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.


Amy Sedor said...

Love you traci. You're family is awesome!

Kim said...

Wrapping your family in prayer :) Love you friend. Loved this the first time I read it, and now even more.

TheLazyJ said...

You are a great mom. :) Two of ours came home fist fighting for almost a year, as they knew no other way to express their feelings. I'm glad that we, too, were prepared to see this as "normal" and could read beyond the anger. Saying another prayer for your family

Sharon said...

That is a beautiful word picture-thanks for sharing this.

Cathy said...

You are a wise and wonderful woman and just the right person to help these children adjust to their "new blanket" of love. Blessings!