one year (and then some)

presented by cj:

last month we celebrated one year home with our kai samuel. i can’t believe it’s been a year. so i’ll answer the question everyone asks, “so, how has it been?”

beautifully hard. march 2014-present has been the best, hardest year yet. best because we brought our son forever home. i know i say this all the time but as one year neared and we began reflecting all that transpired, it is just such a grace that he’s here with us. how we anguished and labored in prayer, petitioning our Father to do the impossible. to clear all the hurdles, all the red tape, all the i don’t knows to bring us together. and He did. every time someone asks me how we adopted from japan and how we brought him home so fast, i just say “God.” because it’s true.  it has been beautiful to watch him grow and change, not just physically, but emotionally. to watch his little defenses start to come down, to trust that we are not going anywhere, that we are mom and dad, it makes all of the very hard work of attachment more than worth it. attachment is an on-going journey for sure that we will continually be working on in different ways as kai gets older and our family grows, but we are so thankful we did what we did, that we drew some hard lines to make sure that kai knew undoubtedly that we are mom and dad. and we can confidently say he definitely knows that. hearing him say “dada” and “mama” (took him forever but i’ll never forget hearing it at 3 am a hundred times) is the sweetest sound to our ears.

beautifully hard because it was like re-entering first year of marriage all over again. parenting changes everything. we had to re-learn each other (and still are) in our new roles. add in not getting time off from work and that whole attachment animal, it was incredibly stressful. and speaking of work, we both had job changes in all of this. for those of you who don’t know, in august jonathan took a new position with a different agency, and in october we sold my business so that i could be a full time stay at home mom. as sacrificial as the latter was, it was the best choice for us. i had every intention and high hope to be that working mom, but i hated it. it was hurting our marriage, my relationship with kai, and the business too because i couldn’t invest the time in it that it required. it was a hard change but a good change for all of us, one i’m so glad we made.

beautifully hard because we are still not done with this adoption process. he is fully ours legally, we had legal custody of him when we brought him home and his adoption became final in august, but since late fall we have been working on paperwork for the japanese government so that he will be on his own koseki (family registry). thanks to the help of 2 very sweet friends (since we can’t read or write or speak japanese), we just got that finished and are waiting to hear back. next step is naturalizing his citizenship. so, hopefully i will not have anymore paper cuts by this summer. until our next adoption. but with every agonizing piece of paper that sometimes doesn’t make sense, i am thankful that this is possible. that God loves and created adoption. that this is how we have chosen to grow our family. as i have piles of papers all over our room, i look over at that sweet face and thank God that his life was spared, and stand amazed at how he just fits into our family so perfectly.

beautifully hard because much like we had to re-learn each other, we have had to humble ourselves and re-learn our adoptive parenting trainings and seek outside help to make it specific for our family. this is not something i will go into detail about. as we have said before, we’re protective of our son’s story and this is part of it, part of our family’s story. not to worry, it is something a majority of adoptive families go through, but it is hard for any parent to admit that there are things they just don’t know how to handle or what to do. it has been beautiful to see as we learn these things and get the help we need, we become better parents to kai, better able to meet him where he is, and the stress in our house decreases. we walk away empowered and falling more in love with our son every day.

so in a nutshell, that’s how it’s been. we adore being a family of 3 and having a house full of laughter and messes, struggles and cuddles, paperwork and books and legos and all things disney everywhere, with the best “pup pup” hovering alongside everyone. life wouldn’t be as beautiful if it wasn’t hard. 

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