Friday, June 13, 2008

Shades of Awesome

Yesterday was a roller coaster.

And I don't like roller coasters. All of a sudden, seemingly out of nowhere, we potentially had three kids, at least one of them schooling age. The number was perfect, the gender was perfect, the ethnicity was perfect. And yet we feared to hope. It was exciting, no, thrilling, but also terrifying. And sobering. We could be the parents of a four year old in a couple of months. Whoa. Talk about a reality check.

Brittany said to me, "Wouldn't it be awesome if we got the pictures of them tonight instead of tomorrow morning?" It would be unlikely, but pretty cool.

At about 8pm Brittany asked me, as I was about to go watch another episode of Firefly with Jason, "Do you want to see some pictures of the kids?"

I would post pictures here, but I don't think I'm allowed to. Sorry. Wish I could.

We've been praying that our kids will be healthy and beautiful in all ways. The kids look really healthy. The older girl is probably 4-5, and the boy is 5-6ish. Much older than we've been thinking. The younger girl is adorable.

I've often worried, over the course of my life, that I wouldn't think my children were beautiful. I've seen some ugly kids. And what do their parents think of them, especially since everyone tells you, "You'll find your children adorable because they're yours"? I'm not sure how the logic follows. It sounds like a twisted version of "love is blind", but I digress. The point is: They lied to me.

[NB: RvB is not suitable to those who are bothered by language and inappropriate verbal content, and the above link has some language directly following the quote.]

The kids look like Russian Bouncers. It's time for brutal honesty because, as Brittany pointed out, if we don't talk about it now it will come back to "bite us in the butt" later. It's hard to tell what they really look like. The poor photography, pudgy sullen faces, the hideous short haircuts (probably to reduce lice), and ill-fitting clothes don't inspire cries of, "You are so sweet!"

And so I'm torn.

Are these our kids? Some families recognize their children right away. Others don't. And I don't really know.

There are some major pros to adopting slightly older children, but we hadn't really been considering it. And jumping into being the parents of three children, homeschooling, and dealing with kids who will very much remember their life in Kyrgyzstan and have who knows what kinds of feelings about that, having to learn a new language, and dealing with whatever got them to be available to join our family are rather daunting thoughts.

Time for a Confession of an Expecting Father: My fantasy was that my little girls would be gorgeous, adorable, more on the lithe Swedish/Iceland than stocky Russian side. And these girls may be just that, or become that way once they shed their baby fat. With hair and a smile the girls may be adorable, but I can't tell. The boy will certainly grow up to be a heartthrob.

But will I be disappointed if they aren't gorgeous? Will the girls pick up on that and develop a complex? Will I gravitate to one of the kids and so neglect the others? It sounds so shallow to say, but "I wanted pretty girls!" ...but who wants ugly kids?

Brittany has been saying frequently about how it would be "so many shades of awesome" if this or that happened. And "shades of awesome" is how I feel: This could be great, but there are some shadows that have me worried.

Sorry for the rambling thoughts and disjointed ideas. My mind doesn't feel completely sane at the moment, and my thoughts don't seem to be making a lot of sense.

I think I'm feeling a tad overwhelmed.

I wish I was more collected; writing with a point, a purpose and a lesson. But for the following days I'm afraid this blog will be more of a journal to record my thoughts for future reference than for potentially brilliant insights.


~Luke Holzmann


Anonymous said...

How interesting.

I stumbled onto your site via Homeschool Diva. I homeschool my brood of four with mostly Sonlight just North of you in Fort Collins, CO.

A friend once joked, before kids, that he would NOT be one of those obnoxious parents who went on and on about how his kids were the most beautiful, talented (insert other amazing advectives), etc. And then after kids, he said that God, in his infinite wisdom, decided to actually give him the most beautiful, talented, amazing kids. How ironic, he said.

I wondered about this same question myself before kids, but the truth is that you don't have to pretend. You just really think they are the most beautiful...just because they are yours, I guess. Maybe this can't be said across the board in all cases, but something of the heart of God is reflected in this parenting thing, because that has happened for me every time.

Congrats on your upcoming adoption(s)!

~Elizabeth Barber

Sarah said...

I have to tell you that I had moments of looking at my middle child as an infant and seriously thought "He is really pretty unattractive." I guess I got used to the way he looks though because now I find him adorable beyond belief. Im pretty sure there is something in Jane Austen's Persuasion about a man not knowing whether his beloved is grown more attractive in fact or just because he loves her the more.

Not to worry. Sometimes you'll find them charmingly attractive and other times you'll probably think they are ugly little sinners. But you'll love them through it.
Thanks so much for your technical help!! ctl A is a lifesaver, man!

Luke said...

Thanks for the feedback, Elizabeth and Sarah. I'm glad I'm not the only one who thinks about these kinds of things (I felt really shallow there <smile>).

And you are most welcome, Sarah. I'm here to help!


Lori said...

I love when we are willing to be real. Being real helps and heals others, Sparking the same healthy pattern that will continue and repeat.

mary grace said...

Oh, I know these feelings well. Seeing Oliver for the first time was a strange mix of exhilaration and denial all blended into a very emotional stew. He was not what I had pictured at. all. (This would be primarily because I was expecting Hispanic children, but I digress...) His head was a little too big. His clothes were clearly from the Goodwill discount pile. His eyes were a little too wary for a 14 month-old. His haircut was awful. I remember thinking, "This is the one?" And that voice in my head was very, very skeptical, trust me.

Six months later, and I can honestly say that Oliver is the cutest toddler this side of the Cascades. It took a little while, but by now, I know every inch of him and he no longer feels foreign to me as I plunk him in the bath.

It will come. If these are your children, it will come.

P.S.--I am convinced that no one talks about this b/c they think it makes them feel like a bad parent, somehow. File it right alongside "The Things No One's Kids Ever Do" ... like lying or complaining about homeschooling. :-)

Luke said...

Thanks again for stopping by Lori and Mary Grace! I appreciate your comments. I am hopeful and excited, but scared and wary at the same time. Odd mix of emotions.


Anonymous said...

I don't normally "approve" of posting anonymously, but don't want my son to ever know that I said this: he was not just not a cute baby, he really was However, it didn't take long for him to become adorable, and man-o-man, this now 9-year-old is the absolutely handsomest guy I've ever seen, and we're not the only ones who think so! LOL

Truly, though, when a child is yours, that child IS the most beautiful child in the whole world, and we now have five children (this particular one was the second of the five), each of them the most beautiful in the whole world. :-)

Karen Joy said...

Comin' late to the party... looking for an update about your children. :)

Similar to what others have said: My firstborn was gorgeous. He literally looked like the Gerber baby. I look back on his baby pics and think, "I should have gotten him into baby modeling." My second? Not so much. Weird, oblong head, squishy face, eyes that were too wide-set. Just an absolutely bizarre looking kid. I was taken aback. And, honestly, he's still a little goofy, but, strangely enough, he's my most photogenic.

But... there comes a point (usually sooner than later) where all of that is COMPLETELY outshadowed by different concerns, like character development, personal strengths, education, their relationship with God... and while as a parent, you still don't want your child looking like a fleabag, there's a part of you that doesn't care if s/he's all that cute to others (or even to yourself), or not.

That said... I still think it's the plan of God for each parent to think that his/her child(ren) are the best/most __________ . God wants the hearts of the parents to be towards their children. It's OK to be biased on behalf of your own children. Who better?

I can't speak personally about that parent's heart towards an adopted child... but obviously, God is in favor of the concept, so I can't imagine that He would NOT endow you with that particular, biased love for each of your stocky Russian children. :)

Karin Katherine said...

I appreciate and admire your honesty. When our daughter was born I recall my husband gushing over and over about how beautiful and perfect she was. Maybe it was the post partum depression but I didn't think she was cute at all...and I felt ashamed by that.

All of our children receive a great many compliments on their physical beauty and I'd be lying if I didn't admit to feeling a bit of pride. But the thing that makes me most proud is when I get compliments on their behavior, love of learning and just BEING WITH them and LEARNING about them. My love for them is unconditional and in time yours will be for your children too. (In time can mean 10minutes-10 months, varies for everyone) and while I think if they are indeed little stocky bouncers----you will still see that and know that, I think you won't care.

Luke said...

Thank you for the continued support, everyone. We got some new photos today, for the first time since the first two, and I'm starting to like them more <smile>.


Zac&Natasha Anderson said...

I would encourage to ask yourself what part of the gospel are you failing to believe. God died for us while we were very ugly. The children are humans created in the image of God. Christ was born in an ugly place, in an ugly situation-his mom was unmarried, born in a barn and as a man he was homeless and broke and there is nothing more repulsive to see. The only thing more repulsive than Christ broken on the cross is the sin that put him there.

So my prayer is that your heart would be broken over your sin and the sin of you children no matter what they look like. Because, the cross is also the most beatiful thing in the world and that you would want to take your children to see that beauty.

We adopted three children and went through many feelings...many i am ashamed of. However, EVERYTHING we anticipated would really matter, has not.

Our oldest and most traumatized, aggressive and sullen child is now after two years a joyful, servant-hearted loving sister and was baptized this week.

The "cute" baby turned out to need the most help, refusing to learn to roll or walk and trying to throw herself out of anyones arms who would try to touch her.

The middle child had many issues with tantrums that led to bowel movements through school age.

We never imagined any of this when we were looking at photos. I tell you this not to discourage you, because you are doing a great thing that will have eternal rewards. I say this to encourage you in that this is a spiritual battle. Pray for your childrens hearts and character, for steadfastness and strength.

Jill said...

Hi Luke,
I was looking up Sonlight site and stumbled on your blog. I've just begun using core 5 for my 6th grade son.

I adopted my daughter from Russia in '06. I would not admit this to many but I too had a propensity to wanting a beautiful child, esp. since I found my 2 bio. kids gorgeous. I will try to be brief.

When adopting, all you have initially is the picture, that is the ONLY info. you have to guage everything on, and often that pic. is SO distorted, like you say, bad clothes, haircut, even things like nutrition and environment (neglect) will reflect on how the child looks at that point in time.

What is missing is your bond with that child, so many nuances you can only experience with time. HIm/her waking up in the am and smiling to see you, or the funny sayings/stories, etc. that only the two of you share. In light of a bond, flaws that are magnified then become mimimized. But... a bond takes time. It took a long time for my daughter to feel like my daughter. For 6 months I wanted to send her back, and I felt terribly guilty that I didn't feel the same way about her that I did about my sons during toddlerhood. My daughter looked perfect to others, but I thought her eyes are too small, she is too active, she doesn't need me, etc., etc., etc. She would cry at night but then dive into the crib when I entered the room. It took 18-24 mos. for me to really feel that she is my daughter and I can tell you no one I ever spoke to said it took that long for them, but she is now "most definitely" my daughter. It is a magic that only God and time can provide.

No one can tell you what to do, but if you are a believer, then seek and submit your life to God's plans for it, and don't expect that you will immediately be aligned with his. Adopting from Soviet Union is very hard and you are on a trying journey and I wish you the best. Those kids would be so lucky to have you and think about that blessing to them. I will try to see where I can leave you an email in case you'd like to connect more.