It's a cute story. I'm not sure what I expected when we met. We were told that because he was older, we would need to do daily visits until he felt comfortable. Our first meeting was about 12 hours after we arrived in the country. When we drove up to the home, he was waiting on the porch and ran out to meet us. Our social worker, Anna, pointed us out and he took my hand and ran into the house to show me his book. We talked for a minute and Anna asked him if he'd like us to come back tomorrow. He said he was ready to go with us now. So, a little jet-lagged and a lot overwhelmed, we all drove away together. The whole time, I kept thinking, "What do we do now?"
What did you love about South Africa?
I love everything about South Africa. It is beautiful, but the people are the best and that's what I loved when I was a missionary 20 years ago, and that's what our family loved when we went in March.
What were some good things in country?
We took our 4 children with us and I was amazed at how well all 7 of us did together for 3 weeks. We enjoyed being together even though a lot of the time it rained. I loved that my kids got to see how others live - my 3 teenagers especially "got it."
What were some hard things in country?
The hard thing was trying to set a routine and discipline and bond with this new family member. Especially the last week, we found ourselves looking forward to going home.
Can you think of some moments where you thought, "we are making progress"?
Most of the moments that I felt like we were making progress came after we were home. The toughest transition was the 3 weeks after we first arrived home. After that initial time, we started to see that he was more comfortable. He would actually push his plate away and say he was full. Less and less were the comments of going to find a different family or going home. He began to realize that everyone had responsibilities and wanted to have a job. He even told us outright that he had decided to stay.
What advice would you give a family thinking about adopting an older child?
I don't feel like I'm worthy to give anyone advice on any subject, but expectations can be your biggest enemy. I like to plan everything out and know when things are going to get better and I love to "fix" everything. When you adopt, and probably especially an older child, the less expectations you have, the more satisfied you are with your progress because you take joy in every little piece of progress. I remember our social worker telling us that we would feel like we are "saving" this child, but they would never appreciate it. I do feel unappreciated a lot of the time. We did think we were rescuing a child from an uncertain circumstance, but it turns out that he is saving us.
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