Eight

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Two weeks ago, this sweet girl turned eight.  And as I wrote yesterday, our relationship is unique and her heart is a mystery.  But God is writing the story and one day we will know the secrets she holds as He unfolds her heart.

Regardless of where our relationship is, she is our daughter, our family, and forever one of us.  And while God knits our hearts and joins our worlds, we wait for the redemption that is coming.

Happy birthday, my beautiful, mysterious girl.  I am thankful for you and for the privilege of being your mama.  I know one day we will dance naturally together.
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I love you,

Mama

Adoption: Two Years Later

She came home two years ago on March 29.  It was Good Friday.  And something that we prayed and labored for for two years came to a sort of completion but something we would pray and labor over the rest of our lives began.  A new daughter, a new life, a new story to weave into our own.

It started almost right after she came home.  I just called it a sort of “baby blues”.  My heart and mind were tired from the sudden upheaval of adding a new member (no matter how long the wait, it always comes suddenly).  I was emotionally drained from the years of waiting.  It would pass with time.  That’s what I told myself.

But as time went on, it really didn’t get better.  She seemed to be attaching well to everyone in the family except me.  The world around us acted as though she hung the moon.  My heart felt cold.

Time went on and she became one of us, as though she had always been here.  Sort of.  Her relationship with family and friends was normal.  Her relationship with her sisters was healthy and strong.  Her relationship with Matt was beautiful and unbreakable.  But she and I, we kept each other at arm’s length.  I, resentful and lacking confidence and more fully aware than ever of my short comings as a mother.  She holding back from me, guarded, untrusting.

The past two years we have danced this way, more of a line dance, side-by-side, than a slow dance, face-to-face.  Occasionally we will turn and draw closer and it will feel almost normal, almost natural.  Most days it’s an awkward relationship and feels like I’m forever babysitting someone else’s child.  An unnatural mother with my natural children, I don’t know how to reach out to connect with this one not born of my body who brings a six year long story I was not part of.  My four biological girls, I can look at their face, listen to the tone of their voice, and instinctively know so much of what is going on inside each of them without a word being said.  This littlest one holds secrets I may never know.  Her face and tone often betray something deeper, but she holds it all tight inside.  Only she holds the key.

The shame and guilt of being the mother who can’t attach has worn on me.  When you adopt, you read and prepare endlessly for the child who struggles to attach.  You walk into it with the awareness that the child may never be able to form healthy bonds if they were never formed in the first place.  But no one talks about when a parent struggles to attach, especially the mother.  Because mother-love is supposed to be instinctive and strong and deep and easy, that’s what the whispers in the dark tell me.  And what mother spends countless hours preparing paperwork and endless nights of tear-filled prayers longing to hold a child she did not carry and then builds walls around her heart once the child is home?  Satan assured me I was the only one and that I was the very worst mother possible.

A few weeks ago, in a post-adoption group that I am on in Facebook but don’t participate much in so it rarely shows up on my feed but this day it did, God gave me a grace-gift in the form of a woman sharing my story, except it was hers.  How she couldn’t attach or connect and the shame she felt and that her child had been home over two years and it was just finally starting click.  And a glimmer of hope flickered in my heart.  Not that Amania and I will connect soon; I dare not hope for that.  But hope that I am not alone in this painful place, just as I am not alone in the other dark areas of my life.

I do hope that Amania and I will one day have a natural, comfortable relationship.  That she will no longer look at me like there’s a story she cannot tell, but that our story will be written together.  I do not know when that will come or how long it will take or how hard we will have to work to get there.  But I find no small significance that our story starts on Good Friday – that day that Satan thought he won the victory, but God wasn’t finished.  Friday was dark and hopeless and terrifying.  But God was writing redemption and restoration and hope and beauty.

God’s still writing.  And in some parts of my heart and in parts of Amania’s heart it’s still Friday.  But Sunday’s coming….

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For His Glory ~

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First and Seven

Yesterday she celebrated her first birthday at home and there’s a certain bit of irony that it came while Mom and three sisters were out of town all day.  But still she celebrated, we all celebrated, because she is here, she is home, and she is seven.  And because we’ve only been counting down to her birthday since about a week after she came home a year ago.  🙂

AmaniaHopeWhen she entered our hearts and our hopes over three years ago now, she was one of us, yet unknown to us.  And God has worked in each of us to make her part of our family and make us part of hers.

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I think of how far she’s come, how much she’s grown, since that first meeting. And I think the same thing of my heart.

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And I think of how far we have to go.  I pray that the coming year brings her more security and a true knowing she will never ever ever again be left or abandoned.  That this truly is her forever family.

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I pray there will be a better understanding of her story and how she came to us, because there are so many questions.

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I pray she will continue to grow in humble confidence in the beautiful and talented girl God created her to be.

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I pray she will know that she is loved exactly how she is, regardless of how she looks, how she performs, how she speaks.  And I pray she will never stop trying to be more like Jesus.

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And I pray hard that she’ll never lose her joy.  I’ve never seen a child so characterized by happiness.  Yes, she cries and she pouts and she asks for things she doesn’t need.  But her default mood is happy.  And content.  And I think deep down she realizes the blessing she has that the rest of us take for granted.  And I feel my heart stretched even farther as I think about that.  Because this child who has had her family taken from her seems to know instinctively this gift we all take for granted….a family, imperfect and impatient and mundane and weird as they maybe, a family that loves us is a priceless gift and something to be happy about every day.

Happy “First” and Seventh birthday, Amania.  May you never lose the hope you have in Jesus.

Love,

Mama

The Difference a Year Can Make….

A year ago, I sat waiting and wondering.  I looked at pictures of a little girl far away.  I walked daily by her empty stocking and empty bed.  I wept, wondering when the process would ever end.  And I grieved, knowing she would not be joining us for Christmas.

A year later, she is home and we are all together and the whole season has light and life again.  I have new appreciation for those who grieve during the holidays, who feel keenly the absence of a loved one for any reason.  And I give thanks for our family united this year and the chance to celebrate all together – to see all my girls faces every morning, to hear their laughter, to share in their joy each day.

A year ago I heard this song by Third Day.  I had heard it many times before, but it was just a nice song.  But in the midst of the waiting and the wondering and the longing, it became an anthem that was listened to often last Christmas, always with tears.  And then I forgot about it when the season was over and the Christmas music turned off.

Until this year when it played again.  And the tears fell again, feeling those feelings once more and also rejoicing that the wait is over and we are on the other side of that song.

Joy Find #6 – all my girls home for Christmas

Merry Christmas  – Third Day

There’s a little girl trembling on a cold December morn
Cyin’ for momma’s arms
At an orphanage just outside a little China town
Where the forgotten are

But half a world away I hang
The stockings by the fire
And dream about the day
When I can finally call you mine

It’s Christmas time again but you’re not home
Your family is here and yet you’re somewhere else alone
So tonight I pray that God will come and hold you in His arms
And tell you from my heart, I wish you a Merry Christmas

As I hang the tinsel on the tree and watch the twinkling lights
I’m warmed by the fire’s glow
Outside the children tumble in a wonderland of white
And make angels in the snow

And half a world away you try
Your best to fight the tears
And hope that heaven’s angels come
To carry you here

It’s Christmas time again but you’re not home
Your family is here and yet you’re somewhere else alone
So tonight I pray that God will come and hold you in His arms
And tell you from my heart, I wish you a Merry Christmas

And Christmas is a time to celebrate the Holy Child
And we celebrate His perfect gift of love
He came to us to give His life and prepare a place for us
So we could have a home with Him above

It’s Christmas time again and now you’re home
Your family is here so you will never be alone
So tonight before you go to sleep, I’ll hold you in my arms
And tell you from my heart and I’ll tell you from my heart
I wish you a Merry Christmas

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For His Glory ~

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Our Haiti Baby Turns Six

So, my sweet Haiti girl turned six today.  And while we all celebrated with news of a Visa for her and plans to travel in a matter of days, I can’t help but wonder what she’s feeling, and I can help but think of her birth parents.

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Does she understand what’s about to happen?  How her world is about to turn upside down but she is loved and accepted and safe?  Can she comprehend a family, especially a strange American one, being forever?  Does she even know that it’s her birthday and does this day make her happy or sad?

And her birth parents.  Oh, them…  My heart has hurt for them a little bit more each day as her departure comes closer and closer.  I know they made the choice and I believe they did it out of love for her, choosing life for her future.  But do they keep a calendar? Do they know what today is?  What does her mother feel when she thinks about her?  How much do they miss her laugh, her beautiful smile?  Do they have dreams for her future in the States?  Do they pray for her?

Oh, beautiful Amania Hope, we are so thankful for you and so thankful that you will soon be joining us here, in your home.  We are excited to finally have you with us, everyday.  And while this is a day and season of celebration – your birthday, your home coming, we also realize this is a time of sadness as you leave your homeland, the family that gave you life, and the family you have known and loved for as long as you can remember.  We will rejoice with you and we will mourn with you and we will respect you in this process.  This adoption thing is a beautiful mess, but it’s given by God to all of us, and so we know that it is good and it is for His glory, because He loves us.

We love you, Amania.

For His Glory ~

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A Simple List (and a few precious photos)

Computer finally restored.  A busy day of catching up and getting ready and staying on task.  A quick moment here to chronicle the gifts, the thanks.

1477.  release from physical therapy

1478.  the second ten year old

1479.  restoring files for the second time

1480.  a flipped breaker switch that means restoring files for the third time

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1481.  a God who hears my cry and speaks to me deeply during my quiet time

1482.  successful birthday party

1483.  sweet friends for my girls

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1484.  celebrating another year of God’s provision

1485.  overflow

1486.  pictures worth more than a thousand words, more than a thousand thanks

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1487.  computer completely restored…just in time

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As Christmas celebrations draw closer and calendar squares nearly burst with activities, may we all be able to pause and remember the One True Gift and all that He so faithfully provides.

For His Glory ~

~ Sara