Friday, May 21, 2010

Love and Adoption

A friend of mine had her baby last night.  A big, healthy baby boy that will change her life forever just by his presence outside of her body.  I want to tell her how his smile is going to burrow deep into the secret places in her heart.  Or how she will cry when he takes his first steps because there is no turning back from that kind of independence.

Parenting is an amazing metamorphosis of the soul.  I think if you took the fabric of my being, the cells that sustain my life, and looked at them under a microscope before and after becoming a parent, there would be a physical and noticeable change.  You can not bring another human being into the world and remain stagnant.

I remember when Prim came home.  I had an exhaustion both physically and emotionally as if I had given birth.  But instead of a sore body (and leaky boobs) I had an aching heart for a little girl who did not feel like my own because she had not claimed me as hers. 

It's one thing to parent and love a child that was birthed from your womb.  A child that you pridefully look at and boast the obvious physical connection from you or your spouse.  The lips, the hair, the eyes.  The way they wrinkle their nose in their sleep.  And, oh, those sweet baby fingers and toes.  But to hold a child that is-quite honestly-in the depths of despair, takes no solace in your soothing words or loving embrace, will change you.  Big time.

Let me go back to what I said about Prim not feeling like mine until she claimed me as hers.  It had nothing to do with not feeling like she was my daughter.  That girl was mine all right.  Look at her cross eyed and I'd turn into a version of myself that would probably leave you speechless.  She was mine from the minute I saw her.

But what I mean is is that I had to earn the privilege of being her mother.  I had to endure the crying, the screaming, the anguish.  I had to bear the brunt of her grief, her anger and loss.  I was not entitled to her love just because I was given the title of mother.

I had to wait.  My heart had to be patient.  I was on her time table, not my own.  You see, her DNA has changed.  She was a girl, living a sweet life with a big family.  She didn't understand that she was not theirs for keeps.  She had custom, language and routine that comforted her for twenty two months.  She had familiar mommy kisses and older sibling coddling.  She already had a family that she had faithfully given her little heart to.  And then we came.

And we left.

Together.

All of the familiar was gone.  All of the comfort taken.  We did not have to change our lives but she had to alter everything she knew to fit into our family.  I know that in many ways-ways in which I may not anticipate or foresee-it changed her.  Maybe not for the worse.  Maybe not for the best.  Change can often be a mixture of both. Oil an vinegar or cinnamon and sugar.  Only time will tell.  But sometimes, in quiet moments,  I think about that baby in Thailand and wonder who she would be if she were still there and not here. 

I don't know when it was that the real healing began.  I can't put a date to it, there was no message in the sky that announced YOU DID IT! in fluffy white letters.  But slowly, after seasons had changed, a few birthdays celebrated and many tears shed, I was still a life vest but Prim was no longer sinking.

She moved from surviving to living.

Gasping to breathing. 

Being.

And after a while, when she called me mom, I knew she meant it.  I knew she felt it.  There is room in her heart for me and that my friends, is a sweet place to be.


This post is dedicated to K & J and their beautiful baby boy 'Kawika'.  May God bless your journey with all of the joys and challenges that come with the privilege of parenting.   We love you.

4 comments:

Jay and Chandra and Penny Regan said...

This is a beautiful post! My daughter had moments when she was very angry and kept screaming, "Take me back!" But she was old enough to be able to communicate more of her feelings. She could tell me, "It's hard for me to trust anyone." Now she is in a stage where she is angry about many things from her past like the way the teachers and care workers hit her. She says she hates Bangkok and Udon Thani because they are stinky and not safe. She refuses to speak Thai to the owners of the Bangkok Asia Market. I keep reminding her that every place has both good and bad points and she said, "Yes, that's true." So, it will be a lifelong process, I'm sure to figuring out her identity. But, I'm so thankful for how her relationship to God is giving her a new sense of worth and self-confidence. She's becoming such a beautiful young woman from the inside out. It's out of the struggle that something new is reborn.

Mireille said...

This post moved me deeply April! You are such an eloquent writer! And I am glad that slowly its becoming a deep bond from both sides, these things take time, but love and patience conquers it all!

Wendy said...

April,

You have no idea how much admiration I have for you as a mom. I think knowing the extra special family from which our girls came, makes your posts about Grace's attachment resonate all the more with me. Having said that, even if our girls weren't connected in that way, I so appreciate how honestly and eloquently you write about this and other difficult parenting issues. My hat is off to you...and though we have never met, I am proud to call you my friend.

April said...

Dearest friends,
I could not do this without you. Period. You mean more to me than you know.
I say one day in the near future we plan a trip to get acquainted.
Love, April

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