Sunday, February 24, 2013

It's time to start waiting on my babies.

Here in this place, this in-between, when the old life is gone but the new life has not yet started, I see glimpses of what will be in the very near future.  We have 4 children who are only recently Heims.
In fact, I held the first official Heim Family meeting yesterday.  There were only a few items to discuss, some funny and a little gross, and some that touch much more deeply on areas of growth that are going to be uncomfortable if not down right painful.

Item #1: Please put the TP into the toilet.  I know that the plumbing in the orphanage could not sustain it, but here in this apartment, where everyone agrees I would win house hunters international (it's truly a fabulous apartment, doesn't even look like Ukraine) it is absolutely FINE to flush the paper.

Item #2:
I told them that I needed a little respect.  I asked if they understood that according to the Ukrainian and American governments, I am their mom.
They said yes.
I said that because of that, I needed to be called something other than just Traci.  They could choose Mrs. Traci, Mom Traci, or just mom, but I would no longer answer to just Traci.

Samantha, the oldest and formerly known as Masha, has called me mom from the start.  Sasha seems to have a very "whatever" attitude and called me Traci because that is what he had been told my name was.  So he decided on Mom too.  Alina, who clearly is going to be the biggest boulder I have to push, (even though Vika throws some fabulous tantrums) has been very obvious in her desire not to come under my authority.  She most definitely would like nothing better than to call me just Traci.  Just Traci implies that I am a contemporary, someone who is just here for her convenience.  Not someone with any jurisdiction.  She has decided on Mrs. Traci, although she would like to call me mam (ma'am).  Vika has made it obvious that she does not accept that she is Vika Heim.  She has moments when she simply is overwhelmed with this life shift, she can't wrap her mind around it, so she shuts down and starts crying inconsolably until she is in a full rage.  We have had 3 episodes so far, and I am sure there will be more, but while everyone is upset by them, after each she is more and more comfortable.  Samantha is the most distressed by them.  Last night she kept saying she was sorry.  I told her that unless she was planning to be the one screaming and thrashing, she had nothing to be sorry for.
"But you thought Vika was normal." relayed with the assistance of google translate.

"Oh, Samantha.  Vika is normal.  This behavior is NORMAL"

How could she not shut down sometimes?  I would be horribly deluded  if I didn't expect and prepare for this.

It has been four years since I brought anyone older home, and almost 2 years since my last adoption.  I remembered something I wrote and read it again.  It was a good reminder to me about what I need to expect, and What is NORMAL.

You may not need to read it again, but it was a great heart check for me:


When every baby is born they are given a blanket. This blanket is supposed to be warm and soft and protective. It usually has beautiful colors and satin edging. It is wrapped around the baby and the baby is at peace.

Sometimes, the blanket is old. It hasn't been washed and it is made of burlap, but it is wrapped around the baby, and even though it is a little smelly and scratchy, the baby is at peace.

The blanket for this baby has big problems. There are holes in it. It looks like it had satin edging once, but that has been torn away. It may have had soft pastel colors, but it is now a dull and dirty brownish grey. It is wrapped as best it can be around the baby, and the baby clings to it for peace. But the baby is cold and can't get comfortable. Now, both the baby and the blanket are dirty and smelly, but it is the baby's blanket, and baby holds on to what little comfort it knows, and tries to have peace.

Suddenly, the blanket is ripped away. Baby cries and reaches for the blanket, but it is gone. Baby knows it wasn't a good blanket, a warm and soft blanket, but it was baby's, and with it baby knew the only peace that baby has ever known.
Someone has wrapped a new blanket around baby. It has pretty satin edging and soft fleece. It smells fresh and inviting, but baby throws it off. That is NOT Baby's blanket. Where is baby's blanket? Baby cries and cries as the new blanket is wrapped back around baby's body. Baby notices warmth that baby has never felt before. This is a trick. Yes it is warm, but IT IS NOT MINE!!!!! Baby had better not get used to this. Baby doesn't have a warm, soft blanket. Baby only knows the scratchy, dirty and cold blanket. Baby kicks it away.

Baby is cold and lonely and misses the old blanket.

Baby toys with the edge of the new blanket. Baby feels that it is soft and inviting. Baby can tell it is warm. Maybe baby will just hold the edge of this blanket for a while. It is not baby's blanket, but it is here, and baby is sad and needs comfort.
Someone keeps trying to wrap the whole blanket around baby, but baby still throws it off. Baby will only hold the edge. Why won't baby take the blanket? Can't baby see how much better this blanket is? It is warm, it is soft. Come on, it is polar fleece!! What is baby's problem? It is such a great blanket!!
Baby continues to reject the entire blanket, but is still holding on to the edge. Eventually, baby can cover one arm and rub baby's face with more of the blanket, but baby stops short of wrapping up in it. The new blanket providers have stopped trying to force baby to wrap up in the blanket, and have accepted that baby can't or won't use the whole thing, and have settled on waiting on baby. Sometimes baby brings the blanket to them and asks them to drape it over baby's arm in just the right way so that the satin edge touches baby's face the way baby likes it. This continues for a time and baby realizes that even though baby misses the old blanket, baby has a peace that baby has not known before. Baby thinks it might be this new blanket. Baby is torn. Baby misses old blanket, but old blanket didn't protect baby like new blanket does. New blanket is warm. New blanket smells good and is so very soft.

Old blanket is gone.

One day, baby needs help with the new blanket. Baby takes it to the ones who gave it to baby and they wrap it gently around baby's shoulders. Baby holds on tight to the blanket and baby is at peace.

My babies have had their old blanket for a very long time.  It will be a while longer still before they accept this new Heim blanket as their own.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Thoughts on Adoption and the Gospel

I imagine it is no surprise that adoption is on my mind.  I have some thoughts and I hope I can capture the essence of what is weighing heavy on me.
I was blessed to attend church while here in Ukraine.  The service is in Ukrainian, but there is a translator who sits off to the left.  While the pastor is speaking, he translates for the Americans sitting near him.
After the service I was speaking with someone who asked me a familiar question,"Why are you adopting?  What do people mean when they say they have been "called" to adopt?"

I know that you have read many thoughts about adoption and redemption, the function of the church body,  the gospel and adoption as the best representation of the gospel in action.

I suppose these thoughts I have center really upon this last idea.

I think about God and His love for me.

I think about how I do not deserve it.

I think about how I cannot earn it.

I think about how I cannot even desire it without God gifting me with this desire.

I think that in and of myself I have no redeeming qualities that would compel God to love me.

Speaking of God we read in Luke 6:35 "...He is kind even to people who are ungrateful and full of sin."

That is me, ungrateful and full of sin.


How many observers of adoptive families are dumbfounded that the children who have been adopted seem ungrateful, angry even?  The children don't seem to appreciate what has been done for them, sometimes even resent it.  How can that be when everything is now SO MUCH BETTER!  It's like the kids don't LOVE their parents.  Especially when they first come home.
Of all the nerve...
And there go those fool parents loving them anyway.  Meeting their needs anyway.  Relentless in their love for these ungrateful, unloveable castoffs who were so LUCKY to have been rescued...

Do you remember the children's church song:
Praise Him, praise Him all ye little children
God is love, God is love,
Praise Him, praise Him all ye little children
God is love, God is love.

If God is love and we know what love is, we will know what God is.

1 Corinthians 13:4-8
Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous, love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek it's own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.  Love never fails...

So just how is adoption the gospel?

When this train of thought began, I just kept thinking about the phrase "through a glass darkly".  I found it quite interesting that it lands itself right at the end of the chapter about love.

1 Corinthians 13:12-13
for now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I have been fully known.  But now faith, hope, love abide these three: but the greatest of these is love.

This way we love our adopted children, who have done nothing to earn our love, don't deserve it, didn't even ask for it, and don't always even have the desire for it, benefit from our love anyway.

 This love is the closest thing on Earth that is like God's love for us.  This is how we see God's love for us as through a glass darkly.  In this love we can catch a glimpse, almost grasp HIS LOVE FOR US.

 It is seen through adoption.  

After all, the act of adoption is how God has brought us into His family.  Joint heirs with Christ Jesus.

  1. Romans 8:15
    For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, “Abba! Father!”
  2. Romans 8:23
    And not only this, but also we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for ouradoption as sons, the redemption of our body.
  3. Romans 9:4
    who are Israelites, to whom belongs the adoption as sons, and the glory and the covenants and the giving of the Law and the temple service and the promises,
  4. Galatians 4:5
    so that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.
  5. Ephesians 1:5
    He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will,

Thursday, February 7, 2013

So are we a family of 12, or what?

Short answer...
Long answer...
It looked like court was going to be a fail on Tuesday.  It was scheduled for 1:30, (lunch time for my kids) but the prosecutor was not there.  Around 3, I ran to the corner magazine (tiny store) and bought bread, cheese, bananas, juice and water for a courthouse picnic.
Finally, a little after 4:00, court began.  Everyone seemed pleased that we were there and that the children were joining the family.  They read over the paperwork, we petitioned the court for what we wanted:
favorable determination regarding the adoption
minor name changes, but not to date or place of birth
and recognize us as parents in the records.
One of the jurors, each court has 2 who represent the community and weigh in on the decisions, asked an odd question.  Our interpreter had trouble even grasping what he was asking.  It started with if we attended church.  We said yes.  He then wanted to know if the children did not want to attend the church of that religion would we make them go.  (this was after much confusion and re-questioning)
We stated that we attended a Christian church and that the children also currently attend a Christian church, because that is the practice of the church-run orphanage that they live in.
He pressed about if they wanted to choose another religion would we make them go to ours?
I finally said that it seems that it seems it is universal practice that children attend church with their parents if and where their parents attend, and that these children would attend church with us, but that we would never try to force their hearts to believe something that they didn't willingly embrace.
This seemed to satisfy his line of questioning and we moved on.
The session came to a close and we were asked to leave so the judge could make her determination.  Within minutes we were being congratulated on our new family.
Scott presented each of the children with a rose after court.  To ensure his masculinity, Sasha did not smile and held his like a rifle.  He is a man's man.
Scott left this morning (Thursday) and I will remain until we can all come home.  because my 10 days are up on a Saturday and the following Monday the office is closed, adding to that the fact that the embassy is closed the final Monday of each month, while I hope I am home by the end of February, I will not be surprised if our return is pushed into the very beginning of March.  I hope that things move at a supernatural pace and we are home before that, but know that what will be will be.  
While I wait I will be able to visit children in a hospital with a missionary friend, and have a new friend who is also here in Kiev that I have become close with.  We have a fast friendship forged by our Father in the fire of adoption.  Bonds of this nature are strong and true: shout out to Julia Nalle, Stephanie Nance, and the Yokums, to name but a few.