Monday, June 11, 2007

Reality Check!

(Disclaimer #1: I try not to live my life based on pole results, nor did I start this BLOG in order to win any popularity contests.)
(Disclaimer #2: I have no idea where this entry is going.)
(Disclaimer #3: I have not had any desire to write for several weeks.)
(Disclaimer #4: The thoughts and views expressed below are mine alone.)
(Disclaimer #5: I already know in advance that God is teaching me through this entire process!!!!)


This adoption stuff is hard. I see my wife beaten down almost every day by ungrateful kids who continually demand more. "I want braces too, mom!" "I want a new bicycle." "Why did ________ get new shoes, and I didn't?" "I want __________!!!!" "I want ________ !" We have been asked if the honeymoon stage has come and gone... and I say, "WHAT HONEYMOON STAGE!?" It seems as soon as we got to America, our kids were full of demands. After one particular incident, I sat down with our oldest adopted son and asked where he learned so much about America, and where he learned that you can have/get anything you want in America. "Film" was his simple, one-word answer. It seems that through watching TV and videos and movies from America, the kids have come to expect that they can get and will get everything and anything they want in America. Well, not in this house you won't! Reality check! Let the attaching/bonding begin...

Parenting children from birth allowed us to shape their belief system right from the beginning. There are obviously all kinds of parenting styles in the world today. It has not been our style to raise our children to believe they are the center of the universe. We have adopted children that already had a beginning. We weren't there. We are now! Teaching and training older children to suddenly believe differently and behave differently is a full-time job. Teaching three older siblings that have a complete family history, sibling rivalry, language barrier, cultural differences, birth order shakeup, etc., make each day feel like a week. And while I struggle to work enough to pay the bills on time, my wife bears the brunt of this exhausting labor of love. She sometimes doesn't feel like it, but she is really good at this. She is really amazing. I see her heart, and I wonder how she does it. She still needs all the encouragement she can get. Reality check! Pray for Kris...

Speaking of work... Lord knows we need the revenue... thus far the medical bills are rapidly approaching $10,000. Only one of 4 minor surgeries has taken place. We haven't gotten the bill for that one yet... the bills we have seen so far are just for the assessment work and prep work. How in the world are we supposed to cover these costs? Too bad I didn't think to bring these kids in illegally... I could have saved thousands of dollars in fees - VISA, Passport, USCIS, court fees, adoption fees - and hours of time running around parking at meters to pay good money to get papers stamped and notarized and authenticated. I could have gotten tons of free medical care from what I understand as well. Looks like I missed a "golden opportunity" right there. Reality check! I am considering sending an invoice to Congress... I wonder if any of them will read this entry...

I used to think I was a decent father. I'm not so sure any longer. Why is it that I feel I am failing in almost every area of fatherhood? I remember what it felt like in athletics when some team came along and just beat the crap out of us. I remember what it felt like to get the wind knocked out of me. I remember what it felt like to lose and to lose badly. I never wanted that taste in my mouth again. I taste that right now! There are days when I really feel like I am losing. There are days when I feel like I am losing the peace and stability we once had in the house. Most days I realize that I am not doing a good job - my part - as a husband and father. I can't think of a day since we have been home that I haven't been upset with the way the kids have treated me or my wife... or someone else. I've never done real well with kids that whine and complain and disrespect parents and other adult authority figures. Reality check! I wonder when we'll taste victory again...

(Disclaimer #6: It has been over 2 weeks since I wrote the above paragraphs.)


We've had some victories lately! There's been a lot of bonding and attachment happening. Praise the Lord! I have seen God work in our family in amazing ways. God is mostly working on me. I have discovered that I am really good at paying lip service to "trusting God." How often do I say that I trust God? How often do I counsel others to trust God. How often do I model to my 7 children that I really trust God? How often do I model to Kris that I am leading this house by trusting God? Since the heat of summer has come, we are getting some good swimming in at the pool across the street. Four of the kids can swim really well... sort of like fish! Three of the kids can't at all. They cling and grab and thrash about, gasping as they barely keep their mouth above water. But I have watched each one of them start to trust me in the water a little more each time we go... and I am seeing them start to relax a little. And we know what happens when we start to relax in dad's arms. Reality check! I haven't scratched the surface on trusting God...

Father, help me relax in You... help me to clearly see and understand how much You love our family. Help me to keep my head above water. Help me curb my anger and cynicism. Help me see clearly what You are doing. Help me be a witness for You. Help me trust You more! Help me relax in You. Thank You for the food that was delivered to our house today. Thank you for the small discount on one of the recent bills. Thank You for the gift of church camp for some of our children, and Kris. Thank You for our local church body, that gives so much and cares so much and prays so much for us. Help me relax in You. Help me have meaningful conversations with the various medical providers about how we are trusting You throughout this process. Help me have meaningful conversations with Kris. Help me continue to serve our clients above and beyond their expectations. Thank You for the wonderful encouragement at the recent home-school conference.
Thank You for the gift of educating our children at home. Help us figure out how to schedule and structure our school days. Help us make sure we are making You the focal point in our school and our children's education. Help me relax in You. Help me learn to trust...



4 comments:

Jess said...

Wow! Thanks for your insightful post. Today we officially became the parents of three Ethiopian children. We should travel to get them in a month. I love to read the reality of adoption and what to expect... and the reminder to lean hard on the Lord!

Patrick said...

This was a great post and I would love to hear how things are going for you guys. Posts like these are really helpful for the Ethiopian Adoptive Community, so thanks!

jen said...

Thanks for your honesty and transparency!

the Isaacs said...

I know this post was written quite a while back, but I have to say I have been there too!!!!! I've only got three (nearly four) kids at home now and I realize how many times daily I fail as a parent. And I understand throwing the stress of expenses and medical costs in the middle of it all. Gives me a whole new perspective on His strength in the midst of my weakness. I pray often for Him to redeem sitations I screwed up and try to learn to "do it better next time" - I guess we're being parented too!

- Jennifer
http://theisaacsliberia.blogspot.com