Yes, we woke to snow that Friday morning in May. And that afternoon we completed the boys' move into our house. The previous evening we had actually moved most of their stuff in, but that afternoon we picked them up for the last time at their foster parents'. You know those kids you hear about that are in foster care and come with nothing? Yeah, those weren't our boys. They may have come into care with very little, but they left with a TON of stuff, which was more evidence of exactly how well-loved they were while in the care of Nathan and Pam.
At the time we were living in a 1300 square foot condo, and to say it was transformed overnight would be an understatement. In addition to two very loud boys, we were suddenly overwhelmed with Legos and action figures and costumes (oh my!). Our days of three loads of laundry a week were over. Our nights of dinner and a movie were no more. And we couldn't have been happier about it.
We were having more fun than we'd ever had, but to say it was a completely easy road would be a lie. We talk now about how blessed we were with a relatively smooth transition, but there were times that were just flat-out HARD. We were rookies and we were dealing with professionals when it came to things like fit throwing or refusing to comply. We had a little experience with these things when we were in the transition process, but when they were ours 24/7 we had no choice but to figure out how to deal with those things in our own way. On top of that, our hands were somewhat tied in the discipline area because the boys were still in the custody of the state until the adoption was final. So we had more than our fair share of fits, tantrums, and tears (and the boys had a few, too).
One of the hardest battles we fought at the time was one I now find the most humorous. During that summer, both boys rode to work in Siloam Springs with me every day; Will was enrolled in the preschool where I worked and Trae was attending the Boys and Girls Club in Siloam. This seemed like a great idea logistically and, in my head, was also a great way for us to bond on the 45 minute drive every day. What I underestimated, however, was the power of a shoe sailing past my head as I drove 70 mph down Hwy 412. Not to mention the ability of a 30 pound 3 year old to get out of his 5- point harness EVERY DAY. We tried not driving unless the seat belt was buckled (which made it more than a little difficult to actually GET to work). We tried taking away privileges. We even tried BUNGEE CORD to hold the harness shut (he was little--not dumb; he figured that out before we got out of Fayetteville). These boys were smarter than we were and had much more experience than we did. But somehow all four of us survived that first summer.
Despite our bumps in the road, we were actually faring pretty well. The boys bonded to us fairly quickly and started calling us Mom and Dad just a few days after moving in, which was a major answer to prayers we started praying when we first decided to adopt. We just forgot to pray for wisdom in how to get them to not throw shoes.
I would love to say we quickly smoothed out those behaviors and now we have sweet angel children. But I would also love to say I'm a millionaire. Some things just take more time than others. Parenting is tough. Period. And parenting kids who come from hard places and don't completely trust you is really hard.
Our first seven months were the learning experience of our lives. I second-guessed just about every decision I made (Did I discipline wrong? Are they in the right schools? Should I have said that? Will they still love me if I make them keep their shoes on?). What I never second-guessed, though, was whether or not we had made the right decision. At the end of every day, I went to bed exhausted. And I thanked GOD that He was giving me the privilege to be their parent. Every tough moment and every tear was forgotten as soon as those brown eyes looked into mine and said, "I love you."
And, so, even with all the second-guessing, there was no hesitation on the day the adoption specialist came to our house and said, "We'd like to set the adoption date for December 11. Does that work for y'all?"
To be continued....
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