You spent hours in training. You learned about what trauma is and what it looks like. You probably even have a certificate to prove it. You spent more hours in another type of classroom, reading books that made you stop and catch your breath and blog posts that made you question what you were signing up for. Are they trying to scare me? Is adoption really as hard as it sounds like it is? You pressed onward regardless, with fear and trepidation yet hopeful. Maybe it was all the before-and-after pictures you scoured the internet for that encouraged you. Those children were smiling; those families looked happy.
It seems like forever ago. At least it does for me.
Every night before their light is turned off, our daughters snuggle up in Lydia’s bed for what has become an evening ritual. With a pencil in hand, Ashlyn reads a prompt from a daily diary, Lydia answers, and Ashlyn writes it down. Every so often, while I am waiting to braid her hair or make a bed, I flip through and catch up on what has been added. Sometimes, I giggle. Sometimes, I shake my head. A lot of times, I end up asking Lydia to tell me more.
January 22nd. What makes you feel special?
I can think of 10 things in about the same number of seconds that I’d guess she’d say — snuggling with Mama in her bed, reading books with Daddy, eating a big bag of popcorn all by herself, being able to climb door frames and bend her body backwards into a circle… But, she didn’t name any of those.
I feel special because I am the only Chinese child in my family.
I teased her about it when I read it. Lydia, while you are very right that being the only Chinese person does make you special, you do know that each of the kids in this family is special, right? She giggled. She hugged me. She said she knew.
It was one of those all-is-as-it-should-be moments. Here’s my girl, my girl who had a very hard start who suffered great loss, who failed to grow for no known medical reason, who had a hole in her heart in more ways than one. And, she’s doing okay. Actually, she’s doing really good.
It shouldn’t be this easy. While I’m sitting in an office providing therapy to other adoptive families, have I missed something right here in my own?
They are some of the words I hear in my head.
Until I replace them with truth.
This is good. She is safe, and she feels safe. She is the only Chinese person in the family, but she doesn’t feel alone; she feels special. In this season, today, right now, she feels no shame; she’s proud of what sets her apart; she knows her story at the depth that a little girl can, and she likes it. That doesn’t mean that there’s something I’m doing that I shouldn’t be or not doing that I should be; it simply means that’s where she is which means that’s where I am. I’m sure there will be harder days. They may or may not be as hard as some of those days I read about years ago when we were wide eyed with wonder about what adoption would look like for our child, for us as parents, for our family. They may start tomorrow, or they may start many tomorrows from now. But, if I spend today wondering why it doesn’t look more like those days, thinking today is too good to be true, I’ll miss today entirely. And, today is simply too good to miss.
Don’t stop here. There’s another post we want you to read — It Shouldn’t Be This Hard.