cries in the night

March 3, 2012 by nohandsbutours adoption realities, Kam 2 Comments

Our Joel never mourned his losses in the same way a lot of children do. He came to us the day we met him, having just turned three years old, all smiles and hopped right into his daddy’s lap. When we left with him, he had a quite serious look on his face. Fear, I’m sure. But no tears at all. The one and only time he cried with us in country was during an orphanage visit that we were required to make.

His most beloved caregiver, Mai Lek, told him in simple words that he could understand, and ones that we certainly could not, that this was it.

He was leaving forever.

And he sobbed.

And he fell into her arms.



And with his head buried in her chest, our little Tornado shook with grief.

And we right along with him.

How he loved Mai Lek. On her days off, Joel would many times bang his head on the floor in tantrum. He would be unruly and obstinate without her. It was clear watching the two of them that day in the orphanage, he adored her. The feeling was mutual. The director had told us the during our visit, that Mai Lek had come to her a few weeks prior and voiced her gratitude that he had a family as well as her sorrow that he was leaving her. She was struggling with the weight of it all.

Lord, how blessed we are because of this woman. It is no small thing to receive a child who is so ready to be loved and comforted and touched and held. She gave us that gift.

And while that episode was the only time grief was manifested for him through tears, upon coming home, anger quickly took it’s place. Joel was so very angry. Oh, he laughed and played and smiled when we said that we loved him.

But more times than not, he yelled, he kicked, he bit and he fought.

There was blood, sweat and tears aplenty. Literally.

And slowly, with the help of the wonderful social worker who wrote our home study, our agency {WACAP} as well as our pediatrician who had five internationally adopted kids of her own…we began to see him come to life.

People comment often about how very happy Joel is. He is rarely without a smile. He seems completely molded and gelled into our family. It’s been two and a half years. He is grafted in, one of us in every sense.

But sometimes, from somewhere, the grief comes to him. Usually in the middle of the night. Where he cannot be consoled. He cannot be awoken. He moans through tears in a seemingly unending nightmare.

We hold him and rock him and kiss him and rub him and whisper to him over and over and over.

We are here baby.

We love you, Joel.

You’re okay sweet boy.

You are safe. You are staying. You are ours.

And we are yours.

In thinking on this in recent days, it has occurred to me that many times these cries in the night happen when my husband isn’t home at bedtime. He is a staff pastor at our church and sometimes I tease him that he is the “Minister of Meetings.” He is often pulled away from our home in the evenings for meetings at church. There is really nothing he can do to change this. It’s just part of our life and it has gotten much better in recent years. It ebbs and it flows. And for every one time that Joel struggles when Jase isn’t there, there are twenty times he doesn’t bat and eye at it.

But Sunday night, Jase again had a meeting and I told Joel that he could stay up for fifteen extra minutes to see if dad made it home in time to tuck him in. Only he didn’t. And Joel began to sob. Of course I comforted him and played with him in bed long enough to calm him and bring a few laughs to take the place of his tears. Yet, when I went to close the door, he made me promise that his daddy would come pray with him and kiss him once he got home. Which, he promptly did about a half hour later when he came in. But Joel was already long gone and Jase’s prayers nor his kisses served to bring him out of his sleep.

A few hours later, he awoke like he normally does when this happens. Inconsolable and pitiful. It hit me, while he was clinging to me and I was feeling the uneven breaths of his crying, that he still grieves. Sure, sometimes cries in the night are due to a tummy ache {he has gastro problems from premature birth and past surgeries}. Other times, it’s a simple night mare.

However many times, it’s when his daddy has not been the last person he sees at night. And it hurts my heart. I will never grasp the loss our little boy has suffered. Given my life history and childhood, I can never fully relate to his abandonment and deprivation. I cannot fathom the resilience of a little boy who has endured so very much in his five short years.

But I will tell you what I can do. I can hold him and rub him and whisper to him every single time he cries in the night. I can pray for his peace and do my best to ensure he rests in that peace as much as possible. I can provide him with unwavering support and understanding when he grieves. In whatever way he grieves.

I can be his mama.

And that makes me the luckiest lady in the world.





2 Responses to “cries in the night”

  1. Teri says:

    Thank you for this. Our family is going through a lot of this loss and anger too and it is nice to know we are not alone. We love our little guy so much that it breaks our hearts but each day starts out fresh!

  2. Aus says:

    Morning Kam and all – Our oldest adopted only took a year to get over this – our youngest took about two years – ah but our middle daughter, adopted at 18 months and with us now for almost 4 years still has ‘these nights’. They don’t last as long and she comes down more quickly – and most happily she doesn’t lay in bed and wait for us to come to her – she comes readily to us now…and while it causes this dad some pain to know she still has a dark place in her soul, it also causes this dad (and mom – she slpits between us about 50 / 50!) great joy to know that he can help her past that now – that a little reassurance is all she needs! Thanks for sharing a reality with us, and give him a hug for us eh?

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