Tag Archives: children

1353120_10202172933543586_1842279478_o

My husband and I are partners in a branding firm.  When we were planning for our adoption our game plan, once our munchkin was home and settled, was to bring him to the office with us.  We were excited for Jackson to be a part of our little company.  One of the many reasons we wanted to—and were excited to—do this was so he could see us in action in the office, which would hopefully give him an appreciation for hard work.  My husband and I have always referred to ourselves as “Team D—D squared,” but looking forward, we’d be “Team D—D cubed!”

My husband returned to work within days of our return home from Ethiopia.  Several weeks later, once we were settled with a routine established, I attempted to take Jackson to the office.  I brought a bag filled with bottles, diapers and toys and set up a portable crib.  I closed my door and played soothing music.  For naptime I downloaded white noise on my iPhone, closed the blinds and dimmed the lights. I tried everything, but it was impossible to keep Jackson content or quiet.  It was abundantly clear.  Our plan to bring Jackson to work so I could return to our physical office in any capacity was simply not going to happen.  Jackson’s high energy/high octane presence was far too disruptive in the office setting.  To say it was counterproductive would be a disingenuous understatement.

I began to work from home and started to set deadlines for a return to the office.  I started with a goal of six months.  Six months became one year.  One year became eighteen months.  You get the gist.  I tried to bring Jackson into the fold, not only at these milestones but also in between, to no avail.  I honestly don’t remember when I simply gave up on the goals, but I did.  I chucked the idea of ever returning to work with Jackson as my/our sidekick.

Let’s fast-forward four years and five months.  (But hey, who’s counting?)  Last month Jackson began VPK.  He is in school six hours per day, Monday through Friday.  I finally returned to the office and can’t express in words how good it feels.  I never in a million years thought I’d be so happy to park my butt at a desk.  It’s not the work per se that has me excited.  I’ve been getting by while working from home.  (To be honest, that statement probably errs on the side of gracious.)  It’s the idea of being a part of something again.  I’m part of a team, as opposed to slaying dragons by myself all the livelong day.  And this absence from Jackson affords me a deep breath of sweet, fresh air that I definitely and desperately need.  It allows me to savor my time with him so much more than when we’re glued together 24/7.  And as an added bonus, I actually wash my face, brush my teeth and take a shower.  And this is daily, folks!  And for an added double-bonus, I get to wear decent clothes!  These are all things I took for granted pre-munchkin.  I have a new understanding of and appreciation for the idiom “absence makes the heart grow fonder.”  It’s a given I’ve always been fond of this little munchkin of ours, but seeing him light up when the teacher walks him out to carline absolutely sets my heart afire.

 “Once you become the mommy or daddy in your child’s world, it is the only world in which you exist, no matter how much you fancy there is a separate world of your own.”  ~Robert Brault

 

Breaking My Heart

“If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans.” ~ Woody Allen

Our son, Jackson, is adopted.  Early in the adoption process you are asked to state your criteria for a child.  Our request was pretty straightforward.  Male. Healthy. Birth to 12 months of age.  Now, we know you can’t mail order a child.  And of course there are no guarantees whatsoever in adoption.  But the agency asks and that’s what we told them.

When we finally received our referral it appeared all criteria were met.  Our son was seven weeks old and healthy.  Three months later we traveled to Ethiopia to bring Jackson home.  He was everything we dreamed he would be and a whole lot more.  However, shortly after our return home I recognized that caring for Jackson was far different than caring for my daughter had been when she was the same age.  I attributed it to the trauma Jackson had been through in his five short months of life on earth.  (Adoption is a blessing for both the parents and child, but it is without exception borne of great tragedy.)  Additionally, I thought we were most likely experiencing attachment-related issues, as we were Jackson’s fifth “home” in four months.  I desperately tried to love away his issues.  I utilized every bonding technique and suggestion known to man.  I followed every book, blog, article, report and mother’s instinct that came to light, but there was little change.

Jackson was restless.  He cried (loudly) if he wasn’t moving—constantly moving.  He didn’t sleep.  He wouldn’t smile.  He wouldn’t reach for me or touch me.  He wouldn’t look at me.  He didn’t coo.  He didn’t giggle.  No. Matter. How. Hard. I. Tried.  It was heart rendering.  It was obvious he was content to be cared for, but could not have given a hoot as to who changed his diaper or fed him a bottle.  My gut told me it was autism.  Turned out this mama’s instinct was correct.

I wrestled with the “why” question for quite awhile.  Our travel to Ethiopia was life changing.  There is so much need there.  Need for schools.  Need for clean water.  HIV-related need.  And the orphans.  There are so many orphans and orphanages in this world.  And I wanted to fix it all.  But God had a different plan for me and for our family.  I wrestled spiritually with God.  I never doubted His love for me.  What I struggled with was why I was wandering in the desert.  All I wanted to do was to be the change I want to see in the world, but my life was at a complete and total standstill.  Caring for Jackson required every ounce of strength and energy I had.

And then God spoke to me.  Not in so many words, of course, but the revelation was crystal clear.  Jackson is my mission and my mission.  He is my mission field, and he is my life’s mission.  That was why God brought him into our family.  HE knew exactly what HE was doing.  Bringing Jackson to Jupiter, Florida, to be our son was HIS plan all along.  I never lose sight of that, not for one minute.

A byproduct, so to speak, of God’s plan for me to be Jackson’s mom is how HE has opened my eyes and heart to children with developmental challenges.  I am so acutely aware of my surroundings, no matter where I am.  When I see a child whose behavior is outside the norm, my heart overflows with compassion for the child’s parent/family.  I go out of my way to share a smile, a kind word, a helping hand, a look of acceptance.  These small gestures are borne of an awareness God has gifted me with.  It’s an awareness I wouldn’t otherwise have, if it weren’t for Jackson.  He is my mission and my mission.  Autism awareness is part and parcel of that mission—one I take seriously.

Thank you, God, for breaking my heart for what breaks yours.  And by the way are you still laughing, God?  It’s okay if you are, because it’s all good, God.  It’s all good.