First week home

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9 NIV)

I love this bit of scripture. It reminds me daily of the command to take care of widows and orphans. It reminds me not to be afraid of what God has asked me to do in raising this child, and that He will be with me every step of the way.

We have been home with Cara now for one week. I have avoided saying how tired I am because I am afraid most people would say it is due to my age. However, friends of ours returned home from Ethiopia just the week before we picked up Cara, with their son, and though half my age, she is just as exhausted as I am!  Jet lag, early mornings, children who are not yet napping or on a schedule, will make any parent tired.

It is hard to believe that this is possibly the “honeymoon” period and this precious child will fall apart after being home for a month. I’ve heard stories from adoptive parents that tell of how their children were fine for the first month and then crashed and burned in grief over the loss of their caregivers and the life they had before. I expect grief, but I pray with all my might that it is short lived and won’t last for months.

If this is the honeymoon period, I couldn’t ask for anything sweeter. She is so loving! I understand more of her language every day and she understands more English. I was very worried about communicating with her, but she makes sure we understand. “Show mama” is a common phrase and she understands that I need help knowing what she wants.

Bath time is a great pleasure now! She was so afraid of her first bath, sitting as if paralyzed in the warm water. This morning as I ran her bath, she quickly took off her pajamas and climbed right in the tub. I’m sure the bath toys helped the transition, but it is wonderful to see her enjoy her bath!

She is also getting better with the dogs. We had a couple of setbacks during the week when the dogs ended up in the same room she was in, but she is still curious and really wants to pet them. When the dogs are on the other side of the gate, she willingly goes alone to pet them through the rungs. Unbelievably, Molly has learned she needs to be calm around her, and allow her to pet her. She came into the bedroom while Molly was lying down and was willing to pet her. Progress is slow, but it’s progress and we are excited about that.

Cara is a sponge when it comes to love. She needs so much acceptance and seeks us out for hugs. She insists on me carrying her everywhere, which is fine in the house, but when out and about, not so much. Ron and I bought a stroller for her yesterday which will be a great help and allow me to get her out more. I see daily walks in our future as the weather improves.

She is a little hoarder! Each new toy or book she receives is something new to bring to bed. My friend, Julianne, brought her the gift of a book and bracelet inside a cloth Wal-Mart bag and that bag is now a treasure to sleep with, along with her baby doll, baby bottle, book and bracelet, and her treasured purple sunglasses! Soon there will be no room for Ron and me!

We have learned she is not quite ready for crowds. We took her to church with us Friday night, and she was fine as long as people kept their distance. Unfortunately, many of our friends wanted to meet her and it was too soon. We will have to forego church for a few more weeks, and possibly longer. I am grateful the audio portion of the weekly sermon is online for us to stay connected. We are also giving up small group attendance for a while to give her a chance to adjust further to home life.

The joy this little girl has brought to our family is immeasurable! I am so in awe of God’s work here in her life and ours. I always felt there were more children in my life, but I had no idea they were located in Eastern Europe. I do believe there is at least one more, a little girl, locked in her crib in another orphanage in the same country. Thankfully, Cara keeps me distracted from the constant reminder that Emma is still locked away, needing a family, and still being denied. I pray for this little girl every day, and hope you will join me in those prayers. I know she will bless our family as much as Cara has, and also know Cara will be an amazing big sister!