Archives for category: Adoption

Today is our first Forever Family Day – the day we met and held Nathan for the first time. These thoughts are inspired by the importance of this day.

Forever

On the spur of the moment I sing new words to an old song.

 I am your Mama

Your forever Mama.

I’ll never leave you, you’ll never leave me.

I’ll always love you, forever and ever.

I am your forever Mom.

*to the tune of You are My Sunshine

I then continue into another…

I’ll love you forever

I’ll like you always

As long as I’m living 

My baby you’ll be.

*to a tune I made up

and then I finish it off with…

I love my baby boy

I love my baby boy

I love my baby boy

to the moon and back!

*a song and tune I made up

Nathan breaks into a wide smile at the first mention of forever, but as I continue his eyes get serious, only an occasional flicker of a smile crosses like a bit of sun on a cloudy day. Most Mamas sing these types of songs to their babies, but not every child soaks them up like a parched flower as much as my boy does. He needs to hear these words. In the deepest part of his spirit is a place that isn’t quite sure that my love his forever, that this family will last, that he can trust me, and that he never has to be alone again.

You might have heard and taken as truth the idea that trauma that happens to young children does not affect them because they are too young to remember. This is a myth. Fiction. A lie.

When children, even babies, experience trauma, it becomes a part of them. Even before the sorts of conscious memories we associate with the word memory form, our bodies have an ability to remember. It gets hardwired into a baby living in an orphanage that they might not matter and that they cannot trust people to care for them. The way this works out in their life varies depending on personality and situation, but the damage is the same.

New mothers hold babies close, cooing, feeding, and staring into their eyes out of instinct, yes, but also out of necessity. This is how babies survive to grow up. Humans need to know they matter and that their needs will be met. They need to know there are constants in life that they can trust.

For a child who has not had early nurturing, who has known months of not having all needs met, who has been moved from placement to placement, fully capable of fear and sadness but incapable of understanding what is happening, life is forever altered. You can heal the scars with care and love and compassion, but you cannot go back and erase the damage.

So I continue to sing my songs and whisper my love in his ear, willing my words to reach down deep inside him and give him the assurance that I hope becomes his bedrock: that he is loved, that he matters in this world, that his life has weight and purpose, and that he never has to be alone again.

Weekend Links 2 7.20

Here’s a few of things I read this week that had me nodding my head:

Summer in The City – Heat Proof Makeup Tutorial

Lisa Eldridge is my go-to makeup consultant. I love how authentic and grounded she is and how she leverages her access and influence to help the everywoman feel beautiful. Her heat-proof makeup tutorial from this week was wonderful and I imagine will work well in our 100 degree heat as much as it does in London’s “scorching” 80s.

Lemon Ricotta and Almond Flourless Cake

This is a light lemony flourless cake that will be perfect on a beautiful summer/spring afternoon

When Families Fail Parents of Children with Special Needs

She points to two big reasons family can be out of touch with what a parent needs — good intentions based on decades-old knowledge and, yes, sometimes simply the general inability to be compassionate.

“They do not see all the work, the therapy visits, the doctor visits, the specialists, the research, the cost, the [evaluations], [Individualized Education Plan] meetings, the emotional drain it takes to produce this ‘cute little girl.'”

Ludicrous Things Said By Yoga Teachers

weekend links yoga

Alright Okay

Friends, there has to be a better way.

A better way to support one another when they are walking a painful path.  There has to be a better way to encourage and uplift and love without undoing the brutality of the journey, without negating the reality that for some, it doesn’t get “all better”.

This is about Love.  Support.  Encouragement.

Validation.

She isn’t crazy.  She isn’t neurotic.  She isn’t being ridiculous.

No matter what the outcome turns out to be.

Because it really will eventually be Alright and Okay.  It’s just that Alright and Okay are tricky words whose meanings change depending on the details.

And you want to be there for her in the case that she must navigate a new path to Alright and Okay.

The Importance of Doing Things Badly

God doesn’t hover over us with a hammer. He knows we need the freedom to do things badly. He stands cheering and waiting for the right moment to share His perfectly portioned wisdom.

While most people know that Postpartum Depression (PPD) is common, it’s not well known that Post Adoption Depression (PAD) occurs with the same frequency. I have first hand experience with it because I suffered from Post Adoption Depression for several months. Just as with PPD, PAD has nothing to do with not loving the child or not wanting to be a mother. It’s the result of the complex physical, emotional, and mental demands of motherhood.

It must have surprised people who knew how much I wanted to be a mom that I was feeling so depressed after realizing my dream, although I was also very isolated during those months so many people never knew. You don’t post on Facebook, “I’m so depressed I can’t see a future anymore.” Well, some people do, but I didn’t want to be one of “those” people.

My depression was triggered by many things. It was a challenge to hit the parenting road full throttle with a traumatized toddler with special needs. It was physically draining – from the jet lag, suddenly carrying around a 23 pound child all the time, and the sleepless nights. It was emotionally draining. I am an emotional person, it’s part of what I have to give to the world. I’m highly sensitive and empathetic and to experience the raw trauma of my beloved child was traumatizing to me. I’m not done with that yet. Maybe won’t be ever. God and I can talk that over face-to-face one day. It was also mentally draining. I’m the most introverted type of introvert. Alone time is what feeds me and I was suddenly never alone. Jason works long hours and it was all on me. Also, the learning curve for navigating his special needs, both from adoption and cerebral palsy was steep. And lonely.

In fact loneliness was a major theme of those months. Our social worker labeled us “pioneers”. I tried to suck some courage from that label, but it was cold comfort. I have no close friends or family who have adopted internationally. I have no close friends or family who have adopted a toddler. I have no close friends or family whose child has cerebral palsy. I also suddenly dropped out of my social circles. For months I barely saw anyone. It was just too difficult to make the effort and  friends and family didn’t know when it would be a bother to reach out to us and when it would be welcome so my phone stayed silent.

On top of it all was a crushing sense that I was disappointing everyone. Our friends and family were so excited to meet Nathan, but we needed to keep Nathan very close to home, protecting his tender heart and working hard on attachment while also making up for lost time with his therapies. This made people angry and they let us know. I do not like to make people angry – in fact it makes me physically ill to be in conflict with people – but I had to choose between doing what was right and doing what would make people happy.

Add it all up and you have a full-blown case of Post Adoption Depression.

Jason and I decided to seek professional help last fall. I found a counselor and spent some time working through all of these factors.

It turned out that the last one – disappointing people – was the crux of the matter. When I began to focus on what my actual responsibilities were vs. my perceived responsibilities, the depression began to lift. {You can read more of my thoughts on disappointment that I posted a few weeks ago.} I was also able to verbalize in that safe place some of the grief I feel about his rough start in life. It was the catharsis I needed.

I knew I was getting better on New Year’s Eve when I felt my usual excitement about the coming year and all its possibilities. Life felt livable and vibrant again. The challenges didn’t go away, but my hope came back.

My goal in sharing my story is to help you not feel so alone if you too are suffering from PAD. And if you do know someone who has adopted, be prepared to reach out. Your loved one needs you, but may not be in a place to ask for help.

I don’t feel like I have adequate words to express what I want to say, which considering what it is seems strangely appropriate.

I did a lot of preparation for motherhood. I built on my natural mothering instincts, which were strong, with classes and books and an insatiable interest in what motherhood would bring. Our son’s cerebral palsy diagnosis put a different spin on these preparations and I’m not sure I was able to fully come to grips with what this new life would be like before he came home. But I soldiered on, and we all fell in love, and we’ve dug in and worked hard and been so rewarded. This has been a sweet year, beyond my imaginings in many ways.

But almost one year later, it’s beginning to be obvious which delays will be short-lived and which are probably around for the long-haul. And realizing this makes me catch my breath sometimes. And feel tired. Then I feel bad for being tired because I love my son so intensely and fiercely and it feels like a failure to admit this is so hard.

But the truth is, it’s so hard. It’s hard for all of us.

I long to have a conversation with him. A real conversation. He is a bright boy, and that’s not just coming from my say-so. His doctors and therapists marvel at him, estimating his development in almost all areas to be months to years above average. Having all those big boy thoughts and all those important memories trapped in a mind that is making it difficult to speak must be so frustrating. I know as the Mom I just wish I could fix it. I wish I knew what it was and could tackle the problem and make it go away. I’d get violent if I had to. For him, for me, for our family.

Until we can break through, we will make do with our dozens of signs and gestures and pointing and guessing. I will turn and look at him hundreds of times a day, making eye contact, suggesting words and ideas to see if that’s what he meant to tell me. I will repeat back the word for every sign so he can be sure I really understood. We will celebrate each new sound that makes it past those lips. And we will pray that God will open the channels from his mind to his voice so we can learn even more about this remarkable boy we call Son.