Caught River reading to Avi the other day…
Adoption. It’s a complex beast. It stuns me, confounds me, brings me joy and also brings me to my knees. I wouldn’t be a mother without it. I would do it over and over again, a hundred times. I hope to adopt again someday. I’ve witnessed its miracles and triumphs, and I’ve also witnessed the heartache and despair it reaps as well. I’m for it in some instances, against it in others. The very nature of adoption is a paradox–tragedy on one end, joy on the other–primal wounds and forever families–loss and belonging. My soul struggles with the idea of adoption on a daily basis. I know my children will struggle with it as well as they grow older.
This post is long and winding as I try to make sense of the complex emotions I am feeling. I hope you will be gentle with me. I wrote this because I feel it needs to be written. I don’t want you to think that we are not happy or that Big Brother is not adjusting well–he is! It just takes time. I like to write it all out. I know that 6 months down the road, I will come back and read this and marvel at how far he has come. For now, thanks for letting me share.
We have good days and bad days at our house. No matter how good things seem to be, there are always reminders that we are now parents to a four year old boy who has been deeply traumatized. I don’t say that lightly. We are making great progress, remarkable really, but there are many reminders that we have a long, long way to go and that there is no such thing as a clear arrival point. We are on a journey that has no destination, and it’s not going to be a very smooth ride. But we didn’t sign up for the smooth ride, so I guess that’s OK!
It’s so easy to forget what we are dealing with here. It’s easy to get wrapped up in the forward momentum to the point where you breath a deep sigh of relief….and then something happens, and like a cold slap to your face, you remember the reality of the situation.
- When Big Brother frantically gets up in the middle of the night, trying to open doors and exit the house any way he can (in his own home)…you remember.
- When he cries and screams hysterically as other hikers go by us on the trail because he wants to leave us and go with them (he asks them in his gibberish to hold him and as they pass, and when they don’t stop to hold him, he goes bazurk)…you remember.
- When he runs off, never looks back and grabs anyone’s hand that will hold it…you remember.
- When he wakes up and paces the house in the morning, looking for a way out…you remember.
- When you realize that sometimes, Big Brother is just looking for a way out and is only showing us affection so that he can use us to help him find a way out…you remember.
- When he won’t let himself fall asleep during a long car ride because he’s stricken with fear that he’s “going back”….you remember.
- When he cries and screams for a random stranger’s food or drink and runs and grabs it out of their hands…you remember.
- When Big Brother arches his back, screams “no” and avoids eye contact with his mama as she tries to calm him down or just touch him…you remember.
This is where I slow down, take a deep breath and remember to take it one moment at a time. Most of our moments are fun and filled with joy. We celebrate the tiny victories and rejoice when we see the light go on in Big Brother’s eyes. But then there are moments that hurt and you wonder if they will ever pass. We know they will, it’s just hard living it, sometimes. If I take a step back for a moment, I realize how far he has come in just 2 months. It really is amazing and I’m truly proud of him. The above examples don’t happen all the time, but when they do…you certainly are reminded of reality.
Big Brother may never securely attach. He may never overcome his food/drink issues. He may never fully “catch up” mentally or emotionally. And that’s OK. We hope he does overcome these issues. We vowed to love him where he is and how he is, asking nothing in return. That’s what I am doing. Slowly, he is making progress…two steps forward, three steps back…but progress. He is starting to show signs of real affection, he is talking like a 18 month- 2 year old child, he is slowly learning what a family is. He craves attention and affection, yet he still resists it. He wants to be loved, but yet still feels unworthy of it. He wants to understand his world, but he is still an outsider looking in. Slowly, he is breaking through…very slowly.
You will never hear me say that I saved my children from a life of despair. You will never hear me say that they are better off in a Christian and/or American home. We did not rescue anyone…I hate when people say that. I won’t do that to my children. Our family was created through tragic, complex situations that are beyond one word explanations. We didn’t set out to save anyone, we set out to create the family God intended us to have. And that’s what we did. We took the broken pieces and built something wonderful out of them. We realize that although adoption has brought us a great sense of joy, it has also caused deep loss and pain for others, including our children. It’s not a win-win story. If you want to save children, you need to start by saving families. I know, I know…easier said than done, right? But it’s true.
So I’ll be the first to admit that Big Brother’s adoption has changed some of my views about adoption. I don’t want to think about what would have happened to Big Brother had he not been adopted…in fact, we do know what would have happened…and it’s not good. Not good at all.
When I think about his last 4 years on this planet, my views of adoption start to change. I do think that international adoption in general is rife with corruption and trafficking of non-orphaned children in order to satisfy a certain demand set by westerners. I do think that it has become, in some instances, a baby buying business. These are just my opinions from situations I’ve seen first hand. I know that not all adoptions are corrupt, but I also know there is no escaping it [corruption], either. Is it fair that because of poverty, a mother must give up her child? Shouldn’t we provide that mother with the funds needed to parent, not take her child away? That’s a tough question to answer….and of course, sometimes poverty is only one issue of many more that leads to placement of a child, as I know all too well.
But then I look at Big Brother, and I understand why adoptions MUST continue. No child should be taken away from a loving family in order to be adopted by wealthy westerners, but no child should be left to suffer as Big Brother has, either. It’s a horribly complex beast– adoption. I wish I could succinctly state my views about adoption, but I can’t. There is nothing easy or clear-cut about it. I feel conflicted within my own soul, how could I possibly judge or criticize others’ opinions?
So, we march forward, knowing that God has a plan for Big Brother’s life. I wish I knew the ending…I wish I knew if we are doing everything right or not….I wonder if I will ever see him break all the way through to the child I know he can be.
I wonder how long Big Brother will be imprisoned by his past. Is it even possible to overcome some of his very early traumas?
There are so many things I wish I could change in both of my boys’ pasts. It hurts me to my core and leads me to a very dark and lonely place if I think about it too much. So I try not to. Instead, I write a post like this, hit publish, and hope my friends understand my need to get it all out. Now I will go and seek out those moments of joy and those tiny victories. They are so, so worth all of the pain and uncertainty. My two boys are my everything. I love them without end, and I always will. Come what may.
We headed to the Great Smoky Mountains this year to enjoy the arrival of Spring and we were greeted with snow 😉 Have I mentioned that I’m sick of snow this year?! Haha. Oh well, we had a blast despite the unexpected cold weather. The boys enjoyed their time in the woods and especially loved spending time at the indoor water park in the evenings. A fun time was had by all (even with some challenging moments thrown in). The car ride home was interesting. I’m so worn out from our mini vacation that now mama needs a break. I’ll share the last few days with you in pictures…
Hiking: Take One
On Thursday we set out to hike Rainbow Falls. It was chilly outside, but it didn’t seem too bad at the hotel. It was also drizzling, but still, we thought it wouldn’t be too cold or yucky to take a hike. The temperature was supposed to be in the 40-50’s. Turns out, it started snowing on the trail once we got to a higher elevation! We had bundled the boys up the best we could, but they still were freezing. So, we were able to hike a bit and eat some lunch before we wrapped them up in our coats and headed back down to the car, determined to complete the hike the next day. The boys just aren’t used to cold weather, so they really weren’t loving it…
Hiking: Take Two
We returned to the trail and it looked like this:
We managed to hike even further up the trail on Friday, but darn…it was still cold. So, we decided to not go all the way. We made it to the top of the mountain and then turned back before we reached the falls. We will return in the spring to finish the trail. It’s just not worth making the boys miserable over-they were chilled to the bone and we knew it. To make it worse, Big Brother did not want to keep his gloves or hat on. We enjoyed the hike but can’t wait to return. Little Man did awesome hiking some portions of the trail on his own…
We headed back down quickly. The snow had already begun melting and the temperatures started climbing back into the 50’s. All was well once Big Brother got his hands on some food and his prized toy dinosaur. I asked him “did you like the hike, yes or no?” He smiled and said “YES!” so at least that made me feel better about it. Poor little guy, this was insane for his first real hike. I hope he has a better time when the weather warms up. Hopefully we didn’t scare him away from hiking!
The drive home was interesting…two grumpy, tired boys fighting over toy dinosaurs. That’s always fun. The huge bag of kettle corn seemed to help diffuse the situation until Little Man stuck his finger in Big Brother’s face and he took a big bite out of poor LM’s finger. Ouch. He didn’t want to let go either. It ended up being OK and I think Big Brother even realized that he messed up. Live and learn, fellas, live and learn.
These two boys can go from happy to grumpy in less than a nanosecond and their behavior wasn’t the best at times, but I’m still glad we went. Everyone had fun and it was good to get away from day-to-day life. Well, at least I can say that in retrospect, right? Hubby seems to think they could have made a movie about our trip…The Hiking Family’s Smoky Vacation! Bawahahahaha. Oh well, this is the stuff childhoods are made of–family trips gone awry!
On a more serious note, we were blindsided with some unexpected news from Big Brother’s doctor on our drive home. You know it’s not good when the doctor calls your cell phone at 7 pm on a Friday night to talk to you about it. Please keep him in your prayers as he undergoes further medical testing in the next couple of weeks.