Tag Archives: family

“This is NOT home.”

airplane over cochabamba, bolivia, january 2015

Our little mob of weary wanderers rounded the final corner of our 36 hour journey. Mama and Papa caught each others’ eyes and puffed out a breath to prepare for impact.

“You ready for this?” they asked.

“Nope,” they answered.

“Here we go,” they said.

All the kids, with baggage to drag, followed the plod of their parents up the ramp from the airplane to the airport. I saw my parents before they saw us. My mom, my dad, my youngest brother, and my youngest sister came out that chilly Saturday afternoon in January to gather us. You might tell me that was only four days ago; it feels like a lifetime ago.

We left Bolivia. To quote a friend, “It is not so weird that you left, what’s weird is that you are not coming back.” Oh the sting.

The impact of the separation has not yet hit me. I am sure the ones we left back in Bolivia are feeling it. I have been the one left behind, it is excruciating. I can see on the faces of some of my kids the sadness and loneliness. Others beam with relief and renewal. The colors of our emotional profile burn bright like a sunset on fire. Or is it the sunrise?

The transition material tells me that a new beginning starts with an ending. The rites of passage of ancient cultures teach us to face the end, embrace the grief, and move through to the new. Denial, slap a happy-face emoticon on it, fake-it-’til-you-make-it, just won’t do. Honest tears help wash the soul.

It hurts so much, though. And there are so many people so very happy to have us here. And we don’t want to disappoint people. But it is not fair to them if we are dishonest with our “glee” in the hopes to manage their emotions. No. This is not what we want to do. So we sit broken, together. Yet, there does exist happiness in all the grief. Sparks of hope of what will be flare up and our faces make genuine smiles.

Oh yes, I was talking about the airport.

We walked into view. My mom burst with shouts and ran to catch me. My sister cried and wrapped my kids in her arms. My brother said with pride and joy, “My sister!” My dad laughed as he welcomed us all. What was left of my mascara ran down my cheeks. I felt like my heart would explode.

Then I looked around at my children. My oldest stood off to the side, away from the huddle of hugs. I moved over to her. The anger and helplessness radiated from her reddened eyes as she met me with an indictment. Through gritted teeth and a cracking voice she whispered a gruff, “This is NOT home.”

I wrapped her in affirmation and understanding. Yes, I told her, you are right, this is not home. We cried. I told her we would talk later. She nodded.

We grabbed our 12 checked bags off the conveyor belt. I unzipped a few and snatched out sweaters and jackets for all of us. No matter how many layers and hats and scarves and gloves I put on I couldn’t cut the chill. We loaded up the people and the stuff and drove to our borrowed residence. The rest of the day rushed by as we set up beds, tended to the kitchen and bathrooms, and sorted the bags into the rooms.

When just the Washingtons remained in the home warmed by the wonder of heat blown through vents I called Raimy to my side. She initiated the conversation. Her countenance was calmed yet fatigued, and she said, “About what I said… this is not home, yet.”

Yes. That’s right baby.

Love. Be loved.

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One Week Ago We Didn’t Even Have Tickets

Can you believe that? One week ago we didn’t even have plane tickets for our family to travel to the U.S.A.. Now, we are here, have a great place to stay while we find a place of our own, and OWN a 7 passenger van (which is a whole story for a separate, dedicated blog post). A small army has been working to gather stuff for our new home. My sister and brother-in-law collected from tons of people: some beds, bedding, dressers, towels, toiletries, some groceries, coats, hats, scarves, toys, games, some kitchen items, laundry soap, a laundry basket, Target gift cards, and a coffee maker. Thanks to the collaborative efforts of a friend who set up a facebook page to organize people, a few churches helping out, and many people networking, we feel very loved and cared for.

My parents, one of my brothers, and one of my sisters met us at the airport. There were hugs, happy tears, and lots of loud. It was great! They helped us get into the house of my brother-in-law’s father, who happens to be away on a golfing vacation and graciously opened his vacant home for us to stay in for free. WOW! I am so grateful for the generosity from someone I have never even met.

Before dawn Friday morning dear, dear friends came and collected us from the missionary housing where we were staying in Cochabamba. We said tearful goodbyes and started the 36 hour journey back to the city where both DaRonn and I were born and raised. The kids are amazing travelers! There were lots of talks about our move down to Bolivia way back in 2001. We compared, contrasted, and reminisced.

Ahead of us now in the coming days are: finding a house, filling it, and settling in. Please pray for us, as I know you already have been. Things seem to be falling into place. I am so grateful.

The kids have said some amusing things these first few days. The laughter has been helpful to break up the fatigue and tension.

— — — — — —

Me: Tyler, when you go to the bathroom you can put your toilet paper in the toilet and flush it down.

Tyler: [look of utter disgust] That is so gross!

Me: Yep, your pee, your poop, and the paper all together.

Timothy: [from the other room, singing loudly] We will all go together when we go down!

Cultural orientation – – – in Bolivia the plumbing systems are different and the used toilet paper is thrown into the trash can beside the toilet. Here in the U.S. the used paper is flushed.

— — — — — —

Can I go drink from the water fountain! (Five children RUN through the airport to quench their thirst.)

— — — — — —

Look, a mailbox! Oh look, there’s another one!

— — — — — —

These houses are so beautiful! (In one of the more simple parts of town.)

— — — — — —

There are SO MANY  [you name it on the shelves in the stores]  to choose from!

— — — — — —

This pizza is SO GOOD!

— — — — — —

It is SO COLD! (The locals are in lightweight shirts and no jackets. We are in layers, coats, hats, and scarves.)

— — — — — —

You can drink the water from the faucet. WHAT? Yes, from the faucet.

— — — — — —

Timothy on day 2: I still feel weird drinking water from the faucet. I mean, it tastes fine, but I am thinking in my head the whole time, “I am drinking bugs!”

— — — — — —

on the wall of the house we are staying at
on the wall of the house where we are staying

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Bravery, a Derivative

My Teen Girls in Uyuni

I really don’t feel strong or brave. Most days I jolt awake as the rush of nervous acid pours into my stomach. The aftereffects of the daily emotional roller coaster ride make me nauseated. The regrets choke. Thus, I have determined that bravery is not an emotion, it is a derivative.

As I share my story with a low voice, tears in my eyes, so many people tell me I am strong, that I am brave. They see me. They see the circumstances. Then they affirm strength??? I really don’t feel it. Oh boy do I wish I did!

I wince at their words, doubt trumps dauntlessness. I bury myself in my notebook. My hand trembles as I make it pull the jumbled words onto paper. My thoughts slow and calm comes as I think about bravery.

Forged in the fires of truth unhindered, time, and surrender comes forth words to define bravery. Definitions help me maintain realistic expectations of myself, and others.

> Bravery is not a stoic face to mask authenticity. Nuh uh.

> Bravery is not a bully who lashes out in fear. Nope.

> Bravery is not an ungodly holler from a maniac who runs reckless to sure defeat. Sorry Sparta, you can keep that crap.

Bravery: Life lived with strength derived from the assurance that 1. I am the beloved of God, 2. God loves everyone, and 3. His love in me enables me to love well.

So when my teenagers come to me distraught and fraught with emotions I can rely on the strength in me derived from the love infusion from my Father God. Then I can attempt to listen with empathy. I can speak, if I need to. Or shut up. I trust that God can love them well when my resources fail. I choose to engage, rather than cower and hide (which is my default mode, by the way).

So when the days topple on top of each other and mash with the piles to-do lists, and I breathe too quick, and my brain begins to spin like the tilt-a-whirl, I can stop the scared screamy sounds in my mind. I see the lips of my friends who tell me I am strong. Yes, I am strong, because this tangible weakness draws me to the source of my bravery. My bravery is a derivative of the assurance I am loved.

So when terrible scenarios of what-if replay on loop in the darkest corner of my heart I can crawl to that place and face the fears. In the past I have shut that part of me away as “bad” and “sinful” and “faithless”. With weak limbs and scraped hands I can do the next thing. Just do the next thing. And the next thing might be a simple flip of a switch on a plastic flashlight to shine a shaft of bravery on the damp, creepy parts of my soul. A simple task made nearly insurmountable by the paralyzed state created by my imaginations of what will be revealed. But my bravery is not brazen or foolish. True brave strength is surrender to Love. Love knows me. Love accepts me. Love sits beside that awful terribleness, and waits with me for the light.

So what do I do when I just do not feel so strong or brave? I cry. I fuss. I complain. I moan. And when I get that all over with I return to the assurance part of my definition. I can rest when I have been assured. Sometimes this blessed assurance comes from those around me. Sometimes the assurance comes from a song whispered in the recesses of my throat, sang with raspy tones. Other times gritty, holy stories or chunks of scripture assure me.

One prayer from the book of Ephesians has brought encouragement.

14 When I think of all this, I fall to my knees and pray to the Father, 15 the Creator of everything in heaven and on earth. 16 I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. 17 Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. 18 And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. 19 May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.

20 Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. 21 Glory to him in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations forever and ever! Amen.”  –  Ephesians 3:14 – 21

Love and Peace.

 

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Birth Stories – 6 – Kaitlynn

Adoption is a different kind of birth. The process doesn’t follow nature’s timeline, but all the elements are present: conception, gestation, labor, delivery, post partum. A whole book could be written about my personal struggles through each step in the process. Start to finish it took 24 months. Fun facts from Google:

“In Mammals, Elephants have the longest gestation period of 22 months. This is even longer than the Blue Whale, whose gestation lasts around a year. However, there are a few fish and amphibians that have gestation periods much longer than an elephant. For example, the Alpine Salamander gives birth to live young after a 3 year pregnancy. Spiny Dog Fish are pregnant for 24 months, and there are claims Frilled Shark have been recorded to have gestation periods up to 3.5 years.”

bunny birth stories logoSo our duration from conception to postpartum was like that of a Spiny Dog Fish. Go ahead and do a search for that one – make sure you are not afraid of sharks and not grossed out by fishing pictures. I digress…

I gained the most weight with the coming of my fifth child than with any of the others. And the delivery was the very hardest of them all. I have grieved at the thoughts surrounding Kaitlynn’s actual physical conception, gestation, and day of birth. The little I know about her biological parents makes me very sad.

Substance abuse was a reality in this situation. My daughter most likely suffered in the womb nutrition deficiency as well as stress from the effects of the substances and the lifestyle. The lack of adequate prenatal care might attribute to some of her cognitive functions to this day.

Was she born on the streets? I don’t know. What was labor like? I don’t know. Did her birth mom go to a clinic? I don’t know.

Kaitlynn’s ears have tiny scars where they were once pierced, but are now closed up. Most Bolivians who give birth to girls in the clinics have the nurses put earrings in right away. Did this happen for my daughter? What was her newborn care like? Was she sick often in the first year of her life before she was taken to the orphanage? We don’t know.

She was assumed to be about 2 and ½ years old when we brought her home on May 26, 2010, the day before Bolivia’s Mother’s Day. The journey has been hard, and good, and sorrowful, and rewarding, and eye-opening, and challenging, and life-changing, and truth-revealing, and necessary, and powerful.

If I ever meet Kaitlynn’s birth mom – ONLY at Kaitlynn’s initiative – I want to ask her about that day she “dio luz” to our child. It is hard to not have that story to tell my daughter. I want to be able to tell her about the day she was born.

I can, though, tell her about the day she came home to her family. A smile did not leave her face that day. She had fun being tended to. We cuddled on the rocking chair. She walked around the house touching everything and opening and shutting every door and drawer. She colored at the coffee table with the boy she made into a big brother. Her sister Gabrielle fed her food on a little spoon while she sat in a high chair – and they were so silly together. In Spanish toddler talk she prattled on and on as she settled into her favorite place in the house: my arms. She also found a special thinking place, the bean bag chair, and made it all her own. She had a little bed and the first night was full of tossing and turning, but she liked that she shared a room with her sisters. These are the parts of her birth story that I can tell her.

We spent two weeks making daily visits to the orphanage where she lived before we brought her home. So her first day in our house was not the first day we met.

On the day the judge gave us official permission to go meet our daughter DaRonn had the foresight to bring a big bag of candy to keep in his pocket. She much preferred his treat over the dolly I brought as a gift. To this day dolls are not very interesting to her, but she loves to eat sweets. We got to know each other little by little over that fortnight. Sometimes we brought the whole family. Sometimes it was just DaRonn and me. Her favorite things during those visits were: candy from papa, taking turns sitting on our laps, and drinking water from the water bottle we brought.

May 26, 2010 Gotcha Day
May 26, 2010 – Gotcha Day – Kaitlynn 2 and 1/2

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When You Were Born I Was On the Other Side of the World

Dear boy… The day you were born I was on the other side of the world. In Chile. Shopping, of all things. Even though I can’t inhale the perfect scent of your perfect fuzzy head, and I can’t cuddle your curled up, squishiness against my chest, I want you to know a few things.

You are part of a big, wonderful world, Parker. You are important. Your part in this world matters. Your robust joy and stalwart strength will touch many. You are loved and adored!

Dear girl… The day you were born I was on the other side of the world. In Bolivia. I was making cookies and getting ready to celebrate the Day of the Child. Even though I can’t feel the grip of your little fist around my finger, and I can’t caress your rosy cheeks, or wrap you up in a blankie and rock you to sleep, I want you to know  few things.

You are a princess, treasured and loved. You, Andrea, were born to make a mark on this world. I can’t wait to see the unique you unfold and shine! I love you and I think you are so special!

To the mommies and the daddies of these precious babies, my brothers and sisters, I am so proud of you! As you add your own footprints to the path of parenthood, well trodden by those before, know that I admire and honor you. Y’all are amazing, really.

With much love,

Tia Angie

 

Killing the Deadline

My youngest daughter is 4, 5, and 6 years old. Wha?! Yes.

In May we celebrate her Adoption Gotcha Day for the 4th time. She and I have been mother and daughter for almost 4 years.

In February she will enter Kindergarten. In Bolivia children are usually 5 when they enter Kindergarten. She needed to repeat preschool so that she could be a stronger Kindergartener.

In December of last year she turned 6 years old. Since this is a provisional birthday I can only hope and assume that it is close to her physical age.

She has behaviors that match all three of those ages. So I killed the deadline, before it killed me. I got all caught up in the benchmarks of where we “should” be that I couldn’t celebrate where we are.

(See this post on time for more thoughts on the subject: Airplanes are Time Machines)

Sure, we need timelines, deadlines, and goals with measurable results. We need those things in areas that we can control, to an extent. As a certifiable control freak I can attest to the ease in assuming that everything can be controlled. Ha! My current process of the deconstruction of damaging patterns landed me on the conclusion that many of my conclusions need to be revised. The “shoulds” associated with time that came under evaluation didn’t hold much water.

It comes back to expectations. Expecting myself and others to maintain an imagined level of performance may create some facades in the relationship. Simplifying my expectations creates freedom for myself and others to grow at a natural pace. Creating an atmosphere which transmits trust invites a relationship in which all open up with a freedom born of acceptance. The rate of growth no longer frustrates me. I let that go so that I can be happy to see the actual growth right in front of my eyes.

I replace

I expect you to behave in this fashion: ______________ [fill in the blank with billions of rules]

with

I expect you to know I love you in this fashion: ______________ [fill in the blank with billions of affirmations of the worth this person holds in my heart, soul, and life.]

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Pulling at the little seedlings in the pot will not make them extend their branches any quicker. Most likely the yanking will result in a hurt plant and stunted growth. Give those root water and healthy soil and they will strengthen. Give those tiny green leaves the warmth of sunlight and keep the bugs away and you will see them flourish.

My daughter does not need me to yank at her with a face of disappointment and disgust. She came to us already damaged. She needs from me a face of kindness, acceptance, and love. She needs words of truth that warm her heart. She needs the nutritious power of a family surrounding her with encouragement and trust.

We never stop growing, right? I am so grateful for the grace to keep learning these parenting concepts. Why would I not extend that same grace to my children as we work this out?

Grace to you, too. Thanks for reading.

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Tangible Validation

01

A few years back I purchased five large photo albums. That Christmas we gave Raimy, Timothy, Gabrielle, and Tyler their own album, each with 100+ photos of: them, their friends, our family, photos they had taken, and fun memories. 02

This is a page from Timothy’s. Simple. Personal. They loved them! They frequently peruse their pics. 03

We were in the process of adoption so I knew our fifth child was coming. This is what Kaitlynn’s book looked like at the time. Blank. Begging to be filled.04

A couple months later Kaitlynn came home! Her empty album sat on the shelf next to the ones belonging to her siblings. She would look at their pictures with them. Time passed. The electronic folders began to fill up. One day Kaitlynn asked me where her pictures were. I told her I hadn’t made them yet, but we looked at them on the computer. So she found a way to fill her book and began making her own pictures to put in the album.05

This birthday I finally got the book for Kaitlynn made! 100+ pictures from her life of her family, her friends, and momentous occasions. It includes one pic from before her life at the orphanage, various from her time with the Tias, and the rest are from her three and a half years as a Washington. 06

I think she might have known the secret. 07

She was so excited! Since she received the gift on Monday I have seen her many times sitting down and looking through the snapshots. She asks about names and places. And she says with a huge smile on her face, “Remember that time…” as she tells me her memories. She holds in her hands tangible validation. I am so happy to be able to give her this gift.

DaRonn uploaded the album in electronic version on facebook if you would like to see what is in her book.

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Persuasion Obedience

Persuasion means to win over with sweetness. A fine line divides persuasion and manipulation.

honey

My mental wiring prohibits me from seeing a difference. I guess it comes down to motives. Since motives are a heart issue, persuasion and manipulation might look identical viewed by an outsider, thus my difficulty in distinguishing the two forces. I’ve also heard that manipulation is playing on the emotions of another for solely selfish gain. In contrast, to persuade another does involve an emotional interaction but the motives are for mutual benefit.

Emotions are the grays to my black and white brain. Yet brain matter is gray, you say. Ah ha. Very good. I do not deny the need for emotional connections with other humans. I simply confess that navigating the immense waters of emotions has been a learned practice, and I have fallen over board too many times to count. Growing up I had more guy friends than girls because I was more comfortable with the straightforward nature of the male. Girls and their unpredictable, undefinable, unsteady moods and emotional swings scared me.

Connect this rejection to emotional displays with parenting. I now understand that my tendencies to be firm and unwavering with my children can come off as cold. Yes, I know the strengths of being a dependable, predictable, stable parent. I am grateful for the good that has come from that aspect of my personality as I have been raising my kids. Yet, I understand that there are also downfalls to such a strict parenting method.

One of my children in particular has proven this. The pattern of defiance against my firmness has been a pain in the neck. I have developed a large bit of resentment towards this person as we butt heads in a way unlike I have ever known before. With my other children obedience is understood as a duty. They obey because it’s the right thing to do. For this other child, the rules are very low on the list of priorities. Obedience seems to be optional.

An ongoing discussion I have been having with friends and family has to do with the obedience of my children, especially in my absence. This one kid is pretty sneaky and tends to disobey when I cannot be seen. This has bugged me! So I have been talking about it every chance I get.

One person suggested I strip back the rules to only the very bare necessities. Yes, this was helpful. Not so many lines to defy has helped us to get along better.

Another observation came through on facebook that has stuck a profound chord with me.

“Obedience is a a heart issue. Disobedience means you haven’t gotten to [the child’s] heart.”

When I read that I knew instantly this was the key. Yes! Now the vital task: understand this and figure out how to apply it.

With a number of issues at hand the opportunity to learn a new facet of parenting presented itself quickly. The child misbehaved. Instead of reacting as I normally would I traded in firmness for sweetness. Oh my! It felt so disingenuous. So insincere. So fake and contrived! I thought to myself – who would ever fall for this load of crap! I thought for sure I would have a child laughing in my face.

I was so wrong. Instead of a defiant child the walls seemed to melt. Compliance came readily. The behavior began to turn around. Kindness connected our hearts. I now call this new learned method: Persuasion Obedience.

The key? I visualized other role models in my life being kind to their kids. I saw with my minds eye what they would do in my place – and I copied that. Because, I know that this Persuasion Obedience is very natural to many, many mothers.

This new approach, heavy on the emotional awareness side of human relations, did not come naturally to me, but the positive results in our family life have reinforced in MY behavior the usage of this method. Whereas before my focus with my children was on correct behavior we have entered into a more well rounded reality. Behavior is a result of a heart connection. The difference has brought more peace to our home.

Could this truth be carried into our relationship with our creator? You bet! Even though it comes naturally to me to obey out of a sense of duty, there is a more profound connection with God when I choose to hear His heart and become persuaded of His truth before I act. Performing out of a sense of duty can lead to pride. Being persuaded by the connection with my Father’s heart leads only to acts committed humbly from a place of love. I desire this deeper connection with God. I trust Him to teach me how to navigate these deep waters.

 

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Where There is No…

A famous missionary book is “Where There is No Doctor”. Later a couple more came out to complete the set of self-help handbooks for workers in the developing world. “Where There is No Dentist” so your teeth don’t fall out of your head. “Where There is No Animal Doctor”, let’s not forget about Sparky! (sidenote: shoulda been “Where There is No Veterinarian”, but whatevs.) And finally “Where There is No Psychiatrist”. Why not Psychologist? I always get those two mixed up. I’m just crazy like that. (ba dum bum – ching!)

Confession: I haven’t read ANY of them. (gasp!)

Granted, we live in a metropolitan area. In the highly unlikely chance that we ever go rural, I’ll get ’em all and cram. Oh yes. Since there have not been any weather reports predicting a snow storm in hell, I will continue to rely on the professionals in our lovely city.  We have doctors, dentists, vets, and both of those P word dudes.

I trust my Spanish for explaining symptoms to a doctor. We have about a half a dozen dentists in our church, so that is covered. When our dog was having seizures as a puppy we were able to communicate just fine with the vet and he got us the meds our poodle needed. Shep is fine, so that worked out. Now, when it comes to psychiatrists and psychologists, I start to squirm.

I have never been to see either one of those for a consultation. I’ve had friends who work in both of those fields. I think they do fine work. I think they are important. Okay, I did have a psychological evaluation during the adoption proceedings. So I have met with a shrink once. Evidently she liked my drawings of a family of animals and a kid in the rain, and she found my answers to “what do you see here” satisfactory enough to allow me to have her stamp of approval as a capable mother. But on my own initiative to deal with an unresolved issue – nada.

That’s not to say I don’t need to. Oh, there have been plenty of times when I was sure I was losing my mind. I could have benefited from one at a few specific times in my life, I think. But here is why I have never sought out help from a Bolivian professional in these fields: I don’t trust my Spanish to really speak authentically and therapeutically about heart issues. Now that there’s Skype I suppose if I really wanted to invest the finances into sessions with an English speaking therapist I could make that happen.

In the meanwhile I tend to my mental health through:

  • Talking with trusted friends
  • Informative and instructional reading
  • Prayer and other spiritual disciplines
  • Regular “exhaling” activities like: jogging, photography, blogging, trekking, travel, etc.
  • Frequent dates
  • Handwritten journaling
  • Asking for support and help from friends and family when I feel I need it
  • Staying connected to people who will speak up if they see me heading to cooky town (aka: accountability… but that is such a mathematical word, blech)

washington kids september 2013So, we are an adoptive family. Thus, it is a tough line to walk when almost EVERY book, article, and blog on adoption emphasizes the importance of dealing with every issue with the help of professional therapists. From eating habits to bonding to attachment to you-name-it the pattern stays the same: here is some advice, here are some anecdotes, now go seek professional help. I get it. I really do understand. I do. But that has just not been the reality for us.

This causes me to rely even more heavily on the strategies I have placed in my life when I come to a rough patch. Since we stepped foot in the adoption world there have been some pretty rough patches. To assign a comparative percentage of rough to smooth in our adoption journey would be depressing and require too much mathematical thought. Math, blech. So we keep walking, right? Right.

Yesterday evening I experienced something truly miraculous with Kaitlynn. A connection was made between her and me that surprised me. I am so grateful for all my friends and family who listen, pray, and advise me as I learn how to be Kaitlynn’s mama. Dozens of people at specific times have provided just the word or time or grace I have needed to get through that day or that hour or that minute. I can never say thank you enough. I truly believe that this amazing support system is meant to receive all the credit for this connection that happened last night.

I say miraculous because this is the kind of connection that I have been waiting for, hoping for. One of my favorite parts of being a mama is having real talks with my kids. Each phase of parenthood has their perks – but when they reach the age of being able to have a proper conversation with me I am thrilled. Kaitlynn’s first language is now English. She will be 6 years old in December. I see now how key this element is in our relationship. We have had a few conversations where she expressed non-mimicked thoughts, those have been great. But what happened last night went deeper.

For the first time, of her own volition, she began to share with me stories of her life before she became a Washington kid. She was very emotional. She sat beside me on the couch and spoke very low with a sincerity I have not seen before. Story after story came pouring out. I listened so hard, trying to remember every detail so I could write it all down. I knew this was important.

After I put her to bed I rushed to get my pen and notebook to record our talk. I was so excited! Yet I knew that a portion of what she shared was fantasy. That made me curious. I whittled down my online search in order to find a clinical article to help me understand what just happened between us. My search landed on a very well written and very specific piece entitled “Birthparent Romances and Identity Formation in Adopted Children“. Fascinating. Spot on. Highly informative. For her age and her development level this behavior of telling stories mixed with fact and fiction is completely appropriate. Beyond that, it is a healthy step in her personal identity formation path.

What excites me the most is the connection she and I made. We connected. Thank God. Really, thank you all who helped us get to this important point. I am just so very grateful and happy.

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