My sister returned from China with her little guy a month ago and I think I have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. And a smidgen of envy. Because you will take all the classes your agency recommends; you are a rule follower and you want to be prepared. But you will quickly learn that nothing, no class or book or blog, can prepare you to walk into a room and invite a total stranger into your heart.
That – doing that – is a thing so foreign and strange and yet it makes perfect sense to you.
So you’ll spend long evenings at your computer learning the language of adoption. Rolling words like cocooning and trauma-based behavior around on your tongue and being naive enough to assume you won’t ever need to use them. You will buy the books, especially the one about eating because everyone is telling you you’ll need it, but you be sure that food and love will cure all and that days after he or she is placed in your arms, they will be settled in and calling you mama. You will be sure of it.
And maybe that’s the way it’ll go for you. I’ve seen it often enough to know it happens that way sometimes. But more likely you will need the training and the books and the blogs. Some days you will need them like oxygen, like Jesus.
Because adoption is a dance that is sometimes flowing and lovely and feels so right and at other times is chaotic and painful and you will be all arms and legs and no grace.
But I know this: you will keep on dancing. Because the miracle of adoption is that its worth it. No matter how good or how hard, redeeming a life and becoming mother or father to the ones who’ve been left behind is worth it. You will tell yourself this over and over; sometimes relying on the words to boost your courage for another minute, hour, day. There will be times you want to climb the highest building and shout how great it is to anyone who will listen. Other times you will find yourself weeping on the floor of your closet, your body in a question mark, all your resources depleted.
Adoption is like middle school and sometimes you will be wearing the right jeans and your hair will do that thing that makes it look so cool and you will be it. But some days you will wake up with a giant pimple on the end of your nose and your eyes huge behind coke-bottle glasses and you will shrink into yourself and stifle a tantrum over the unfairness of it all.
This will especially happen when you are out for lunch with a friend and her kid is calmly eating while yours is obsessing over wether he will be able to have more when his is finished and how much? How much, mama?
Adoption may be a bumpy road or it may be the smoothest of four lane highways, but I suspect for most of us it’s both.
But know this truth: that this is precious work being done and someone needs to do it, so if you’ve taken that plunge, bless you.
And if you’ve brought meals or run errands or offered laundry help in those murky, jet-lagged first days, bless you.
If you’re wrestling, bless you.
If you’re linking prayer arms with a love who is wrestling, bless you.
Because what ever metaphor adoption is, a road, middle school, a dance, it comes down to simple math: there are orphans waiting to be your plus one. They cannot imagine a day when they will be chosen; when their nannies will come to them with the little Snapfish album you spent far too many hours on and they will point to your picture and say, “mama” and this may mean nothing to the child because they have never known it, but someday, someday, he or she will be in your arms and you will begin to teach them this beautiful language of belonging. And it will be hard and beautiful and a million other things all mixed up and it. Will. Wreck. You.
So that even in the hard, you cling to the updates of people there right now becoming family and you’ll never stop thinking of the ones who are still waiting. Those sweet babies watching their roommates leave and finding themselves unchosen once again. Those nameless faces will haunt you. Let them be your motivation to pray for God to raise up families. Let them be the fan that builds up a fire in your belly to keep writing, speaking, fighting until they are all home.
Friend, this life will wreck you for something. Let it be the orphan. And then have the courage to take us all along for the ride so we can relive those first weeks with our babies, good and bad. Tell us your pretty and your ugly; we want it all.
Promise us you’ll take us along?
Just beautiful! Thank you! -Strombergadoption.com
We adopted 2 Koreans. Ecstatically wonderful. Mind numbingly painful. Amazingly joyful. Gut-wrenchingly hard. Worth. It.
This is so beautiful, thank you fro writing this!
Amazing. We brought home two angels about six weeks ago. It has been magical. I love the expression “plus one”, because just when I feel like I can’t handle anymore… my heart reminds me otherwise.
Thank you for putting into words so very eloquently what I’ve been thinking since we adopted our daughter in 2015. I’m writing this through tears , of relief I guess, to know other moms have some of the same raw pent up emotions whirling around in them on an almost daily basis … that I do.