Home Sweet Home!

I've thought about posting on our blog about a million times, but that's about as far as I've gotten in the past few weeks since we arrived home from India.  Things here have been going smoother than we expected, although that's not to say that there haven't been some bumps along the way.  Even in the rough times, I can honestly say that we wouldn't change it for the world.  This little girl is so sweet, loving, happy (most of the time), and her personality couldn't fit in any better if we'd had her since birth!  Our daughters are both blessings from God and we love them more than words could describe!

The afternoon that we arrived back in Minneapolis, we were completely exhausted!  We had been traveling for over 24 hours straight with VERY little sleep during that time.  Although we were sad to leave the our daughter's birth country, we couldn't wait to get home to see Allie and for the girls to finally meet.

We arrived home at about 6:00 p.m. and Allie was waiting at the window excited to get the first look at her new sister (who had been sleeping for about 2 hours in the car)!  As we walked in the door, Allie was SOOO excited and kept saying "She's so cute!" and "I'm your big sister!"  Charu was very scared at first.  We couldn't begin to imagine what she was feeling...new sights, sounds, smells, people....so many new things and then a very excited and loud three year old in her face!  Allie was somewhat disappointed that Charu wasn't ready to play with her at first, but it was so fun to watch them begin to play shortly there after and within an hour they were running around the house after each other like they had always known each other!

In India, we were co sleeping at the bed and breakfast and once we arrived home that's what felt right to us.  I wanted to be there to comfort Charu when she woke up...I think we both actually needed that.  The first night home, we ended up letting both girls sleep with us.  We had missed Allie so much and we couldn't imagine not having her with us that night.  Once I had Charu asleep, Cory and Allie came in and climbed into our (queen sized) bed.  Allie wanted to lay next to Charu and she put her head up right up to Charu's and gave her gentle kisses on her nose.  It was such a precious moment in time to be laying there with our two daughters in one bed where we could just reach over and hug/kiss either one.

The first week home was filled with wonderful moments as well as moments that were quite difficult.
On one hand, Charu was opening up to us and each day we could see her becoming more comfortable in our house and in her new life.  She was beginning to use words to express her wants/needs and even made up some of her own sign language to allow us to understand her even further.  Allie and Charu were playing together well and it was fun seeing them get to know each other.
On the other hand, before Charu came home Allie was used to being the center of our world.  As much as we tried to prepare Allie for being a big sister, for having a little sister and for what it was going to be like when Charu came home, she is only three...something that we reminded ourselves countless times during that first week home.  Allie had just spent 2 weeks with her grandparents and her aunt and as thankful that we are that she was so loved, it's hard for any child to be without their parents for that long.  The transition back to being with mommy and daddy was rough at times to say the least, however I have to say that I'm very proud of how good Allie is with Charu now.  There are so many times that I catch myself just watching Allie talk to or help Charu and I just smile thinking about how great it is that they have each other forever.  Now when Allie wakes up or gets off the bus from school, Charu runs up to Allie and smothers her with hugs and kisses!  In the morning, they lay next to each other on Allie's Dora couch and talk, laugh, and kiss each other.  It's something that I really need to get on video to show them someday!
The other part that was/has proved to be difficult since being home is the aspect of sleep.  We all had a tough time adjusting back to Minnesota time (11 1/2 hour difference) once home, but Charu has continued to struggle sleeping.  There are some days/nights where Charu does really well and sleeps really great at night and then there are other nights that she's up for most of the night.  At night, I am the only one she wants to console her or even see.  That was hard at first while I was still getting over my jet lag, but now it's not too bad when she has a rough night.  When Allie was a baby, I remember cherishing the times that I was up with her at night.  It was really special to be the one who was caring for her during that time...I still cherish the time that I'm with Charu at night, but it's just harder now because I still have to care for Allie too once it's morning.
I know that she is grieving right now and will be for a long time.  I think the main time that it comes out is at night.  It seems like she sleeps really well for the first 4 or sometimes even 5 hours at night and then once she wakes up she struggles to sleep any longer.  She's very restless if/when she goes back to sleep and wakes up every 1/2 hour or so needing to be consoled.  We have received lots of wonderful ideas of how to help Charu sleep better at night (both from fellow adopters, social workers, and doctors) and we are trying lots of the ideas and with time, I know that this too shall pass!

Overall, we couldn't be happier this holiday season.  We have been blessed with two amazing, strong, loving, passionate daughters who are true gifts from God!  We have amazing friends and family who delivered food for the first week and a half after we returned home...without whom we may not have eaten!  It truly takes time to adjust to your new normal no matter how you add to your family and having one less thing to worry about was an enormous blessing.  We have such loving and understanding families who have been unbelievably respectful of our time that we needed to adjust to being a family and that Charu needed to feel that we were her family.  Without the space, Charu may not be adjusting as well as she is and Allie may not have bonded so strongly to Charu!  We are also blessed with an amazing support system of fellow adopters who are always only a phone call or e-mail away armed with advice, support, understanding, and just plain love.  Without them the three year wait to our second child would have been impossible and I only hope that we can be as supportive to them as they are to us!

To everyone who has helped us, prayed for us, or even just followed our journey to Charu through our blog...thank you!  Each one of you holds a special place in our hearts and we are thankful for each and every one of you!  May God bless you all this holiday season!  We hope that 2012 brings much joy and happiness to your lives and we continue to pray for all of our adoption friends near and far!


Tammy said...

So good to read an update. I understand your struggles right now. They do pass, but it takes time. It sounds like you have a handle on it all. Clara still goes to sleep to soft music. If she wakes during the night I put the music back on for her. Just always be there for her when she wakes. I think Christina greived more than Clara. Those were some tough couple of months, but it does all work out. Take Care. Call or e-mail if you need to.

Peter and Nancy said...

Oh, those tired jet lag days!! I'm glad you have lots of resources and ideas for sleep -- that's an area Anya Rashi struggled with after she came home too. If you ever want to talk, I have a very sympathetic ear for that vulnerable time of new mommyhood! Feel free to e-mail if you want to: pleschke(at)sbcglobal.net

Your house will certainly be a joyful place this Christmas!

No Greater Love said...

You wrote the post so beautifully!

I am beyond amazed at how incredible your whole family is doing. Allie and Charu are just so precious.

Can't wait to see Christmas pictures.

Talk to you soon!!

Mer :)

Brad and Renae said...

Loved to read this post. It sounds like things are transitioning very well... love the visuals of Allie and Charu! I'm inspired (4 people in a queen bed! :) ) - I'm sure we will have Joshua join us too when we get home with Lauren. No matter how much we prepare our little ones, it seems they still don't fully grasp it until they are in it. Joshua knows Lauren will sleep with us -- he just doesn't quite know how he will handle it. (He's already asked if he can too :) Isn't adoption the most amazing indesribable thing? And watching children connect, I bet brings great joy. We're so happy for you guys to be right in the midst of the hard work it takes building a family of love. Although hard at times, it seems like one of the greatest blessings too. (And I'm so happy there are people near bringing food... and supporting you so lovingly. Jesus is smiling, for sure. Merry Christmas, Renae

Anonymous said...

Thanks for taking time to update...I've been checking everyday! :) You guys sound like you are doing amazing!!! Do you have to go back to teaching soon? I hope you get LOTS of time off. You deserve it. Can't wait to see more pics of the girls together. Merry Christmas to you all!!

Rachel Oberholtzer

Sarah said...

Those first few weeks home can be so difficult (and of course, so very happy too!). The time change really can take a toll on you. Try to rest when you can. In a little while, when you're more rested, you will be able to enjoy your two girls even more fully. They are both such wonderful blessings!