Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Big Adoption Series - Chapters 13 - 17

Chapter 13 - click here.

Chapter 14 - click here.

Chapter 15 - click here.

Chapter 16 - click here.

Chapter 17
Here's the whole truth and nothing but the truth: Our transition with Silas has been a difficult one. And then, every once in a while, it's a slice of pie. It's not that I purposely kept this information to myself. He just happens to time things so well that precisely when it gets bad enough that I need to talk about it, it's over. I'm also hyper-aware of what I put in print about my kids, because I know that once something is unleashed to the universe, it's unleashed for real and forever. I try to be aware of the fact that they may, one day, dig this stuff up and take a peek. I hope they do! But no one wants to think that they are remembered as the "difficult" child.

And yet. My mind has been digging to the other hemisphere over the past week or so, and I've found some truths that deserve to be told. Part of my hope in writing this series is that some of you - many of you? - will lay down your hesitations and your excuses and your misgivings and your "that's great for you, but it's not for me"s, and you'll wrap a child without a family into your own. So, I talk about what a gift it is. Listen to me. Look at my eyes. It is a gift. But it is not without challenges and sacrifices. And yes, most of you could tell me a thing or two about the sacrifices and challenges of birthing biological children, but this is different. It is probably not harder, and it's probably not easier, but it is, quite possibly, more complicated. At times, it is knock-the-wind-out-of-you unexpected. It is raw like a tender baby knee on asphalt. It is real like the ground you walk on.

I remember those first nights, even the first weeks, thinking to myself, "In six months most of this will be over. We will be past the really hard stuff." Of course, six months stretched out in front of me like an eternal Summer with no air conditioner in sight, but I survived an entire childhood of those Summers, so I knew that eventually, the sun retreats and you fall asleep in that delicious air that happens but for a moment - not too hot, not too cold. Air so perfect that you don't even notice it is there.

Siley has now been with us for eight months. We have had days dotted with sprinkles and days so dark that I couldn't tell you one good thing about them.

Last week was a long strand of dark days. Not pitch black, but almost. Dusk turned to grey, then dusted over with charcoal, and inched slowly, precarious toward tarry, painful black.

After eight months, I told myself that we would be able to toss black right out of the color box. Eight months is over half a year! But then I remember that we have 10 months to go until we are "even" with the length of his first life. Maybe then the playing field will be leveled, and I hope it is, but I'm realizing every day that once we're even-up, we still have work to do. Our job is to make our precious boy's heart feel held. Telling him every night that we will never leave him, that we will always love him, is one thing. Making him know it for sure is another.

Here's what I learned last week: I learned that there might be times when I look at the face of my child and hear the whisper of a heart-breaking lie that he may never love us. In that moment, I just might believe that lie. But in the very next moment that follows, I will trump those ugly enemy words with the comforting weight of a truth which I have never held before. It doesn't matter if he never loves us. Our love for him is not dependent upon his love for us.

That truth sustained me through nights where my baby physically turned his body so that he did not have to look at me. It sustained me when he called to me from his crib, then thrashed violently to be freed from my arms, preferring to stand alone in the dark. In those moments, I felt the spotlight of grace shining down on me. It allowed me to keep my wits and feel not-alone and as we sat/stood in that baby room, the pin-dot of light grew wider. I realized there was room enough for both of us there, in that grace. So, I shared.

Bathed in grace, I remembered that Silas no longer hits us with the intent to hurt us. He doesn't scratch at our faces. He has learned that shrieking his way through the day works for no one.

Every day, I crawl out to that grace-baked rock and I lie down until the warmth and the truth permeate me, until the light radiates right back off of me. Only then do I remember that while it seems like an impossible task to balance cuddles and trust with discipline and boundaries, it's the flour and the sugar of the cake. We stir that bowl every day, throwing in some of both, and the end result is the learning of love.

He is learning that we love him. He is learning to love us back.

This baby that fills up my heart and every now and then chips a tiny piece off, sacrificed everything he trusted to be ours. It takes time to learn love.

So my burner has been dialed back to low. There's no rushing this. We will take the good with the bad and be reminded just how far we have come in eight short months. We will simmer here, for as long as it takes - forever - until all that separates, all that is no good on its own, is distilled down to the thick, amber syrup of love that is fully known.


Join me here next Wednesday for Big Adoption Series - Chapter 18

(To catch up on Chapters 1-12, click here and start from the bottom.)