For a bit now, I have wanted to write a post about some of the hard and glorious things about adoption. Maybe because we're dealing with some hard stuff right now with one of mine. A pretty certain post traumatic stress diagnosis has left me feeling sad for my child, a bit overwhelmed by the need for healing, and a bit wore out because of the day to day grind of behaviors that come from anxiety and a heart hurt by trauma.
But I just didn't really have the right words. Then I read this. Someone beat me to it. Adoption is hard and glorious and hard and sacred and hard and joy filled. The words of this sum up so much of what it is really like to be an an adoptive parent. So many of the hard parts of healing that she writes about, I have experienced. And yet I've been witness to so much of the joyful parts too.
We as adoptive parents enter that journey of redemption with them, we take on their pain, we take on their grief…..
We sit with them when they are crying and grieving
We watch them glaze over or shut down when there may be too many people around, or they have too much stimulation.
We take them off the playground because some other child has startled them so badly its reminded them of being in the orphanage and they can’t stop crying
We sit with them during night terrors, not allowed to touch because that will set them off even more.
We sit through pediatric, dentist, ENT, cardiac, orthopedic, and so many other specialist doctor appointments while our child flails and cries and yells because their only experience with doctors has been rough and hurtful, and without compassion..
We fill out form after form that serves as a constant reminder our child was once an orphan because we don’t have the answers for family medical history
We get to hear “they are so lucky to be in your family” when when we know nothing about their past wast was lucky….
We find we can’t put footed pajamas on our child because our child was restrained at some point in the orphanage and this triggers terror
We get asked question after question about their “real parents”
We get asked what’s wrong with our kids feet, or eyes, hands, or head
We hear them yell “don’t leave me mommy” when we leave to run an errand, knowing they remember being left by their birth mom
We get stares and second glances and questions about how much our kids “cost”
We have to go to their rooms to see if they have woken up in the morning because they have learned not to cry upon waking, because no one comes
We find food under their pillows, stashed away in their rooms because the fear of running out of food is still so fresh in their little minds
We sit with them when they cry that cry that takes our breath away
We love them through the screams and tantrums and screams of “you’re not my mommy”
We see them regress and shutter at the sound at someone speaking Mandarin or their native language to them.
We rub our hands on the back of their sweet heads, so flat from being left in crib for hours on end – a reminder for life that they were left alone, left too long….
We get to see them blow bubbles for the first time
We get to see them slide down a slide and play on a play ground for the first time
We get to see them try a new food for the first time
We get to see them slowly gain trust in us
We get to hear our deaf child say “I love you” after of weeks of hard work and determination to communicate.
We get to see them try cotton candy for the fist time and see the cutest sticky faced grin!
We get to see their hair start to grow, their little ribs not to show so much, and they finally get to be “on” the growth chart at the doctors
We get to see them gain the strength to sit up at 24 months of age, to stand, and to begin to walk.
We get to tell our story to complete strangers and see them smile
We get to see their lips turn pink for the first time in months after their heart surgery
We get to see them light up around their new brothers and sisters, establishing relationships that will last a lifetime!
We get to experience all their “firsts” through their eyes
For me, these words speak volumes about the realities of adoption and the hopefulness that adoption can bring. For whatever reason, right now, I've been stuck in a lot of seeing on the reality of a hurt heart. But there are glimpses of hope and bright dashes of resilience.
I know this looks like not much to most. But it's hope and healing, fashioned out of craft foam and Elmer's glue. See that candy. That's from a kiddo who values food a lot. Who picked through her Halloween candy to find a Reece's to put on Papa's because that's his favorite. Who just asked a question of a counselor last week, who wanted to know if you can get unadopted. Who was told no. Who wrote the answer to that on a notecard to bring home to her brothers. Who then wrote the words "foreaver" next to the words "Dad" and "Mom." Hope, healing, joy-it's there. It really is.