Wednesday, September 4, 2013

3 Things I Wish I Would Have Known 3 Years Ago

We recently celebrated Sammy's 3rd Gotcha Day. 3 amazing years of Sammy. The growth we've seen, in our own lives as well as in him, is a beautiful, beautiful picture of God's mercy and grace.

The Santos family (in the midst of an adoption from Brazil) joined us for some Ethiopian food and frozen yogurt as we celebrated the gift of Sammy.

Silly Sammy showing off his gifts from Ethiopia. 

At least one child was blurry in every picture from the yogurt shop. 
Guess the sugar-high was kicking in!

This time of year always causes me to get reflective on our adoption process, so I thought this week I'd share three things I wish I had known 3 years ago. Today I'll share #1.

1- Whenever in doubt, error on the side of grace.

Up unto the point Sammy joined our family, our only parenting experience had been with Caedmon who has been with us since he was born. Andy & I had taken a more structured approach to raising Caedmon when it came to sleep patterns, schedule, etc. We let Caedmon "cry-it-out" at night and he was sleeping like a champ in his own room by the time he was 3 months old. Although I had to arm-wrestle him more than once regarding nap time, Caedmon took a long afternoon nap every day until he was nearly 5 years old.

Then enters Sammy. Sammy's sleep issues hit us like an 18-wheeler. He did not sleep through the night for the first year and a half after we got him home...often up 3-4 times per night. At first he would wake up with night terrors, shaking & screaming. Those passed fairly quickly but then he just became a party animal, wanting to hang out and chat at 2 AM. We had no idea what to do and were getting mixed advice from people. Some said to let him sleep in bed with us, some said to keep him in the same room but in his own bed, and others encouraged us to move him to Caedmon's room. 

Andy & I were pretty committed to not letting Sammy sleep in bed with us because 1) Andy & I couldn't sleep if Sammy got in our bed, and 2) we feel that's an unhealthy pattern long term and did not want to start a habit we'd have to break. We let Sammy sleep in a pack-n-play in our room, which we felt like was a compromise. But one of us inevitably spent half the night in a rocking chair holding him or with our body hanging over the side of the pack-n-play rubbing his back.

Looking back, however, Andy & I both feel like it would have been helpful and beneficial to have allowed Sammy to sleep with us for a time. Our presence soothed him and he needed the reassurance that we were always near.

I think, regardless of whether or not we had let him sleep in our bed, we were going to have to deal with some major sleep issues with Sammy. BUT, what I wish I would have known (and been okay with) is that it wasn't going to ruin Sammy, and might actually help him a lot, to error on the side of grace. The structure and order that I craved would eventually come in time. But it may take a lot MORE time than what I wanted.

When we brought Sammy home, I expected some sleepless nights. But, I just assumed that by the 3 month mark this 2 year old would be "sleeping like a champ in his own room" just like Caedmon had. I had stored up grace for the first 3 months, but the well seemed to run dry long before the need was quenched. 

I'm happy to say that Sammy has great sleep patterns now. He stays in his bed all night and gives me much less of a fit about nap time than Caedmon ever did. We made it through that rough, sleepless season. But the journey may have been more pleasant if we had given more grace along the way.

Whatever struggle you're facing right now, adoption-related or not, give it time and give it grace. It WILL pass and you will have a lot fewer regrets if you get your own tank of grace filled up from the Giver and then splash it all over those around you!

Come back tomorrow for #2. 

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