We are four years old...four years as a family of five. Let me tell you something I've learned in the last four years (and shockingly, this will not have to do with RAD).
***The world is not made for families of five****
Come on now - go to a restaurant and look around. Lots of tables for 2 and lots of tables for 4...then the 'big party' tables...you know 6 or 8 people. They like to stick 5 people at a table for 4 with a chair on the end. Then you bumb knees throughout the meal - plus you have a child sticking out in the aisle and making it hard for people to pass. They don't want to give you the table for 6 - you have THREE KIDS...that bill won't be big enough to tie up that table and when you ask for it - they look a little shocked!
Don't even get me started on 'family packs' - which are always for a family of four. I'm looking forward to the census in 2010...maybe it will be proven that 4 is not the only number for a family. Vacation deals are for four - two adults and two kids...game night deals are for 4...buying season passes to amusement parks? FOUR. And...can you add another one at a discounted rate...Nope. Blank stares when you ask.
Five seats together on a crowded flight - ha. Maybe two here and two there and then a floater. You all know that putting two kids together on a flight of more than 30 minutes would be woeful...so a kid ends up sitting alone.
So, here is to the family of five (or three or seven or nine...I think all uneven numbers are unfairly treated)...those strange oddities that struggle to survive in today's 4 packs of chicken breasts and 6 packs of cookies (what to do with the last one?)!
If you'd like to read my more 'sappy' ode to four years...here it is!
November 24, 2005 was a snowy and dreary day in Kemerovo, Russia. In the U.S., families were gathered around tables of traditional food, celebrating Thanksgiving. After court, we became a family of five and rushed right off to pick up our new daughter and son at their respective orphanages. By 9:00 that night, we were sitting in World Pizza having our Thanksgiving meal.
It’s been four years since that long ago memory or a crazy day. These little strangers have become our children. It’s been a long and winding road…
Things never did become the Hallmark movie of the week and I kept waiting. My children were hurt, battered (in mind, spirit and body) and scared. While they showed excitement for all things new and shiny, they had a battle going on inside them. Our oldest son wanted to have instant brother/sister bonds and he may have been the first to realize that “family” was a totally foreign concept to our new children. We overdid Christmas that year – wanting so badly to show them love through the things we could offer them…because at that point, they would not accept hugs or physical affection. That served only to backfire. The toys were broken within hours and the break from school was anything but peaceful.
They learned language quickly and attended school within weeks. There were minor issues at school…but the trouble seemed to brew over at home. I wasn’t a real loving mom…I was in survival mode and my husband probably wanted to hide in a hole somewhere. He told me over and over that he lost me on November 24…and he wanted me back. But, I already knew…I might be gone for a long time.
It was 18 long months before I was able to admit how much help we needed. My children were unable to bond to us…and I wasn’t doing so well in return. They were physically violent to me and to others. Food was a constant issue for DD and being told no about anything sent DS2 into rages. I had read about RAD and just kept thinking it couldn’t happen to us – and it definitely could NOT happen twice. Those are crazy odds. But, it did.
We’ve gotten help…and we are slowly moving forward. Learning about the nuances of healing tiny hearts and souls is a incredibly draining process and our family has suffered immense loss to add to the loss my children felt from their past. I alternated between misery and anger, right along with them. Being told that my daughter sincerely felt that to love me meant she would die…not just literally…but 100% truly…was one of the most changing moments of my life.
I learned so many things about the little people hidden underneath the layers of pain. My son is a fabulous artist. He’s creative and willing to spend quality time making his thoughts become reality. He has built some of the most fantastic things out of trash…cars for his action figures are a favorite. His academic struggles are not behind him – they may always be with him – but he is slowly accepting help and learning to work with the abilities he has. He hopes to be a CIA agent someday and knows the path he must take to achieve that goal (which, by the way, he’s stuck with for over 3 years). Quick to make new friends, he seems happy with his social life. He shares my love of watching HGTV and seems to see that his creative abilities could be used in many avenues!
Little daughter is not quite so little anymore. She has shown such a talent for tumbling and cheerleading and seems to be that type of person in life…always boisterous and ready to cheer others on. She has multiple abilities in academia…shocking everyone with her grades right away. This year she scored perfect on the state testing in Vocabulary…only speaking English for about 3.5 years. Amazing! She is independent, but understanding of boundaries most of the time. Her sense of humor is wicked and she’s willing to make you laugh, no matter what! While we’ve had a desperate struggle lately, I can say that a new medication she is on seems to be a golden ticket. She is calmer and able to focus and has been able to relate interpersonally with us for the first time in years.
We are growing on the healing path. I continue to have faith that my children can create a life so close to normal, that maybe they won’t know it’s not. I pray to use the years I have left with them (where did the time go…they are 11 and in 6th grade and 10 and in 4th grade already) to move closer in all realms. Teaching them to love without fear and to release control to safe people around you is our daily goal. Every time I see movement in that direction…I know it’s going to be OK.
I made a decision on October 25 of this year – I choose my attitude. I shared it with my children. We choose each and every day how to wake up, how to live each hour of that given day and how to show others our feelings. We choose whether to love or hate, whether to cry or laugh, whether to give up or show up…and I’m picking LOVE, LAUGH and SHOW UP. They can choose that with me or they won’t. Either way…I’m hoping to pull them with me…into our futures together!