The Real Adoption Story (part 1)

If you know me, you know I am very transparent. If I am struggling, I will tell you. In a world of cropped and filtered images, I'm going to tell you adoption with raw, unfiltered words.
I will say this, I have struggled with putting this out there for many reason, but I truly believe that it is both therapeutic for me, and important to acknowledge. I'm certain it isn't popular in the adoption community, but I have very raw and real feelings, and I want to capture them so that I can go back one day and say, "Yes, that was when I needed God the most, when I was desperate, and look at what he has done" because I believe, without hesitation, that He is working behind the scenes, in the dark places of my heart, and in the reality that we are struggling in.
Our adoption day began with excitement, nervousness, and uncertainty. I literally felt like I was about to run a race, with my adrenaline pumping, and tears welling up in my eyes for the hours leading up to it. This face that I had seen on the screen, the one I clearly felt the Holy Spirit impress upon my heart to make our own, the one I had struggled with mountains of paperwork and endless signatures and trips to the post office for, was about to be materialize in the middle of the Civil Affairs Office in Changsha. I just knew that my heart would burst with love and excitement and the beautiful feelings that you have when you have built up a moment in your mind and played over and over again in your daydreams. But my heart didn't burst. I didn't feel love. I felt the overwhelming brevity of what I had so passionately pursued for months rush upon me as this sweet face called me "mama" and I felt panicked. I felt nothing but panic.
We were prepared for him to cry. We were prepared for us to cry. We were prepared for almost any possibility, except for the possibility of not loving him instantly. I know that might sound crazy, but after all of those months of looking at his sweet smile on the screen, and hearing about how badly he wanted a family, I never fathomed that having in him in my arms would make me weep with sadness and confusion instead of tears of joy and elation. I kept thinking, this is not normal. This CAN'T be normal. But it is. The puffy eyes and huge smile that you see in our first photo as a family are not what they seem. I am telling myself to "smile big" because, one day, you will want your son to think that this was one of the happiest days of your life. My eyes are puffy because of the huge flood of emotion from finally picking up our boy. From finally seeing him and holding him. From realizing that we are his parents and he is our son. From seeing him hunched over in the seat, unable to even sit upright on his own. From the realization that he is completely dependent upon us for all of his needs. And I am terrified.
In that moment, I didn't pray. I didn't want to pray. I wanted to run. I wanted to run back to my home, to my other two kids, to the comfort of my own bed, my own language, my comfortable life.
But I didn't.
I held that boy in my lap, smiled and hugged him, and went through all of the motions that those "gotcha day" photos show everyone else doing.
For the next several days, I fell into a depression. I prayed. I didn't hear anything. I asked a few close friends for prayer. I found myself going through the motions of caring for him in ways I had never prepared myself for (although there is really no way to prepare), and grieving my "old" life. I hadn't had to do that in years. I didn't miss it. I still don't.
I kept praying.
I kept feeling nothing.
Today I felt something.
We had gone to our medical appointment and he had done very well. We told him we were proud of him and he had been so brave. Our guide took us to the Walmart down the street and we grabbed a couple of things for Finn to eat that he liked. The orphanage provided LOTS of sweets, so we were trying to balance it out. After we had grabbed a basket of juice and snacks, we went to the checkout. That's when it began. We didn't buy him the gum that he had asked for. I won't go into full detail, but by the time we had gone back to the hotel, he was crying and starting to make a scene. Then up to our room, and he was screaming.
Hell hath no fury like a child who didn't get his gum.
I could feel my heart beating in my ears. I was thinking, "I can NOT deal with this". We knew he was use to getting his way, but this, THIS was beyond what I could handle at that moment.
As I tried to communicate that he was in time out for his behavior, and he was screaming in my face as hot tears poured down his. Then, my heart suddenly softened. God was pouring grace upon me for my son. In the midst of the blood-curdling screams and thrashing about, I picked up my son, braced myself for an onslaught of physical abuse, and just held him. I told him, "I love you" over and over and over (in his own language) very softly in his ear. I want to tell you that, at that moment, everything was fine and he calmed down, but he didn't.
After finally connecting with our guide, she as able to communicate with him on the phone and calm him down.
He was still reeling over the gum.
But it wasn't the gum.
It was all of his emotions bubbling to the surface. Emotions that I can't begin to understand. At that moment, all I could do was love him, or at least show him what love looked like.
I have heard many times that love is not a feeling, it is an action. It is an action that you have to purposefully and relentlessly pursue. That is how I will love Finn until the unconditional love of a mother materializes.
After a huge bowl of noodles, and a 4-hour-nap, we had peace again....


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