Homework and coming to peace

Last week John and I finished the homework that was required for our pre-adoption homestudy. We used an online course from adopteducation.com, which I would highly recommend. Our certificate came a few days ago:

There's a lot of scary stuff to face in the homework. Kids who start their lives in orphanages just don't often get what they need to thrive. In some cases, they don't get what they need to thrive in the womb either. In the course of our study, we learned about things like sensory integration disorder, where kids are unable to process sensory information correctly- so even the touch of a new adoptive parent might feel painful. We learned about difficult task children face when they come home and attempt to bond with their parents; when you haven't had a consistent caregiver in your whole life, your learn not to get attached. We even learned some very interesting things about how the fact of being adopted effects every stage and it's tasks (think Erickson).

Here's something I've been working through:

From my experience as a nanny and daycare provider and my education in childhood faith development, I know how important the first 3 years of life are. And I LOVE the first five years of life. I love watching babies grow- the first giggle, the first tastes of solid foods, the first attempt at crawling, the first steps, first words. Right now I love the way the 5 month old baby in my daycare reaches up to feel my face while he's drinking his bottle; I love knowing that just by feeling safe enough to do that, he's learning to trust the world around him. Then I love the sense of wonder, the cute things kids say and the way they say them, the independent, "I do it MYSELF!" stage, and the, "Why? Why? Why?" stage. I even love doing the potty dance after a successful tinkle in the toilet. I love seeing kids grow and THRIVE.

It has been a journey for me to come to peace with the fact that even though I love those first three years and I'm good at them and fairly confidant in them... that even though the first three years are my thing, God seems to have it in his plan for me to miss out on them- or most of them- with our son. Before we started pursuing our little guy I was fairly convinced that God would not want us to adopt a toddler because why would he want to waste my talents? I see now how prideful I was to think that and thank God he is changing my heart.

One of the ways I am learning to come to peace with this, is recognizing that my love of those first 3 years is what's going to help me empathize and work with our son toward healing when he comes home. Once and a while I look at the vivacious little 2 1/2 year old girl in my daycare and I think about how devastating it would be for her to loose everything; all the people in her life, all her familiar foods and routines, even the only language she knows. Then the full impact of what our son will go through hits me. In our homework we were told to "expect tantrums" (among other behaviors) for the first few weeks and months as our little guy works through this grief. Yea- I can see that. I'd want to throw a tantrum too.

I'm very much still in the process of coming to terms with this, but I'm learning that as I make peace with missing out on the first couple years, I begin to see how God's still going to put my gifts to use. Even though our homework was filled with scary stuff, I am gaining confidence in my ability to face those challenges. Actually, I am gaining confidence in God's ability to equip and strengthen me to face those challenges.

He gave me my gifts; shouldn't I trust him to put them to use? For his purposes and his glory. Again and again I learn: it's not about me.

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