Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Things They Don't Tell You About International Adoption....

I was out on my walk this morning.  Those of you who have been following me know I start a lot of stories out like that.  One - I walk a lot and two - it's when I think (because you really can't think clearly with a house full of teenagers).

So I was out on my walk this morning thinking about the past 11 weeks.  I happened by a yard with a patch of sunflowers and tears came to my eyes.  Really?  I mean for the past several weeks all I've thought about was going home to my family, my house, my stuff.  Now I walk by sunflowers and all I want is to be in Ukraine.  Crazy, right?

It got me to thinking about things you don't expect on this journey.  I mean, you know there will be a lot of paperwork and travel and maybe even some unexpected delays and problems. I'm not talking about that here.  I'm talking about sunflowers making you cry on your morning walk.

So here goes.....

They don't tell you that you're going to fall in love with the country you are living in for all those weeks.  That in spite of the fact that you really want to be home there is a culture and a beauty to the country that deep down inside you just adore.  The little homes surrounded by blue and yellow fences with bicycles leaning on them.  The goats, chickens, ducks, geese and cows wandering around in the field in front of said fence, so close to the road that you wonder how many get hit by flying cars.  (You see no evidence of that happening and figure that they must be pretty smart animals).  The fresh vegetables and eggs sitting out next to the road for passers by to stop, honk the horn and wait for a babushka to come out.  So many amazing memories and a place where it seems time has stopped and it causes you to pause and reflect on your own busy life.  You realize you crave simple.

They don't tell you that how much you will be grateful for what you have at home.  We really have it good and I had no clue until this trip.  Ice that comes directly out of the door of your fridge.  Roads that don't give you a concussion.  Being able to sit in a restaurant or walk down a path without smoking another persons cigarette.  And a hundred other small things that when you are somewhere else makes a difference.

At the same time you wish there was a way to merge the two.  Pick the best of both worlds, so to speak.  Have the home with the blue and yellow fence, the chickens and ice that comes from your fridge door.  And you kind of miss the crazy roads.  At least it made the driving and riding interesting.  And I think I actually lost inches with being bounced around so much and working to keep in my seat.     

They don't tell you that once you're home it is weird to walk into a store and where you can read the signs and understand what people are saying.  And that as much as you wanted that when you were there, now you want the quaint way of weighing and tagging produce and you miss the lady at the corner 8-23 who let you hand her your bag of coins to pick through because the coin was just too confusing.  Who in the beginning scowled at you but after 7 weeks or so started smiling.  Especially when you butchered the language attempting to say thank you in Russian.  For some reason she was OK with me as long as I at least tried.  (I wonder if she wonders what happened to me??)  Oh!  The stores over there have these big signs 8-23, 7-20, 0-24 all meaning times they are open.  The 0-24 is open 24 hours.  They go by the 24 hour clock there so 8-23 is 8 a.m. to 11 p.m.  However they can close up on a whim for however long they decide. 

No one tells you that you are going to have so many mixed up feelings.  That there is a let-down from it all.  And you realize that for the most part of the past 11 weeks you were living on adrenaline.  Combine that with the jet lag and it's a recipe for something that I can't put a name on.  When you walk past those sunflowers teary eyed because you miss the huge fields of them you realize that you are forever changed.  That your entire perspective on life is different.  Bigger.  Yet simpler.  Does that make sense?

You take from the country a peacefulness that you didn't have because they are a peaceful people and their way of life is peaceful.  You become determined to have the peace in your home.   You have a mission to merge the lifestyles and pick the best of both for your home.

My advice for returning parents is give yourself time to adjust.  Be OK with the conflicting emotions.  Be grateful that Yahweh has blessed you with a perspective that most people never get.  And cry over the sunflowers.  It means you enjoyed your journey.

A note to those of you who are friends and family of those coming home from an international adoption please give them space and time.  It is more to process than I can tell you in this post.  I read a blog about how to be a good friend to someone who just had a baby and it applies to adoptive parents as well.  Here is the link if anyone wants to read it.  http://www.scarymommy.com/rules-for-visiting-a-new-mom/

Our family will get it together one of these days and we appreciate you giving us some space to deal with all of it.  We love your messages and your prayers.  And the donations of clothes and other things.  They really do make a difference. 

This journey is just beginning and the hardest part is starting so be sure to add your email to stay updated.


  1. Kathe, You don't know me but I have followed your journey the last 11 weeks. My husband and I adopted 2 children from Ukraine in 2012. This post hit right on all that I have felt this last 2 years; craving simple and forever changed. I so long to be back in Ukraine adopting more children. Waiting for a nudge from God. I feel like I have 2 more children there. There are things that bring me to tears, sights and sounds that are forever in my memory. Sooo hard to explain to others that have never traveled our journey. Thank you for this post! It is right on! Tina

    1. Oh Tina I'm so glad I'm not the only one. Congratulations on your adoption and maybe this is the nudge you need. This reminder. There are so many over there that need a mama and a papa. You sound amazing and I hope you go back soon. Thank you!

  2. I got back from Ukraine about three weeks ago and my husband just brought our son home on Saturday. I have really struggled with my emotions. I truly miss Ukraine! It is nice to know that I am not the only one.

    1. It is a common feeling as I'm finding out. I just returned on Friday night with out new 3. Seems so long ago but one week ago today we were driving like maniacs all of Sumy region.

      Congratulations and be blessed.