Saturday, August 17, 2013

More Fragile the Fine China

When I decided to blog about this adoption journey I vowed to be honest, and so far I have.  I was honest about joys, anxiety, fear, anger, even my black tongue.  But during the paperchase, the wait, and even during our time in China most of what I have blogged about has only been about me, or all of the positives since Mercy has joined our family.  In the next few posts I want to share a little about the "hard" in adoption, at least from my experience so far.  

I have been so hesitant to write about the "hard" because blogging is permanent and I know some day down the road my daughter could and probably will have access to reading this.  I have wanted to be sensitive and protective of that day coming and what she will read.  So Mercy, if you ever read this I want you to know that while everything I write is true, raw, honest emotion, none of what I write reflects "you" being hard, it only reflects the adoption process being hard.  It reflects the my sinful human heart being hard. This is not about you, it's about mommy.  You are more than worth the hard and I love you more than you will ever know or understand.  It also does not reflect in any way us having any regret in adopting you.  There is NO regret because I can't imagine my life, hard or easy, without you in it as my daughter.

Adoption is hard.  I had a friend say to me this past week that she agreed 100% that adoption is hard.  She even ventured to say that it is the reason so many people don't adopt, because they know how hard it is so they steer away from it.  While I know adoption isn't for everyone (although it should be) if you have had even the slightest whisper from God drawing you to adopt don't let the "hard" scare you away.  Because I can assure you that while it is hard, it is so unbelievably worth it.  The reward is greater than the challenges.

This has been a tough three months for us on so many levels.  For starters we are a pretty active family and lead a pretty busy life, so to live three months with a clear calendar and very little running around has been tough.  One might think that it would be great to cut back activities and running, but it does get old after some time.  Turing down trips, turing down summer picnics, pool parties, invitations here and there and many other summer fun activities has not been easy.  Keeping to ourselves and limiting visitors when you are someone who lives for hospitality has not been easy either.  Keeping family and friends at a distance when you would normally see them all the time.  Giving up your mom coming every Wednesday night so you can get a date with your husband...that was really hard.  Scott and I haven't been on a date in three months.  Which only adds to difficulties.  When do we find time to communicate, connect, be alone?  Adoption is hard on a marriage.  It's hard on a family. 

Bonding and attachment is hard.  Mercy has bonded well to the idea of us being her caretakers.  She responds very well to both Scott and I and is willing to have either one of us meet her daily needs.  But that is where it stops.  She sees us as caretakers, no more no less.  While she is willing to be held by us, fed by us, put to sleep by us, she is still lacking an emotional attachment.  We have been told that we need to remember we are starting from scratch and emotionally we need to see her as a newborn.  But it's difficult to see a 2 year old, who acts like a two year old on a daily basis, as a newborn.  A newborn doesn't need discipline, a newborn doesn't tell you no or throw them self down in a temper tantrum or chuck toys at your head, spit on you (OK, maybe spit up, but that's different), hit you or demand to do things their way.  A newborn sleeps more than twice a day and doesn't require a constant reassurance that you are there as they wrestle to find the peace to fall asleep.  A newborn doesn't leave a room looking like a tornado swept through it.  So while logically I get the idea of seeing Mercy being emotionally a newborn, the reality is she is not a newborn, but a very active, very strong-willed, very needy two year old.  

I have had a few days in the past couple weeks when I have not felt an emotional connection with Mercy either.  Where I have felt more like her caretaker than her mommy.  It stunned me and brought about a condemnation like I have never experienced before.  This past Saturday I sat on my bed crying for hours because the guilt was all consuming that I have had days when I just didn't want to love and care for her with the deep love in my heart that I have had on other days.  I contacted my caseworker because it seemed serious enough to be addressed.  I felt like there was something wrong with me.  It was scary and I did have thoughts of wondering if we had made a mistake. (gasp)  Not because there is something wrong with her, but because there is something wrong with me.  Maybe I'm not capable of loving her they way she needs to be.  Maybe there is a better mom out there for her that can love her everyday, not just some days.  When I spoke on the phone with our agency I was frightened that as I was honest with them they may even think that they made a mistake.  Maybe they would want to seek another family for her right away.  The response I got in return was shocking to me:  "Jane this is very normal."  She reminded me that Mercy has only been with us for three months and emotional attachment for both the child and the parent can take years.  She reminded me that everything with adoption seems backwards.  She even went on to say that so many blog about their adoptions but they don't share the hard stuff for many reasons.  Fear of judgement being at the top (so DON'T judge me), or fear of your child reading it someday (like me).  That is what motivated me to write.  I don't want people to think everything is OK when it's not.  I don't want people to see me smiling as they pass by and think life is bliss now that she is home, because that's not true.

So what is true?  The truth is we have good days and bad days.  I know there are some that are reading this and saying well that's normal with biological children.  Yes, BUT, it really is different.  The hard days with biological children are different because at the end of the day you don't worry about having just destroyed any ounce of bonding and attachment progress you have just made.  I don't want Mercy to see me as her caretaker for the rest of her life, I want her to see me as her mommy.  I want to connect with her emotionally.  I want her to come running to me when she is hurt or scared.  Right now when she gets hurt, I run to her, and when I get there many times she pushes me away.  When she is scared, she screams and I mean screams and seeing my face or touching her does not bring comfort to that fear.  When my biological kids are hurt they find great comfort in a hug or kiss from mom or dad.  When they wake up in the middle of the night scared we walk into their bedroom and our very presence brings peace to their fear.  When thunder roars during a storm and my bio kids are scared they climb into our bed and they can fall asleep while it's still thundering.  Mercy on the other hand thinks she needs to comfort herself, at two years old.  It's heartbreaking.  I mean it is HEARTBREAKING!!!  

Everyday I am faced with the reality that this little girl is hurt and more fragile than fine China. (no pun intended)  It's hard to care for her and not live in a constant fear of breaking her more.  It's like one wrong move and she'll shatter to pieces.  But even though she is fragile, she is also tough.  She has walls built around her little heart at only two years old.  It makes me cry puddles for her.  This feels like to heavy a burden to bear and I feel nothing short of inadequate to raise this precious, sweet little girl.  Yet here I am with her sleeping beside me, faced with the challenge every single day.  A commitment I love and wouldn't change, but fear at the same time.

Here is the thing about this particular hard, it's a good hard.  Good for me, good for Scott, good for my kids, good for Mercy.  I know that while I don't see that on a daily basis I have to believe that there is good coming out of these difficult days.  I have to believe that God knew what He was doing when He chose me to be her mother.  He knows I'm not perfect, He knows my weaknesses, He knows my selfish heart, and He brought her into my life anyway.  I trust He knows what He is doing when I don't have a clue what I'm doing.  And I know that even if I do shatter her to pieces, as fragile as she is, He will heal every last broken piece of her and He will make her whole if she lets Him. 


  1. I'm glad you shared this.. in it's raw, real way... there is so much beauty in it.

    I was reading in Psalm 34 - because verse 18 came to mind as I read your post, Jane. And, this may sound cliche... (you know this) but He is the Master Potter. Isaiah 45: 9-11 talks about this.
    We wonder sometimes if God knows what he has made, done or is doing. But HE puts us in our to speak. He is.

    When broken...I was thinking that Jesus is the "glue".. and it is a strong and powerful bonding glue...that will mend those cracks and broken pieces of fine China... and in the end that piece, that heart, that life and relationship will be a much stronger, beautiful and useful vessel. (Ps. 147:3)

    Everything is in His hands.

    Love to you this day and heart felt prayers and hugs.

  2. Jane and Scott,

    It was so wonderful to talk to you both and as I read this today, it also makes me wonder how things will go with our little girl. We just received my hubby's visa today and TA as well just a few short hours later...its getting real now! I worry about the same things you do, but in the much as there is panic, there is also peace...because like Mercy is meant for you both, Leah is meant for us...but I am sure it will be hard for everyone involved. I so appreciate your candid thoughts and feelings about what you are going through and I needed to again hear what you are saying, before we get Leah home.....not just for us to be prepared, but also so that we can work with Leah in helping her attach and adjust to her new family. While you are going through the hard right now, your honest words are helping so many people tremendously. Us especially, so THANK YOU BOTH! We will continue to pray for Mercy and again, thank you for all your kind words of wisdom on the phone a few days ago...we all hope someday to have the chance to meet you all! :-)

    Lisa, Eddie, Brandon, Justin, and VERY soon Leah too!

  3. This.IS.SO.GOOD. Can't say more, cuz I'm in my own kind of hard but good hard. But it's good. Good stuff.

  4. One of the best posts I've ever read on an adoption blog. Thank you.