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Archive for January, 2008

depression, any kind really, but specifically Post Adoption Depression (PAD) or Post Adoption Blues (PAD as it is sometimes called, is that it doesn’t make sense.  You have worked hard to bring this child home, you have waited many months, sometimes years, spent lots of money and you have chosen this child and when he/she arrives you don’t feel like you thought you would.  To the outsider, your depression seems strange, foreign, and even stupid or silly.  To you it seems……. real and startling and scary. I have only experienced situational depression one other time in my life, that I know of, and that was during an awful time in our marriage… in a lot of ways that depression made “sense.”  This PAD stuff doesn’t.  

The thing about depression is that it isn’t rational.  I can hear all the things that people are saying, “Don’t forget this is a spiritual battle and Satan doesn’t want you to be successful.” or “Remember Eyob’s grief is greater and more important at this time then yours.”  or “God is using this experience to make you into the person he wants you to be.”  ALL, and I really do mean ALL, good and true words.  Words that, if heard through a cloud of depression, really only sound like words.  I know the truth behind these statements and statements like them.  I have seen God work in my life and I “know” in my head that He will prevail again, but the thing about depression…. is that it doesn’t always feel like that.  Yes, yes, I know that feelings are not everything and often they aren’t even true, but the thing is they are real and they do affect me (us).  Not dealing with them is where we get into trouble. 

The thing about PAD is that it is unpredictable.  Some days I feel good, like I can cope or more than cope and other days… WHAM!!!! I don’t want to cope and I don’t want to get out of bed. (Fortunately, I am the person who always does what they are “supposed to do” and most people, especially my little men frown on staying in bed all day, so arise I do.)  Sometimes the cloud hovers all day and sometimes it is lifted after a simple conversation with my husband or a friend.  It is the unpredictability about it that is hard.  Most of the time it doesn’t really have anything to do with Eyob. 

The thing about PAD is that it doesn’t look the same for everyone, but is actually experienced by more adoptive parents than I ever really thought possible.  One article I read said that PAD affects more than 65% of adopting mothers.  In 1999, the author, surveyed 1300 adopting parents to see how widespread PAD really was and this is what she found…..  “77% of survey participants with PAD reported that they suffered their symptoms from two months to over one year with 45% suffering for six months or more. 85% of sufferers reported that their depression affected their health in some way (serious weight gain/loss was followed by sleep disturbances and headaches), 70% felt that PADS had interfered with smooth transitions and bonding with their new children.   Wow!!! Can you believe it?  SO why is it that I have never heard of this before now…. I am guessing it is because most people, if they are like me, feel ashamed that they aren’t “handling” what should be an amazingly, beautiful time as well as they expected themselves to or as others expected them too.  Maybe some people don’t even realize that what they are dealing with is real or they don’t know how to give voice to what they are feeling.

Well, in effort to “deal” with my feelings I am going to continue to blog about what I am going through and how I am getting through it.  For today, getting “through it” involved research.  Below you will find links to several articles that I have found regarding PAD.  I hope you find them interesting and informative. 

By the way, those of you out there who have given me much needed words of wisdom and prayers… thank you and just because I am feeling the things I am feeling doesn’t mean that I am not reading and heeding the things you are saying. 

Article– @ A Mother’s Charm

Article– @Adoptive Families

Article– @ Adoptive Families Association of BC

Article

Article-@International Heral Tribune

Article-@ WCBSTV

Book– on Amazon.com 

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SO I sit here….. discouraged again…….. feeling bad that I am discouraged again….. wishing I wasn’t discouraged again.  While my whole heart wants to be in this moment in a good place and while I am trying to “just do it” or to “act” the love that I am not feeling, it doesn’t change the fact that this is a dark day.  I don’t know why.. or what happened to make it that way … it just is.  I wish that I felt the joy for the ministry that I did a few short months ago. I want that passion that I had.  I am not hiding under the covers, although, after the rough night we experienced last night, I really wanted to this morning.  I am just surviving this moment. 

I think one of the things I am grieving or feeling sad about is the loss of my vision for what we are doing in this adoption.  When we started this process many months ago I felt this call on my life to save “just” one orphan, but now that vision is clouded with again still more diarrhea and tantrums and sleepless nights of screaming and rejection.  As a friend of mine said in an email she sent me today, it feels even worse to not feel love for a child you actually went out and chose.  You feel like you must be a complete disappointment to God and that maybe the vision isn’t gone, you just aren’t worthy to carry it out.  I don’t know all I know is it hurts to lose the vision and I pray that God gives it back to me. 

I listened to a podcast from Focus on the Family today about adoption and bawled, what these people were saying is what I felt not long ago and I want it back.  I hope all of you reading will go listen. It was moving and placed a real call on us to care for orphans.  In-spite of what I am feeling right now, I do know that God has placed a call on all of our lives to care for them and I hope that my discouragement doesn’t affect those of you out there thinking about adoption.  Moreover, I hope that what I am writing about helps other people in similar situations to know that they aren’t alone.

So.. I don’t know if I had a relapse or if this is just a stage in this process, I am hunkering down to weather this storm, choosing to act at out my love and praying that God returns my passion. 

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It is amazing what verbalizing or writing your feelings does to give you perspective, especially when you are feeling lost or confused.  Blogging has been that for me through this move to Utah, the adoption process and now as we dig into learning how to be parents to a child we don’t know.   Writing my post last week about PAD was very freeing, it gave me a place to voice my hurt and it helped me gain some insight into what I was feeling.  It also provided some good advice from others who are going through similar circumstances and others who just know what it is like to be in that dark place. 

I spent sometime, today, talking to a fellow mom who has also recently adopted from Ethiopia and has struggled with some similar things.  She gave me some suggestions on things we could do to help with the bonding process, shared some of her experiences with her daughter, and then said something that I think God has been saying to me as well, “Traci, I think you just need to act out love and the feelings will come.”  Thank you Jen.

My parents also sent me this devotional “clip” from Henry Nouwen that has provided some encouragment to “just do it”, Henry Nouwen said, “Sometimes we have to “step over” our anger, our jealousy, or our feelings of rejection and move on. The temptation is to get stuck in our negative emotions, poking around in them as if we belong there. Then we become the “offended one,” “the forgotten one,” or the “discarded one.” Yes, we can get attached to these negative identities and even take morbid pleasure in them. It might be good to have a look at these dark feelings and explore where they come from, but there comes a moment to step over them, leave them behind and travel on.” 

It defiently hit home.  I have a tendency to get “stuck” in negative emotions and act as if I belong there.  I think God is calling me to leave them behind and move on.  Sure the adoption experience isn’t what I thought it would be and Eyob hasn’t acted the way I expected him to act, but instead of sinking into the mire and making my bed there, I think I am ready to walk through it.  I know that it will be easy to slip back into the negative feelings so please continue to pray for us as I know you have been. Thanks all of you!

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Eyob

Click on pic to go to flickr for more pics in this set.

 I think one of the hardest things between Eyob and I is that he is very needy and I don’t do needy very well.  Sloan was and is very independent and likes to be the big boy and always has.  Don’t get me wrong he loves to sit in my lap and I love to give and get hugs and kisses from him, but he was never the kid that I couldn’t put down.  Sean is pretty independent also, but he was more clingy as a baby and cried and demanded more than Sloan did.  Eyob on the other hand seems to always want something and since we are just getting to know each other it seems like I can never get what he wants right, which makes him mad and then makes me crazy…. it is a vicious circle.  With the other boys even when they were being needy or crying, most times they were happy and smiley and would “give” back, you smile they smile or they try to coax a smile out of you.  Well, with Eyob those smiles (at first) were few and far between and were often only given after I tried so hard to get one.  Most times if you try to hard to get close to him he will push a way. 

I am telling you all this not to complain about E but to show how we have made some good stides.  Last Sunday, we were all sitting on the floor playing and Eyob crawled up to me, stood up (he usually only does this while holding on to something), and took two steps towards me while making kissing noises.  Of course, it made my day and gave me hope that maybe we will be come like normal mother and son.  I was truly blessed and thankful that God gave me a glimpse into what Eyob and I will have someday as I work harder to be the kind-of mom he needs and he learns what it is like to be part of a family.  I never realized all that adopting a child would involve, but I am so thankful that God does.

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EthiopiaTrip

Again, click on the pic, find the slide show, click on that, and then click on the first picture to see my comments.

 When Almaz arrived I was surprised at how little and young she was. She immediately set us all at easy, gave us a little of what to expect and we set off on foot to HH. I must say, seeing the gate at HH for the first time brought tears to my eyes. I had seen it in pictures and it was so hard to believe that we were really there. When the gate opened and we stepped inside, things got a little crazy. Nobody was in the yard except for a short Ethiopian man holding a little boy. Brandon said, “There he is.” but I didn’t get it. Almaz said, “Here’s Eyob.” and that is when I realized that the little boy was my son. I instantly started crying… I hadn’t expected to, usually I can’t cry at times when I feel like I am expected to. Eyob looked so different then he did in the pictures. They had shaved his head and he was so much smaller than I thought he would be. I can’t really describe what I felt when I saw him, except to say that I was filled with wonder and a little fear. And then he started to cry… I think I scared him….. From that first moment he really wanted to have nothing to do with us. At that point, I didn’t care, I was just in awe of him.


After meeting Eyob, we got the wonderful priviledge of watching the Rudy’s and the Leisure’s meet their sons for the first time. What a truly bonding experience. Here you are with people you have only known for a few hours and you are watching as they experience one of the most life changing things. We cried for each other. I know that their hearts hurt for us, watching Eyob reject us and it was strangly comforting. I can not say enough how much the support of our ET family got us through that week and helped make what could have been a really disappointing and hurtful time be amazing, wonderful and life-changing. Thanks guys!
After we had a chance to meet our boys and spend a little time with them, most of us took a tour of HH and then loved on babies. 
 

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The Union Hotel

EthiopiaTrip

Click on the picture to go to flickr.  Find the slide show with this picture on it and click.  Then click on the picture as the slide show begins to see my notes on each pic.

 This is the hotel that Brandon and I stayed at while in ET.  It far exceeded my expectations on what we would be staying in.  It was clean, spacious, and the staff was amazing.  Plus it was so close to Hannah’s Hope that we could walk and be there in a matter of minutes. 

The only downsides to the hotel were the hard hard beds, which I actually go used to, and the annoying rooster outside the window. 

I thought those of you traveling soon would like to see where you might be staying.  I would highly recommend staying there.  It made Almaz’s job sooo much easier.  I would and will stay there in a heart beat when we go back.  Notice I said when not if.  Ethiopia gets in your blood.  Right now I would go back.  I miss it everyday.

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EthiopiaTrip

Click on the pic to go to flickr and then find the slide show to the lower right of the picture. If you click on that you can see all the pictures in this group.  When the first picture comes up click on the middle of the picture and my notes about each picture will show up.

Today begins the first of a few posts about our trip to Ethiopia. I know it has been a long time in coming, but the third child we acquired while in Ethiopia has made it much more difficult to find time on the computer. Who would have thought that one more child would change things so much. It is so surreal to look back on the trip.


ON November 24th, Thanksgiving Day) With much excitement, a lot of nerves, and a few tears (mine) we said goodbye to our little boys and headed of to the airport. At the SLC airport, we drug six suitcases and 3+ carry-ons out of the car and proceeded to check in. We had our first mini-miracle of the trip…. The skycab worker was awesome.. He didn’t charge us for one of the bags and for one of the overweight bags. We were flying high and thankful for God’s provision. When we arrived in DC we lugged all those bags to a hotel and settled in for the rest of the day. I was a little sad that we didn’t get to have Thanksgiving with our family, but we really enjoyed our day and night alone. We ate dinner in a pub at the hotel and watched a couple of movies. I was too excited to sleep very well. It was so weird to know that we would be half way around the world just the next day. 
We got up early the next morning, November 25th, Saturday, and lugged all our luggage back to Dulles. I keep mentioning this because Brandon was great about getting this done and he only complained a little. At the Ethiopian airlines check in counter we had another little miracle… the ticket agent ignored one of our bags and didn’t charge us for two of the bags being over weight. All in all we only had to pay 500 dollars extra for all the baggage.  We had exactly that amount donated by friends and my moms from MOPS.  We had a nice breakfast in the airport and headed to our gate to wait. At this point, I was so nervous I could hardly stand it. While we were waiting, we met up with one of the couples we would be traveling with, the Rudy’s. It was so nice to meet them ahead of time. They were/are easy to talk to and it was comforting to know that they were in the same boat as we were. They are experienced travelers and so I felt good following their lead. (thanks guys).
The flight was long but uneventful and we were all so excited I don’t think we really cared how long it was. For me it was all part of the adventure, an adventure I had been waiting, planning for and dreaming about for most of my life. We flew through the night and arrived in Addis around 8 in the morning. Customs was easy and we met another of our travel buddies, the Leisures, in the exchange line. We all hit it off instantly. (More on all our traveling friends later.) We collected all of our bags and headed to meet the guys from HH that were waiting at the entrance to the airport. They were holding signs that said our names, just like in the movies. I must have waved at the a dozen times, at one point Brandon siad, “What in the world are you doing Traci?” HOnestly I don’t know….. That was before he dumped all the bags off the cart in front of all the waiting Ethiopians. They thought it was pretty funny, he didn’t. Ethiopia was beautiful. Clear blue skies, trees, and really friendly people greeted us. Danny (the driver) and Johhannes took us to our hotel (more about the hotel later) where we unpacked, ate lunch and waited for Almaz to take us to our kids.
 

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