Thursday, May 29, 2014

The Marathon

I feel rather contemplative lately.

Maybe it's the end of a school year.
Maybe it's that Mother's Day and Father's Day surround the trip where Mali was added to our family.
Maybe it's that sun and warm temps encourage me to think positive, thoughtful thoughts.
Maybe it's because I realize how very far I've come.

Thoughts have been swirling through my head about this crazy, wild ride called adoption, both what we expected and what it has been.

I shake my head at my own level of naivety. I can hear my younger self (because I have aged more than just a few years in the past year) telling people, "Oh yes, adoption will be so great. We've been called to it. The kids are ready for adding a sibling. And we home school. Is there any better way to build a family than by spending our time together and cuddling on the couch reading books?" I shake my head in embarrassment.

I thought I'd be so much farther: a model for trusting God and peace written across my brow. I had unrealistic images of a family bonded by true love and trust. I imagined myself a vocal advocate for adoption and for the one million orphans.

Instead, I tremble in knowing fear as I listen to those I dearly love consider what we are walking through. I pray hard and encourage such prayer for those who've adopted from foster care, an older child, a tramatised child. I'm not ready to encourage someone into what has happened to us. But I can say that we haven't walked alone. Jesus was walked next to us each step. He's heard my cries. The Holy Spirit has been present in this home, even in the midst of day-long, multiple tantrums from multiple people, myself included. God has provided answers and glimmers of light in the darkness.

Our therapist likes to use a marathon as analogy for this attachment/trauma journey. And lucky me, I've run one, so I know exactly what it's like. The thrill at the beginning. Settling in for the long haul. There are a couple times when you're able to grab a pit stop or a slice of orange or a sip of gatorade. And these little breaks keep you going.

Until you hit The Wall.

At 20 miles you start to loose sight of those you were running with.
At mile 22, you look around and you are completely alone. On a long lonely stretch of asphalt. You know that there are at least 2 miles before you see people again.


And you hurt all over. All you want to do is lie down and quit, but you know that if you do so, you may not get back up. Walking hurts more than running and every step is searing itself into your muscles.

You have to keep going. I have to keep going.

But then, just when you can't take another step, you're cursing yourself for ever thinking you could run a stupid marathon, there's a glimmer of hope. An encouraging voice, the sound of cheering in the distance, the end in sight.

What's my point? I don't know. These are the things I've been thinking of lately.

Adoption is hard. God is faithful.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

The days are long, but the years are short....

My dearest Mali May,

One year ago, this happened:

Gotcha! May 15, 2013

May 15, 2013, you walked into the conference room at Beautiful Gate. And into our family. (Well, technically you were a Beuker in late April, but on this day you became 'ours.')

I remember you walking in with your head held high, such bravery on your face. It seemed like only a few moments passed before you plopped yourself onto my lap. To me, not knowing anything about you, you seemed so sure of yourself. You knew that we were your 'family', whatever that meant and had resigned yourself to your fate. 

I remember that on your first night in our family, you didn't cry and only one tear leaked out. That broke my heart. Since then there have been many, many tears (and a couple tantrums ;)). But also lots of hugs, laughter, smiles. 

One year later, here we are. 

You have grown so much. Physically (10 lbs/6 in. in 12 months), emotionally, and socially. There's been so much to learn: English, American food, the winter that never ended with snow and cold, new routines, new toys, how to be friends. 

You, my sweet one, have been so very, very brave. You had no idea what it meant to belong in a family. The rules, the structure, the siblings, being dependent on 'Mom' and 'Dad'. There is a lot of hurt in your past. You're still learning to trust, what it means to share people and know safety and love. 

And I'll confess, this has not been easy for me either. I've had to learn how to be a new kind of mom. I've never been an adoptive mom before. I didn't know how to earn trust that had always been implicitly given to me by my other kids. I still learning how to earn love from a broken heart. I've wanted to hide from our struggle so many times, but you would always draw me back to you with that bright smile, your deep need, that brilliant laughter, a simple statement of trust. I never knew how much trust was spoken with a head resting on a shoulder until it took 10 months to earn it from you. 

I'm trusting that now that our first year is behind us, we only have hope in our future. Hope for sweet smiles and deep laughter, hope for shared secrets and quiet, honest moments together, hope for unity as a family and trust from mother to daughter.

Someday, you're going to read these words. And I want you to hear my heart. Despite everything we've been through this year you are a forever part of this family. 

I love you, I will never stop loving you. 

Easter Sunday 2014