Tuesday, December 4, 2012


A dear friend of mine recently gave me a prayer book to borrow called "Teshuvah - Make Ready for the Lord a People Prepared."  Designed to coincide with Jewish holidays like Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, it is a call to personal individual prayer and prayer on behalf of our nation.  Teshuvah is a Hebrew word that means to "return and repent."  Of all the things to be drawn to upon returning home with a newly adopted baby, this was calling out to me.  I'm a little late, due to the passing of those Jewish holidays in the specific "fall" time of year, thus missing the "appointed" time for Repentance.  Yet, I am immensely thankful to be in a Teshuvah mindset right before the celebration of the first coming of Jesus.  To be prepared for it in a different way than I have before.  I actually had the thought,  "Why would I be drawn to this book and beat myself up even more in this transition time in our family?"  But, that is some old school religious sounding questioning that just isn't true.  I used to operate out of it...very good at "hiding" and repenting or "tip toeing" away and repenting or "keeping a safe distance" and repenting.  The truth is, returning is the best part of Teshuvah and to turn away from the anvil weight of sin before God is the only real refreshment.  Again, why do this now?  Don't I have enough to worry about?  Yeah, thus the need!  I thought I was pretty selfless and patient, until I brought home a new little person that I had to WORK to get to like me.  A mental and emotional "ON" button 24/7 to try and meet her where she is at.  To be totally OK and patient in the midst of a tantrum or understand that it is "normal" when I see behaviors indicative of a child who was impoverished.  One afternoon in our first week home, all of that stuff clogged itself together like rotten scraps in a pipe and I realized it didn't belong and that I didn't want it there.  Ahhhh, the need for Teshuvah.  God, I'm so sorry that this "stuff" was starting to come out.  I need you to clear the drain.  I don't want it there.  Thank you for showing me that it was.  I didn't realize.  Thank you for loving me enough to be clogged up for a bit so you could clean it out.  I need your Holy Spirit deposit of patience, wisdom and great love.  There is a deficit that I need you and you alone to fill.  It is so sweet to return.

Returning is a word that has been forefront in my mind.  I watch sweet Grace all day for her to return to me.  We are being meticulous about her schedule, her routine and her little world in order to establish her sense of safety and constancy.  She explores and investigates, but my heart leaps a little every time she comes running back to me to return to her mama.  When she reaches out to me in the midst of meeting someone new, or like today, when she was in another room and I held a friend's baby for a brief moment and she came around the corner and burst into tears.  She wanted to return and needed to desperately know that she could.  I scooped her up quickly and she looked in my eyes and said "Ahhh" in the same tone I use when we play with her babydoll and I say, "Ahhh, sweet baby" and rock it to sleep.
 In adoption land, we are doing miraculously well.  She likes her family, has fun and plays with us during the day, sleeps 11-12 hours at night and has almost settled into a 2 hour nap.  She loves for us to read to her, eats like a champ and is so chatty for a child with a cleft lip and palate.  She knows 3 signs to communicate and actually has about 10-15 "words" that sound very much like the ones we teach her, just in her modified way of saying them.  If I ask her if she wants to go take a bath, she takes off in her frankenstein baby walk/run to the bathroom yelling in delight!  She understands so much.
And it is what she understands that makes it difficult to.  I am convinced there was a time or times that she went hungry or did not get enough.  There have been some tantrums surrounding food and she eats with such stress sometimes that I know food or the lack thereof is an issue.  This past week, she has decided to push every button I own and test everything concerning me.  It is an over and over again pattern of calmly establishing boundaries and safety.  Praising in abundance the successes.  Firmly standing ground on the important things.  Giving in on the things that are not.  There are heartbreaking behaviors that I know will go in time, but grieve us nonetheless.  Every night, I tuck her bottle under my chin and feed her like an infant, her little body curled up on mine, looking up at my face, covered in my arms.  This is a huge step for her.  She used to want to sit up, facing outward and hold her own bottle and drink it quickly in record time.  She now curls up and even chooses to look at my face now and then as she drinks.  But, as soon as the milk is gone, she literally busts out of my arms as if to say, "I can't trust that I can get too comfortable here.  You might leave.  I take care of myself."  She won't settle.  She is great at fun and crazy play, peek a boo, singing and dancing, but getting too close is getting too serious.  Too committed.   She will often throw a tantrum because she prefers to rock herself to sleep in an almost violent rocking motion in her crib.  This is what she has known and how she has learned to soothe herself.  It destroys us every time we see it.  So, each night, I have worked little by little to encourage her to "rest" and "relax" in my lap, to get sleepy or go to sleep in my arms before she goes in the crib.  This usually involves a tantrum and tonight started the same way.  Sometimes she gets so mad and upset that her kicking and fighting me forces me to put her down.  I always give her the option.  Tonight, she wanted down and laid down on the floor by feet.  If I spoke to her lovingly, she literally turned her body away from me, as if my very voice angered her.  We did this about 3 times, I would pick her up, screaming and kicking and put her down.  The last time, I picked her up and held her like a baby in my arms, with her face looking up at mine.  She became very still.  Then, she took a big breath and sighed.  I felt her body rest.  She chose to return to my arms and rest.  Then, she gave me her mega watt grin that lights up her entire face and we both giggled.  She rested there, playing with my face and hair and I put her to bed sleepy and happy.  Thank you God.  Thank you that you authored the return in every way.  Thank you that you wait for it.  Thank you that I got a needlepoint glimpse of how you must feel every time we do.  The entire day didn't matter when Grace chose me and rested.  It made everything OK and I had been waiting for weeks for her to choose me at night.  How you must too.
So, Teshuvah is where I am at.  A precious place to be in the advent season.  A precious place to be in the attachment season.  A necessary place for my heart to be everyday.

Some of my favorite recent pics for the blog stalkers who just want to see pics of Grace!!!

                                                  Grace and her favorite guy!

"I don't know why we are standing at this fence looking at trees but if this is what we do, I'm in!"

A little blurry, but I love the pjs with sneakers and the sheer fun in playing with a gift bag!

Little Grace and Big Will!

Practicing our relaxed "sighs" and "surprised" response, along with "bye bye!"

This just makes me smile.  I love this picture so much.


  1. That breaks my heart to hear her struggling... it makes so much sense but oh, little children should not know abandonment. So thankful she has a family who will love her forever now. I'm praying she continues to accept your love & that you see that acceptance, & that God encourages you in the meantime. Thank you for sharing your stories!