Yesterday morning I woke up at my usual pretty-early a.m. and opened my email inbox as part of my pre-waking kids routine. There I saw another post from a yahoo group called AOK (adopting older kids from China) – a group dedicated to families who have chosen this less traveled route and are offering mutual support and encouragement. The email digest was filled with the usual questions and concerns – most of which are incredibly sobering and often heartbreaking. A recent Reuters news article was referenced, talking about the incidence of Reactive Attachment Disorder and other mental health issues in older adopted children. The numbers are seriously high in children adopted older in life, as many of you can imagine.
Then last night I got an email back from a professional serving us in the adoption process who mentioned in passing that she is glad we are enjoying the “honeymoon phase” of adoption. And I felt like the words somehow triggered fear for me, the fear of what is ahead. What comes after the honeymoon??
Inside of me are two huge feelings. One is unspeakable joy . . . the delight of a mother in discovering her new daughter. Imagine your heart looking at your newborn child. I feel that a thousand times a day. I discover her . . . . and I am completely smitten with this beautiful child. David and the kids are sometimes annoyed that I think even her whiney voice is cute. She is absolutely precious, absolutely adorable. Not only that but she was in a need of a home, all the way across the world. And we found each other. And for that I am in complete awe. Everything about this seems miraculous.
But there is another feeling that rears it’s ugly head inside of me some days. Sometimes I feel fear. I wonder what else is inside of her. I listen to the cautions of the adoptive community who tell me that she is ” very likely” to have issues. Sometimes, when she is sleeping, I feel like there is a ticking time bomb in my house. I have to go in and look in her face and smell her to remind me of who she is. Of her wonder, her glory, her beauty, her precious purity. Because some days I am afraid of what I have taken on. I am afraid of her. Of what the tragedies in her life have done to her heart, her mind, her spirit.
Brene Brown talks about how we can anticipate bad things as a way to cope with our fears. How parents of newborns often look at their sleeping child and then imagine them dying. This is a way of pre-grieving, a futile effort to protect ourselves from the enormous potential pain of loss. Brene shares the stories of couples whose spouses have died in accidents or through illness. She asks them if they wish they had known, if they could have prepared through realizing that death was coming. Without exception every single one said that NOTHING could have prepared them for the loss, and that they are so glad they did not anticipate it’s arrival but instead lives their days in joy until it came.
But I believe, stupidly, that I WANT to know. This is occasional desperation. I want to know if she will have problems; if she is merely settling in before all the awful manifests itself. I want to know when the honeymoon stage will end and what the next stage will look like. I want to know because I want to change it. I want to protect her. I want to protect myself. I want to spend that extra time eye to eye with her, that extra time playing next to her, that extra time cuddling her after she has fallen asleep, that might possibly stop what could be ahead. I want to be good enough to make things right.
This, this is an old friend. This “good enough” mantra. That if only I try hard enough, be enough, do enough, think-ahead enough . . . . then those I love will be alright.
And it is a faith-less friend. A betrayer. For I have never been enough. But Jesus always is. When I say that “grace covers me” I mean that there is beauty for brokenness, that there is joy for mourning, that I do not have to be good enough because the air shimmers with mercy.
But I have a choice, don’t I? I have the choice to pre-anticipate what might be around the bend and to fear it, even in it’s anonymity; or to live with my whole heart fully in love right now. When we get on the trampoline, her and I, I can jump like crazy and laugh till I pee. Or I can jump very carefully and watch the edges to make sure she will not fall.
Her choice is clear.
What will mine be?
I covet your prayers today.