“How can we be ready in two weeks? Two Weeks! The shipment from Senegal; furniture in storage in Virginia; a new car; someone to stay with Engineer, Artist and Compassion while we’re gone. I guess that means no vacation in Vermont,” thoughts raced through my mind as the panic began to rise.
“How can we bring three new children home to a house with no furniture?” I say as Artist walks into the kitchen.
“What?” with a puzzled look.
“Oh, nothing honey, just talking to myself. But good news, the adoption is final.”
“Wow! Awesome sauce! When do you go?”
“In two weeks.”
“Will Daddy be home in time?”
“No, I’d better send him this email.”
A few days later, I totally shocked the adoption agency by asking for an extension. They could only grant us two extra weeks, so we’d have to travel in less than a month. So I set to work making phone calls, arranging deliveries and a trip to the car dealership, changed reservations in Vermont, and called my sister.
The first sign of impending doom came as we settled into our seats on our flight home to America. After the captain’s announcement that we would not be leaving yet due to a cracked windshield, we deplaned.
Walking down the jetway back into the terminal, I realized how long we’d sat on that plane waiting for an explanation when Soccer asked, speaking the only words he knew in English, “America Mommy?
“No,” I answered, shaking my head but not knowing if he really understood.
It would be two more days before we could board a plane and fly home. Exhausted after the long flight home, we sank into our beds, using sleeping bags instead of sheets, since they were still tucked away in the mass of boxes. I’d survey the new house in the morning.
As the sun rose on this new day, I looked around. The basement room was stacked almost to the ceiling and filled with boxes. As we began unpacking, I couldn’t help but think what this must seem like to our newly adopted children, who were coming from a place where they owned nothing, to box after box of things that were used for a purpose they could not imagine.
The next days turned into weeks then months of seemingly unending chaos. Only two weeks after our initial homecoming, our youngest daughter had to spend two days the hospital with a respiratory infection. Impatient to get our house into some semblance of order, I broke my toe moving a futon. Daily, our new daughters, filled with anger and confusion, threw tantrums that could last 4 hours or more. We tried to continue our homeschooling lifestyle amidst the craziness, frightening emotions and learning disabilities, but eventually made the really hard choice to place all six of our children in public school.
Filly, our oldest adopted child, spent three years in that school learning almost nothing, because we had no idea how to advocate for her needs. Our lives were out of control during those initial three years; it all just seemed like a colossal mess (especially if I look at it with a horizontal perspective)! This was not the homecoming we’d planned nor expected. We couldn’t imagine how this could possibly be part of God’s plan!
At times it still feels that way today, especially when one of our daughters throws a tantrum, and my husband has to leave the country on a research trip leaving me alone with three teenagers, two tweens and a nine year-old for ten weeks. However, I can look back now and see that we’ve all come a long way from those first days home. If I change my view and look at it from a vertical perspective, keeping my eyes fixed on Christ and His purposes, I can see that those beginnings were exactly as He planned, no matter how it looked from my point of view.
Our daughter did come home from the hospital as good as new, my toe mended and the furniture, clothing, toys and decorations all found their rightful places (only to be moved two more times since then). Both girls still exhibit some pretty challenging behaviors, but they are healing, and their tantrums are very different and much shorter in duration.
Looking forward, I can hope in God’s plan to use the chaos of our early lives together to show us the beauty He will create out of the ashes.
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