A NOTE TO THE READER: This is one post in a series of posts that will share the story of how I came to know and grew to love my daughters who were adopted at fourteen years old, mere days before they aged out of the adoption system. It does not reflect my feelings now. If you are joining me in the midst of the series, you can access the whole story by clicking on The Silent Months on the top menu bar of my blog. I choose to share my story to address a topic that is taboo in the adoption community. I share it to normalize the feelings that so many feel and yet are too ashamed to share. I share it to provide support to those who feel alone because there’s a big white elephant in the room, and no one can talk about it. I share it in support of adoption, in support of every single precious child waiting for a family, every one of which deserves to be loved and is lovable, every single one. Why can’t we talk about it? The feelings are real. The process of attachment can be easy and it can be painful, and the more we support parents who experience the painful side of adoption, the more we help the children. There are far too many disruptions, especially of older children, and if we as a community can come to see the feelings and the process as normal, perhaps we can provide support to those families and in doing so, help the children. Adoption is rooted in pain and loss, and often the process is painful. AND it’s okay. Before you offer your criticism, please read, Eliza Today, A Preface, and God’s Heart and Workers for His Harvest Field .
Somewhere between the lines of my message of discouragement and frustration, my friend saw a desperation and a need beyond what I had intended to express. She immediately began looking for a way to help me, to help our family.
Within a couple of days, she and another friend had found a precious loving family who offered to take the girls for a couple of weeks to give us a break. I was shocked at first.
if you are humble nothing will touch you, neither praise nor disgrace because you know what you are. -Mother Theresa
I didn’t need a break. And I couldn’t let them go. How could I? How could I let these precious girls that I had poured my love into, poured myself into, that I had rocked and held and nursed through sickness and through surgery, these girls, my girls for whom I’d prayed, and promised to love forever as my own dear children?
What would I tell them? Would I say that I was sending them away from their family of ten months for a little break? Would I say that I was sick and needed a rest? And why would I need a break from them but not our biological children? And they weren’t bad. It was never that the girls were bad. I never want to imply that. In some ways they even behaved better than our bioligical children. And the reality was, I had withdrawn from all of our children.
Yet it was the endless needs that drained me. The endless reaching out to me, the calling of my name every 30 seconds, the following of me into every room I entered, the endless need for me, that had precipitated my need to withdrawal from my family. It was my inability to understand Eliza and connect with her that was tearing me apart, not her special need.
The many needs of my family were unravelling me , but Eliza was healing, growing strong in the love of our family. She had noticed me growing weaker, and perhaps even my pulling away, yet she loved me still. She’d say in her broken English, “You eat, Mama? You need eat. You not fat.”
And I would take her in my arms and tell her I loved her and how precious she was to me.
Then I would retreat into my room in anxiety and, always, the utter loneliness and despair that my feelings were too awful to share would over come me.
I didn’t want to let the girls go even for a couple of weeks. Yet I was truly in need of a break. And the girls had been complaining about being bored a lot last summer. It was conceivable that we could tell them there was a family who lived in the country and wanted to have them visit for a couple of weeks, that they would have fun and that people do send their children to camps and friends in the summer time in the United States.
I knew they wouldn’t want to go. I knew it would scare them, and even though inside I felt like my whole world was falling apart, I was still loving them with my actions every day.
Yet, I had my friends encouraging me to take a break, and deep inside I knew I needed something to change. Deep inside I knew I needed a break.
So we told the girls they were going. We presented it in a positive light, but I knew they were afraid. Within two days we were driving half way to meet the family who had so graciously offered to take the girls and give our family a rest.
When we reached the place where we had decided to meet. I hugged Evangeline and told her I loved her. She asked me with sadness in her eyes, “Mommy, are you really coming back?”
“Yes,” I said without hesitating. “I will be back. I promise.”
When I hugged Eliza, and told her I loved her, she just said, “I love you too Mommy.” She didn’t ask me if I’d be back. And I didn’t bring it up. I think she expected me to come back. We had talked of this as only being a visit. Yet I think in the back of my mind I had started to really doubt my ability to be her mother.
“Of course I’ll hurt you. Of course you’ll hurt me. Of course we will hurt each other. But this is the very condition of existence. To become spring, means accepting the risk of winter. To become presence, means accepting the risk of absence.”
― Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince
And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. (1 Peter 5:10 ESV)