Tuesday will mark 8 weeks of being home with Haddon and we thought this would be a good time to update you on how things are going.  As many of you have witnessed through social media updates, this kid is FULL of life and has a huge personality! He loves talking to “the peopl-ee” (he likes to add “ee” to the end of everything – Kessed-ee, Grace-ee, etc!) and can be so funny on camera.  He laughs uncontrollably sometimes at things around our house, like when I told him Maggie was being a “pill” and the way Micah calls Grace and Kessed “chick-a-dee” and “sweet pea”.  I called him “honey” the other day and he looked at me quite puzzled and said, “Honey?!  I am not honey!”  Haha!  The girls and Haddon are figuring out ways to enjoy being with each other and they’ve already started the typical teasing and playing jokes on each other, which is such a good thing!  Watching him figure out how things work and seeing him do things that are very much African (you should see him eat an orange!) make my heart smile.  I love having a little African in our house!  

Haddon has started school now and to say that he loves it would be an understatement! He is in a typical 3rd grade classroom and has an incredible teacher with 20+ years of teaching under her belt.  His classroom also has a student teacher, as well as a full-time para.  The school also has a wonderful ESOL program (an English assistance program) that Haddon has qualified for, which we are incredibly grateful for.  They had a break last Friday and I think Haddon was the only kid in our county that was sad there was no school!

With as much joy and laughter as he’s provided us, though, it has also been equally taxing on our family.  We knew it would be tough.  We knew the dynamics of our family would change. We knew there would be tears.  No amount of preparation, though, could adequately ready us for the reality of bringing an independent, strong-willed 10-year-old boy who has no framework for how a family works into our home.  A recent devotion I read for adoptive families said, “Counting the cost in terms of adoption requires the disciple of Christ to recognize that children without families are not perfect children who simply need a home.  They arrive with baggage. Ugly stuff.  You will not be starting with a clean slate at Ground Zero. You will be climbing up to Ground Zero for a really long time…..the bonding alone can be as taxing as building a 12-ft tower with toothpicks and a glue stick.  It’s an all-embracing venture.  It will be challenging emotionally, physically and spiritually.”  Yes, yes and yes.  This is not for the faint of heart and if I can be honest, my heart has been faint at times.  We are grateful, moment by moment, for the grace of Jesus who holds us together because there have been some Really. Hard. Days.  

Aside from Christ and his word, our friends and family (many of you who are reading this) have been our support system. We are so grateful, and with all that said, there are still a number of ways you can continue to help us during this time:

At the recommendation of the adoption therapist we saw at the UAB International Adoption Clinic, we are taking everything VERY slowly with Haddon. We are used to keeping an extremely busy schedule and we’ve had to scale way back.  This doesn’t mean we aren’t participating in anything, but we are being very selective in the activities and places we go right now for his sake.  (Believe me, this adjustment is hard for our family!!) We are doing our best to keep a highly structured and predictable environment for him at home.  Consequently, a very “boring” life provides an immense amount of security and safety for him.  (Even the little bit of “going” we do tends to exhaust him and he’s always ready to, as he says,  “we go home”!)

Thankfully we have had literally NO sleep issues with him.  He showers at 7:30pm and is usually asleep in his bed like a rock just after 8pm.  He wakes up happy and excited everyday about 6:30am.  (He has a cool Batman Alarm Clock and sets it every day, but I don’t think he actually needs it!)  This is also a large part of what determines what we can do and not do right now.

Additionally, we are trying to limit a lot of close interaction with people outside of our family for right now. As strange as it can seem, adopted children can act very outgoing and affectionate with strangers and this isn’t healthy.  The bonding process (him feeling “attached” to us as his parents) can be long…..and perhaps even longer because he was an older child when he was adopted.

The first way you can help is to give us plenty of space and time.  Haddon has had birthday invitations, play date invites and so on!  We are so anxious for him to get to do these things, but for right now, he’s still trying to figure out how to function in a family and keeping him in a very familiar environment is what’s best for him.  If we have to say “no”, please don’t take it personally!

Haddon is learning English more and more every day.  By the videos you occasionally see, it may seem like he can say quite a bit, and he can and does talk QUITE A LOT at home!  However, while he understands a good bit more English than he can speak, he doesn’t have the ability yet to quickly process and provide answers.  Many questions at a time overwhelm him and we Americans are good at asking 20 questions at a time!! 😉 In light of that, the second way you can help is to please just simply say “Hi” or smile 🙂 and refrain from asking him a lot of questions.

If he doesn’t respond or side-steps you (or won’t give you a high-five!), please know he’s not being rude – it’s just that he probably doesn’t know what you said or how to answer.  Sometimes he may pretend to be “asleep” (which seems to be his coping mechanism when he is stressed, frustrated or overwhelmed) if you try to talk to him.  Church friends, especially, we know so many of you are anxious to meet him and get to know him and we are truly grateful to be surrounded by a church family who loves us well.  (We live hours from our physical family, so when I say “Church Family” I don’t say it lightly.)  You’ve blessed us with meals and gifts when we came home and we stood on the prayers you offered up to our King Jesus on our behalf since we came to you and especially during our time in Lesotho and South Africa.  It may just take quite a while for him to feel comfortable enough to respond in an appropriate way. So please, be patient. 🙂

Adoption is the hardest thing Micah and I have ever done.  This is tougher than living in the bush with no electricity and water in 120 degree weather or following God to 13 different addresses is 16 years of marriage.  Adoption is hard.  But the Lord is good and he continues to teach and reveal more of himself to us through this child who sometimes doesn’t want to be loved by us, who may resist our kisses or attempts at hugs or wanting to put our arm around him.  How much more does God love us when we resist him?  There’s so much gospel in adoption and we want to live it out well.  

The third way you can help us to to give us much grace and pray for us often. There are countless people around the globe who have joined us on this journey.  You’ve prayed for us, given your money to us, you’ve helped us in this way or that – please don’t stop now that we’re finally home with Haddon! Now more than ever we especially need your prayers for our family as we continue to live out this adventure of adoption. We are learning to love Haddon. We enjoy spending time with him, we love his infectious laugh, we have a blast wrestling with him, and nothing right now may be quite as fun as introducing him to new things. He is a gift to our family. But equally, this process is hard, stressful and exhausting, mentally, physically and emotionally. Your friendship, encouragement and prayers are helping to sustain us. Thank you friends. We are so grateful for you.

16 thoughts on “Adoption Update

  1. Wow! What an undertaking to say the least! Thank you for sharing your heart with us! The Lord bless you and keep you and give you peace in the days ahead as you give this child a home full of love and the gospel of Jesus! Praying for you and your family.

  2. This is so well written and we have tons of friends that have adopted that have shared these same exact experiences with their kids. We will continue to pray for your sweet family.

  3. We love you all and will continue to pray for all of you as you venture through this important process. We know you’ll continue to trust in our Lord to provide guidance, peace and comfort for your family during these exciting and also difficult times. God’s timing is always perfect; He’ll continue guide and direct all aspects of this time in your lives. Many blessings to all of you.

  4. Praying for your family on this journey. Many friends have adopted and the first year is the hardest. God has blessed this young man and your family.

  5. I will continue to pray for your family, and this stressful situation— praying for Haddon in every way, and knowing he needs space and understanding is understandable— God Bless You.

  6. I knew little about adoption before you shared your journey with us. As a teacher, I knew bringing a 9 year old to the States from Lesotho would be a challenge. You and yours are in my prayers as your journey continues.

  7. Has anyone talked to you about making a life book for him. It can help immensely when working through some of these issues. You could write in English with his native language under it also.

  8. Thank you so much for sharing from your heart. When looking at FB you all look so together and happy. It helps us to know how to pray for you and Haddon. You are a great family and we all love you. Please keep up to date on your family. God is good and we know when you write again some of your challenges will be accomplished and new ones will develop. Praying for all of you.

  9. Tracy, thank you for posting this and for being so transparent. I will never forget really seeing him for the first time up close and personal on Sunday and then looking up to see your sweet smile as you watched. Haddon is so blessed to be a part of your precious family. God loves you, and I do too.

  10. Tracy, thank you so much for sharing your heart and your family with all of us. I promise to continue to pray for Haddon, your girls, Micah, and you as you guide, love, and protect your family. I’m so glad that our Father brought you to Brainerd Baptist! Hugs!!

  11. Thank you so much Tracy for your well written words of struggle, joy & hope. Thank you for specific ways we can support you , the family & especially Haddon. We have an adopted granddaughter ( she was 4 11/2 and recall the challenges & joys of those early days. God is faithful and many years later it is amazing to see what He has accomplished in her life & our lives. Prayers continue. Much love to all.

  12. Tracy, this update is so beautifully and clearly written! I know it comes from your heart(s). Goodness — Our God has given you guys such wisdom. You asked for wisdom with no doubting as in James 1 and He delivers! Bless you all! Haddon will flourish! -Lyn Isonhood

  13. So great to read your update. Yes, yea, yes 1000 times to all you said. As a fellow adoptive family, we can totally relate to your requests. It IS so hard at times…and the lifestyle does change dramatically when welcoming a new child through adoption. Your suggestions for friends are spot on! Thank you for your transparent post. You will make it through!

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