Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Sleep is overrated anyway.

About 6 weeks ago, I posted that once we gave Etienne permission to get up and use the bathroom at night, the soaking through his nighttime layers of diaper/pull-up/plastic cover pretty much stopped. Ha! That was a short lived thrill for him. Needless to say, now he gets up many times a night to "use" the bathroom (code for look out the window, turn the faucet on and watch the water, sit on the potty and sing) AND still have a wet bed in the morning. Besides the trips down the hall, our 4 year old has been taking several hours to fall asleep again, like he used to do. He plays, climbs, talks and just can't stop his muscles to sleep.
Security items aren't helpful. Etienne got a stuffed lamb when we brought him home. See July 2010 for pics of what he did to it at night. He has gone through security blankets/shawls made lovingly by his Nana and his Grandma. Friday night, his pillow pet was next next victim; unstitched by his restless fingers that night. So after the pillow pet was undone, we decided to put him back in our bedroom until he could show us we could trust him in the big boy room with Blake. So sad for him. I sat and watched him try to calm his muscles down and read some Psalms to him. His fists were clenched tightly. He kept saying, "I wanna be with Blake."
As Ryan and I sat replaying our nights and our rituals, trying to figure out why E was having a hard time sleeping again, we realized the problem. Blake, being older, has been allowed to stay up to watch the Royals with his dad a few nights a week. Those are the nights Etienne won't sleep. I am pretty sure that E is on guard because Blake isn't in there and by the time Blake is, E is too worked up to go to sleep.
My suspicion was confirmed yesterday. E and Zeke had a physical and Ryan and Blake waited in the car. Etienne kept saying "Where is my brother? When is my brother coming back?" By the time we returned to the car, he was sobbing and asking for "my brother." Last night, when we said prayers, he said "Thank you that my brother was waiting for me. Thank you that I can sleep with Blake." Holy cow. Special daddy time for Blake= fear and uncertainty for Etienne.
Can you imagine sharing a room with 50 kids? Whenever you roll over, you see another friend's face. Do you think it was quiet? I don't think a room full of preschoolers can ever be quiet, even if they are asleep. I am told that kids in institutions have a hard time ever getting into the restful, REM sleep and yet I still forget. I still tuck him in his big boy bed alone. With music playing and the soft glow of the hall light, I expect this to be reassuring. Geez. How quickly I lose my grace toward him when my own routine is rocked.
So we will figure out a new way for Blake to get alone daddy time and we will give Etienne is security item, that skinny blonde skater boy. And this mama will keep praying for grace no matter how little sleep there may be...

Friday, July 22, 2011

Words Matter.

"Are they brothers?'
"Why were they given away?"
"Are those your real kids?"

When we were first home, these questions enraged me. It seemed so insensitive. Somewhere along the way, I found some grace. Now I usually answer the question with a little humor and kindness. "They became brothers when they were adopted." "They weren't given away, their birth mom chose a better life." "All 4 of my kids are real." It became important for me, and Ryan too, that we can use words to educate the non-adoption community. To the outside world, I know that people don't deliberately think that the choice of words like "give away," and "real" matter much. No one means to imply that my sons were not wanted. The gal from church didn't want my boys to think Molly and Blake were more cherished because they were born of me. That family in the checkout line of Target didn't intentionally say that a sibling is defined by bloodline.
I also know that sometimes the people in our community, our family, our circles think that we make too big of a deal about this issue. I am SO aware of this. So most of the time, that is why I just keep my replies lighthearted. But it matters. Little (smart) ears are listening.
I was cutting potatoes in the kitchen and the entourage was spread in various corners and counters around me, chatting. The conversation was insignificant, but Etienne's statement was huge. He said, "My birth mom didn't want me, right mom? This stopped us in our tracks and it's been lying heavy on my heart since. We have never, ever said something like that. We have always told E and Zeke that their birth mom LOVED them. That she wanted them to have food, clean water, a home and a school.
So if a 4 year old says "My birth mom didn't want me," it may just be words now. But when my boy is 11, will he think he wasn't wanted because he wasn't smart or handsome or fun? No one should fill unwanted. And that is why I correct your words

Monday, July 18, 2011

A Success (sort of)

So VBS is behind us. For those who may live in Siberia or under a large boulder, VBS is Vacation Bible School. I am not lying when I say it is a BLAST. Molly lives for VBS each summer. We decided we could send all 4 kids this year. With much anxiety. I have a lot of fear sending Etienne into anything that has a lot of kids, music, movement or people who don't know him. Each morning, we stood outside the door to the church reviewing SIMPLE expectations: No running, listen to the grownups, no screaming/yelling.
If you aren't a parent yet, listen up. Most parents want to know the truth about their kid. It doesn't do anyone any good, especially the child, if you aren't forthcoming. I attached a photo of Adam, E and Blake's teacher, because he was always truthful with us about our boy's behavior. Needless to say, Etienne didn't make it all week. He did learn new songs. He made friends and learned some new scripture verses. Small steps.
Of course, Zeke sang loudly. Blake asked funny questions. Molly knew every verse by heart. They rock. They also held Etienne's hand to still him, whispered in his ear when he needed it and laughed at him for being him.
Is some of my anxiety my own sin? Maybe it's fear of being not having the well behaved child and my own need for approval. Whatever the reason, Etienne deserves for his mama to say a few more prayers, send an extra email and nervously wait on the other side of the door. For him, I will.

CD Kids VBS 2011

Friday, July 15, 2011

Flip Side of this life..

What Etienne's Mama saw:
So many kids and so few adults! The orphanage was filled with kids of all sizes running around, half dressed and half fed. Those sweet sisters, they are doing the best with what they have, but the smell of diapers is overwhelming. There isn't any crying. Then I see a child fall off a concrete wall, into a ditch, and hit her head. No tears because there isn't anyone to wipe them away. It is loud and hectic and heartbreaking. My beautiful boy needs held, scrubbed, kissed. I need to teach him how to wear shoes, how to leave them on. How to walk with us and not run away to climb, jump, punch and touch everything he sees. My heart is breaking with joy and with sadness but now he can come home to his family.

What Etienne saw for 3years:
I share a room with all my buddies. I roll over, and there is a playmate. I wake up and I can run. I scream, climb, jump, tackle, wrestle, skip and yell a little louder. It doesn't really matter how much clothing I wear because it isn't cold and nobody cares. Being clean is relative; pottying my pants isn't a big deal because my pants already have potty in them anyway. All day long, there are lots of friends around. I LOVE all the other kids laughing at me; friends are around to cheer me on, do what I tell them, when I tell them. All I do is to play all day! When I fall, I pick yourself up and run a little harder.
Then one day, some people come and hug and kiss me and cry a lot. They visit and bring toys. After a few days of playing, they take me with them. At first, it's exciting. Pepperoni pizza! So much to see and hear and touch! But than, I don't get to go back to my friends. All of a sudden, I am sleeping in a small, quiet, dark room. There are only a few people around. The new place has a roof and walls. Lots of things I can't do and not a lot of noise. Not too many kids around to laugh at me. There are baths, forks, unlimited water to drink and too many things. I lost my friends. My roommates. I was the boss and now I am not in charge. I lost the only home I knew.

So what kind of mama would I be if I expected my beautiful boy to jump into his new life with ease?

I have come to decide that adopting a child is a little like marriage. You have to get to know someone and it takes time. My E and I are still getting to know each other. And I am realizing, this far out from our Gotcha Day, that E lost his world when he gained his family.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

On a lighter note...

Reader warning: the following is an uncensored conversation from the Higgins' bathroom.
Blake and Etienne are going potty "just one more time" before bed.
Blake: "Mom, Etienne's wee-wee looks different than mine (no judging, I realize I am a medical professional using the term wee-wee)
Me: "That's because you are circumcised and E isn't."
Etienne: "What's circumcise?"
Me: "Um, it's removing the skin at the tip. A doctor or midwife does it in some places when a baby boy is born."
Blake: "Why!?!"
Me: "No real reason." (scrambling, because I sooo wouldn't choose circumcision again. My only honest answer was something about looking like family members, but don't want E to fill left out.)
Etienne: "Blake, they chopped it off! Mama, you should tell Blake you are sorry that they chopped some of his wee-wee off!"
Blake: "Ya, mom. That makes me sad."

Seriously. I don't make this stuff up. Debated blogging the PG topic, but it is totally relevant for many adoptive families!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Amazing Grace

I have hesitated to blog post-vacation. I could fill the pages in on awesome Blake is (he turned 6 while flying down the Alpine slides of Steamboat Springs), how Molly loved geocaching or that Zeke kept saying "When are we going on vacation?". I'd love to post the boys faces during fireworks at the Royals/Rockies game, singing "Proud to be an American." Instead I am cherishing it all in my heart.
Truth be told, post-vacation is an ugly mess of lying, wet pants and 3 steps back for Mr. E. My heart is broken because the lies are all for me. The rule breaking is for mama, not daddy. The expert in our back pocket says that I can be thankful that my son has such a strong bond toward his father. That his personality will probably always favor and respect men more than women. That's great in writing. But my heart still hurts.
Tonight, after a rough day, I rocked him and I said "I love you forever." His eyes glazed and I asked him what I just said. His reply: "That Daddy is sad when I lie." My gut reaction was to want to shake him. And then these words came on:
"The Lord has promised good to me,
His word, my hope secures,
He will my shield and portion be
As long as life endures"

And all I can do is rock my baby. Rock and sing. Rock and sing.