Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Reality Check

I don't want everyone to think that the attachment process between the kids and I, nor the trip, has been all sweetness and love. There have been a lot of hard times thus far, and I anticipate there will be plenty more challenges in the days ahead. However, I think that it is important as a mother of children who were adopted to be honest about the challenges that our family has faced, are still facing, and might face in the future. Silence will not help other families who are considering this path, or who are walking it and feeling alone in their struggles.

I think I have come to the understanding with these two kids that we are currently in a process of two steps forward, one step back. For several days earlier this week I was feeling like it was one step forward, two steps back, so there is progress. The face above is what I see most of the time with Lydia. She shuts down completely for ... I'm still trying to figure that out. I do know that if I don't feed her regularly (every two to three hours) that I will have a very angry, sullen girl on my hands. She also does not like it if I need to comfort her brother, want to play with her brother, or pay attention to anyone else (talk to Hannah, order food from the wait staff, etc.). Any by angry, I mean angry like I haven't seen. First, she shuts down, like above. Then if I haven't caught on to the situation she starts to throw things; whatever is close to hand will suffice: shoes, cups, toys, food. If that still does not elicit the response that she wants (usually my picking her up), than she starts to destroy whatever is left near her by tearing it, shredding it, breaking into the smallest pieces. I think the hardest part of these episodes for me isn't the crying or tempers, but the fact that I can't communicate with her while she feels this way. I can't even speak to her in her language other than to say "Ka fu" (don't cry), or mifenebo (what's wrong?) or misonobo (I love you). Somehow when she, or Eddie, is so distraught those three phrases do not seem adequate.

Using the bathroom is another struggle we have been facing. Both Edward and Lydia did not use the loo prior to living in the foster home, which I believe was in October. So, while they can control their bladders for most times, going to the actual loo/bathroom can be a battle. In fact, when Lydia is particularly agree she will wee (pee) where ever. She has wee'd on the sidewalk in front of our hotel room, on the floor of our room, on the bed, in a chair at the restaurant, on the floor of the restaurant, and on the patio of our hotel room. None of these are accidents. For example, when she wee'd on the bed she shouted "Momma" (big accomplishment finally being called Momma by my girl!!!) and then proceeded to do her business and giggle. Accidents while she sleeps we were warned of, but the purposeful peeing everywhere just kills me. She is old enough to remove the diapers when I try to put her in them, but I am at a loss of what else to do. That said, she did wear a diaper yesterday morning and we have not had a wee incident since. Hopefully that is one of our steps forward, but I will continue to be vigilant of the signs that the struggle might need to be attended to again.

Edward is not without his own struggles with Momma. He misses Chris and doesn't understand why Chris had to go to America without him. He will cry and wail now, with sound whereas when he first came to us the tears would rain down without a sound, and I have no idea why. He does get jealous of the attention his sister gets from me, which requires a delicate balancing act. He wants me to carry him like I carry his sister, quite an arm full! Sharing food is an issue, but it isn't always THE issue that leads to his meltdowns. I guess that I have not been able to decipher his cues like I have his sister's to an extent.

Then there are the conditions that the children live in here in Ghana. The foster family is so wonderful. They have taken into their home 27 children, but they don't have the space for all these children. I was led into the house during one of our visits by several of the children and I was amazed by the size that isn't there. People in my neighborhood are worried that the new houses base has built us (2200-2300 sqft) won't be adequate and this family and these children live in a 15x20 room with peeling laminate flooring. There are two small refrigerators to hold their food and a television in the corner of the room. There were two small back rooms in the house that I didn't see, and the laundry/cooking area. No running water that I could see -- outhouses and chamber pots served as the loo. The dirt lot pictured above is where the kids play around piles of garbage and the outhouses. I think what got to me the most wasn't the living conditions but the small voices begging "Please, madam. Please. May I have some water?" as the kids got not enough clean water to drink everyday and were in awe of our canteens filled with water to drink as we felt needed/wanted.

So while the kids and I are having a lot of fun getting to know each other, we are still getting to know each other. There are trials and tribulations as we feel each other out and learn what makes each other tick. I think the picture above of HC shows how all seven of us (the Merrills and Sneddens) feel from time to time. Some more often than others. But we are learning and growing.

Please pray that the children's Ghanaian passports are issued on Monday so we can schedule our visa appointment the following week. While we are still on schedule to leave on the 20th it was hard to hear today that the possibility of leaving a week early no longer exists and we will all be here for the full month.


eralon said...

I don't pretend to understand how hard it is right now. What I do know is that sometimes when I look back on the "worst times" they seem like a gift now. Spending time in Africa is a once in a lifetime opportunity for many people and even if its unideal, it might actually be the best way to get to know your new son and daughter. The US will be something else altogether. Keeping all of you in my thoughts and wishing you more ease.

Kim & Dave said...

I will keep you in my prayers, Beckie, for sure. Thank you for sharing all of what is going on-it is so important for people to know how things might go when adopting-especially older children.

Those eyes are some of the most beautiful I have ever seen.....I could get lost in them as I'm sure you do!

Growingtogether said...

Hey You- I left this comment on your FB but not sure how often you get to check it. For the peeing problem- Have you tired using stickers? This worked for my little one. Little stickers for pee and big ones for poo. Let her pick them out and put them on a special sticker page
( any paper labeled with her name) each time she goes in the loo- you might find yourself in there more often than needed but it will be a start.
Hope it helps, You are in my prayers. Have a great day!!

Anonymous said...

You are doing an amazing job - I am so proud of you and the other families! This trip is so hard and yet so precious of an experience you'll actually miss later on... well, much later on I think! LOL... we too felt that way when we adopted Karina and Kelley - being there is really hard and the uncertainty of when you can leave - but the moment you get home you feel a little homesick for the children's country of birth and all of the new friends you make through this journey. Keeping you and the other families in prayer and know that you really are doing a GREAT job!! Robin Sizemore

Jocosa said...

Shewee is a molded plastic funnel which can slip comfortably into the zipper of your pants to allow you to urinate privately and easily in a standing position. No matter what age you are, most women have needed or will need a Shewee sometime in their life.