Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Post Process Depression & The Adjustment

Liz and I are no longer in the adoption process. That four and a half year phase ended last Tuesday when I brought Sensi from the orphanage to my hotel room. By the weekend he was united with his full, forever family in the States. Our neat and tidy tribe of four added a clumsy and conspicuous fifth (hence his code name: Conspicuous Number Five).
This new phase is called "The Adjustment." It is neither neat nor tidy. We've added one more pile of soiled clothes to the basement floor. One more dirty cup and dish to the kitchen counter. One more pair of scuffed shoes to the entryway. One more wet towel to the bathtub ledge. One more unpredictable body to the ongoing family dance.

Meanwhile, food is vanishing from our refrigerator at an alarming rate (Sensi eats like a champion). Water usage has tripled in a week (Sensi flushes the toilet as a sport). Our light bulbs will flame out any day (Sensi flips them ON and OFF as a game). And although Claire and Margot have played along nicely, the focused attention they have received from Mom and Dad will forever be divided into smaller portions.

"The Adjustment" is a ledger, marked by clear losses and challenging gains.

Fortunately, Sensi's independence has smoothed "The Adjustment." He sleeps like a bear, entertains himself, clears his spot at the table, and goes to the bathroom on his own. His eats ravenously, but only after the girls have left the table. Thus, mealtimes have doubled in length, and his food is always cold. This concerns us because family dinner is a cherished time for our household.
As we try to understand the mind and mechanics of Conspicuous Number Five, we cannot distinguish what motivates him: Ethiopian culture, orphanage culture, his complex of special needs, or some combination of the four. Either way, I wish he realized that hot eggs taste better than tepid ones and our daughters will not bite.
In these first few days of "The Adjustment" my wife has cried more than once. Regret does not define her sentiment. Grief or depression (and her prevailing anxiety) better suit the situation. I can relate. While we were "in process," adoption remained a romantic ideal. Not only did it picture a spiritual reality -- God setting us into His family by the redeeming work of Jesus (Rom. 8; Eph. 1; Gal. 4) -- but it also sounded heroic. To rescue a fatherless child and give him a future and hope -- what a story. Indeed, this has all the makings of true religion (Jas. 1:27).

For four and half years we talked about adoption from the distance of 3500 miles. Such talk was theoretical and did not disturb our daily rhythms. Waiting was no picnic -- it was exhausting and expensive -- but "in process" we received sympathy, inquiries, gifts, and grant monies. Once a month the agency emailed us growth updates and pictures. In digital form, Sensi only charmed us; he was incapable of dissembling our board games or disrupting our family routines.

And last week this process ended. Without a moment to catch our breath, "The Adjustment" began. Family life ensues. Sensi is home now (praise God). The waiting is over (praise God). The adoption is complete (praise God). Now we are adjusting (God, help us!).

1 comment:

Daniela said...

You are a talented writer pastor Tim! As an adoptive mom of now two, of which the second one became ours 6 weeks ago and we all returned home just 4 days ago, I understand the pains and the blurry joys of The Adjustment! You have pledged to love a stranger and for now it all hangs on that pledge. He doesn't know you either. The hugs are kind of rubbery and cold if any. The "I love you"s are spoken with hope of future mutual total genuineness. All that is done is done with dedication and total devotion to the faith that we have done the right thing in God's sight and that is what matters. These were my sentiments more after our first adoption than with this one. Believe me, the out-pour of love from yours and his deepest place will come. I first thought I need to work toward my sons' attachment to me only, but I realized how much it is true for both of us. Love to you all!