Jaaja is Luganda for grandmother.
This is a picture of my mom when we drove down to hang out at the Equator. You know
Jaaja is Luganda for grandmother.
This is a picture of my mom when we drove down to hang out at the Equator. You know
an acronym that sounds like something teeny bopper texters are zapping back and forth…
but in my world, it means a HUGE step in our adoption progress…our Letter of Approval (shortened from the real name, which is Letter of Seeking Confirmation from Adopter = LOSCFA…goodness. add in our I-800. I-800A. I-864W. Artical 16. DS-230. DS-1981. and the list goes on…the vast number of forms and form names that make no rational sense in the adoption process is mind boggling.
but this…the LOA. the text messaging name. it’s my favorite.
you know why? because i have been dreading it. it’s a HUGE step, but because of our living situation, we are still waiting on a second homeland security approval in order to return our signed LOA. i have been hoping and praying the homeland security would come in first. but it hasn’t. so now, i will pray for faith. for an added abundance of faith. faith that God has this under control. that we aren’t behind. that we won’t miss a single possible day without our daughter. that i can release my heart racing palpitations. that the earth rocking anxiety pains i am feeling will subside. that i can stop shaking with nervous anticipation.
this is a blabbering post…but i need to document it for me. for emery.
i’m coming for you, sweetie.
your Father has not forgotten you.
i can’t do anything to change this process.
i can’t do anything more than i am doing.
i’m letting Him do the rest.
and i’ll come for you right when i am supposed to.
my sweet sweetie pie.
today i cried a lot for you.
i cried because i don’t have you.
and maybe you are crying because you don’t have me.
soon and very soon…we can cry together…tears of joy at our family complete.
it is a day that will be sooner than i realize. yet still too far away.
LOA. Love of Adoption. because no matter how hard or difficult or confusing, it leads me to you. and i love it.
I have to say that I have been pleasantly surprised! We have actually received no negative comments to our announcement that we are adopting again.
That includes negative comments from family as well!
Well, at least none that were made directly to US.
But, we have had lots of questions. Mostly the regular ones:
How expensive is it?
What made you decide to do this again? (asked with true sentiment)
How many kids do you have now? Do they all get along?
How do you find the time and energy?
Here is my favorite funny one: I guess China expects you to come back every year now?
And then I received the most profound comment the other day.
Our family grew by one yesterday.
We accepted our first, of two, referrals. The Hagerty crest has been imprinted in another country, on another little heart.
And as I create my mental baby book, replaying the details of this past week
As an adoptive dad, I
I dropped ‘my’ little boys off for their visit with their parents and their 2 year old sister. I watched the joy in their mom and dad’s eyes as they hugged the boys and talked with them. I saw their sister smile excitedly as we drove up, and I watched as LM leaned into his mommy’s arms, giving her a big hug.
As I watched them walk away together I thought, they need to be together. I want them to make it. I want this family to be restored. To know the joy of family. To ultimately know the joy of Jesus.
And I felt so peaceful watching them.
Two hours later, I pulled back in to pick up the boys and as I hugged them and loved on them, I thought, “No. How could I ever give them back? I love them so dearly. They have become part of our family.”
And yet we have to live with the expectation that they are going back home. We live with the reality that most likely, we will be saying goodbye.
My heart says one thing one minute and then another the next. But I’m so thankful that I don’t have to trust my heart, I trust the ONE who never changes. I trust Him with my heart and with my kids’ hearts. Each one.
Originally published on her blog on September 25th, 2010….
I woke up last night–okay, let me rephrase–Trevor woke me up last night at 2:00 with a bad dream. I quickly got him back to bed, tucked in tight, listening to Christmas music (his choice–good boy!), and went back to bed.
I was still awake at 3:30 when Jay Henry came in after having a nightmare.
I simply could not turn my brain off.
I truly feel like I’m failing Emebet. In every way possible. We make it through each day. But we are not moving forward. Every word, behavior, action, gesture and complaint from her cause me to react poorly. Even if it’s nothing extreme or purposeful, my immediate response and feeling is dislike. I do not like her. I do not like her being here. And I make her know it. This is not always the case, but often.
This has created a huge conflict in me. Why in the world do I act this way? How can my love for my biological kids be real and genuine, if I can treat another child so differently and with contempt? Why, when I am constantly praying and asking God to change our circumstances, do I go right back to these wordly, selfish actions? I know that my actions towards her cause her behaviors. I have no doubt about it. But it seems impossible to change my feelings. And we all know that it is so hard to act one way when you feel the exact opposite. I have always worn my emotions on my sleeve, and Kent can clearly verify that I cannot hide anything.
But last night, as I lay awake, praying for God to change this in me, my thought process changed a little. I turned the tables, and played my own devil’s advocate for our situation. If I were the one in a new home with new people and a family that was already established, and I was treated the way that I treat her, how could I possibly feel loved, cherished, important, or equal?
I absolutely wouldn’t. I would feel sorrow. Pain. Loss. And I, like her, would respond with defiance and anger. She is acting exactly like I am.
We are both experiencing pain. We have both experienced loss. We are both living in the midst of sorrow. And neither one of us is handling it well.
Immediately upon returning home, we were convinced that she needed rules and structure, which we quickly put in place. In doing so, I think we skipped over the part where we needed to love, love, love. Unconditionally and without reserve. No rules. No expectations of her. We seem to still be in that place. Expecting so much (partly because she is so capable). Giving so little.
My thoughts then went beyond that.
Most of you know what a scary beginning we had with Masyn. Almost losing your child creates gratitude that is huge. Deep down, she holds a special place that no one else can, because I know how close we came to not having her. She is my precious, precious girl who causes tears often because I am overwhelmed with love for her. Completely overwhelmed. It is really hard, then, to add in a child who creates the exact opposite feelings.
So after putting myself in Eme’s place last night, I put Masyn in Eme’s place and tried to imagine her losing us, her family. I then imagined the pain, terror, and uncertainty that she would face being relocated to another country where she didn’t speak the language, and never seeing her sweet brothers again.
And then I tried to invision her being placed in a home where she had a new mom who disliked her, and couldn’t see her for the amazing little girl that she is. And where she was yelled at all the time just because she was different than their existing daughter. And where she was not loved on in the midst of her grief and adjustment, but was told to stop crying because it was annoying.
This completely broke my heart. I would be devastated to know that my daughter were in such a place. I would be heartbroken that this little girl, who was so amazingly special to us, was being treated indifferently in what was supposed to be her new “family.”
I spent much of the rest of my “awake” time asking God to forgive me–yet-again–and to help me, every moment, shower Eme with love. I want to create an environment of security for her. I want her to know that she is loved, just like the others. That she is special. That we want her here. I want my behaviors towards her to be so different than what they have been. Mostly, I want my heart to want her here. I don’t want it to be fake. I want it to be genuine.
Today has been good. Her behaviors are still present, but my reaction to them is different. I am calm and loving in my responses. I am hugging and kissing on her any time I get the chance. I am trying to look at her through different eyes.
I know our struggles aren’t magically over by any means. But getting back to that place of surrender is key. God can’t change me when I’m being stubborn and closed-minded, and I have been living in that place. Bitterness has crept in and taken up residence. Last night, lying in my bed while the rest of the house slept, I wrestled with God, and He returned me to the place where He needs and wants me to be. Completely dependent. Completely reliant.
Kent and Lindy have been married for 10 years and have three biological children (two sons ages 8 and 6 and a daughter who is four) and our newest addition, Eme, who is 2
The early bird doesn’t always get the worm.
Out of the 38 entries for the giveaway, #36 was chosen using a random number generator.
I’m sure she’ll have Max singing “Blessed are the Booty Hearts” in no time. Okay, it might be a couple years. But, she’ll be singing it in the meantime.
Back in the day when I served as a youth pastor and then later church planted and served on staff at a larger church, we had a little routine when people would start sentences with
Naturally, given the holiday we just celebrated, my thoughts have gravitated to the subject of love. It’s such a basic human need, but one I took for granted in many ways until Ellie became our daughter. Most of you who visit our blog are aware of the state of social deprivation in which we found her. I cannot let my thoughts drift to what her life was like in the 18 months before we met her — it’s too painful. This weekend, my parents were at a retreat in Durres (Albania) and met an individual who tried to volunteer at Ellie’s orphanage about a decade before Ellie came to reside there. This individual reported that the caregivers strongly discouraged her efforts to come and hold babies because “it made their job too much work” — the babies would come to expect to be held. Our visit this past summer reminded me what a bleak place it really was. So quiet. Too quiet.
Before I knew Ellie, I didn’t think about the fact that giving and receiving love is a skill that must be learned and practiced. Much like one masters skills best when training starts early in life (I think of skills like learning languages, playing instruments, training for figure skating, etc.), learning about love begins at day one! To start learning about love later is so much harder when one is bruised, scarred, weakened, and handicapped from a starvation of love and affection.
While Ellie has made great gains in learning how to appropriately give and receive love (for instance, we’ve moved past last year’s struggle to restrain her indiscriminate and inappropriate affection towards strangers), she still carries deep-seated needs that are not immediately obvious to those who don’t spend time with her on a daily basis. It can be exhausting to us when at age 5 and a half she still relies on us to do many things for her that her peers can do for themselves. Things like going to sleep on her own, sleeping through the night in her own bed, dressing and undressing herself, brushing her teeth, combing her hair, using the bathroom independently (though she has begun to make strides here since Christmas, thank you Lord!), and even feeding herself sometimes. While this is tiring, I remind myself that for her, a deep need is being met when we care for her in these most basic ways.
When I think about how she came into our lives, I’m left with no doubt of God’s intricate work to weave our family together in His way and in His timing. He knew she needed to be raised in a family with two work-from-home parents where she could find the stability and security she desperately needed! (As her communication has developed, we have learned how great is her fear of abandonment still, which breaks our hearts). Then, in His perfect timing, he brought Reni into our home. Sweet Reni who came to us in a more emotionally healthy, secure state, so his needs and hers didn’t conflict (yet in spite of his wonderful care at the orphanage — you can still see the difference a family makes, even in him). Ellie is learning how to love her brother — and while that is mostly being expressed in a smothering, hovering kind of way, we can honestly tell people that she does not express any feelings of jealousy towards Reni (she has acted out a few times when meeting new people and he gets a lot more attention just for being the cute baby he is, but her behavior doesn’t seem abnormal). We are really proud of her and thoroughly enjoy witnessing their interactions (most of the time 🙂 ).
Ellie’s needs are not as obvious as Reni’s and it is sometimes easy to forget. Of course there are certain things we would never expect of Reni because he lacks legs, yet because Ellie’s needs are not obvious, it is a battle not to place unrealistic expectations on her but to remember special ways to nurture and accommodate her while training her to one day lead an independent life. We got a powerful reminder this weekend when she received a special gift from Nonna and PaPa for Valentine’s day.
Both children received special books that have the text read to them when each page is turned, but in the prerecorded voices of Nonna and PaPa. On the very last page, Mom Waggoner concludes Ellie’s book with, “Nonna loves you, Ellie!” Over the last couple of days, we have frequently found Ellie holding the book and opening and closing it to that last page just so she can hear, “Nonna loves you, Ellie!” At which point, her face breaks into a smile. Words of affirmation are her love language! It has served as a reminder that she doesn’t get tired of being hugged and kissed and reminded that she is cherished.
Likewise after waiting 28 months for Ellie to call me “Mommy,” I still don’t tire of hearing her calls or receiving her hugs and kisses. When we’re alone together, she will often tell me, “I love you, Mommy. I don’t love Daddy, I love you.” I know she adores her daddy, but I think she’s just trying to tell me that I mean a lot to her in a special way.
So when Ellie comes to our room at 3AM to crawl in bed, we don’t turn her away (though it often means that Daddy walks down the hall to sleep in her room). And when she makes progress in becoming more independent (like putting on her jeans this Sunday all by herself, minus snapping the snap), we heap praise on her and tell her how proud of her we are.
Loving Ellie has been easy and loving Ellie has been hard. Through it we have learned (and continue to learn) about a love from our heavenly Father who patiently nurtures us, waits for us to receive His love, and longs to hear us express our love to Him. Parenting Ellie has reminded us that loving and trusting God has to be learned too. We bring our own wounds and hurts to the relationship, but if we listen carefully to the Book He has given us, we can hear God say on every page “I love you child!”
Cydil has been married to her husband and teammate, Nathan, for 11 years. They have two adopted children, Elisona (5) and Reni (18 months), both adopted from Albania. Their family lives at and runs a missions student center on a Christian college campus in the Bluegrass of Kentucky. They love their work, sharing their passion for missions and adoption with university students. In her