Amy sticks close to me. She has for 18 months. She will for about 6 more. That's a whole lot of togetherness. A.whole.lot.
In the beginning when the new one first comes, it's not so bad. You're feeling her out. She's figuring you out. Everyone is finding their place.
And then "not so bad" becomes "downright awful." It does. I'm not kidding.
The first time around was the worst. Hands down. By far.
But the second time was no picnic either. Ashley was stubborn. I didn't like her. She was not what I was expecting and it was incredibly hard to get past my expectations and accept the reality that greeted me every morning like a smack on the face.
What were my options? I was in this for the long haul, so options were limited. Actually the only one I was willing to consider was the one that told me to stick it out. The one that said I signed on for forever and I was just going to have to handle it.
I probably don't have to mention how emotionally hard that outlook is. Forever? This kid? Forever? Are you sure? Forever? Like, forever forever?
Yes. Everyday for the rest of your life.
Blah. Forever had never felt longer.
But something happens during those months of togetherness. Her constant presence with you changes everything. She watches what you do. She listens to how you speak. She notices how you treat people. She notices how you treat her.
I wonder if this is something that makes older child adoption seem harder.
Instead of having a little time to feel out the whole parenting thing without them being able to remember it, you're thrown into the ring and they remember it all. Every single thing.
That's why Hannah and I refer to our first two years as our "crazy years." The title fits.
It's this time of being stuck together that brings the change. Modeling how you want her to act. Responding how you want her to respond. Speaking the way you want her to speak.
Fun? Not at first.
Easy? Not at all.
I don't know of any other way to do it.
That time that she spends with you is priceless. She will learn more from you in those first few years than she would have been able to learn with anyone else.
Just make sure you look like the person you want her to become. The first time around I wasn't. Hannah turned into me, critical, sarcastic and inflexible. It showed me that I needed to get better before she was going to. So the two of us worked hard. We asked for forgiveness. We sought to learn who God had created us to be. We made some changes.
If there is a point, it's this...
Keep the new one close, even when you don't want to. Treat her the way you want to see her treating others. Speak to her the way you want her to speak to others. Love her the way you wanted to when you were waiting for her, when you would sit in the room you had all ready for her and dream about her. Love her like that.
Even if you don't feel like it.