I'm walking a new friend through the process of bringing a new son home from China. My heart is tender toward her and her family as they are wondering as many of us have to admit, "have I made a mistake?"
Yes, indeed I think we all have to admit that thought has crossed our minds at some level. And if it hasn't, you are one of those that has adopted the perfect child. Congratulations. I do believe some people have a more smooth transition than others do.
And if you have had that thought you can erase your guilt meter right now.
I wanted to write this not to put her or her family on the spot, but because I wish someone had told me some of these things at the beginning and given me some reassurance.
Let me start with this:
Our initial days with Lucas were filled with snotty booger nose crying for hours in China. Then it would let up and he would take off running down the hallway in the hotel. When we went to the really cool botanical garden with the rest of our group who primarily had toddlers an babies (a bit easier to control physically at least) he again took off running in a crowd of dark haired people which required us to chase him like maniacs and almost lose him. We went to this amazingly cool Chinese museum and I really have to admit I wanted to see the stupid place cuz it was super cool. But, he decided to have a complete meltdown and was psycho. I just have to say it. I was kind of mad that day. It was hard work sometimes. Other days we laughed and played, but he was into EVERYthing in the hotel room. He helped himself to the hotpot and kept heating up hot water and pouring it himself. Seriously? You are going to burn your entire body right here. But, no...he was perfectly capable at 7 to handle it. Really. He was actually quite impressive how much he could do independently.
Ah that's it.
He was not used to anyone really "controlling" him and telling him "no". And when we did. He was not very happy about it.
When we went to the outside park where we flew kites...he decided he wanted to ride a cool "car" that was for rent. It was one of those battery operated kid ride-on cars. He got really mad that we could not bring it home with us....TO AMERICA! oh boy!
It didn't help that we really could not communicate either. We were trying our hardest to get him to understand what family was, that we were here with him and we would be together forever, that we could be trusted, that he didn't have to do everything himself (hyper vigilance), that pitching a royal stinkin' fit including kicking, hitting, biting, spitting, screaming, throwing things...was not going to get him what he wanted or help disobedience. All this while he was trying to adjust to a completely new culture, new language, and even having a dog in our family that he could not beat with sticks.
Can I just be honest and say I felt like we were dealing with an animal sometimes.
Not all the time.
And when he was sweet, he was super sweet. He loved to cuddle and get close to us--on his terms. He was funny, and dramatic. He was passionate about many things. His heart has always been bigger than life. He feels things very deeply.
What I wish someone had told me in those initial days, was indeed "it will get better". Because some days, I questioned what we had done. I wondered if he was even capable of connecting and bonding with us. We could walk through days or even weeks with no issue and the whole thing would blow up again apparently out of nowhere.
Walking my new friend through her initial days has reminded me of that question in my mind. Even if someone had told me it will take 3 years, but you will get "a real boy" in the end...(please hear my heart in that--we had some very rough days--and I wondered if healing would ever really come)....I would say it is all worth it. Believe it or not I can now say..."it has all been worth it!" Wow that's a bold thing to say.
I know there are no guarantees with adoption. And woundedness may continue to show up at some level. And we have not entered the teen years yet. But, I must say, the hard days are less and less and the good days are more and more. When the mean words fly--"I wish I was never adopted into this family", "your not my real mom", "I don't care if I'm choking the dog"...they ease more quickly...and apologies and sweet hugs follow. He has learned terms like "regulation" and it's importance. We've learned each other's rythms and we know discipline looks different for him than we expected; food in his system is a HUGE need; sleep is essential; even after 3 years there are some little bleeps in understanding of language that still need to be worked out to help him fully comprehend some things and more.
It's a slow process. It tests everything that is in your soul. And it reminds you daily what our God has done when he adopted YOU into His family. Except His family was completely and totally perfect. Lest you think "your" family is perfect when you adopt...God will show you everyone has a breaking point. We thought the same thing and then questioned if it was the right decision sometimes. We did know we had made the commitment to stick with this boy. And for us that commitment has been the glue that has kept us moving forward. When we promised him "we will ALWAYS be here for you" we meant it.
We've also learned that we need to ask for forgiveness more than we ever thought.
We've seen Huge strides when we look back to those initial days.
Lucas is my hero.
He can make me so mad. He can hurt me so deeply. But, the things he says when times are "good" Far outweigh any of that. And his Spirit is so deep and passionate. I've never seen anything like it.
So I hope this encourages those who have the questions above.
The answers may vary but the truth is
"What was I thinking?" I wanted to follow God's leading in bringing a child into our family with the good the bad and the ugly. Was I fully prepared? nope! But, fortunately God gives me Grace and strength I never knew I had.
"Will he ever change?" yep! But, there may always be some underlying issues that we just need to realize we will deal with.
"Will things ever get better" yep! They already have and the blessings far outweigh the ugly. God is Greater!
Thank you Lucas for being a part of our lives and teaching us things we never ever knew we needed to be taught.
****disclaimer. I do know of great families that have had to "disrupt" an adoption for whatever reason. This is not a judgement on them for doing that. I'm just telling our story to offer hope to those like my new friend who may be questioning in the initial days what is going on in their family. And to offer hope that indeed things CAN get better with time. I do not pretend to be the final word on all families and/or situations. I just wish someone had told me healing was indeed possible and bonding and attachment would happen in ways I never expected.