Having a girl around has broadened the boys' horizons. Caroline is so enthusiastic about her purse that Walker went through a stage of carrying a "purse" too.
That is some decorative metal thing from my bathroom. Harris wants to be involved in anything happening, so he learned a new skill too.
Here is everyone dressed up. This makes me laugh because the boys are a mess and Caroline stayed focused on striking a pose.
Hayes went through a stage of insisting on using a fork like everyone else. It took roughly 20 hours for him to eat one meal.
I got to take Harris on a date to the Lego store. That sweet boy thanked me for taking him several times. He just looked and looked at all the lego creations and was so content, not asking for anything. I told him before we got there that we wouldn't but anything and he said ok, just to let him know if I changed my mind. :) The only thing he did request was a lego set he thought Walker might like for his birthday. I don't think anyone on the planet has a bigger heart than this boy.
We officially started homeschool. Here are my kindergartners!!
Oh my goodness, it was rough starting out. It's pretty common knowledge in adoption that there is a honeymoon period which is immediately followed by meltdowns of epic proportions. Our school year starting coincided with the honeymoon period ending. It was rough on all of us and I definitely wanted to throw in the towel. However, we got through this part. I think we came out stronger on the other side and doing school at home helped. I really have no idea how long we'll do this but for this year I definitely see the benefit for our situation and why we were called to it. It had nothing to do with Harris and everything to do with a child we didn't yet know was ours.
I went to an adoption conference recently and am enamored with Dr. Karyn Purvis. She is a Christian, but is secular and data-driven in her approach to healing children with trauma. She says nothing that isn't backed up by quantifiable data but also points out that there is nothing new under the sun. She says her research is just science catching up to God and that her methods are the heart of God. She doesn't even have to profess her faith because it oozes out her pores and her message is the gospel in its entirety, without ever quoting scripture. She is a developmental psychologist (or psychiatrist?) with 40+ years of experience. She has devoted her life to healing children "from hard places." Our girl is certainly from a hard place. I absolutely buy into the methods she advocates because I see the truth in our experience. However, her methods are so hard to implement. The information was encouraging in the message that no child is too old or has seen too much but sobering in the confirmation that this mess is deep and hard and long. I won't detail the specifics because they are google-able if you're interested. The take-away is that our God is in the business of redemptions and restoration and examines the methods He uses for that. What struck me over and over again was how God has abundantly provided for me, and our family, far more than I ever asked. It was put on my heart years ago to adopt and I've prayed for it for it all this time. I never once asked for support when we adopted. Not one time. I didn't even know we would need it. I have 4 close friends, that I can be real and authentic with, who are adoptive/foster parents. They DAILY encourage me. He's also given friends that support me in many other ways, who I love dearly. Shout out, Amanda, Megan, and Retta!!
Caroline has four younger biological siblings that were also adopted by families in San Antonio. These families are now my family and these women are my people. We have a running text message where anything goes. We meet for coffee and stay till midnight, laughing and crying and praying. I didn't know two of the moms when this got going but they let me (and my FOUR KIDS) come to their houses so Caroline could see where each child slept, because it mattered to her. It's inconceivable to me to imagine this journey without this amazing support group. Every person that spoke of their adoption story at this conference emphasized the importance of finding community because it's far too difficult to do alone. God gave us that in abundance and I never once asked.
I've been thinking through this verse lately. (Because it was in my Bible study that is awesome. Email me if you're interested!)
Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God—
We have been given the right to be adopted but it's on us what we choose to do with that right. I realize more than ever what a daily, minute by minute, decision that is to choose to be in a family. Caroline is ours. She is a Goolsby. She has a room in our house and a place at our table. She goes everywhere we go but we can never make her be in this family. We cannot make her choose us to be her people. She has to decide to participate in our activities and submit to our authority and embrace our ways. When I think about why she might want to do that, I think about how God wins our hearts. He wins our love with abundant, extravagant, overwhelming love and provision.
I didn't even know to ask for support in this journey because I was too ignorant to know I would need it. However, God provided it in astounding ways. Caroline doesn't know what to ask us for because she is a child that lived almost 6 years in a 2 room condo. She has no knowledge or perspective to know what she needs or would enjoy. It's on us to provide sacrificial love to her because that is what was given to us and we have a greater understanding of her needs than she does. The parallels of this situation are enough to knock me over, as I go through the day to day and see how challenging it all is when played out in this real world scenario. Adoption is both beautiful and painful at precisely the same time. Caroline is choosing to be a part of our family but her heartbreak over what she has lost is almost a physical presence, it's so acute for her. It's hard for her to embrace the new while still grieving the old. While I'll never understand what she's going through, I do understand having a foot in two worlds. I yearn for the kingdom of heaven because I envision how much better it is but at the same time I hold so tightly to what is in this world. I am in no way comparing being in our family to the kingdom of heaven. :) I just see that she has been freed from the difficulty of her past but there are things of her past that she wants to bring with her. Some are good, and we see her biological siblings as often as we can. I am so thankful that we can do that!! Some are not good, but they are all she knows and they're hers.
I guess what I want to say is that God relentlessly pursues us and gives us abundantly more than we would ever even know to ask him for. He takes the bad from us to give us the good, even though it feels like we're losing all that is precious. Adoption is difficult for everyone it touches but daily there are little (and sometimes big!) moments that can only be orchestrated by a loving, intimate, personal Father that meets us exactly where we are.
For example, Tom adores tomatoes. On our first date, he was nervous, I guess, and went into a soliloquy about the greatness of tomatoes. It was a running joke with us. The first time we ever gave Caroline a tomato, she was equally as excited. Isn't that random!?!?!? Have you ever in your life heard people cheer tomatoes like they were cookies covered in ice cream? There are many other ways God has confirmed that Caroline is for us but that's one of my favorites. I will always associate tomatoes with this situation. If we're having a rough day I give her a tomato to hear her go on about how much she loves them. :) God is in the details, for sure, and I'm so thankful. I write all this to remind myself what God has done for me and in turn what my response should be.
I'm worn thinner than I've ever been but at the same time I'm blown away with all that has so freely been given to me. Caroline and her 4 yr old sister point to things primarily with their middle finger. In honor of that, the adoptive families have named ourselves the Unicorns. :) Really, who wouldn't want to hang with this crew??
For I will take you out of the nations; I will gather you from all the countries and bring you back into your own land.” - Ezekial 36:25