Wednesday, March 6, 2013

The Interruption

Funny... this post is a little interruption in the Homemade Fair-Trade Parade, but it was really a little interruption in our life too!

Life has been moving along at a pretty good clip. All three kids have been doing well. We reached the "magic" one-year mark of Amani being home and he's really doing great. I could have kissed our attachment therapist.

And then he fell down the stairs.

I think when you adopt you just can't wait for things to be right in your family again. You yearn for the time when everyone knows how and where they fit.  When you add a child to a family, it's like taking a delicately balanced mobile and giving it a whack.  Everything bounces around but eventually settles down again. Adding a child to the family by adoption is like giving that mobile a whack with a baseball bat. Things do settle down but the bouncing seems a little more chaotic and it takes longer to slow down.

And Amani's been doing so well. The transition from orphanage in Ethiopia to family in North Carolina was not an easy one for him. I saw him suffer. I suffered along with him. Our family has gone through turmoil as a result of our adoption. I don't mean this in a negative way - this  just what adoption looks like. It's messy. It is not all sunshine and rainbows. And that's okay. It's worth it. Amani is hands-down worth every bit of that mess.

But I hated to see him struggle. I knew he would eventually understand how glorious it is to be part of a family who loves you, but HE couldn't see that. All he knew was that life had very suddenly gotten very scary. And, for him, food became a giant issue. He wanted to eat his way into comfort - he freaked out at the end of meals; he couldn't be in a place where food was out on tables or where other kids were having a snack. But all that was long behind us. He's been just like a regular 'ole normal two year-old these days (temper tantrums and all... heh).

So yeah... then he fell down the stairs.

We had Bible study at our house and it was the regular chaos of everyone arriving. He loves it, usually. He stands by the door and jumps up and down as everyone gets here. And we'd taken the baby gate down at the top of the stairs ages ago. He can manage up and down by himself just fine but he has one rule - he has to have a grown up with him when he does it - you know, just in case. And he is really good about getting someone when he wants to go downstairs.  But not that day. Little Man decided he was going downstairs on his own. I didn't see it happen - but one of our friends saw him and tried to catch him but down he went.

And it scared the daylights out of me. Not because he was physically hurt (he was okay - a swollen lip and a little bit of a bloody nose), but because he reverted back to how he'd been when he'd only been home a few months. I snuggled him and got him calmed down and sat him at the table to eat (we all eat dinner together as part of Bible study). He finished his food and FLIPPED out. I haven't seen him do that in months. My heart sank.

He also went through a mother-rejection period for awhile after he came home. It's probably the hardest thing I've been through in my life. And that night, he wasn't all that keen on it being me who was comforting him. Fearing the worst, I looked at Rob with tears in my eyes, wondering if my heart could take going through another couple weeks when my son wanted nothing to do with me.

But I kept him close. We snuggled our way through another bowl of chili (again... thank you, attachment therapist) and I kept him on my lap for the rest of the night.  He asked to go downstairs with the rest of the kids but I kept him with me. I didn't want him to have a big dose of independence after falling and having a meltdown. I don't want him to remember how to pull himself together on his own. I want him to seek comfort from us.

And when I asked him if he wanted me to lay down with him as I put him to bed, he said "no." I froze. And, thankfully, I remembered the words of one of my wonderful adoptive mama friends, Sharla. She told me that when her daughter first came home, she spent a lot of time saying, "this is what Mommies do..." as she did things that were, well, Mommy-ish.  I'm so thankful that her words popped into my head. I turned to him and said, "Yes. Mommy's going to come snuggle with you because that's what Mommies do."
And we did.

And my sweet boy was good-as-new the next morning. I had worried for nothing, but it was a reminder that we are not out of the woods yet.

Adoption is hard. It is so messy. And just because he's been home 17 months now it doesn't mean we have it all figured out. But I am so thankful at how quickly he bounced back from that interruption.

And I'm pretty sure he won't try those stairs on his own again for awhile! :)


  1. Thank goodness Amani is okay! You write beautifully and I'm going to remember the line "this is what mommies do" every time I hug my growing up, super independent eight year old son.

  2. Your honesty is so refreshing!!! Good job Mommy :)


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