The First Week: To Put It Bluntly

We arrived home last Thursday afternoon. Lots of emotions that day. Our boy became a citizen, and we were so unbelievably happy to be back on US soil. Exhaustion makes everything more worth crying. We love our son’s birth country, but there is just no place like HOME.

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Post-adoption life is hard. I asked Mitch if I could use a curse word to further emphasize the point. He said that would not be very pastor-family-like. So I refrain. It’s like really hard. The last seven days have been unmistakably the most difficult of my life.

The point is not to throw a pity party, but to be honest about week one. I’ve scoured the internet, and I’ve decided the world needs a few more adoption truth tellers. Don’t be fooled. The warm and fuzzy moments happen, but they are few. The screaming outbursts, spastic hysterics, chaotic fits of brokenness are more frequent. And usually over silly things like having to brush teeth, heaven forbid, or hearing the garage door go up. We’re fighting like crazy to bring hope and healing to this child. And it doesn’t always – usually doesn’t – look pretty. Actually, it’s a hot mess.

Malachi is in complete culture shock and completely oblivious about how life functions in a family. He throws a lot of challenging behaviors our way – behaviors born out of trauma and neglect and anxiety and loss. We do the parenting response right on script:

“We ask. We don’t take. Here, Malachi, I will model how to ask.”

“Use gentle hands. Watch, I will show you gentle hands.”

He should then self-correct and look at you lovingly with a thankful heart for all you are teaching him. Nice thought. We’ll keep trying. Most days, I feel more like Malachi’s therapist than his mom, although a highly untrained one.

Yet, the moments of hope that peek through give us determination to press on. Like the sweet smiles of surprise we get after he says “water please” while lying in bed, and a loving concerned parent actually delivers it. Or the “I love yous” he spontaneously throws our way.

And oh the medical needs. Between 12 and 15 diapers daily. Poop in all of them, ladies and gentlemen. Every. Single. One. I’m shaking my fist at the culprits – two different parasites leftover from life in Africa. The poor little bum of my poor little love. Let’s get those nasties gone.

This week, we’ll see a GI doc, urologist, orthopedic doc, and neurosurgeon at a Spina Bifida clinic. What a heaven send that all of these doctors are in one place on the same day! Then in the following weeks… international adoption specialist, revisit to pediatrician for vaccinations, dentist, orthotics, physical therapy and more physical therapy. One surgery is also already on the books.

Life is not normal. At all. Just about everything that used to occupy our life has been tabled. We are hunkered down in some kind of war-time survival mode. Heads are down, and we don’t look up for much.

With the exception of caring for Malachi, family and friends are doing just about everything for me. The meals arrive at the door step at dinner time. Groceries are delivered exactly as I requested. Laundry is picked up and returned folded. Activities for Malachi are organized and ready for use. Sweet friends take Maddox out for play dates. Mom and Mal and Steph are at my beckoned call. I give them a task. Boom. Done. With all of this help, how can keeping this family afloat be such a struggle? It’s like we’re in a constant state of almost derailing. But my tribe just won’t let it happen.

Here are some pics from when we first arrived at the house. The boys played well together… for one day. Every other day, ear-splitting screams are echoing ten houses down. Bio kid is in the emotional fetal position until Gigi or TT or Aunt Mal arrives to rescue him.

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Twinning is oh so much cuter with unmatching skin. If I can ever get out of the house again to shop, all new kids clothes purchases will come in twos! Come rain or shine, I just love these three boys with all that I am.

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There is so much redemption that needs to happen here. Yet, I am not a miracle worker. I can’t overcome brokenness. I can’t overwhelm pain with everlasting love. I am not capable of making something beautiful from something terribly tragic. That’s always been God’ specialty. And I am more reliant on Him than ever before. I just wake up, shower (occasionally), get dressed, put one foot in front of the other, and force my mouth to speak therapeutic words. He will have to handle the rest.

For I have surely been His spastic kid with an ugly ungrateful heart. I have flailed in anger at His justice. I have panicked with anxiety amid His safety. I’ve pooped (pun intended) all over the love He lavishes on me. The One who redeemed me when I wallowed in sin will write this child’s story too. He will knit this family together and trample down the grief and fear and mistrust that stand in the way.

“He who called you is faithful. He will surely do it.”

Amen and Amen.

The hemorrhaging will eventually stop and the madness will subside. I’ll look back and say it is really difficult but it is really worth it. Most good things in life are worth fighting for.

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11 thoughts on “The First Week: To Put It Bluntly

    • As I read your words of expression, I totally marvel in the way you and Mitch are molding this hurting child into what God wants him to be in your precious family. It takes special people with special love to do what the Lord has placed in your care. You all are in our prayers and will continue there. We pray that the upcoming surgeries will help him physically and emotionally and it will help to lighten the tremendous load that you all are carrying. Love you and thank you for being such a wonderful example to so many.

  1. Thank you for sharing the heaviness as well as the joys. I cried as I read this, but I see God all over what you are doing. He is working His love and power through you to reach little Mal. I will continue to pray for you. “When I am weak, then am I strong”–through Him!
    P.S. I put this reply on fb where Brian K. shared your post but didn’t know if you would see it or not 🙂

  2. Crying as I post- so thankful for the truth that the Lord will never leave us and He is in the business for healing brokenness! Was reading Philemon today -“But meanwhile, also prepare a guest room for me, for I hope that through your prayers I will be restored to you.”
    ‭‭Philemon‬ ‭1:22‬ ‭HCSB‬‬

    The confidence of Paul through the prayers of the saints!
    We will be praying!!!

  3. We are praying so much for all of you. So hard to do what you are doing every day!!! Love and hugs from our hearts to yours.

  4. Dearest Kuhn family. We are George & Debbie Ludwig, Jake’s mom and dad. Your words have made us laugh and cry, and shout out to the Lord for ‘peace which passes ALL understanding. ‘ May God bless and keep you all in His arms.

  5. Would love to connect with you (I friended you on Facebook – and we have a few friends in common). I think we live close by, and we also twinned through adoption 3.5 years ago and again 2.5 years ago and have been through many similar struggles with both of the boys we adopted at older ages. Would love to take you out for coffee one evening and be a listening ear and offer some encouragement! This was my theme song for about two years (and still many days!)- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zulKcYItKIA

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