Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Less than 3 Days!

Are we seriously leaving in less than three days to pick up our son and bring him home?  I am in complete shock! You wait and you wait and you wait and then FINALLY the time actually comes! I'm excited and scared to death. I can't wait to get him in my arms, but I hate having to leave our 4 oldest kiddos for 2 weeks. Basically, I'm wandering around aimlessly this week trying to get things done.

A lot of people have asked us how they can help. Honestly, I don't have the answer to that because this is completely uncharted territory for us. So, I thought I would copy a portion of a blog post that I read a while back. It was written by Jen Hatmaker. (If you haven't heard of her, check her out. I love her because she is a tell-it-like-it-is, no-nonsense girl! Her website is )

"Supporting Families After the Airport
You went to the airport. The baby came down the escalator to cheers and balloons. The long adoption journey is over and your friends are home with their new baby / toddler / twins / siblings / teenager. Everyone is happy. Maybe Fox News even came out and filmed the big moment and “your friend” babbled like an idiot and didn’t say one constructive word about adoption and also she looked really sweaty during her interview. (Really? That happened to me too. Weird.)

How can you help? By not saying or doing these things:

1. I mean this nicely, but don’t come over for awhile. Most of us are going to hole up in our homes with our little tribe and attempt to create a stable routine without a lot of moving parts. This is not because we hate you; it’s because we are trying to establish the concept of “home” with our newbies, and lots of strangers coming and going makes them super nervous and unsure, especially strangers who are talking crazy language to them and trying to touch their hair.

2. Please do not touch, hug, kiss, or use physical affection with our kids for a few months. We absolutely know your intentions are good, but attachment is super tricky with abandoned kids, and they have had many caregivers, so when multiple adults (including extended family) continue to touch and hold them in their new environment, they become confused about who to bond with. This actually delays healthy attachment egregiously. It also teaches them that any adult or stranger can touch them without their permission, and believe me, many adoptive families are working HARD to undo the damage already done by this position. Thank you so much for respecting these physical boundaries.

3. For the next few months, do not assume the transition is easy. For 95% of us, it so is not. And this isn’t because our family is dysfunctional or our kids are lemons, but because this phase is so very hard on everyone. I can’t tell you how difficult it was to constantly hear: “You must be so happy!” and “Is life just so awesome now that they’re here??” and “Your family seems just perfect now!” I wanted that to be true so deeply, but I had no idea how to tell you that our home was actually a Trauma Center. (I did this in a passive aggressive way by writing
this blog, which was more like “An Open Letter to Everyone Who Knows Us and Keeps Asking Us How Happy We Are.”) Starting with the right posture with your friends – this is hard right now – will totally help you become a safe friend to confide in / break down in front of / draw strength from.

4. Do not act shocked if we tell you how hard the early stages are. Do not assume adoption was a mistake. Do not worry we have ruined our lives. Do not talk behind our backs about how terribly we’re doing and how you’re worried that we are suicidal. Do not ask thinly veiled questions implying that we are obviously doing something very, very wrong. Do not say things like, “I was so afraid it was going to be like this” or “Our other friends didn’t seem to have these issues at all.” Just let us struggle. Be our friends in the mess of it. We’ll get better.

5. If we’ve adopted older kids, please do not ask them if they “love America so much” or are “so happy to live in Texas.” It’s this simple: adoption is born from horrible loss. In an ideal world, there would be no adoption, because our children would be with their birth families, the way God intended. I’ll not win any points here, but I bristle when people say, “Our adopted child was chosen for us by God before the beginning of time.” No he wasn’t. He was destined for his birth family. God did not create these kids to belong to us. He didn’t decide that they should be born into poverty or disease or abandonment or abuse and despair aaaaaaaall so they could finally make it into our homes, where God intended them to be. No. We are a very distant Plan B. Children are meant for their birth families, same as my biological kids were meant for mine. Adoption is one possible answer to a very real tragedy… after it has already happened, not before as the impetus for abandonment. There is genuine grief and sorrow when your biological family is disrupted by death and poverty, and our kids have endured all this and more. So when you ask my 8-year-old if he is thrilled to be in Texas, please understand that he is not. He misses his country, his language, his food, his family. Our kids came to us in the throes of grief, as well they should. Please don’t make them smile and lie to you about how happy they are to be here.

6. Please do not disappear. If I thought the waiting stage was hard, it does not even hold the barest candle to what comes after the airport. Not. The. Barest. Candle. Never have I felt so isolated and petrified. Never have I been so overwhelmed and exhausted. We need you after the airport way more than we ever needed you before. I know you’re scared of us, what with our dirty hair and wild eyes and mystery children we’re keeping behind closed doors so they don’t freak out more than they already have, but please find ways to stick around. Call. Email. Check in. Post on our Facebook walls. Send us funny cards. Keep this behavior up for longer than six days.

Here’s what we would love to hear or experience After the Airport:

1. Cook for your friends. Put together a meal calendar and recruit every person who even remotely cares about them. We didn’t cook dinners for one solid month, and folks, that may have single handedly saved my sanity. There simply are not words to describe how exhausting and overwhelming those first few weeks are, not to mention the lovely jetlag everyone came home with. And if your friends adopted domestically right up the street, this is all still true, minus the jetlag.

2. If we have them, offer to take our biological kids for an adventure or sleepover. Please believe me: their lives just got WHACKED OUT, and they need a break, but their parents can’t give them one because they are 1.) cleaning up pee and poop all day, 2.) holding screaming children, 3.) spending all their time at doctors’ offices, and 4.) falling asleep in their clothes at 8:15pm. Plus, they are in lockdown mode with the recently adopted, trying to shield them from the trauma that is Walmart.

3. Thank you for getting excited with us over our little victories. I realize it sounds like a very small deal when we tell you our kindergartener is now staying in the same room as the dog, but if you could’ve seen the epic level of freakoutedness this dog caused her for three weeks, you would understand that this is really something. When you encourage us over our incremental progress, it helps. You remind us that we ARE moving forward and these little moments are worth celebrating. If we come to you spazzing out, please remind us where we were a month ago. Force us to acknowledge their gains. Be a cheerleader for the healing process.

4. Come over one night after our kids are asleep and sit with us on our porch. Let me tell you: we are all lonely in those early weeks. We are home, home, home, home, home. Good-bye, date nights. Good-bye, GNO’s. Good-bye, spontaneous anything. Good-bye, church. Good-bye, big public outings. Good-bye, community group. Good-bye, nightlife. So please bring some community to our doorstep. Bring friendship back into our lives. Bring adult conversation and laughter. And bring an expensive bottle of wine.

5. If the shoe fits, tell adopting families how their story is affecting yours. If God has moved in you over the course of our adoption, whether before the airport or after, if you’ve made a change or a decision, if somewhere deep inside a fire was lit, tell us, because it is spiritual water on dry souls. There is nothing more encouraging than finding out God is using our families for greater kingdom work, beautiful things we would never know or see. We gather the holy moments in our hands every day, praying for eyes to see God’s presence, his purposes realized in our story. When you put more holy moments in our hands to meditate on, we are drawn deeper into the Jesus who led us here.

Here’s one last thing: As you watch us struggle and celebrate and cry and flail, we also want you to know that adoption is beautiful, and a thousand times we’ve looked at each other and said, “What if we would’ve said no?” God invited us into something monumental and lovely, and we would’ve missed endless moments of glory had we walked away. We need you during these difficult months of waiting and transitioning, but we also hope you see that we serve a faithful God who heals and actually sets the lonely in families, just like He said He would. And even through the tears and tantrums (ours), we look at our children and marvel that God counted us worthy to raise them. We are humbled. We’ve been gifted with a very holy task, and when you help us rise to the occasion, you have an inheritance in their story; your name will be counted in their legacy.

Because that day you brought us pulled pork tacos was the exact day I needed to skip dinner prep and hold my son on the couch for an hour, talking about Africa and beginning to bind up his emotional wounds. When you kidnapped me for two hours and took me to breakfast, I was at the very, very, absolute end that morning, but I came home renewed, able to greet my children after school with fresh love and patience. When you loved on my big kids and offered them sanctuary for a night, you kept the family rhythm in sync at the end of a hard week.

Thank you for being the village. You are so important."

I wholeheartedly echo her sentiment "THANK YOU for being the village. You are SO important!"

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Birthday Letter

Today is our "little man's" 2nd birthday! To say that it's been a difficult day, knowing that he's not home with us yet, would be an understatement. But, my  heart is full of joy knowing that this is the last birthday/holiday he will spend without us!

Dear "Little Man",

Today is a special day! It's your 2nd birthday! Oh how mommy wishes she were with you today. I wish I had been there when you first woke up to take you in my arms, kiss your sweet, chubby cheeks and tell you "Happy Birthday" and that "I love you". I wish I could have made you a special birthday breakfast (or snuck out for doughnuts) and had cake and ice cream with our entire family. I wish I could have seen you open gifts for probably the first time in your life. But guess what, mommy's wishing is soon going to be a reality! In less than 3 weeks, you'll be in my arms....for good! Today was the last birthday that you'll spend without us! Soon, very soon I will be there each morning when you wake up. Very soon I will be telling you how much I love about a million times a day. Soon I will kissing those sweet, chubby cheeks over and over and over. And, once your home, we'll sneak out for doughnuts as much as you want (I know your brothers and sisters won't complain about that)! I love you with everything that I am and I humbled and honored that God has chosen to place you into our family. I will spend the rest of my days making sure you know that you are loved, wanted and secure! So, HAPPY BIRTHDAY my sweet son! I love you more than you could ever possibly know! 

Love,  Mommy

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

One Month From Today

Exactly one month from today, we will arrive back in Texas with our 5th child. Our family of 7 will FINALLY be together for the first time. Just the thought of seeing all five of our kids together in the same room brings tears to my eyes! Our 16 month journey has been filled with ups and downs. It's been filled with laughter and tears. It's been filled with joy and pain. Through it all though, God has been faithful! He's been faithful to bring our son home in His perfect time.

Troy and I are humbled that God has seen fit to place our "little man" into our family. We know however, that this privilege is not going to necessarily be an easy road. It's probably going to be extremely bumpy road at first! We (the people he's only met a few times in his life) will be bringing him home (across the ocean) to a country that speaks a completely different language than he does. He will be bombarded with four other "little people" who are running around like crazy calling him brother and calling us mom & dad. That would be a lot for us as adults to take in, much less a 2 yr old. That being said, things are going to look a lot different for a while in the Cole household.

Those of you that know me well know that I am DEFINITELY not a "home"body, but that's about to have to change. Our sweet "little man" has spent the first 2 years of his life not having a clue what a family is like. He's spent the first 2 years not having a clue what true love and security look like. We've got 2 years to make up for. So, we will spending the first few weeks (or however long it takes) devoting all of our time to helping him attach and helping him feel secure. We ask that you allow us to be the only ones to meet his needs (i.e., feeding, changing, holding, etc...) until we know that he has attached to us as his parents. It's really easy for children that have been in an orphanage to attach to whomever shows them attention. We do not want this to be the case. Please do not be offended if we aren't "out and about" for a while and if we ask you not to hold him, etc. You have NO idea how hard it's going to be for me to not run out our first day home and take him door-to-door to everyone's home and show him off! However, the needs of our son must come first.

This is completely uncharted territory for Troy and me. Bringing home a toddler from an orphanage is completely different than bringing home your biological baby from the hospital, so we covet your prayers! We truly want to do what is in the best interest of our son. We want to do whatever we can to help him heal and attach.

Your support has meant and continues to mean the world to us. We absolutely could not have done this without your prayers! If you've ever wondered if you're prayers have made a difference, let me tell you with 100% certainty....they HAVE! Our son is only coming home by the powerful prayers of the righteous! As a mother, there's no way I can express how thankful I am. I am amazed at the body of Christ and the willingness of believers to lift up (day after day) a fellow brother and sister in Christ. Thank you, thank you, thank you from the bottom of my heart!

Our son is coming home! There will be ONE LESS orphan very, very soon!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

A Few Pictures

We've been home a week and I think I have finally recovered from the jet lag fog I was in! For some reason, the jet lag was a lot harder on me this time.

All of the pictures I would love to share with you are of our "little man". Since I can't yet, hopefully some pictures of his home town will do.