One of the issues families deal with when adopting an older child is giving them a sense of belonging within the family. In our dining room, we have one-year pictures of all of the Finley kids on the wall. When guests come for dinners, they are treated to a round of very corny jokes, ridiculous riddles and our favorite dinner table game, “Figure out the Finley Kid.”
One night we were having a family devotion about lying and whether “tricking” is really lying. Cameron’s twirling these thoughts through his mind and says, “So, if I were to tell someone, ‘I’m the little girl in the yellow dress, would that be tricking or …'” He couldn’t finish the sentence because we all burst out laughing. These pictures have always been a part of our dining room. But, when Katya comes, I doubt we’ll have a one-year picture of her to add to the collection. And bringing her into our family will be more important than keeping these pictures up. Preparing for an older orphan means change.
Another issue that parents face, is toys. We don’t have a ton of toys. Legos, Lincoln logs, blocks, and board game are all well-loved family toys. We’ve mostly had birthday parties for just family and so birthdays don’t bring in a huge haul of stuff. But even so, each child has special stuffed animals, books, and various other kid stuff that are their very own. Molly, Nellie, Samantha, and Kirsten live under the care of each of the girls.
Several months ago, a dear woman in our church asked me if I would like several American Girl dolls for our family. Her daughter has just about every one, but as she has graduated from high school, she only wants to keep a couple. So, after a trip to the doll hospital, there will be a Felicity for Katya, as well as a few to spare. Thank you Lord!
But not only do each of the girls have a doll, each child also has a bike.
When Katya was with us this summer, she spent hours going back and forth on this bike lent to us by our dear friends Joan and Chauncey. She didn’t care that it was too small. She was comfortable with the training wheels. And she loved it.
Katya hasn’t forgotten that bike and just about every time we skype with her, she talks about the bike. Several days ago, my sweet mom told me that SHE wants to buy Katya a bike. This so touched my heart. My mom is, well, my mom. She is compassionate and loving and also practical. She understands that my life is full – six kids, ministry, homeschooling – and she is consistently concerned that I have too much on my place. But she knows my heart and knew last spring that our trip to Ukraine could result in family expansion. Without knowing the “ins-and-outs” of the adoption process, she wouldn’t have been shocked had we come back from Ukraine with a baby in our arms. As wonderful as that would have been, of course, it’s just not possible. So, when we told her about Katya’s coming last summer, she just knew that our family was going to grow. And then as the months progressed and we wrestled in prayer, she listened, but she knew.
My mom is an amazing woman. She sacrificed so much to care for my sister and me following our parents’ divorce. She juggled parenting, teaching high school, and taking us to dance lessons, horseback riding lessons, children’s theater practices, cheerleading, softball practice and was ALWAYS on time. She always had hot meals on the table. I honestly don’t know how she did it. Then God reconnected her with a wonderful man whom she had known, since at least high school. They married when I was in 7th grade and have been together ever since. Through the years, she hasn’t always understood the decisions I’ve made, but she has always supported me. And she placed in me the belief that I could do just about anything that I set my mind to. So, it didn’t come as a shock when she said, “I want to buy Katya a bike,” but it deeply touched my heart.
So, when Katya comes, in addition to Felicity, a pink sparkly bike will be waiting for her, given to her by a Nana whom she has yet to meet.
Preparing for an older orphan is different than preparing for a baby. She already has a life story – so different from those of the babies up on our dining room wall. Although a bike won’t heal all the wounds, although replacing the one-year pictures won’t give her an instant Finley identity, although receiving her own Felicity won’t make up for the years of not playing together with sisters, we’re asking God to use these to begin to bind up the broken places of her heart and give her a sense of belonging.
Thank you, Mom. Thank you, Gordon, for helping us prepare to welcome Katya.