Well, it's Tuesday. Chrissy and the kiddos will be home TONIGHT (revision: by tonight I mean the day that this was supposed to post...but it popped up early...). I for one am very excited because I haven't had anyone to chat with during the day. I suspect that it will be awhile yet before Chrissy will have a lot of time for me though. Do you know why?
BECAUSE CHRISSY HAS HER HANDS FULL IN A WAY YOU CANNOT IMAGINE.
I'm not just talking about the number of kids that she has although that certainly qualifies. Bringing home an adopted child is crazy stressful. There is just so much to deal with. Everyone has to learn everything about each other and it takes a long time and Job-like amounts of patience. And Chrissy will be doing that times three. She will also be trying to help all of her children navigate relationships with each other. Do you know how many relationships that is? (I'm bad at math so I don't know) The point is, it's a lot!
Let me tell you what Chrissy won't tell you because she's too nice.
CHRISSY NEEDS HELP!
If she had just given birth to triplets you'd all be stumbling all over yourselves to help. I hope that you will still do that because her new kiddos may be "big", but they are newborns when it comes to their new life here.
These are some things that you can do for Chrissy depending on who you are and your relationship with her.
1. Take her meals for as long as humanly possible. Take her one for now and one for the freezer. Do this for as long as humanly possible. Do this for longer than you think it's necessary. Maybe you can be the one who organizes her local family and friends and church to bring her meals.
2. Help with the oldest four kids. Don't underestimate the amount of adapting that these kiddos will have to do too. Pamper them a little bit. Invite them to your house to play, take them out for a pizza, buy them a dvd and a couple bags of popcorn for an at-home movie night. Take them swimming, take the boys to the park, take the girls to get their toenails painted.
3. Respect whatever boundaries Chrissy sets for the little ones. I know they are cute, I know that you've been waiting to hug and squeeze them, I know that you love them. But hold back when you're asked to even/especially if the kids are trying to get your attention. These kids have to relearn what it is to be in a family and have parents. They've been in an orphanage with different caregivers for a long time. They expect that each new adult they meet will be the one to take care of them. They have to learn that Chrissy and Paul are IT. They have the rest of their lives here, but they need these first months to learn to trust their parents. Don't push for them to leave the kids with a sitter, or take them to Sunday School, or go to Zany Fun Amusement Park with Overwhelming Sights and Crowds. Let Paul and Chrissy introduce their children to the world slowly as they see fit.
4. Be a safe person to talk to. Adoption is tough tough stuff. If you've been following their journey you know that already. But, contrary to what it seems like, the hard work is not over. It's really just beginning. Maybe (we're all hoping) that they have a great transition and easy attachment, but even so emotionally this is a difficult road to walk. Be someone who they can talk to and say anything to without judgment, without telling them what to do, without anything more than a hug and a promise to pray for them.
5. Play taxi. Most likely they're going to try and keep their Littles home for awhile while they adjust, but they still do have big kids who have places to go and they will still need to make trips to the store. School is starting and that will require shopping. Kids will need to go to meetings. Paul will start traveling for work again. Chrissy will be tired. Can you help? Are your kids going to the same meeting? Call Chrissy and ask if you can pick up her kids at the same time. Are you running to the store for a few things? Call Chrissy and ask if she needs anything. If she says no buy her a gluten-free treat and just drop it off. Don't stay long, just drop it off, smile and leave.
6. Think dirty. Are you really close to Chrissy? Are you willing to become really close to Chrissy? Clean for her. If you're family and you have a key, maybe you could just surprise her sometime. If they all do go out somewhere maybe you can sneak over and clean and she can come home to a clean house. If you're visiting with her maybe you can wash some dishes for her while you talk. If you're there to play with the big kids grab a vacuum cleaner and sweep a bedroom. Ignore her if she tells you that you don't have to do that. If you don't do it then Chrissy will have to and really, she's got enough going on now.
7. Babysit for free. There will be times that Chrissy has to go out and can't take all the kids with her. Tell her that you'd LOVE to stay and watch all the rest of the kids for her and that you can do that while respecting the boundaries that she's set. Tell her that it doesn't matter if it's short notice or an awkward time. Tell her that you're available and then be available.
8. Promote Zen. Chrissy is going to be crazy busy. Moments to herself will be fleeting and far between. Do what you can to help her achieve her zen. Buy her a Starbucks gift card, give her a candle and a fun magazine to read. Send her flowers. Mail her a card. Do you know something that is one of her favorites? Make it happen for her.
9. Don't Pressure Them. Let them set the rules for their family, let them emerge slowly back into their regular life, don't think that you know best for any of them. Don't hassle them if they forget your birthday or if they can't make it to a party that you invited them to. Don't ask them to join a committee or to be responsible for anything beyond their children. Don't force them to put a happy face on situations, or ask them questions about their children's history. Let them share what they want when they want to.
10. Keep Praying. Really, they have a lot of things that they're worrying about and praying about as they live their life from here on out. Ask them what you can pray for, write it down, and pray.
Guest Authored by Jamey