This summer I was at the airport waiting for our friends Jen & Brandon to bring home their newly adopted daughter from Africa when someone stopped to ask me a question that I have yet to forget them asking me. I was there with my four kids and was overcome with emotion as I stood there waiting for them to come down the escalator. I had no idea that place would be so emotional for me. I wasn't the one coming down the escalator with my new child, I was waiting to welcome someone, but yet I felt as though I was right back up there at the top with my child. What an experience.
I was standing there with my kids chatting with someone about our journey and our adoption when they said, “So, how long did it take until things got back to normal? A few months?”.
If you are an adoptive parent you just laughed out loud. In fact you might be on the floor laughing so hard that you can't stop.
A few months?
I looked at her and with the sweetest attitude I said, “actually my kids have been home 18 months and we are no where close to normal. In fact, I don't know what normal is.” I smiled and was nice, but inside I was thinking that this person has no clue. It's not her fault she doesn't have a clue, because she's not walking in my shoes.
This weekend I was reminded again at how hard this road is that we are on. We had a hard weekend. Amos was very distant and said some mean things to me that I'm not sure he meant, but none the less they were said and I was hurt. It's amazing how hurt you can get from a 6 year old, but let me tell you a momma is hurt when one of her babies is mean to her.
I told Aaron this morning, that this would be so much easier if I didn't care. If I didn't care if Amos ever grew attached to me. If I didn't care if Amos ever truly felt connected to us. If I didn't care if Amos ever loved me with all his heart. If I didn't care about any of this, life would be easy.
BUT I do care. I care with all that is in me. I am his momma and he is my son. I would die for him. I love him more than he'll ever know. I desire for him to feel safe here and connected to this family. I truly desire for him to feel loved and to be able to share that love with us. I care deeply.
I feel as though this weekend we took a 7 month jump backwards in our growth towards attachment with Amos. That is so hard to swallow, because no one likes to feel as though they lost ground on something they've been working so hard on. I was reminded this weekend again that he is so broken. His heart is broken and wounded and I truly believe with all that is in me that only Jesus can heal my sweet boy. I was reminded this weekend that giving and taking love is so very hard for him. This Saturday will mark 21 months that Amos has been home, and yet I believe he still worries that we're not really for him. That this family is not really his and that one day he'll be abandoned yet again. My heart aches for his heart and mind knowing that they think these things some days. It's not fair.
If you've adopted and you're walking this same path with us, let's take heart to this:
I Peter 5:7 “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.”
Philippians 1:6 “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.”
Three posts worth reading.
#1 – My friend I mentioned above, Jen, wrote a blog called AFTER THE AIRPORT, that I truly believe everyone should read. If you are in this mess with us, you will relate and cry your eyes out. If you aren't on this journey, but know someone that is, read this so you can kinda get what they are going through!
#2 – Recently read a blog post by Dr. Russell Moore called DON'T ADOPT. Great post, where he addresses the realities of adoption. It's hard. It's not for everyone.
#3 – I wrote a post called I THINK HE'S SCARED TO TRULY LOVE ME. This was written FIVE days after Amos came home. It was raw. Our time home was not honeymoon. We were barely getting by. He was reacting. We had very high highs and very low lows.
My heart breaks for that little boy. I have an attachment kid who was adopted at birth (many times people think it is only older kids that struggle with it, not true, though the trauma is a different kind). Our son just turned 7 and we are FINALLY, FINALLY starting to see some progress, but it is always forward and backward. My husband and I went away together last summer for a week and the kids stayed with grandma and our amazing Nanny that they have had forever. We thought that would be ok. When we got home, we saw that boy go back to behavior we hadn’t seen in YEARS. Feral behavoir. It really shook me. Even though you logically know what is happening, it is hard to hear such vitriol and hate from your child, even when you know it is coming from a place of hurt and fear. We had to tighten the reigns a bit, make things more structured and consisten and within a few months, we saw him back to where he was and even take a few leaps forward. Even my 5 year old (also adopted at birth) had a total freakout the other day when her dad went away on a trip. After I calmed her down, she told me that she thought he was going away forever! Our hurt kids who KNOW that parents leave will always have that in the back of their minds, I think. But, I know that progress is there, and I know that as our kids get older and have a greater capacity to understand how Christ can heal us, and also understand the reasons why mom and dad will never leave (something that is hard to conceptualize when your young mind –especially in our trauma kids who are emotionally young) it helps them processes it in a more productive way. Either way, prayers to you and your sweet boy. Back to the trenches. The days that I am battle weary, I just have to remember how crazy my son must feel. Good luck.
I just want to encourage you in your transparency. Because, you are so right- people that haven’t been there just don’t get it. Too many people assume adoption is this great love story and all butterflies and roses. They don’t realize that every adoption, even our own through Christ, starts out as a tragedy. We haven’t adopted (yet) but have walked closely with a lot of our great friends who have. Every time I start day dreaming about our future in our adoption I tend to sway to the “butterflies & roses” but your posts on the subject always snap me back to reality. (In a good way.) I need to be praying NOW for the hard, yet beautiful, road that is ahead.
Thank you so much for posting this and for your transparency in adoption. We are having our first meeting with our adoption agency on Wednesday to begin the process to adopt from Haiti. I’m beyond excited because I know I have 2 babies there that God is preparing for our family, but I’m scared because the reality is it’s HARD!! I know it’s going to be hard, but my heart is already invested and I can’t simply just quit now. I grew up in a home where there were many foster kids in and out. I remember the scariness of the kids who were just angry because they had been abandoned, and I remember the heart break when they left. They may have only been my brothers and sisters for several months, but they were part of our family. I still miss them.
I believe God prepared me for adoption through growing up in home with foster children. And I believe He continues to prepare me through you. You help keep me focused on God’s heart for the orphan, and not the glamor that people thing adoption is. Thank you so much! You are such a blessing.
Thank you so much for continuing to share about the hard times, and giving encouragement to press on….it is SO true that only Jesus can heal and restore their little hearts, but its so hard to remember that when you are trying so hard to do/say/feel all the right things and still there are meltdowns and setbacks. Then the “mother guilt” reaches a whole new level, and (for me at least) its very easy to think that “this will never get better”……But just like you quoted, HE began this good work, and HE won’t quit til it’s complete!
Thank you for being such an encourager, girlfriend!
I’ve been following your blog for a while now and have enjoyed your posts so much… from date nights to stories about your kids to yummy recipes! I just want to say – Hang in there! My husband and I adopted our son from Africa eleven years ago and it took three solid years for us to bond, really bond. It was so hard and a very lonely road, but time, love and prayers did their work and now we are all so entwined there’s no separating us. I’m sure the same will happen with Amos. Take care and all the best to you and your beautiful family. I look forward to your continuing story.
thanks for your honesty! I don’t know you that well at all but i truly appreciate that about you!