We are not the poster children for adoption. Our process was so different from many of the moms I followed on facebook that I shut by computer one day and walked away from it, determined to not check in again until things were going better.
That resolve lasted approximately 4 days and then I was so desperate for solidarity that I logged on and poured out. And those mamas and babas who appeared on facebook like this adoption thing was all family pictures and giant hair bows, they were struggling too.
It is the trickiest sort of balancing act, deciding how much of the hard to tell. Because there is so much hard. So so much good too, but golly… the hard.
Our Maggie came home at 2 1/2, severely malnourished and with an unrepaired cleft palate. Her adjustment was textbook. It took her a couple weeks to smile, a couple months to laugh and the first time she rolled over in her crib during the night, I stood next to her, moonlight reflecting off her polkadot sheets and wept. She was easy.
But she taught me how very selfish I’d become with my time. Having a totally dependent baby after years of not, tweaked my nose.
But we muscled through and it was sweet.
Our Abe came home a scant 11 months later at 4 years old and it like to have killed me. Can I say that?
He screamed from sun up to sun down, raging in response to the fear he was drowning in. He spoke no english; we spoke little mandarin. The only language we had in common was emotion, even if he spoke it through rage and I through silent tears cried in my closet after he went to bed.
The hardest day I remember was 6 months after he came home. My dearest friend had stopped by, reading desperation and isolation between the lines of my texts. She sat in my hard and made me feel like maybe this wouldn’t kill us. Maybe not today, at least. She helped me swaddle Abe in a blanket to contain his thrashing arms and legs, sad boy finally giving up his fight and drifting off, a sweaty, hiccuping mess in my arms. And then I laid there, boy on top, and wept silent tears as my friend prayed over me.
She was one of about 6 people we let in to our mess during that hard season. We felt so protective of Abe, so wounded ourselves. We had nothing left to give to anyone else.
My dad, upon witnessing Abe’s rage one day, called me in tears and said this, “Honey, no one can do what you are doing forever. It’s just not sustainable. I’m so sorry I haven’t stepped in. You said it’s been rough, but I had no idea. Just no idea. If you text me the word HELP, I will drop whatever I’m doing, wherever I’m doing it and come. I can hold him and listen to his cries just as well as you can. You need to catch your breath.” Such a gift. And, while I never did text our word to him, I felt bolstered just by its very possibility.
And that ridiculously hard season gave way to an easier season. Is giving way still.
But how to possibly write about the hard? And so you stay silent, letting a few in because that’s how you survive. You censor every word of every update, certain the wrong words will sway someone against going. And, despite the heart wrenching hardness of it, you still believe in that mission more than almost any other. Believe with every weary fiber that those babies over there and in our own backyard deserve forever families and if you don’t go, then who?
Which is why your village will become your oxygen mask. Village and Father, couldn’t do it without either of them. Because they are the ones who will help you see the today-ness of it all when you are mired down in the tomorrows. They will speak hope and love into your battered heart. Will remind you that this work you are called to is holy and that you are being lovingly held by the Father who called you to it.
If you don’t have a village, get yourself one ASAP. I’d be honored to be part of it if you don’t have one readily available. Confide in the strong few on even your darkest days, in which you find yourself in your bathroom, chest heaving and whispering under your breath, “I can’t do this. I can’t do this. I can’t do this.” You can and you will and it will be ok.
Adoption is a beast and sometimes you will feel devoured by it and sometimes you will take it for a walk.
Because you are so capable.
Because He is so capable.
Oh, and consequently, our Abe is the sweetest boy now, two and a half years later. We are falling in love with him more with each month. It took all of two years and he still pushes every blessed button some days, but he is ours and we are his and nothing else matters than that. And so I stand next to his bed, watching his chest rise and fall and I marvel at how easily we could have missed this.
And I pray that I never with my words make adoption seem too hard, even when it feels like it is, because aside from my marriage to my high school sweetheart, this is the best yes I’ve ever said.
Let it be yours too.
– guest post by Megan