. Today he still wants to be held all the time, but there are times where he will willingly crawl around, explore, and play with toys. This is HUGE!!
Ivan is still learning how to play. At first, he had no interest in toys, but now he has learned to push a truck, he likes playing with blocks sometimes, and he has just begun to be interested in books!
Everyday he learns new things that would seem so small for most kids but for him, they are huge victories.
When we first brought him home his favorite form of entertainment was banging his head against anything and slamming doors. He will still try to do those things sometimes, but it is not constant anymore which proves that he is learning that he has better uses of his time now.
We are learning and figuring out what he needs together. He was never shown that he has the ability to voice how he feels or what he wants so the communication barrier is much more than just two different languages. Ivan is not used to love, attention, and the ability to make choices for himself. All of these things leave him confused and terribly afraid. Yes, he longs for them, but his heart and brain, don't know how to process them so he will often resort back to what he knows. The only way he knows how to voice his feelings to us is through aggression. It is absolutely the worst kind of heartbreak when you have to watch your child hurt themselves because they just don't know any other normal. I have had to remind myself continually that this is what God goes through for His children and He NEVER gives up on them (me). For 6 years Ivan's only way to cope with life, comfort himself, and stimulate his mind and body have been banging his head on things, biting his hand, grinding hi teeth and pulling his ears.
He doesn't know healthy emotions. Yes, he will laugh when he's tickled, but he also laughs when he gets hurt.
I can imagine now how we make our Heavenly Father feel when we choose to harm ourselves because we think it will bring comfort and satisfaction. We laugh in His face as our body/heart is left scarred by our self abuse.
And yet God is patient. He does not give up. He does not send us back into the darkness he rescued us out of.
He continues to love us when we hurt Him.
He continues to draw us toward Himself even when we push Him away.
THIS is adoption.
This is why, I can be honest and truthful about our struggles because I don't care what people may think about us. They can think what they want, Ivan is our son and going through these hard times with him only make us love him more and pray for him harder.
Yesterday we had a breakthrough...
For the first time in his life, Ivan allowed himself to be rocked asleep in the arms of his mama.
Something that every child should have as soon as they leave the comfort of the womb, but this precious little soul has waited SIX YEARS for.
In this moment, looking down at my peacefully sleeping son, the love that overcame my heart was unlike anything I've ever felt before. And in this moment, it didn't matter that just the night before he had bit me so hard I cried or that he laughs incessantly whenever I tell him no.
In this moment, all that mattered was that he is my son, and I would do absolutely anything to prove to Him that there is NOTHING he can do to make me stop loving him.
THIS is adoption.
Back to the update ;)
He is learning english very quickly. He tries to repeat words constantly. He has the sweetest little voice you've ever heard and it melts my heart everytime he says mama. He calls Landon, Lindin which is adorable! When we tell him "I love you" he says "love you too". He also knows nose, mouth, and ears and knows where they are.
Ivan and Landon seem to be bonding. At first, it was very hard for Landon since Ivan didn't know how to play with him and all he wanted was to be held by me. But they have since shared moments as brothers. Moments in the bath tub, laughing at each other, trying to steal each others food, talking to each other when they should be sleeping, looking at books together, apologizing to one another, and riding on daddy's back together. It is beautiful watching their friendship begin to grow. They know they are brothers and gladly give each other kisses and hugs. Tonight all four of us were laying in Ivan's bed and Ryan was reading a story. Ivan and Landon were laying next to each other, cuddling and poking each others noses. It was a precious moment, one of those moments, as a mother, that you take a mental picture and hide it in the treasure box of your heart.
Landon is definitely experiencing growing pains, but each day for him seems to get a little easier. In many ways Ivan is like a newborn. He requires constant attention which is growing Landon's compassion, understanding, and kindness. I am so proud of my little man.
Before I share some more pictures, I need to address one more thing... cocooning. Cocooning is an adoption term used to describe the adjustment period that a family goes through after bringing home an adopted child. Just as a caterpillar cocoons so that it can transform into a butterfly, a family keeps their adopted child protected within the walls of their home for a certain time, so that the child can form healthy attachment to the family and has time to adjust to his/her new life.
Ryan and I have made the hard decision that we will be cocooning for the next three months. This means we will not be taking Ivan anywhere except appointments and short walks outside. This may seem extreme to most people, but we know that this is what is in the best interest of our precious boy. He is very fragile right now, even a small transition can put him over the edge. He is still trying to make sense of his new life and the best way to cement his new reality into his heart and mind is to keep his world very small and protected.
We are sad because this means no traveling to see family for Thanksgiving or Christmas. It also means Ryan and I will be going to different church services for a while, but three months is a short amount of time when we compare it to the health and well being of our son. These next couple months are critical for him. He truly is transforming before our very eyes and we have no doubt that he will be a beautiful new creation as time passes and his wounds begin to heal. We have already seen SO much transformation in just a little over ONE week.
We see him beginning to let down his guard.
He melts in my arms now instead of being tense and excited the whole time.
We are getting glimpses of his true personality and he is SO amazing and sweet.
Just like how a mom begins to decipher her newborns cries and coos, I'm beginning to be able to read Ivan's signals. We have gone two days now without any meltdowns because we've started to understand the warning signs that Ivan shows when he is getting overstimulated, scared, or frustrated.
We can tell that his trust in us is growing.
We are learning and transforming together.
There is no easy path to redemption. It is messy and it often takes a very long time, but we have already seen that it is worth every hardship.
The other day I was just staring at him as he was eating and I was brought to tears by the fact that he is mine. Sometimes the majesty of it all just overwhelms me. This little boy who laid in a crib alone for 5 years is now sitting in my home eating his afternoon snack.
All I can say is, God is good and His ways are so much higher than our ways. His plan is so much better than our wildest dreams. Even in our exhaustion we cannot stop praising God for the precious gift that our Ivan is. We know God's plan for his life is amazing and we can't wait to watch it unfold.
I thought you all might enjoy a sneak peak into our life so here are a couple scenes from the past couple days.
|I was making dinner and I look over to see Landon happily sitting on Ivan so I run to get my camera but I was too late.|
|So I told Landon to sit on brother again (he wasn't hurting him, it would of just made a cute picture :) and so he goes and.....|
|pulls his ear...ummm|
|Not quite the picture I wanted, but hey, they're brothers ;)|
|Ivan making his very proud entrance|
|He's screaming BEEP BEEP lol!|
|Landon wants to join the fun|
|He decides he needs to hang on to brother...|
|this sends side saddle Ivan off the edge and Landon sliding off the back...|
|As only a father could do, Ryan swoops in, saves the trike from falling on Ivan and catches Ivan before he hits his head on the race track.|
|both of the boys think this is hilarious which adds another moment of strange brotherly bonding to their hearts.|
|Landon decides this is his perfect opportunity to steal his trike away from Ivan|
|and he makes a quick getaway|
|LOL NEVER a dull moment in this cramped (with crazy love) two bedroom apartment of ours. Loving every moment!!|
This kid has added more to our family than we ever could of imagined. It is truly hard to imagine that there was ever a moment that he was not ours.
We love you Ivan Abraham... and we will gladly spend the rest of our lives showing you the relentless love and grace of your true Savior.
I can't end this post without acknowledging the countless people that have made our adoption possible. Whether through prayer or your financial support we want you to know that you have sown eternal seeds into this little one and we pray God's boundless love and blessings over you. We could NEVER do this alone.
Also, thank you to each of the amazing families who have dropped off meals for our family. You have no idea what a blessing you have been to us. Your generosity and encouragement was such a light during some very dark, long, and tiring days.
We love you all and as always, we look forward to sharing our crazy and transforming life with you!