January 14, 2011

White Flag pt. 2

It began when we brought Ray home.

Parts of my heart...parts that I didn't really know were there. They surfaced. Wicked, bane, selfish, silly, mean, cruel, childish parts of my heart were chiseled and peeled back as we started to become family. They are still being peeled back. As scared as I was about learning to love her. As sad as I was about her pain. More than anything; I was absolutely horrified by my own feelings. I knew I should be a better person. I knew more was expected of me. It just hurt so much worse than I thought it would to love someone...differently. To take my heart and tell it that everything it felt. Everything it had done in the past. That all was great--but totally useless. To be rejected. To not be idolized by sleepy newborn eyes. To feel stupid. To feel like I had just jumped off a cliff and was free-falling. It sounds so ridiculous. But it's true. It's like the epitome of humiliation and failure, to plan, spend, love and risk so much on someone...and then see how clueless you were. I realized I had never really been asked to love so unselfishly. Ever.

I was not good at learning.
But, inch by inch we moved...closer. I had to learn loving someone side by side. Not by engulfing them in a bear hug of mommyisms. No gentle kicks inside the womb. No soft, contented sighs while breastfeeding. Sometimes we had to make our history; others, we just had to let it happen. Let go. I had to learn to love in small, small ways. Sharing graham crackers. Bending down to talk to her. Hand feeding her candy. Learning to love everything about her face, her body, her personality. Wondering who she looked like, and not feeling sad that it wasn't me. Seeing her heritage as one so much more wonderful than I had ever grasped before. Not just her mother and father in Ethiopia. Not just how she was loved by me, my husband, my other children, my family, my friends. But the heritage of being a child of God. It blew my mind. Teaching her the fine art of being thrown in the air and caught by someone you love without peeing your pants. Getting tickled without having the Moro reflex. Important things like that. Dancing and "singing." Rocking with bottles...and knowing that the second the bottle was empty, she would jet. Some days felt normal. Some days we cuddled and laughed. I was proud of her. I loved her. She was precious. She was adorably silly and cute. I knew that her life was ordained by God. Despite my heart. I forced myself to go back to my childhood. To journal entries about adoption. To the way it had changed my own legacy, because of my father's adoption. I forced myself to remember that we are ALL adopted. But it still hurts. I expected her pain. I did not expect mine. I thought I would only feel loss for her. I didn't think I would feel loss for myself. I didn't think it would look so ugly and selfish. Some days I would walk away from her crying, with complete apathy. I would watch numbly as her brothers and sisters swallowed her whole with giggles, hugs and kisses...and I felt lost. Some days I looked at the clock, waiting for my job to end. And, then would feel the vice of terror around my heart as I realized my. job. would. NEVER. end. She was never, "going home." This was her home. I was her home. Well...Jesus was her home. But that's what I didn't get at first.

Jason helped me through the worst times. 
He told me to shut the hell up when I told him he would never understand what I felt. He would add ridiculous sentiments of logic and levelheadedness that could not exist in my sorry sea of emotions. And when I sobbed for hours he would wrap his arms around me until my self-loathing and useless worry faded for little while.

God helped, too. 
Mostly by shocking me with the thought...that it didn't matter. I didn't have to do this just right. I guess He knew all along how crazy it would feel. He sent people into my life to remind me of His promises.  He knew my heart. He knew all that ugliness was there anyway. Stupid. He loved me then. He loved me now. He loved Ray better than I did. He loved me better than I could. I think I've just touched the surface of His love. And...just like little Ray would  turn her back to ME in the beginning. Sometimes I'm afraid that's what I do to this crazy love God offers...

We survived.
(Not the same as, "arrived." But we are going to be okay. I know that.)
I don't have terrifying panic attacks about Ray anymore. I'm not so mean. (Yes. I was mean.)  I don't always feel rejected when she rejects me. I get that she's really not rejecting me. She's just rejecting new. New feelings, new touch, new coping. Mind Bomb: I'm also starting to understand that. it's. not. ABOUT. ME. She's not even always, "rejecting" anything. She just doesn't freakin' understand what the heck she is supposed to do! She JUST started wrapping her arms around my neck when I hold her. I used to think she didn't do that because she didn't like being so close (which was partially true) but I realized recently...she didn't KNOW she was supposed to do that. She didn't know she could.  She was watching Grant hang on my neck and climb up me one day...and it just clicked. "Ah, how nice. Your arms can go around their necks. How handy!" I don't project my anger at her so much  (as if she had ANY choice in all this). I'm letting go of her fulfilling my expectations. (You think you won't have any expectations for your child; but you do. You have a WHOLE list of things you expect this child to do for you in your new life together. Admit it now and mooooo-ve on.) I'm getting better at letting her just be herself. I see how God loves me and keeps pursuing my cold, hard heart. I think that the pain I've gone through during the past year must be nothin' compared to what I've put God through...

White Flag pt. 3


  1. Wow, we adopted 2 kids from Ethiopia nearly 1 year ago, and this is exactly, exactly the way I have felt. It is my experience too. I was shocked by my own reaction, pain, grief, feelings of loss, when I completely expected theirs. Then, over time, it began to turn around - and still is.
    Thank you.

  2. This was beautiful, and so heart-felt. Thank you for sharing it.


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