Friday, March 29, 2013

Potty Training

Ok so this is a bit weird, but I am actually enjoying potty training. Unexpected? Yes, totally. I cannot tell you how much I've feared it. The mere thought of transitioning from diapers to big boy pants would make my palms sweat.

But I hate diapers. And Isaiah is an all or nothing kind of kid. As long as he has a diaper he won't commit to asking to going to the potty when he needs to.

Yesterday after I picked Isaiah up from school I told him he could wear his big boy pants. He was sooooo excited. "You can wear your big boy pants, but when you need to go potty you need to tell mommy. You don't want to get your big boy pants dirty." And with that he was running around in nothing but Thomas the Tank Engine undies.

Reluctant to go on the potty until it was too late I changed his undies every 10-15 minutes for the first few hours. What an exhausting experience, running to the potty with pee dripping down his leg only to get him seated and hear "all done!" without even the slightest hint of a tinkle in the pot.

Here we are 36 hours in and I am so amazed. We've had a few accidents but nothing like at the beginning. He even woke up dry from his nap. Talk about making a mommy proud!

We are by no means out of the woods. Isaiah loves wearing big boy pants and doesn't want to get them dirty, but also doesn't want to stop playing. Jelly beans have been a big help with motivation, but sometimes playing trucks just takes priority and accidents happen. We'll get there and hopefully it will be sooner rather than later....Tomorrow we're going to a friend's house to dye eggs. At least she has wood floors!

Monday, March 18, 2013

Welcomed Home

We're coming up to 5 months since Isaiah came home and he is such different child now. There were always little glimpses of the real Isaiah peeking out. Looking back now I can see he was grieving, but grief is hard to identify and understand in a two year old.

My social worker told me he would grieve for his foster mom and in theory I know this would happen. I imagined Isaiah would be shy and insecure at first. I remembered my training and had a plan. We would be joined at the hip and I would work hard at attachment. I'd read the books after all. I knew the stages.

I didn't expect the pushing and pulling. The melt down because he wanted a cuddle this instant only to be pushed away with an angry hand when I went to give a hug. Or the morning Isaiah pointed to the picture of his foster mom and I said, "Yes, that's Ms Debi." And he screamed back at me "No! Mommy!" Or the way he grieved for his foster siblings and refused to play with other children. If they approached him he would yell, "No!" and hide behind me.

I didn't expect the separation anxiety. I couldn't even go to the bathroom without Isaiah desending into a full blown panic attack. Or the nightmares when he would start screaming and hitting something imaginary. Refusing to be comforted when we came to him.

By the end of the most days I didnt want to see Isaiah anymore and I didnt like myself. I felt like a failure. Afraid to say anything because prior to Isaiah being placed with us we had worked hard to convince social workers that we would be great parents. Sure they told us they were there to support, but I lived in fear that they might think they had made a wrong decision and take him away.

It wasn't all bad though. The real Isaiah was always there, just under the surface. And at many points throuout the day he would be his silly happy self. And more than anything I loved him despite the difficulties. I just didn't understand that the moodiness was grief.

I write this because today Isaiah is a totally different child. He is confident and open. He is happy and inquisitive. He charms everyone he meets and although we still have temper tantrums they seem to be the normal two year old kind! Isaiah is a delight to be with and I miss him when we're apart. I can't get enough of him and love when he scoots up into my lap for a cuddle.

From the moment I saw Isaiah's picture I knew he was my son and desperately wanted him. I have loved him from that very moment and feel priviledged to be his mommy. I see plainly that yes, adoption is wonderful. We have a son and Isaiah has parents. But adoption is born from loss and grief is a fact of life.

Thank God that he is in the business of making beauty from ashes. That He knows the condition of our hearts and loves perfectly. That He sets the lonely in families and tells the most amazing stories with our lives. I feel privileged to be Isaiah's mommy, but even more so to be God's child. Adopted into His family. Welcomed home and my grieving and broken heart made whole.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

The Hope of Healing

For a year now I've spent nearly every Tuesday evening at our local therapeutic group home for foster children. The opportunity to visit with the children and teens that live there is a tremendous privilege. Still, without fail at the end of the evening I leave with a heavy heart.

This evening was no different. As we worked on a craft project one of the girls who just returned from a visit with her mom said cheerfully, "I found out my dad's real name today!" She was very excited to finally know the actual name of her father. However, this new disclosure now throws doubt on other things she thought were true. She is so young and doesn't know what to believe.

There is always something. Words spoken that remind me of the deep brokenness in their lives. I leave fully aware that I don't have what it takes to heal them. I can't give love big enough to wipe away the pain and anger.

What do you say to a child who tells you the scar on their newly shaved head resulted from a hit with a candle stick? Or that they just got out of jail for stabbing someone and have no problem doing it again if insulted? Or that their case worker says they get to go home the next day, but the following week they are still there? Or the one you believed was turning a new leaf and is now in prison awaiting trial for manslaughter?

I love that scripture describes Jesus as a man of suffering. He, the very son of God, knows the pain of sin. He carried it. He defeated it.

And so at the end of every Tuesday I share my heavy heart with Him. I am reminded that those children are His and He cares for them much more than I ever could. He pursues them with the love needed for healing. He takes broken lives and instead of just mending them, gives new life.

My hear is heavy, but my spirit soars. The hope of healing pushes me back every week. I can't get enough. I am hungry for it.

"For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God." Ephesians 3:14-19

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Heart Strings

Each year, as part of my job, I coordinate Bristow Academy's presence at Heli Expo. The show is a great opportunity to meet new aviation friends and catch up with old ones. Undoubtably my favorite part is seeing graduates who the first time I met them were considering starting flight training and are now off flying their dream jobs.

This year the show was held in Vegas from March 5-7. After flying to Houston to drop Isaiah off with my parents we then flew to Vegas, arriving a couple days in advance to set everything up.

I don't gamble or smoke and only drink a glass of wine or two on special occasions. Although these three vices seem to be the main sources of entertainment in Vegas, I was still excited to go and experience a new city.

Our trip started well and we caught glimpses of the Grand Canyon from our airplane window. After collecting our bags we headed out to the shuttle stop and waited with a group for a ride to our hotel. I've taken many shared shuttles and have always felt comfortable. Even last year when our driver got hopelessly lost and we bumped our way through an alley of potholes the entire experience was inconvenient, not uncomfortable. Vegas however, is not for the naive.

As it turned out the loud drunk guy from the plane shared our bus and about half way through the journey started asking where he could buy weed. The young Australian teen sitting next to him said he was looking for weed to and so they exchanged phone numbers promising to call each other so they could "get their heads right". I was thankful to arrive at our hotel and escape the whole uncomfortable situation.

The Expo went wonderfully and we even managed to take in the show. Le Reve was extraordinary and we were blown away by the strength, skill, and grace of the cast.

By the third day I missed my little Isaiah much more than I expected. When we called to speak with him on the phone he started screaming "Mommy mommy mommy!" and wailing loudly. We told Isaiah we love him, would see him soon, and quickly hung up. It was too late though, my heart had already shattered into a million pieces. Mom called back later and said Isaiah had calmed down very quickly and happily gone back to exploring the backyard. Calmed down or not, all I wanted was to board the next plane and hold my little boy.

I hadn't expected to miss Isaiah so much. I don't know if I have it in me to leave him again and am thankful that I don't have any more work commitments that would require me to. This whole mommy thing is new to me and I am surprised all the time with the changes that quietly make a home in my heart. Sometimes, like this time, I'm not aware of those changes until they overtake me. It's as if I have little strings tied to my heart. I'm not sure how many there are and only discover one when it is individually pulled.

The highlight of the trip was having dinner with the Helimission folks also exhibiting at the Expo. Both Ben and I were delighted to meet Brian, a pilot who had served with Helimission for fourteen years. Aware that working on the field opens you up to all kinds of difficulties we asked how we could best guard our hearts and relationships. Brian spoke of keeping your family tight and loyalty to one another. He spoke about protecting each other spiritually, emotionally, mentally, and physically.

Thinking back on our conversation I am reminded of my wedding vows. My solemn vow to be Ben's faithful partner in sickness and in health, in good times and in bad, and in joy as well as in sorrow. Such few and simple words. Words spoken in love, but also spoken well before any real heartache found us.

In everything I think of God, the loving Father who couldn't bare to be apart from His children and so made a way for redemption. And of Jesus, the ever faithful lover of my soul. I think King David sang it best in his psalm:

Where can I go from your Spirit?
    Where can I flee from your presence?

If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
    if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
    if I settle on the far side of the sea,
10 even there your hand will guide me,
    your right hand will hold me fast.

Psalm 139:7-10