It has been almost four months since our five new treasures joined our family. Other than writing birthday posts, I haven’t taken time to put my reflections into words. Many people have asked us what it was like to add five children at one time to our family. Our reply is always that it has gone amazingly well. And that is the truth. This process has been much easier than we ever anticipated; however, we do realize we could still very well be in the “honeymoon stage”. We are thankful for all God has done; He has given us wisdom and strength for each new day. He prepared the kids’ hearts to accept us as their new family.
Though the bonding happened so easily, the transition had it’s challenging moments. The first six weeks is almost a blur to me; I was so physically exhausted. Going from taking care of a family of eight to a family of thirteen was no easy task. I had to learn to budget my time differently. I was on the go from early morning until late at night, and still oftentimes went to bed with things unfinished. I had to learn to cook differently, to make LOTS of everything and to look for ways to stretch the budget. I rarely had time to sit down and enjoy a cup of coffee (and you know how I love my precious coffee moments 🙂 ). I lost weight that month, and had several health problems as a result of the fatigue. Emotionally I was feeling drained as well. We made up our minds from day one that in order to help this transition go smoothly we had to be structured and consistent. Our new little ones needed intense guidance as they learned how to live in a family. We went through many struggles with the three oldest kids such as destruction of toys, coloring on walls, ripping books, eating garbage out of the trash can, hoarding food, lying, and stealing from siblings. But thankfully within a month of setting clear boundaries and giving consequences for inappropriate behavior, they caught on quickly and now they rarely make wrong choices. They seem to have bonded so well with our family in such a short time. We are SO thankful!
Our ongoing struggles are with the oldest. We had anticipated he would be the most difficult. The first eight years of his life were spent in survival mode, with lying and stealing being such a huge part of his life. He wasn’t ever held accountable for his actions. It is taking time for him to realize he has parents now, parents who love him and who have his best interest in mind, parents who aren’t going to abandon him. We do believe God is working in his heart. We have seen some improvements in his behavior that indicate to us he is slowly starting to accept us as his parents and to realize that he is secure in our home. Please be praying for our little guy. We love him so much.
Speaking of love, I’ve been thinking so much about love these days. Love can be defined as the action of being totally committed to the well-being of others without regard for their worthiness. For years I have heard messages on love, how we should love our neighbors as well as our enemies. I have studied I Corinthians which speaks of how love is patient, kind, doesn’t envy, doesn’t boast, isn’t easily angered, keeps no record of wrong, etc. But when God blessed me with my oldest adopted child all of this knowledge was put to the test like never before in my life. I’ve been thinking much about God’s unconditional love for me. His love is not based on my actions; He doesn’t love me more on the days I sin less. His mercies are new every morning. I need to live out that same kind of love with each of my children, that same love God shows toward me. I am learning that love is a choice; I choose to love my son because he is my son. Ultimately, I want to exhibit Christ’s unconditional love for him, so that someday soon he will understand God’s love and accept Him as Lord of his life. I am thankful for how God is using my son to teach me truths that I may never have fully grasped if God hadn’t brought Lucas André into my life.
Those first weeks as a family of thirteen seemed so hard. I had to focus on the task for the moment because life seemed too overwhelming if I thought ahead at all. It was difficult to feed everyone, keep up on housework, help with homework, get everyone ready for school, church, and other activities. It was exhausting to tuck all the little ones into bed at night and still have energy to finish up the tasks of the day. Remembering back to the day my friend Holly took the picture in my heading, I think of how long it took to get everyone looking good and ready for our first family photo. I think back to how exhausted I felt at that moment and it was only 9:00 in the morning. I remember the feeling of coming back to the messy house and feeling overwhelmed with the amount of laundry to do, and the task of getting lunch on the table once again. And now, nearly four months later, those feelings are gone. This just feels normal. It isn’t exhausting anymore. It is very doable. I even have time for a coffee break (or two) every day. We have transitioned to being a family of thirteen! Life just feels normal again.
In closing I want to say how thankful I am for my husband who has been such a strong leader and has made this process a success. He is an amazing dad who takes time to teach his kids at a heart level. And I’m thankful for my teens. I can honestly say that without their help I wouldn’t have survived these past few months. They have not only had a huge increase to the sometimes mundane and never ending chores at home, but they have poured their hearts into helping their new siblings adjust and thrive in our family. Kayla and Makenna went through some adjustments, like the time Makenna was in tears because we had to rescue her little Cinderella doll’s head from being chewed up in the mouths of all five new siblings at different times throughout the course of a day. 🙂 In spite of the difficulties, they have adjusted remarkably well. It didn’t take long for Makenna to become the best of friends with Ana-Clara. They play together all day long, and rarely get into an argument. Kayla has been a good example to the new siblings who are close to her age, and she is a big helper with the twins as well.
I am thankful for how God has knit our family together in such a special way. Thank you for being a vital part of this transition. People near and far have helped in so many ways; many have prayed, given financially, sent donations to buy Christmas gifts, shared (in person and e-mail) encouraging words. These are tangible things that remind us God is faithful to meet all of our needs.