Minimal Maxim Confusion and Some "Weird" Talk

See the sweetie in the red shirt?  That's Maxim.  He's still in Ukraine and the little big man we are headed for.

See this handsome guy in blue?  That's Maxim.  He's here in my house and forever my son.
He used to live with the other Maxim in the institution in Torez.  He's 11 and its been 20 months now that he's been living his new life.

I wanted to touch on something that's not spoken to me much but I know it's a real thing and just recently Pat Robertson drove it home when he spoke of adopting children who were brought up "weird."  His word, not mine.  One of the greatest fears I have heard from families adopting is what if the new child does something to my existing children?  What if they require so much that we just can't handle?  (I am quite certain it is more than you can handle. God only calls you to things HE CAN REVEAL MORE OF HIMSELF IN. It was never about you.)

I have had the "weirdest" conversations of my life with an 11 year old.  Weird only because they are conversations you have more like with your 4 yr old or conversations you'd never imagine having, period.  Everything from why there are stoplights to why does my body want to rock when I get into bed?

There is one area that he is most challenged in particular that we've had to work through.  Maxim, you must ASK first!  He's broken many toys in his curiosity.  He's made some dangerous decisions like when he decided to dive headfirst from the trampoline onto the ground.  With a bloody face he didn't bother to come tell me as he didn't think it was a big deal or anything notable. Because of this we have had to set firm limits and remove some freedoms until he could remember to ask before doing something.  We've made good progress.

Without a doubt, Maxim has affected our other children.  They have had a first hand glimpse into the reality of what life is like for a child starting out a decade late in life from a "weird" place. (Thanks Pat!) And to tell you the truth, I don't think it's so bad.  They have had to have more patience than they've wanted to have.  They've had to slow down and wait at times.  I have often found Liam taking the time to teach on the simple things that I am sure he wouldn't have otherwise.  I hear "watch out" and "look where you are going" pretty often from both Holden and Liam as they have learned to keep their own eye closely observant.

Most certaintly sacrifice has been involved.  All great things take some sacrificing, don't they?  I know that anything I have ever really wanted to succeed at required time, patience and diligence and a giving up of what "I feel like."  I'm thankful that we didn't wait until our others were all grown up before we took our "chance" on adoption.  I'd hate for them to miss out on learning all about perseverance and prayer. 

The other night he was angry because he had not obeyed when it was time to get ready for bed.  When he becomes angry sometimes he shuts down and just stares.  His eyes will start to look glassy like I once knew and this is when I know we don't have our Maxim with us.  I didn't want to put him down to bed this way because I knew the rocking would start, being in the frame of mind he was.  Randy and I put the others to bed and had him with us in our room. 

After some fruitless attempts to get his attention, I did something I didn't plan to do.  I just started apologizing.  It went something like this:


I am sorry no one was there for you when you were scared.
I am sorry your birthparents could not take care of you.
I am sorry that you do not remember having birthday parties.
I am sorry that you were not able to go to school.
I am sorry that you did not have a doctor help you with your cerebral palsey.
I am sorry that your feelings were ignored.
I am sorry that you didn't have a family that loved you.
I am sorry that you felt hungry and thirsty.
I am sorry that you felt cold and lonely and scared of the storms at night with no one to comfort you.
I am sorry that no one taught you how to care for yourself.

Everytime I said each of these I paused and looked right into his eyes.
His body began to shake.  Not like a tremble of fear but more like a touch of the Holy Spirit.
The glass look in his eyes began to transform into soft brown yearning eyes.  He was drinking my words.  His spirit NEEDED them.  He didn't have a need to speak but he wanted to hear more.  Whatever I was saying, it was exactly the medicinal application he had longed for.

I continued.....


I love you so much.  Can you believe me when I say, I will never leave you? His eyes grew larger and he said emphatically, "I know you would never leave me."  I knew in my heart that these were not the words trying to please but words he could find immediately because it was truth to him.  "And Maxim, I love you so much, that I want you to learn all of the things that I would have taught you if I had been given the pleasure of having you since your were born." He replied, "I wish I would have learned all of it when I was little too. It's hard. I don't know why I do the things I do sometimes.  I just don't think."  I shared, "Sometimes you think you know, but you don't.  It's better to just ask than to not and find out you messed up."

"Mom, why do I keep rocking when I don't want to?"

                                            Grace at 17 months (size of a three month old)
 Rainan 12 months
And the following is what I shared with him (not the exact words):
Every baby was created to receive love.  When a baby is born they need a mom and dad to care for them.  They learn right away that when they cry because they are hungry, thirsty, startled, dirty, cold, or sick - that Love shows up to help them.  When Love shows up, the baby feels safe and special.  And when a baby experiences Love over and over, they know they can always expect that mom and dad will be there.  This is why Rainan was such a happy baby and why she knows what to do when she is sad or scared or hungry or anything that she needs.  She was learning trust not only in her Mom and Dad but in Love (God).
When a baby does not have Love show up when they have these feelings, they don't know what to do.  It makes them even more scared.  At some point, that little one desperate to locate comfort begins to shut off their feelings because it hurts too much.  Grace didn't rock like you.  She put her fingers on the metal screws in her orphanage crib and stared.  And when she came home she looked for anything metal and circle shaped to scoot up to and shut off.  When I tried to draw her away she shrieked and screamed for hours those first months.  Maxim looked at me in amazement.  "Grace did THAT?"  I went on, "It took a very long time for her to stop too.  She was used to it and it felt good to her, but it was NOT good for her.   I wish you didn't still rock sometimes in your bed, but I know why you do."  "Because I didn't have someone take care of me when I was scared." he replied. "I don't have to rock anymore because I have parents now and when I get scared I can just come to you at night.  Sometimes my brain wants to turn off and I have to tell it not to so I will come to you."
I share all of that with you because the trauma of neglect and lack of affection is very real.  Far beyond his special needs of cerebral palsey, truly the special need we work through the most is just understanding how people were knitted together in relationship.  When we remove relationship, compassion, affection, a sense of belonging - we have a weird upbringing.  We were created by God in love (God is love and we were created in His image.) to know how to recognize love, receive love, understand love, and to relate to one another in love.  When it is void, you are going to have confusion, loss, fear, pain and well- a "weird" upbringing. 
But what troubles me most about the word "weird" is that it turns the reality of millions of orphans in desperate need all over the world and sums it up as a freak show- an eyebrow raising, interesting topic.  It belittles, warps, and misrepresents the vastness of loss these children experience minute after minute, hour after hour, day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year.  How can we KNOW this and simply stop at a mere thought or discussion on the pathetic state our world is in?
God said, "I will not leave you as orphan. I will come to you." Yet oftentimes we are like those who walked by the man lying on the side of the road.  We have other things to do and we have every excuse as to why this is not our problem.  It wasn't our sin.  They live in another country so their people should take care of them.  And now we've got, they're WEIRD and not something I should have to take on.  God crossed every one of those lines for us because God can only move in truth and love.  If convenience, comfort or cost are reasons we stay at a standstill, then we have nothing to stand on.
Any word of sorrow about orphans void of action, is mere pity and I can tell you from the mouths of my own children they do not want your pity.  They want to experience love through touch, words of affection, food, shelter, clothing, prayer, dedication, teaching and equipping.  If I can believe the word of God to live it out loud, than I can be sure that any weird behavior or difficult painful thing my children present to me will be met with the Holy and Living God that dwells inside of me.  The sacrifice is to only flesh, but thankfully we were born of the Spirit!


Jamie Wooddell said…
Did you send this to Pat Robertson? Because you should.
Thank you for answering his statement so eloquently. I'm pretty sure I'm "weird" but God adopted me anyway.
Bree said…
Amazing post, Tina! You truly have a gift of words, and I second that you should send this to Mr. Robertson. We will keep your family in our prayers. The children look very happy!

Courtney and family
Heidi said…
Thanks, friend. You have no idea how much I needed this today. <3
Big Little Days said…
Thank you for this post. It simply says everything I know in my heart to be right. Praying for you all and Maxim as he learns Love in a way that will be second nature to him, too. I could think of no better place.
"...Sometimes my brain wants to turn off and I have to tell it not to so I will come to you."

Isn't this what we all do with our Heavenly Father? We submit to our will instead of remembering He is there with loving, open arms, ready to comfort and guide us.

Your Maxim is very wise, to be so young.

Before I knew about sites like Reece's Rainbow, I would often avoid kids or people who had disabilities. Now I make a point of smiling at them, or talking to them, and praying for their parents or caregivers.

God bless you and your family!

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