My Epic Summer – Part 3 (finally)

Our third major milestone this summer was marking the one year anniversary of Iris’s adoption.  It was the quickest year of my life.  We arrived home last August just after her 7th birthday.  Here is the first picture we saw of her:

We thought she was beautiful from the beginning!

Part III – What my second adoption taught me.

#1 – God has a plan

Yep, even this time around he did.  I have spent a great many years dreaming about going to China to adopt a little girl.  By the time we got around to the adoption, China was a 5 year wait unless you went special needs.  I wasn’t mentally ready at the time to add another child with special needs to our house.  I just had a major mental block there.  That’s because God intended to send me to Africa to get Mesfin.  When our hearts were open to another adoption I just knew China was where we would go.

I’m so thankful that I listened to God’s plan.  And it wasn’t easy.  When you dream of a child for so long as I did a daughter from China, it takes time to make the mental switch to another country.  I had to mourn this daughter that I yearned for so much.  She wouldn’t be.

But God knows the desires of our hearts and even though I had put it all aside, He was just asking me to wait.

#2 – Sometimes adoption actually DOES save a child.

Although I believe that no one should go into adoption for the sole reason of saving a child, AND that children are better off with their biological parents in the country of birth if possible, I can’t ignore the millions of children that sit in orphanages with little or no future.  In Russia and Ukraine, 16 is the age that you are forced out of the orphanage.  15% of the kids commit suicide, 60% of the girls end up as prostitutes, and 70% of the men go to prison for major crimes.

Parts of China do their best to help a child be successful after the orphanage, but the ones with special needs are hopeless.  Iris would have little chance of getting married and would face much discrimination in the workplace.  Iris has a mild knee deformity that causes her leg to be slightly bent.  That’s it.  But she wasn’t perfect enough.  We have friends in Ohio who adopted a Chinese 11-year-old with spina bifida and she wasn’t allowed to go to school.  They felt her handicap was too great.  She sat in a diaper and wheelchair all day, every day, never leaving the orphanage.  What would have ever become of her at 18?

We are called to be a father to the fatherless.  Adoption is an answer.

#3 – The journey can be the easiest in life

Yep, that’s right.  We were so prepared for another major adjustment, yet Iris sailed right in like she owned the place.  We are so similar that I think it is more likely I was kidnapped for 12 months, kept drugged, impregnated, and then gave birth to this girl as opposed to we just randomly picked her out from a stack of files.

And the sarcasm my friends.  It is a wonderful gift God has bestowed upon me and she is also brilliant at it.  How is this possible?  The Chinese are not particularly known for their biting sarcasm.  I’m telling you, she came from my DNA.

#4 – Wounds remain

Iris’s sorrow is over choice.  Through tears she has told me that adoption is just so hard because she didn’t get to pick any of it.  She promises she would have picked me if it was possible, but it is all so scary because no one ever asked her what she wanted.

Iris also spent the first 5 years of her life with a foster family.  Then the governing agency said it was time for school and so she left that family and went to an orphanage for school age kids.  Then they chopped off her long hair.  I hear that story often.  She misses them.

Both foster parents continued visiting her at the orphanage once she left.  They called her and brought her gifts.  But they did not prepare her well, for she was even unsure if she came out of her China momma’s belly.

No, I told her, there was a mom that had you in her belly and she had to give you up.  Then when you were two days old you went to live with your foster parents. 

I don’t want to talk about it, she replied.  I don’t need to miss two mommas that gave me away.

When she was told she would be coming to America, Iris called her foster parents and says they cried, exclaiming We don’t want you to go!  Of course the mother said that because she would miss her.  But what Iris heard was I am so mad at you for going!  No matter what I tell her, she will not believe that her foster parents still love her, instead believing they harbor a lot of anger towards her for leaving.

#5 – Forever will never be long enough

I know you just read this about Mesfin, but it’s true.  Every project in school where they do a time line or a biography and I can only come up with a year, five years, of memories makes my heart hurt.

On her birthday I will always remember that there are two mothers in China that ache for Iris.  One that felt her grow for 9 months and one that spent 5 years clearly covering her with love.

I get the forever.  And I will do it to the best of my abilities in dedication to the women who came before me, for a shorter time, but loved them both as deeply as I do.

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My Epic Summer – Part 2

Our second major milestone this summer was marking the 5th anniversary of Mesfin’s adoption.  Five years doesn’t seem like a long time, yet I can’t really remember a day that Mesfin wasn’t with us.  Not only that, but he was almost 6 when we picked him up, so he has still logged in more time in Ethiopia then in America.  He seemed so old when we saw him (his paperwork said he was only 3 – hahaha) so when I look at this picture I can’t even imagine he was that little.  Those are not my memories.

The day we met Mesfin.

The day we met Mesfin.

Mesfin has taught me a lot about myself.  Some of it is really ugly I might add.  His adjustment was difficult and I in no way handled it with grace. This blog isn’t addressing all the yuck that bubbled out during that time.  I’ll save that for later.  Or you can adopt yourself, make a mess of it, then call me and I will reassure you I did it too.

Part II – What my first adoption taught me.

#1 – God has a plan
We filled out our paper work for a child under the age of 4 because Will was 5 and our agency was very firm on their policy not to break birth order.  Our referral sent us a picture of the beautiful boy above and gave us a birthday making him 3.  As I mentioned, he wasn’t.  We met his birth mom and she told us his birthday and that he was about to turn 6.  Say what?  There might have been some freaking out as we huddled in a small guest room at the orphanage, during rainy season, with not enough clothes (I just couldn’t fathom bringing a sweatshirt to Africa – stupid), while the city carried out random periods of blackouts to use less energy.  It gets dark in a city with no power.

When we arrived home I mentioned that the adjustment was difficult.  Not just for Mesfin, but for Will too.  He would go to bed crying “I never told you I wanted a brother.”  But a few weeks after we arrived home Will told us “I’m so glad he’s older.  I was praying for a brother that was older because I really like being the baby.”

Mesfin is such a perfect fit for our family now.  It’s took so much time for us to realize that while we were trying to control the situation through paperwork and what we felt was best, God had a young man picked out for us and he was bending information to put him with us.  God’s plans don’t always work out in such a way that makes sense to us, but He is always orchestrating the details of our lives.

#2 – Adoption isn’t about saving a child

I’m going to say it:  A child is better off with their biological mother in their native country than anywhere else.  But our world is broken so it can’t always work out that way.  Mesfin loved his life and it was brutally interrupted by adoption.  He had a mother that loved him and there was no way to reconcile the massive issue of HIV in Ethiopia.  For him, it was so much more like a kidnapping.  The rivers of gratitude weren’t flowing when we arrived home.  It was more like being dragged through the sewer system.  Adopted children have no choice.  They do not owe their parents anything.  Not love, not gratitude, NOTHING.  It is with love that we enter into this and that is our choice, so we owe them that plus a lot more.  Not the other way around.

#3 – This journey can be the most difficult in life

Living with a grieving child was beyond what I expected.  Mesfin’s first full sentence he strung together in English was “I already have a mom in Ethiopia so you will never be my mother.”  What does someone do with that?  Well I locked myself in the bathroom for a long and fruitful cry.  He had moments of anger, violence, uncontrollable sobbing.  All emotions to the extreme.  We hated each other a few times.  I recall crying out to the Lord I’ve wanted to adopt since I can remember!  Why would you give me a child that hates me?!  The grief for Jon and I was ever-present.  Our motto was “Love is a verb.  Fake it ’til you feel it.”  There were times I prayed for a way out.  (remember I said above I did not handle this with grace and beauty) When we enrolled him in kindergarten school had already started and I sat down with the teacher to talk about Mesfin.  The first thing she asked was “Tell me what is so great about Mesfin.”  I blanked.  Couldn’t say a word.  I was in such a state of emergency dealing with our house that I was unable to even see the good.

It was an honest full year of struggles.  Gradually getting better, but I don’t think I let my guard down until after that first year.  It can take some time.

#4 – Wounds remain

Although Mesfin is a happy and fully a Zabrocki boy, there are wounds that will always remain.  Sometimes I forget he’s ever had a life before me, but he doesn’t.  Last year I asked him if he was ready to go back to visit Ethiopia and he said “Mom, you just don’t get it.  If I go back I will want to look for my mom, but she will either be dead or, if I find her, I won’t be able to talk to her.  Either situation is unbearable.”  Loss never disappears.  It just softens over time.  There will always be a hole in his heart for the life he had before me.

#5 – Forever will never be long enough.

He is my son.  The love of my life.  Sometimes I want to tell people I had an affair just so that I can claim him as my biological son.   Mesfin is loved no differently.  In some ways I love him more fiercely than the others because of all that he had to go through and because of the crazy sense of protection I have for him.  I don’t want people to see my “adopted” son.  Just my boy.  Beautiful.  Serious.  Funny.  Smart.  Sensitive.  Clumsy.  Silly.  Handsome.  Oh to have the chance to go back and tell that kindergarten teacher what is so great about Mesfin.  There is an endless list of things.  I think about his Ethiopian mom so often.  I can. not. imagine.  I’m sure if she was sitting in front of this computer, writing about her son, she would also say forever will never be long enough.  But for reasons out of everyone’s control, I get the rest of forever.  That is so heartbreaking, and beautiful, at the same time.

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Simply Obedience

 

Wheat-Field-wallpaper_6918

After two adoptions, I wouldn’t consider myself an expert. I would however, consider myself an advocate. A supporter. A campaigner. Sometimes I’m even the woman holding back “What is wrong with all of you? Get off your  couch and away from your flat screen and go adopt a kid!” But that’s not very nice, or accurate, so I keep that crazy girl in my head.

Adoption is part of God’s heart. He has adopted all of us and calls us his sons and daughters.

So when I see attempted adoptions fail, my heart aches. Twice in the past few months have wonderful people felt led by God to bring children into their homes, only to have the situation not end in an adoption. In fact, it ended terribly. The experience was so epic, so overwhelming, that neither family is sure they will pursue another child.

At the end of this difficult journey, both families felt relieved, but with that comes a sense of failure. Of disappointment.

And the question “Where is God in all of this?”

It’s the same question I asked in China as I watched a boy be returned to his orphanage after 10 days with an adoptive family, who wept with defeat and flew home alone.

Sometimes the answer to that question is simply obedience.

The willingness to say Pick Me God! I’ll do this ugly and messy thing in life and then when it ends, I’m willing to be broken, hurt, confused, all because you asked me to. Your ways are higher than my own.

Adoption does not make us holy in the eyes of God. Obedience does.

Keep listening. Don’t be discouraged. You did a good thing, as you felt led by God. Not everything God asks us to do get rounded out in a sunset ending.

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.
Galatians 6:9-10

Jesus says the poor will always be with us.  We are not on this earth to eradicate poverty.  That power is not within us.  Only Jesus can set this world back on its original course.

We are here to become more like Jesus every day.  And yes, that does mean doing good. Often.  Always.  Forever.  Whenever God asks, no matter the outcome.

Pssst….can I tell you a secret?

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“And when at last you find someone to whom you feel you can pour out your soul, you stop in shock at the words you utter— they are so rusty, so ugly, so meaningless and feeble from being kept in the small cramped dark inside you so long.”
-Sylvia Plath

I passed by you in the aisle at Target yesterday. I was doing the usual, checking off my list, faking a conversation with my daughter, writing a blog in my head, moving quickly between the cans of black beans and the boxes of mac and cheese. We hadn’t seen each other in a while. I asked about your family, your work. “It’s all going great,” you replied. You asked me about my family, my kids, and then, well, you got an earful, didn’t you?

As I laid it all out, right there under the big red bull’s-eye, the look of shock and awe on your face almost made me laugh inside. I’m sorry, I forget that “How’s everyone doing?” is a rhetorical question.

I forget that I’m supposed to keep secrets.

There was a time when I expelled a lot of energy trying to make it look all pretty on the outside. I don’t have time for that anymore. Now my energy goes to being at peace with who I am and part of that is allowing myself to speak, to say what it is really like inside 8864 Regents Road. It ain’t always pretty folks.

There are things that I keep close to my heart indeed, but the fact that my teenager struggles with mental illness is not one of them. I refuse to keep that a secret, because there is a difference between secrecy and privacy. I’m not laying out all the dirty details of her private life, but secrets imply shame. And I will not be ashamed of mental illness.

I may have dreams that I keep inside only for me, but the fact that adoption is hard is something I won’t hide. There is no shame in struggling to be a parent, in waking up sometimes knowing you made huge mistakes the day before, or admitting to yourself that you do not have this figured out.

There are moments of intimacy and private jokes that I only wish to share with my husband, but I will not pretend that having a child undergo major surgeries once or twice a year, doesn’t exhaust me and leave me crippled in a pile of tears. Beware, if you run into me at the end of that week I’ll say, “Much better, but wow did cry myself to sleep last night.”

I no longer want to keep my words in the small cramped dark inside. Words have power. Words are freeing.

So if you pass me next week at church, or at Target, or while picking up the kids from school, and you simply want to hear Fine! after the phrase, How are you doing?, it’s ok to just keep walking. Or maybe just smile and say Hi. Because if you open the door, I might just tell you a secret.

We live in a world of lonely people. It’s a fact. Humanity needs to connect more. And I want to be real. I want to share, and listen, and go through life with other people, even if only for a brief moment. Let’s not sit around waiting for soul mates. That might just take forever.

And when I make eye contact with you – let it out my friend. I love secrets. I won’t tell. I won’t judge. I may have no idea what it feels like to be you or go through what you are, but I just might be able to relate. In all the highs and all the lows. I think it’s worth the risk.

All of these things are like the other…….they’re children.

Every year I go through the tradition of the Christmas card. I scramble to find a picture (or, through sweat and tears, get one taken) and then I mail them across the country, not without the hope that one will be returned to me. I still get great joy in finding a little something in my mailbox snuggled between stacks of bills.

Here is what mine looked like this year.

front of the card

front of the card

And a little funny on the back.......us Zabrockis can not take ourselves seriously.

And a little funny on the back…….us Zabrockis can not take ourselves seriously.

I love my family. We are unique and different and created in a special way.

So when I saw Mitt Romney’s family picture, I thought, Oh look. another person choosing to create a family in their own way. Look carefully, Mitt is holding his grandson whom happens to be African-American.

mitt

But that wasn’t how MSNBC seemed to see it. Here is a recap of the conversation.

An MSNBC panel had a laugh Sunday over former Gov. Mitt Romney’s adopted black grandson, Kieran Romney, saying that a recent family photo of the Romneys is somehow symbolic of the Republican Party’s “diversity” issues.

Immediately after seeing the photo, guest and actress Pia Glenn said in a singsong voice, “One of these things is not like the other. One of these things just isn’t the same.”

Harris-Perry and her guests, including radio host Jamie Kilstein, The Daily Beast’s Dean Obeidallah and comedian Judy Gold, found Glenn’s joke irresistibly funny.

“And isn’t he the most gorgeous? My goal is that in 2040, the biggest thing of the year will be the wedding between Kieran Romney and North West,” Harris-Perry said, referring to Kanye West and Kim Kardashian’s baby daughter. “Can you imagine Mitt Romney and Kanye West as in-laws?”

“I think this picture is great,” Obeidallah added. “It really sums up the diversity of the Republican party, the RNC. At the convention, they find the one black person.”

Well, nothing like kicking in the new year being totally offended. The insensitivity of it is painful.

There is no way for any of those guests on MSNBC to understand the reasons behind Mitt’s son Ben and daughter in law to adopt a child. Did one of them struggle for years to have one biologically, then after much heartbreak, come to a rewarding and loving decision to be a parent through adoption? Ben has no other children, so maybe. And while Kieran was adopted domestically, would it be different if that baby came from another country? If there was no other person to parent him so Mitt’s son and daughter in law spent thousands and traveled across the world to become parents to a beautiful child that had no one?

I know there are a thousand questions about whether white people (and I acknowledge that those people are REALLY white) can raise a black child. I don’t know. We’re doing our best. I’ll have our son fill you in when he’s 30 about how it’s all worked out. But I will add just two facts here:
1. All birth mothers have the right to choose the adoptive parent for their baby, and nearly 98% do. Around 67% of all adoptions today are in some way an open adoption, meaning that child will have contact with the birth family. What if there is a birth mother out there that has also seen that picture, and she was the one that CHOSE for her child to be raised in that family? I can not imagine what it took to place her child up for adoption. Shame on you MSNBC for even opening the door to any doubts and questions she may be carrying just because you have an issue with Republicans.

2. In the case of international adoption, I speak from experience. No child deserves to live in some of the conditions overseas. So until all children can be matched with parents of the same identical ethnic background as their own, then I’m standing firm on my opinion of the need for adoptions, regardless of your race.

Becoming a parent should not be a political issue. This is not about being a Democrat or Republican. My children have a set of Republican grandparents, and they love all of my kids because they are children, our children. I can only hope that Mitt feels the same about all of his grandchildren.

In addition, not all offspring are a carbon copy of their parents. Believe it or not, Mitt just might have produced a bleeding heart liberal. Look at how different George W’s daughter Barbara Pierce Bush has turned out. In 2011, she released a video with the Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) civil rights organization, calling on New York State to legalize same-sex marriage. “‘I am Barbara Bush, and I am a New Yorker for marriage equality,’ she says in the brief message, sponsored by an advocacy group. ‘New York is about fairness and equality. And everyone should have the right to marry the person that they love.'” Barbara also has been dating Miky Fabrega from Panama. I’m thinking George W. will be attending that wedding if it ever is to happen, regardless of his feelings on immigration.

Harris-Perry did apologize for her comments. Thank you. But how many other people looked at that picture and thought the same thing?

The media may be able to pinpoint and acknowledge Romney’s “race issues,” as they are so often called. But can Harris-Perry identify hers? Did Mitt’s son Ben have such a desire to be a parent that he did identify his and overcame them for a baby? Can I identify mine? Can you? Because I actually want to. I do not ever desire to make a comment that makes anyone feel uncomfortable about their race, especially those that are growing up in a home where not a lot of people look just like them. I dare say those kids need even a little more sensitivity.

I am muddling through this thing called parenthood. Please tell me I am not the only one. Having kids with different ethnic backgrounds does add a little more thought, concern, care. My African and Chinese children know they look different. We talk about it. We’re not hiding anything here.

But when you get my Christmas card I will thank you kindly to not sing “One of these things is not like the other. One of these things just isn’t the same.”

“Say What?”

After a month of being back on the “I’ve just adopted” circuit, I’m getting a refresher course in all the things people say that I don’t like. Actually, I have long long lists of things people say that bug me in all different categories such as Having a Special Needs Kids, Minorities, African Americans in general, Christianity, etc. I’m actually not easily offended because I get that people are coming from all over and may not be as educated (feel free to insert opinionated in here – I don’t mind) as I am.

BUT, as much as I want to throw in my top favs for all categories, I won’t. I’ll stick to the topic of adoption. (Well, how about I just throw in “What’s wrong with her?” for the handicap kid. Nothing is wrong with her you fool. What you mean is “What is her disability?” Or “Why is she using a walker?” I mean, if you’re so nosey and have to ask in the first place. (Unless you’re a kid. Then you get to ask because it’s age appropriate.) Sorry…..couldn’t help myself.

Please note this is not to complain, but to rather help those of you that haven’t adopted deal with those of us that have. And all my wonderful reading this that actually did say one of the following, ignore me. I love you.

Helpful, educational tips to assist you in changing are provided free of charge.

So here we go….

Coming in at #4

Is She Yours?

Yes, she’s mine. They’re all mine. Jon is my husband even though I didn’t give birth to him. Happy about that….

No helpful tips here. That’s just rude, unless you actually asking if I’m babysitting someone else’s kids. Then that’s ok. But when I tell you she’s adopted and that I have 5 kids in all, “Are the other 4 yours?” does not fall under the babysitting category.

#3

I Don’t Know How You Do It.
This one actually leaves me speechless. And that’s a rare occurence. I want to say “I cope with alcohol” but I think that’s probably unacceptable. Although among my friends I do brag about the healing powers contained in a glass of red wine.

I’m speechless because I have NO IDEA what you are referring to. How do I have five kids? I might ask you how you don’t. Two is so boring. How do I adopt? Um, are you making a general statement about your inability to love a child that wasn’t created in your womb or do you really want to unravel the notion of unconditional love for a stranger? Maybe you are complimenting me by implying that I have it all together, but I don’t, so I can’t imagine you are saying that. Does my life look miserable to you so what is really being said is “I don’t know how you do it because I would be suicidal.”

People, I got nothing here. I’m actually not offended by this comment at all, just always confused. So next time be more specific by telling me what you actually can’t do that you think I can. And then I’ll be sure to mention how unspectacular I am at said thing. (see #2)

#2

You Must Be a Saint (or something just as stupid)

I actually recently got, “The gates of Heaven are going to open right up when you get there.” Friends, I hope they do open up, but it will be only because of my love for Jesus. I’m not saved by the things I do, only by the nature of grace.

Also, I’m nowhere near a saint. And when people say that I sort of start to feel insecure. I begin to think, Maybe only saints should be adopting. These poor kids…stuck with an impatient, irritated mother who has the spiritual gift of losing her temper.

I am full of imperfections, regrets, and mistakes….all under the category of motherhood alone. Don’t get me started on everything else. Adoption is messy, difficult. I do wrong by these children so many times. I break hearts and hurt self-esteems. I act ugly. I am mean. I am human. That I rise above somehow just because my heart aches for the orphan isn’t true. I am a work in progress…try not to put too much pressure on me please.

Also, I am the one who benefits here. I love that my children will never spend another day without a mother and father, that they will know family. But I did this for ME. ME. I wanted to be a mother to an orphan. It was a song in my heart 25 years ago. God has allowed me to partner beside him in giving family to someone who was alone. He answered that song in my heart, and in doing so, there is one less orphan. But they are a gift to me, not the other way around.

#1

You are So Lucky (to my kids)

I’ve discussed this before, but you may not tell my children they are lucky to be in my family. They deserve the right to resent me, and complain about me, and think I’m the worst mother on earth if they want. Just like my bio. kids.

I’ve seen a grief in my son Mesfin for his biological mother that hurts me so deeply. You can’t tell a kid who’s gone through pain of that magnitude that he’s lucky.

Also, I expect that a certain amount of “survivor’s guilt” will manifest itself within my kids some day. There is NO rhyme or reason as to why they were chosen and others were left behind. I am overwhelmed with those thoughts sometimes, I can’t imagine what sort of emotions they will have to deal with some day.

I intend no snarkyness in this blog. Everyone that has ever said to me any the above things has said it with love and interest in my adoptions. And if you say it to me again, I will smile and answer your question. Because even if I dislike what you have to say, I love you for noticing and caring that adoption is real, and intriguing, and amazing, and mysterious. Because it is.

our first week home

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After our first week home, I can say with certainty that this has been far easier than I expected.

Four years ago when we adopted our son Mesfin, we had a tough go of it. His mother had to give him up for adoption because she was HIV positive, and we picked him up and brought him to the United States only 4 months after he left her. He had just turned 6. I think it was more like a kidnapping for him then an adoption. We all struggled for that first year and I know that I was not the greatest of adoptive moms. But by the grace of God, and only God, he is an amazing kid and an extraordinary blessing in our lives.

So we geared up for another rough year. We were prepared. Well read. Classes were taken.

And Iris is about as easy as it can get in the adoption world. I can not even think of a problem. She doesn’t struggle with food issues. She is confident. She thinks our dogs are great! (and even I don’t think our dogs are great) She hugs us a lot and says I love you. And although I know that is not totally authentic yet, she isn’t saying it to any other adults that she meets, so she clearly knows that is saved for family. We did come to find out that she was in foster care from birth until 5, and that clearly makes a difference. Only someone who has known love can understand what it means to accept it from others. She is doing fantastic.

My first 4 children, on the other hand, are sucking the life out of me.

The day after we got home Emily had a friend come pick her up to hang out and everyone is sooooo excited for them to see Iris, but they start overwhelming her (and me) by all talking at once and trying to get Iris to do “tricks.”
“Give her a hug.”
“Now give me one.”
“Say I love you.”
“Sing your song. Remember it? Remember it?” (followed by a freakishly loud rendition of Mary Had a (stinking) Little Lamb)
“What’s my name? Can you say it? Meeesssffffiiinnn. Try it. Try it. Messssffffiiiinnn.”
“Here. Here. Solve the Rubik’s Cube. You can do it. Hurry up now.” (ok, here I’m just bragging. she actually can solve the Rubik’s Cube. Oh yeah, she’s super smart)

Needless to say that was followed by a family meeting entitled She is NOT a Puppy.

It’s become our family catch phrase.

I’m glad they are excited. I am. But they fight all day about who gets to sit by her at church and in the car. Who gets to hold her hand. Why oh why can’t Iris take turns sleeping in all of their beds?!? And when they don’t have something specifically to fight about, they bicker over which one is “hogging” her the most.

I ensure them that they will soon find her as annoying as they do their other siblings, so just give it some time. But no one is listening to me, so it doesn’t matter.

Except Will that is. He’s had the toughest week. He missed us a lot while we were in China. He felt bad we didn’t take him. We moved before we left – just a few miles, but still, away from his neighborhood buddies. I’m sure it’s tough not being the baby all of a sudden. Will’s having a rough summer. So he’s either been angry at me or begging for my attention since we got home. I’ve played 5 games of Life in one week, and may I remind you all that the game of Life can NOT be completed in under 75 minutes. Even when I cheat.

Adoption is a lot like having a baby to the other kids in your family. Except when you give them a baby that’s already 7. Then there’s a lot more to work out. Everybody is trying and they love her a lot. We just need a little more time to settle in.

And a few more games of Life. I find it interesting that when I play it on a board game, I hardly ever end up with little peg kids in my car.