Learning as we go

Why is it that even though my daughter has been home 8 months I still feel like I should hide all the hard stuff?  I freely go on and on about how well she is adjusting, how fairytale like our adoption has been, how atypical of an adopted toddler she is.  No matter how many times I tell the world that my daughter is flourishing, the fact remains that she is an adopted 3 year old girl who has only been home for 8 months.  She has a past.  She has memories of her past.  She is still adjusting.  She doesn’t know forever. She doesn’t know family.  She knows loss.  She knows abandonment.  She knows hurt.

When my daughter is upset she says she is going to Congo.  She asks for a different mommy and daddy.  She explodes.  She becomes someone else.  She weeps.  She shrieks.  She runs. 

Do I think she really wants to go to Congo?  No.  Do I think she really wants different parents? No.  Do I think that she really thinks we will abandon her?  Yes.  Do I think that she really thinks we don’t love her at times?  Yes.

Have you ever tried to teach a three year old about what it means to have a forever family?  About unconditional love?  About something that is permanent when everything else in her life has been short-term?

Sure all three year olds have their moments. Some may even throw out words similar to Odette’s.  I hate you.  I want a new family.  I am running away.  The difference is that Odette knows a “new family”.  She knows “running away”.  She did that.  We helped her with that…We did.  Our lives are forever vulnerable to moments (read hours) like this.  We know that.  We’ve read the books.  We have prepared.  My heart is more guarded when I hear those things now than when I did months ago. I react more with my brain and less with my heart.  Because really my heart hurts.  And to be honest (which I always try to be) my heart gets mad.  I am not perfect, far from it in fact.

I am learning how to parent an adopted child.  She is learning what it means to have a parent.

We will get there.

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6 thoughts on “Learning as we go

  1. Thank you for your blog, which is such a sweet, insightful read. I really appreciate your honesty, your candid humor, and your introspection about your daughter’s needs. My partner (of 13 years) and I are looking into adopting from the Congo; not sure it will pan out due to the barriers GLBT couples face in adopting (from anywhere-US or abroad). Another thing I feel moved to say is that I hope that other Christian families read your blog and follow your example – it’s tough to put into words, especially words that are not broad generalizations, but what I’ve noticed throughout my adoption research and general life experience is that a lot of people answer God’s call to do something good (adopt, volunteer) but aren’t as great at listening when it comes to the hard work of enduring struggle or rejection on behalf of (or from) the people they are serving through these good works. I have had some lengthy conversations with white Christians about the ethical implications of transracial/international adoption – ie. willingness to be uncomfortable for the sake of your child, rather than forcing your child to be uncomfortable for your sake, kind of like what is discussed in this article http://www.thestranger.com/seattle/black-kids-in-white-houses/Content?oid=787542 – and most of them have ended with the other party declaring that God will work everything out. I don’t believe it’s that simple. I think God calls us to work. And I see that work in you. Keep on keepin’ on.

  2. I’m 21 years old and since I was 15 I knew I wanted to adopt, since then I’ve been watching every single video from youtube to know more about it. Your blog is awesome and it’s helping me to know how to deal with everything i’ll put myself thorught one day.

    Still worth it. Thanks for sharing! The best wishes for you two and your little girl (:

  3. Thank you for your honesty. As a parent, it is crazy hard to hear things like that from my biological kids–I can only imagine how it’ll feel coming from our adopted ones. I think you’re right, it will take time, and time heals wounds so well. Thank you for sharing with us.

  4. It seems as though Odette is testing you. She is trying you to see if there is any way that you will reject her, and each time you respond with unconditional love, she is affirming that she is safe. Eventually, your love will show her a way to accept her past and move beyond it.

    Thank you so much for your very interesting and candid blog. I feel as though I am a member of the family but get to enjoy all the wonders of Ms Odette, without all the difficulties. You are so generous and brave to post, and it wouldn’t be an authentic reading experience without the hard times.

  5. It takes courage to put yourself out there in this blog. Your love and compassion is evident. It isn’t easy. Even Lexi has said she wishes she had Mama Peggy instead of us. She’s been with us from birth, and doesn’t remember Mama Peggy at all. It does hurt. You are doing such an amazing job, and moments like the one in the picture show the reward. You are correct, she will get there- you all will- we all will too.

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