Sunday, March 10, 2013

The miracle of Thalia

I have so many thoughts floating around in my mind about this whole experience, but mostly I am consumed with gratitude.  I don't even know how to put into words how incredible Thalia is, and beyond that, how - what's the word?  Cozy? Complete? Content? - our family has already grown to be with her in it.

The flights (three of them!) and two-hour drive home, as miserable as they were, were about as perfect as they could have been.  Thalia played with the iPad most of the time, but also watched a little TV, ate and slept.  She didn't fuss or get out of her seat.  She seemed perfectly content just to be with us.  She was amazing.

As I mentioned in a previous post, we were met at the airport by a couple of reporters, as well as my dad and some friends.  Despite being awake almost continuously for 30 hours, Thalia kicked into performance mode and melted everyone's hearts.  As we were coming down the escalator, she waved with her arm and shouted, "Hello!" to everyone in the baggage claim area.  :o)  She grinned for the cameras, gave hugs all around, and played with my friend's son, who also has Down syndrome, as if they were lifelong friends.  It was as if she knew all those people were waiting there for her.

Once we got home, as I predicted, she was mauled by her siblings and cousin.  She ate it up!  They showed her everything - the kitchen, the bathrooms, the bedrooms, the dog, the cats - you name it.  I worried they would overwhelm her but she seemed to take it all in stride.  We stopped the "meet and greet" long enough to watch the news report on the 10:00 news, talked for a bit, had family prayer, and then put everyone in bed.  We heard her really cry for the first time that night when she woke up needing to go to the bathroom, but she went right back to sleep right afterward.

Since then, our days have been filled with her giggles (and occasional chastisements accompanied by finger waggling), and her siblings, teens included, have continued to follow her around like lovesick puppies.  Several of them have come to me separately with the same statement:  "Mom, I love Thalia."  Indeed, she is easy to love.

It's true that once the novelty wears off and she's no longer everyone's golden girl, she'll occasionally get an earful when she crosses someone's path.  But I can already sense that there's something different about this adoption than our previous ones.  Our kids, even the younger ones, seem to understand that Thalia is special.  Not just in the sense that there are things she can't do and may never be able to do, but also because they get that she is most definitely supposed to be a part of this family, and because they perceive that somehow, she is closer to God than the rest of us.  The jealousy that has been evident  in the language and behavior of some of the "old" kids during the adoption of "new" kids is simply absent this time around.  Everyone seems to understand that we all need to work together to make this family the best that it can be for our newest member.  It's like someone has bumped us up to a higher spiritual plane.  I don't know how else to describe it.

The house is messier than usual, but the feelings of peace and harmony have increased dramatically.  I can't get too upset over finding toys in the living room (a big no-no!) when those toys are surrounded by 6 or 7 children playing happily and cooperatively and without the usual bossiness or bickering over who's doing what.  I can't get too bent out of shape when the Friday night bedtime of 10:00 gets pushed back to 11:00 because the kids are putting on their own version of "So You Think You Can Dance."  I can't be tempted to throw up my hands and tell Curtis the kids are all his when they've kept me entertained and laughing with their activities, most of which are centered around Thalia and her abilities.  I love seeing my teens jostling for her attention and playing with her and teasing her and taking her on little outings.  It all almost seems too perfect.

My natural tendency as a pessimist would be to look at this situation and say, "Well, this is the honeymoon period, and we all know what happens when they end - and it ain't pretty."  But I know that this time it's different, that this is our new normal, and it's OK for me to rejoice in it and not be waiting for the other shoe to drop.  We've had a hard, hard road to walk over the last few months.  There have been many changes, some positive but still stressful, and some really difficult.  Losing my mom was and is SO hard.  Our oldest daughter is struggling in ways that we worry over constantly.  We have big changes happening within our business.  We said goodbye to our oldest son as he went off to serve a two-year mission.  These things weigh on our minds, but Thalia is like a soothing balm.  I feel like God is telling us, "I can't take away all the things that trouble you, but I have given you something to help you enjoy your time while you're schooled in patience and your faith is tried."  I truly feel happier than I have in ages, and I consider myself a reasonably happy person to begin with.  I feel joy, and it's awesome.  :o)  This is the beginning of the fulfillment of the blessing I received many months ago in which I was promised that Thalia would bless our lives in ways we couldn't even imagine.  I was also told that she wouldn't be plagued by the attachment and grief issues that have affected some of our other children to various degrees.  I was told she would be a delight, and she absolutely is.  She's a delight with an occasional attitude, but a delight nonetheless.  ;o)

I'm so grateful that God brought us all together.  I had no idea what we were missing.

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