Monday, January 16, 2012

2 Months Home - How We're Doing, Really.

This is a question I get all the time.  "Everything sounds great, but how are you really doing?!".  So today, right now, I'm going to spare you the "oh, good - we're doing really good" answer, and give you the real deal.  Raw and unabridged.

Because the truth is, we are doing good.  Really good.  But there is so, so much more to it than that.

The last 2 months (and one day...!) have been hard.  They've been messy.  They've been exhausting.  They've been confusing.  Any new mommy & daddy would say the same thing - newborn or otherwise.  But bringing a 3 year old into a brand new family is different.  Not harder or easier - just different.  Carter came with an established personality - a muddy past - and an attachment to....well - no one, really.

I think I was naive to think that after we got home, if we just got that boy some love and some healthy food that we'd be on the road to success.  In part, this is true.

Huge difference, right?!

We have seen the difference that a little lovin' makes - and it's huge.  Monumental.  But this 3 year old boy needs more than a little love and veggies.

Like discipline.  How do you discipline someone you're trying desperately to attach to?  Very carefully.  Being a preschool teacher for 7 years - I have all they keys to unlock the mysterious mind of a naughty preschooler.  I know just what to say and just how to handle the most out-of-control child.  And on top of that, they would love me in return.  But Carter is different.  He is fragile.  Don't let his healthy figure and cute smile fool you.  He is fragile.  He is trying to explore his world.  His new world.  He is working out, in his mind, all the exciting - intriguing - incredible things around him.  And when I see his mind working, and the gears are turning - it's hard for me to step in and say 'NO!'.  I do say no-no.  Often.  But each time, I wonder if that's really what's best.  I know - he needs to learn discipline - and he does understand no-no.  But this kid is just walking around, enjoying life.  Totally sucking the marrow out of it.  And we're telling him 'no-no'.

Sometimes, Carter gets a gentle hand tap.  Enter, Christmas tree (so stinkin' glad it's gone!).  And I know he needs that little slap, but as I'm doing it, I can't help but wonder who has done it in the past.  Not on his hands - but on his face, head, back...?  And again, I wonder if that's really what's best.

See what I mean?  Messy.

We are go-ers.  Always on the go.  It's our nature.  Being-doing-seeing-going is in our blood, somehow.  But as a family who just brought home a 3 year old, 'going' should not be part of our daily activities.  In fact - instead of being-doing-seeing-going, we should be sitting-listening-quieting-holding.  It's easier said than done, trust us.  After spending 30+ days in a tiny apartment in Ukraine, we were ready to hit the ground running the day we got home.  And we couldn't.  Then, after a week of staying home - we were ready to get back to our old being-doing-seeing-going ways.  A tip to those of you about to embark on this incredible journey:  When you think your child is ready for xyz, wait another week.  When you think you're ready for xyz, wait another 2 weeks.  Once you let that person snuggle your baby, or you start running errands with your child, or whatever - it's really, really hard to get it back.  It's nearly impossible to go back and say 'you're snuggling too much' or to tell yourself 'the errands can wait until later' - because it's already been done - so what can the harm be in doing it more?!

See what I mean?  Exhausting.  Confusing.  This is the reality of adoption.  I don't ever want to make this journey look easy.  It's not.

That's not to say that it's not good.  That it's not incredible.  Amazing.  Rewarding.  Because of course, it is all of those things.  But it's not easy.

Recently we've been noticing that Carter generally doesn't choose us.  He doesn't necessarily look for us.  He will excitedly reach out to be held by strangers.  This is not so good.  We know, it's only been two months.  But we've had to take a little step back in our attachment process, and re-do - or maybe un-do - some things.  Less snuggles and kisses from others.  More snuggles and kisses from us (if that's even possible!).  We know that we'll get there - but we only have one shot at this.  We can't worry about stepping on someones toes when our son's attachment is at stake.

Someone recently told me we shouldn't worry about attachment, because he'll naturally attach to us - eventually.  Unfortunately, it just doesn't work that way when we're dealing with a newly-adopted 3 year old.  Everyone's an expert, you know?!

So, as I'm sitting here enjoying my coffee - rambling on about sweet boy is laughing big belly laughs in his highchair, enjoying the last bits of breakfast.  Please, don't misunderstand.  We are so abundantly blessed.  Incredibly happy.  But don't think for a second that this is a piece of cake.

It's tough stuff - this adoption journey.  But so, so worth it.


In the past month, Carter has picked up so many new things.  We're really amazed with how quickly he learns and implements new signs.  In the past week or so, he's added 'milk', 'water', 'cat', 'bird', 'baby' (for 'Baby Signing Time', I'm not having a baby, people!) , and 'shoes'.  He's been babbling a little more - and not just the same 'ahhh-ahhh-AH' sound.  Lots of different syllables and sounds that we've not heard from him before.  He's also been enjoying the freedom of using his voice.  At home, he can sometimes be loud and silly - he laughs for no apparent reason.....I think because he CAN.  Nobody is going to tell him to stop or be quiet.

Physically, he's been making strides, too.  The walking is going well - and we've been just waiting for him to figure out how to go from a 'sit' to a 'stand' without the use of a couch or a wall.  Well - yesterday, he did it.  He was sitting on the floor, and he just got his little legs where they needed to be....and he stood right up.  My heart almost burst - you just don't know how proud I am to watch our boy learn new things.

A lot more 'heart burst' moments ahead, I'm sure.  This mama is ready!


I've been getting a slew of nasty comments from all those adoption-hating trolls.  I can take it - they don't really affect me.  However, they've recently been attacking another sweet Reece's Rainbow family in the comments that they leave here.  I know, it's ridiculous.  But because these comments could affect and hurt other people - I'm turning on 'comment moderation'.  That means that if you leave me a comment, I'll have to approve it before it gets posted.  I'll still have to read their absurd comments, but at least they won't be posted here for others to read.

Really, I just don't get it.  As I've said before - move along, ugliness.


2 months home.  Some days it feels like years - only because he fits in so well.  And other days, we're reminded that this is still all so new and fresh for Carter.

2 months home.  I got a text from my Uncle Greg yesterday - 'when are you adopting again, I'm running out of chocolate!'.  Love it.  I guess it's time to start praying about the next one.

Okay - maybe not :)

2 months home.  Praising God for our friends & family who have walked alongside us the past two months.  Grateful they understand that this is tough stuff.

2 months.

One Thing I Know For Sure: 2 months - 60 days - 1,440 hours....Loved every one of the 86,400 minutes.


  1. Ashley, being "real" is difficult for any mama. We love our babies so much that sometimes it seems like it would come across ungrateful or would be misunderstood if we said, "wow, this is hard." but all things worth while are, and there is such power in being honest and receiving support, especially from other mommies who won't judge you and will say,"preach it, sister... this mama stuff is messy... but isn't it awesome?" :) all that to say, i love following along here and seeing how carter has become a part of your family. praise the lord for what he is doing through rr. :)

  2. Perfectly put! Your words could have come from my own mouth. It is so hard, even 1.5 years later, trying to explain to others how Zoya is fragile because of her past. Trying to find that balance between remembering his past and fragility and not letting it play such a huge role that it interferes with life in general...oh it's so so so hard!!! Wondering and second guessing all the time, as any parent would, but also with much higher standards because of the whole "adoption" thing and not wanting to do the wrong thing and "ruin" your child. It's so so hard! Trying to find the balance is hard! I totally agree!

  3. Love hearing how Carter is doing at home. Even when it isn't all sunshine and roses. I like what you said about waiting to go places. I remember a mom telling me once that right after you have a baby you should stay in your bathrobe for at least 2 weeks because once you get dressed and go places everyone assumes you are healed and ready to get back to normal. I am hoping we can take your advice and just hang out as a family for the first 2 weeks. Thanks for keeping us updated.

    Carlene's soon to be momma :)

  4. Congratulations on your little guy Carter. He is a very sweet handsome little guy. Thank you for being honest and so open with your readers. I have always wanted to adopt since I was a young girl. But my husband is not willing right now. God's will be done. We have four boys. Our third son's name is Carter. Thank you again and Happy 2012!

  5. Ummm....ya...I'm running out of chocolate too, even after I bought some on someone's blog auction that Rachel donated! LOL

    Thanks for this post have made it look easy. :-) I look back on our past year and yes, it has been MESSY and HARD, very HARD. Hardest year of my life I think and it is still not easy, it is still HARD, very HARD. But very, very GOOD! And quite honestly, I need to see more of the "good" than the "hard". It's a new year, and a good one it will be. It can't be as dramatic as last year for either of us...Can it??? Only the Lord knows. :-)

  6. This is a great post... very well said and very well explained! Sometimes it is hard to do that. :)

    And I can't believe this is Antonio! I remember so many advocating for him!

  7. Ashley, One of the reasons I love your blog posts is because they are all raw and honest. I can see some of our early days in what you have to say. We had to hit the ground running with four other children in our care... bus stops, gymnastics, play dates, grocery stores, etc. And although it would have been better for Micah to adjust more slowly, he has done great! He's a trooper. It took literally the last 6 months to see that he's completely attached to us and wants us, looks for us, etc. I didn't notice it until December after Christmas.. he cries for us now. It makes me sad, but I know he's attached without a doubt now. You are a great mommy and only YOU know what's right for your child(ren) and how he's doing. I love how strong you are! Love, Shelly

  8. Thanks for your honesty! It's so helpful to know how attachment really develops.

  9. Thanks for writing this post. It helps me and all other hopefully future adoptive mamas not to get too carried away by the cute photos and to understand that it is hard work, but beautiful and good work.


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