We decided last month, after our three month home study update, that it might be interesting to write a little bit about how we honestly felt during our first three months home.  

For us, each month was completely different and we don't want to forget how it all played out.  We separately wrote down our thoughts and didn't read what the other wrote until we were finished so that our memories and feelings would truly be our own.  This is what we wrote...

Month One - WHAT HAVE WE DONE?  August 2012

Logan:  I don't really know how to summarize this, but here goes. For over two years we waited for our baby girl. Near the middle of July, we got clearance to finally go pick her up and bring her home. It was a good time for us. There was so much rejoicing in our house among friends and family. I'll never forget those days. It was sometime shortly after reading the US Embassy's approval email that I came to the realization of what it all meant. We were bringing home a little 9-month-old baby. That's a bit intimidating in itself. Plus, I had been out of baby-mode for a few years, given our son River is now 4-and-a-half years old. The reality of it all came crashing in on us. For two years I had been focused on getting her home. Nothing more.

In-country, Willow was really no trouble at all – she napped well, ate well, and slept peacefully throughout each night. My previous thoughts about the reality of it all slowly diminished. I started giving myself a hard time, laughing internally saying: Logan, what were you so worried about...

Flash forward to the homecoming. Somewhere, at some point, something happened. We took our baby away from the mountains of Central Ethiopia, to Frankfurt, Germany, then thousands of miles across the Atlantic, and finally home. Indeed, something happened. Baby got fussy.

It seemed for the entirety of August, we just couldn't do anything right. Willow was away from everything she ever knew. Nothing was familiar to her. The sleeping baby from Ethiopia seemed more like an angry insomniac. I had taken her young age for granted – thinking that at only 9-months she wouldn't care much about these changes. I was wrong. And I started to feel intimidated yet again.

Brandy:  Nothing prepared me for the first month home.  None of the seminars, books, inspirational pep-talks from other moms... nothing prepared me.  One day I was crying on the floor of her bedroom begging God to just please let her come home and one month later I was crying on her bedroom floor because she just won't. stop. crying.  And I'm pretty sure that she hates me.  And I'm wondering if we've made a terrible mistake.  And I don't think that life will ever be normal again.  

Month Two- FAKE IT TILL YOU MAKE IT  September 2012

Logan: The rough nights of August carried over into September. Though, by this point, we had become pros, had ironed-out the tedious details of our daily routine. We took shifts - every other night was mine to console a sleepless Willow. It became a science to keep our ancient wood floors from creaking with every step. I realized near the end of September that these things take time. Willow was in a new world – everything was foreign. I stopped getting so frustrated and started to have more patience with her when she would become upset. It was at this point that the survival-mode that ruled our lives in August suddenly vanished. I started to feel like a dad to this little baby.

Brandy:  This month we took control.  We set boundaries.  We limited visitors and trips out of the house.  I talked to many, many other moms who had brought home screaming, restless, scared babies from other countries.  She started taking a pacifier.  She started taking naps in the swing.  She actually slept through the night.  But still every little thing- every conversation, every bedtime, every trip to the store- was more complicated, more stressful, more emotionally loaded than ever before.  But we were surviving.
Month Three- A NEW NORMAL  October 2012

LoganAs many of you know, October flew by. I only had time to watch The Great Pumpkin twice. Needless to say, Brandy and I were extremely busy. We started doing more, venturing out, living our lives with our children. Willow became so much more comfortable around us, our families, friends, and her entire environment. She slept better and had shed the tense shell she surrounded herself with in those first weeks home.

I can't stress enough how life-changing adoption has been for me and Brandy – not just as parents, but as people. It's been amazing to watch River transform into a wonderful older brother – playing with his little sister, kissing her cheeks, speaking to her in humorous, playful voices. Sure, there have been rough days. But in the end, it's a blessing. We are truly blessed to be a part of this little girl's life, to watch her grow. 

Willow's great-aunt told us in person and through video that she wants Willow to learn – that is, after all, what her Ethiopian name “Temar” means – to be a student, to learn. 

And, fulfilling that promise, by our girl's side, we will learn.

Brandy: We weren't scared of her anymore.  We started to realize that after all she had been through, she was really going to be OKAY.  She started to smile at us, run to us, play with us, snuggle with us like a mommy and daddy.    I stopped thinking of her as a fragile responsibility and started to think of her as my other kid.  My daughter.  And at some invisible moment in time we became a family. 
12/4/2012 02:07:19 am

Bless you for posting this. I am bookmarking for a day, years down the road, when I will need a reminder of what other families have said and done. Glad things are shaking into normal, which will never be what you thought it was before:).

12/4/2012 03:25:02 am

Thank you! I just wanted to say that I love your blog. I love the chain and I love your letters to your little boy. What an awesome treasure for him some day. Hang in there! Someday, YOU TOO, can have a baby that makes you cry and wonder what you've done. hahahaha! But it's worth every second of the misery of waiting. ;) It really, really is.

12/4/2012 06:02:26 am

Thank you Brandy. You are so kind and encouraging.

12/6/2012 07:15:10 am

beautifully stated. :)


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