So if you haven't read my previous post yet and want to know how we got to where we are today...about to finalize the adoptions of our 2 newest little boys, go ahead and read it if you'd like. This is where I disclose the ugly truth about feelings and emotions I went through during this process...and to a certain extent am still experiencing.
People thing adoption is easy after you get your child. With Tate it was. I don't know why. I don't know if it was because he was 2 days old or if it was because he was our first or what, but it was easy. The SECOND we held him in our arms, we were FULL ON in love with him as though I had just birthed him. I cannot even describe the rush of emotions I felt for him. IN LOVE with every ounce of my being.
I expected this to be the same as we adopted more children. I knew it might be different and people told us it could be, but deep down I just KNEW that wouldn't happen to me. I would instantly look at this newest addition as thought I birthed him or her as well. That's just how I would be.
We got our baby first. Though when we got him, we knew there was a possibility we could be getting "the call" about our 3 year old as well. However, we were told it would be unlikely. So we just kind of tried to forget about that possibility and put all our energy in making sure Tate was okay with the situation while also giving our newest addition all of the love and attention he needed. He is LOVABLE to say the least! Oh my...best.baby.ever. For reals. He came with LOTS of appointments and doctors and therapists and he turned our lives upside down! Everything we did with him required special attention. It was hard. I loved him and was sick at the thought of us possibly not being able to keep him, but my love for him was not the same as it was for Tate. It just wasn't. I would have died for him, I would have done anything for him, but still...it was different. I can't explain it though. It's really hard to put into words how it was different. I felt guilt for changing Tate's life so drastically, I felt overwhelmed and worried and maybe was unintentionally guarding my heart because we didn't know if he'd ever officially be ours. I don't know.
2 weeks after he came to us, we got "the call". Yikes. THAT was scary. We had our heart set on our little 3 year old for MONTHS. We really hoped we'd get him and then kind of let ourselves mourn the fact that we wouldn't after getting our baby. So though we were FREAKING OUT, there was no question we would take this little guy too. We hadn't even met him yet!
A week later we met him and he was a HANDFUL! So happy and social and funny, but BUSY. We had him for the day...not overnight, just about 6 or 7 hours of the day. It was fun to play "Family of 5". We knew it was going to be hard, but we were cautiously optimistic.
We went through the motions of being interviewed by a panel of 6 people and a few days later were told we were definitely the right fit to be his "forever family". We were soooo excited and started preparing. It was a crazy time that is kind of a blur. We began the transition process about a week later and started taking our newest addition for a night and then 2 nights at a time. He would go back and forth between us and his current home he had been living in for 18 months. It didn't seem to phase him or stress him out at all. It was rather amazing actually.
During that transition, things got real. I mean, by the end of his time with us, I had feelings of being ready to have a break from him. Then came the guilt. I felt terrible for feeling that way, but I couldn't help it! I don't know if it was just the stress of having 3 kids so quickly, 2 of which had such specific needs or what, but it was HARD. It shocked me and made me feel terrible about myself as a mother.
Though I always felt ready for that break when he left, I still always looked forward to him coming back. Tate on the other hand didn't. He struggled immensly during this time and until just recently, continued to struggle. When it came time to complete the transition, I think all of us (but Tate) were ready. We just wanted the back and forth to be done. We wanted some stability and I knew that though Tate often said he wanted to go back to being a family of 3, he would do much better with a constant situation as well. So March 8th was the day when our 3 year old moved in.
We prepared Tate for this day and he was actually excited. We knew that would wear off. Ha. It did...after about a few hours. He began struggling so much that I felt such a crazy amount of guilt. He reverted back to more immature behaviors, he cried and whined all the time, constantly wanted my attention on him, etc. It was awful. Our baby and our 3 year old have loved each other deeply from the beginning...it's been so sweet to watch.
Things were hard for both Sean and I. We lived in a TINY house with 3 busy boys, between the baby's needs and our 3 year old's major medical needs, I was busy every day with appointments (still am, but just used to it now!), Tate was struggling, Sean was tired because he worked nights much of the time and couldn't get sleep with 3 noisy kids in the house during the days. It was a trying time to say the least. Then, we added in a house hunt which was stressful. We finally found our current home, purchased it and started packing up our house we lived in. It was virtually impossible for me to get anything done between appointments, taking and picking up Tate from preschool, taking care of the kids and giving them the attention they craved and needed, making dinners, trying to take care of the house as best I could and also trying to fit in a bit of "me time" so I could keep my sanity. It wasn't all peaches and cream like I thought it would be...I cried many tears from just being overwhelmed and stressed. I forgot things, mixed up appointments, was late to things, neglected my friends. It was like an out of body experience and not like me at all.
Each day things got a LITTLE better. I can see that now, but in the moment I thought they were never going to get better. I prayed and prayed every day to just survive. I never once considered backing out on our plan to keep these boys because through everything, I loved them...I really did. However, I loved all 3 of them differently.
I think the love for our baby grew quicker. During these stressful times, I could snuggle him and he always loved me and brought me joy. He never pushed my buttons and was too young to misbehave...he quickly snuggled into my heart and I knew that if he was taken away from us, a part of me would have died. He was my son.
June 13th came...CLOSING DAY! We were all smiles. We had our 3 boys in the care of others while we went to the new house and started our renovations. We had 3 a week of pure hard work planned. The days were mapped out. We had A LOT to do to the house in 10 days before we moved in. We were EXCITED. We had our 3 year old at his previous home to stay for a few days. It was good for him to get to go see them and they were excited to have him. After a day of back and forth calls about him having a low grade fever and acting not quite right and then things getting better and then the fever coming back and so on and so forth, we finally thought things were good. We hadn't heard from them for a while...then 11:30pm came. We were working hard at the house and my phone rang. Things weren't good...he had a high fever, throwing up, very sick. I called the U of I Hospitals and then went on to speak with the specialist who has been our little guy's doctor since he was a baby. We needed to go to the ER immediately. So we headed out and were in IA City by 12:30am. We thought we'd end up staying the night probably, but had no idea we'd be there a whole week.
That week was one of the scariest of my life. Sean was amazing and kept me strong. He spent his Father's Day in the hospital with this new little child of his who was literally deathly ill and he never complained. That week changed our hearts. We suddenly knew that if anything happened to this little man of ours we would be beyond devastated. Watching him suffer for a week, watching all that he had to go through, snuggling with him constantly...it was what we needed for us to fall head over heels in love with him...and boy did we!
I am not going to lie, there have been LOTS of very hard days since then. He still gets under our skin and pushes our buttons, but we love him and he is our son. And you know what's also amazing? Tate loves him too. He and Tate are BUDDIES! They fight all the time, only now they fight like siblings. They will play together sometimes for hours! They will bicker and tattle on each other and be mean to each other, but when they're apart, they'll say they miss each other. Tate was so worried and scared when our 3 year old was in the hospital, so in a way, I think that week changed something in his heart too.
We still have a long road ahead of us. The fact that I no longer feel that guilt I felt is life changing. I can't say for sure if our love is different for each of the kids still because it just hasn't grown fully yet or if it's just because parents love their children differently. I can't say that I love any of my 3 more than the other, but I do love them each differently...that's really the only way I can describe it. Ask me again in a year, maybe I will feel completely different.