So how’s it going?
Well, if I cut right to the chase, even though we have one more child at home, totaling four kids, it’s easier than before she came.
After dinner, everyone plays, then Andrew and I put the boys down. During this time, the girls pulled out all the games and coloring books, actually putting them to use. After the boys are down, Andrew and I clean up a bit, we make tea. We sit and watch them. Sometimes we join, sometimes we let them just play together, watching their joyful interactions, their good activities.
But, the real honest best part about having J here is how smart and confident she is, and how that’s effecting the other kids. She is the second highest pupil in her class, when we play memory with her, she always wins, and we are actually trying. This is a big deal because of the effect it’s having on Maria.
Let me back up. The Philippines is a mostly Catholic nation. They place a huge value on children and have done a wonderful job with J. Her scrap book has pictures of dance class, art therapy, poetry readings These children are invested in. J comes with joy, an obvious emotional health that our two Russians lacked severely when they came home. She laughs and plays, great eye contact, no self-soothing.
Russia has values very different to Philippines, very different to here (Another discussion for another time) and it took a toll. One that honestly, we are still wading through. Maria struggles with self confidence in some areas, and is quick to give up in others, “Please, I need help. I can’t.“ Andrew and I try our best to teach her autonomy with things that are age appropriate, and other times have to help her with basic things that she should know, that she would have otherwise.
When we play memory with J, and she is cleaning house, and we are flipping when she is winning, shocked and clapping at this spunky little chica, Maria all of a sudden snapped into focus, “Oh, um, I know, where one…is…” she says, a moment of competitiveness that we hadn’t seen before.
Her whole life, she’s never had to try, could give up, no one had believed in her anyway. Something we try hard to get around. She appeased us in games, “This is fun,” she smiled, but never really had to try with us or with her brothers, slipping by without even knowing how to apply effort. But Jonalyn helps bring out her best.
“Wait–wait, it’s right, I think, there’s one I remember, one’s right here!” and she gets it!
You guys…like, she really, really gets it. And then keeps trying for longer… Applying herself, without secretly giving up.
The girls have played and played memory, shoots and ladders, candy land, for hours and hours (I love the attention span of children who have come from so little) and last night, Maria beat her! They are real competitors now, they love playing together.
It’s all a bigger blessing than I thought it would be, for everyone. It’s a gift, a real, untarnishable gift to be a part of. There were times we almost opted out for silly reasons, which now I can’t even believe.
The boys love love love her.
Finley: “I like J!”
Me: “Awww, why buddy?” looking for something concrete to think is cute.
Finley: “For…I like her.”
Me: “Yes, but why”
Finley: “For…I like her!” he looks at me, wondering why I would be repeating myself.
So this is where I am sure you are wondering about the “A word,” and why we aren’t talking about it, there are three parts:
1. We went into hosting with a hosting only mentality. Honestly, if adoption was even a possibility, we wouldn’t have even hosted. Which we then realized is silly, why exclude ourselves from one good thing, especially because the one good thing is all that is required in hosting.
“But,” we always tacked on, “God could sky write us a note in rainbow colors while she’s here…”
2. A week and a half before we picked her up, we got a call from New Horizons saying, “Of all the kids from PH, J has a relative interested in her, we don’t know their commitment level, but they show interest and just wanted you to know…”
“AWESOME!” I told her, relieved that is was just a hosting experience. Plus, the only reason we adopt is for children to get families, so if she could have a family, double score. (Prior to meeting her 😉
3. We approached hosting very lightly bonding wise. Just absorbed her into family life, and now I think it totally backfired!! In less than a week in, we are bonded to her, and it came so naturally without forcing. She is probably the easiest child ever, which helps. Bright, happy, self-entertained, determined, an easy friend to all. She’s a good fit anywhere. We know we could offer her love and a good life, but as far as we know, that’s not even an option to us.
Further bonding is happening, like at the dentist, her self-sufficient little self reached her arm out to me to grab her hand, and I felt sick seeing her in pain, proud when all the staff fell in love with her.
So, we’re all left hanging, unanswered questions, something I won’t be discussing again until we have actual answers, and we’re ok with it. Total peace that everything will work out for what is best for Jonalyn, which is our only goal.
The other night our growth group served dinner at a house for people living with AIDS, we didn’t bring the kids, but I told them about hosting and about J. “How long is she here?” they asked.
“Four weeks,” I told them.
“Well, won’t you be sad when she leaves!” one asked, astonished at the thought, a question asked often 😉
“Yep,” I told him. “But should I opt out of a situation to offer love to someone to protect my emotions? Is preserving my emotions the ultimate goal? Sadness the trump card? If it was, I guess I wouldn’t meet anyone new, love other people, just so I wouldn’t have to say goodbye. I am sure I would end up even more emotionally wimpy than if I chose to love,” I told him, explaining more than I needed to, but he smiled, “That’s great for her,” kindness in his eyes.
“That’s our hope,” I agreed.
Let us touch the dying, the lonely and the unwanted according to the grace we have received and let us not be ashamed or slow to do the humble work // Mother Teresa
I love reading about your family! I’m so glad Jonalyn is fitting in well, challenging Maria & being so loved by your whole family. My life situation is completely different to yours but once again something you wrote jumped out at me. “should I opt out of a situation to offer love to someone to protect my emotions?” God has been teaching me something similar. He’s been teaching me that by opting out of situations where I can offer love or friendship to someone – or even situations where love is offered to me & I am vulnerable – I may be protecting my heart from hurt but I am also missing out on the rich blessings that He has for me in those relationships. Opting out is my default setting so its a hard lesson for me to learn! Thank you for reminding me of it & reinforcing the lesson today. Have a very blessed Christmas & hosting period.
Great posts!! Thank you for your inspiring and POSITIVE posts!! You have brought light and attention to so many things that are unknown to so many people. I love that you use your talents to bless others!!! Merry Christmas.
I always love reading your blog bu. I just finished catching up and I just have to tell you that every time I read your blog I am inspired. God is really doing a work in the life of our family and I don’t know what path He’s going to take us down but adoption is in our thoughts and prayers as are other “purposeful” things. Your godly attitude toward life and others is so inspiring and convicting. I appreciate that you share how you struggle and how you triumph and of course always give God the glory. You and your family are such an inspiration and I want to let you know that you are inspiring us to change the world around us. Thank you for being a light in a dark world!