Verse of the Day

Monday, November 14, 2011

Paper Pregnant at 48

Paper pregnant at 48 years of age... not quite what I had envisioned for my life! But it is my reality, nonetheless; a reality I am getting ready for, slowly but surely. God give me strength!

Remember all the things you used to do when you were first pregnant or initiated your first adoption? The dreaming? The planning and researching? The shopping? The organizing? The redecorating? Well, by the time you are adding number 8 to your brood, nothing is quite the same. It's all good, mind you... but it's not the same.

It's really quite entertaining for me to think about having our first child. I was first pregnant at the energetic age of 31, having been married one year. I was so excited and nervous I could hardly contain my enthusiasm! With my first son (now almost 17), I went into "nesting mode"very early. I literally cleaned out every closet and every drawer. I read countless books on child-rearing, parenting, discipline, etc. I carefully picked out new baby furniture, color-coordinating outfits, and adorable decorations for the walls. Everything had to match, from the rocking chair cover to the burping cloths and cute baby utensils. I furnished an entire library of books to read to the new baby; I even had foreign language tapes to play for my little one as he relaxed in his crib. I researched the appropriate vitamin and mineral supplements for my body; I made sure I was getting lots of exercise and adequate rest. I even had tons of frozen meals cooked ahead of time. You get the picture. I wanted to control everything in the realm of possibilities I could control. I wanted a healthy, intelligent, perfect little baby (makes me cringe to type that...). Yes, I was one of those people--- one who loved to plan anything she could ahead of time. I don't like surprises. My own little world revolved around little 'ole me. I did appear to get quite a lot done.

And then, well... God happened (and so did 2 additional biological children, and then 4 more adopted children). That's for another time, another blog. Just suffice it to say, I didn't have a clue about life or children or even marriage until the Lord rescued me from my sin and from trying to live a perfectionist's life. I've got a long way to go in the maturity department, but I praise God that I'm not where I used to be; and I know my husband would agree--- wholeheartedly! As my heart changed, my priorities changed, too. That heart change has also altered how I process this child's homecoming.

The process with number 8 has been unique from any other pregnancy or adoption process that we've experienced. From this beginning, starting with the home study, I knew my beliefs regarding adding to the family had radically changed. I finally believed with every fiber of my being that this process was totally under God's care, supervision, and provision. I knew that if He willed for us to adopt again, He would work out all the details. I knew I had to keep my hands off of it, emotionally and spiritually speaking. Contrast that with my first pregnancy and our first adoption... the differences are amazing.

With my first pregnancy, I can recall my insatiable desire to control every aspect of my child's upbringing. (Just look at the third paragraph!) I was determined that nurture, not nature, would prevail. Of course, that whole facade quickly fell apart, starting with my son's colicky, sensitive nature. And by the age of 2? Well, kids are little sinners, something I just didn't take into account! All of this "mother-stuff" was NOT in child-rearing books. But even after child 2 and 3, my quest for the near-perfect child raising, always-on-top-of things mothering was not yet vanquished.

And that's how I went into our first adoption. How tough can this be? I've already been raising 3 pretty great kids. Granted, they are not perfect, but they do seem well adjusted, loving, caring, and affectionate.  I assumed adoption would really be roughly the same as having biological children--- without the drama of pregnancy and delivery. That way of thinking started getting pushed aside very quickly as I can remember how uncomfortable our first ever home study phase was--- how odd and unnerving all the intimate questions seemed. Why all the penetrating questions to evaluate your emotional health and your parenting ability? I was determined to love and to rear this little girl the same way I had my original 3.

Of course, it didn't take me long to figure out that my perception was just that--- a perception that was truly wrong. Kids with tough beginning don't just shed their survival mode behavior because you've adopted them. The bonding that may be so natural with your biological children does not necessarily translate to your adopted children--- at least not immediately. Attachment takes intention and more time than you might think. For that reason, my first adopted child taught me more than any of my other kids; I learned just how selfish, fearful, impatient, and self-absorbed I truly was. Adoption has a keen way of shining a light on all of your "issues." Now

With our latest adoption--- and our third home study-- I've learned to  just "bare it all," nothing held back. Can my social worker see something I can't? Are there some issues currently in our family we need to address? Are we able to accept and love and teach another little one?  Do my existing children have the capacity to welcome another sibling? I now see social workers as friend and helpers, rather than as a potential adversaries. My social worker has helped me to truly accept in my spirit that there are no perfect children, perfect marriages, or perfect environments for nurturing families. I can see that I have learned to juggle fairly well, but have to admit that at times, those proverbial spinning plates wind up falling to the floor and busting into a millions little pieces. And that's okay. Life is what it is, and I am who I am. Just another cracked piece of pottery, being used by the Lord in a pretty wonderful way. My attitude during the process was much more relaxed--- trusting that the Lord would do what He felt was right and good for this family. Adoption has taught me to trust the Lord more completely, and to drawn upon Him for my strength.

How else have multiple adoptions changed me? Well, my idea of nesting is really different! With my first biological child, I mentioned all the things I bought and did. With our first adoptive child, I pretty much followed the same "buy and do" mentality. But now, my "nesting" consists of getting an annual exam, mammogram, and dental visit out of the way! It's a far cry from where I've been. I still do read lots of books, but now it's mainly the Bible and books about other adoptive families' experiences. Although we did have to purchase new furniture for the boys' room, our criteria for purchase was based on the cost and the durability of the furniture. The furniture basically has to last until the kids leave the house. Period. And I don't plan on buying any new clothes, with the exception of underwear, socks, pajamas, and shoes--- all the hand-me-downs will simply have to do. I have nothing on the walls, other than a few footprints. No new toys either. As a matter of fact, I'm cleaning everything out again, trying to declutter and to simplify the feel of the house. By the time you've had lots of kids, you finally realize that kids don't need pretty rooms, matching bedding, designer clothes, or the latest in electronic gadgets to promote bonding and attachment. In fact, having all of that stuff can actually make the home coming harder. Stuff distracts. Kids need YOU, not what you can buy. They need you to love them. Plain and simple. Simple and difficult, all at the same time.

God has certainly taught me a lot over the 17 years of having kids. I've learned incredible lessons, many of them painfully difficult and excruciatingly embarrassing. Pain is such an effective teacher, wouldn't you agree?

These are some of my initial thoughts about growing up kids: stuff doesn't matter as much as you think it does; hold onto things of this world very loosely; this, too, shall pass; God gives you what you need, not necessarily what you want; stop worrying about all the things in the world you can't control; you can only change yourself through the work of the Holy Spirit; life isn't meant to be perfect; kids do not belong to you, they belong to God--- you are a steward and your job is to model God's glory and lead them to know and love God for themselves; staying in the Word is crucial to your survival; put your husband before your children; don't try to be the Holy Spirit Jr. to your husband or to anyone else (!); pursue the path that the Word and the Holy Spirit have shown you--- don't doubt what you've heard or allow others to distract your from your calling(s); forgive yourself; cry out to God for mercy; life is indeed short, so live it fully and without regret; love deeply; remember... this is not our home, so don't get too comfortable.

I think I'm getting excited about this pregnancy. Thank you, Lord, for this blessed adventure!


  1. Wow... I'm going to bookmark this and make it a regular read. Thank you for sharing your heart and being authentic - this was a huge source of encouragement to me today!

  2. Thank you. thank you. This is just what I needed to read. It was going well here for about a week and then BAM!!! The ball drops again.

    I appreciate you and what God is doing in your life.