Friday, October 10, 2014


Things here have seemed to go one step forward and two steps back in the past weeks. And I'm learning that it's okay. We are just getting to know our son, and he's just getting to know us, too.

Last Saturday brought many tears for Joseph. I'm not gonna was our toughest day yet. The most difficult (and frustrating part) was trying to figure out just why. Was it because we took something away from him? Because we denied him of the food candy he wanted? Was he grieving at his new reality? Was he missing his friends and caretakers? Was he frustrated with his inability to understand and be understood?

Perhaps all of the above.

As parents, honestly, we struggle. Jim and I lose patience and fail sometimes. In our own frustration, we've handled some of the situations with a lack of grace, and we continuously promise to try be better for it. Thankfully, as we begin to know our son's personality better, we can now detect when his tears seem more real...and less. He's a good faker. But we don't underestimate his wounds. They are much deeper and more complex that we could ever even fathom.

Then, my wise friend (and experienced mom to ten kids through adoption), Becky, posted this on a Facebook thread last Sunday...

"It helped me SO much when someone reminded me that attachment is NOT a linear process. There is no finish line. Instead it's like peeling layers of dead skin away. I know that's gross to think about, but it's accurate. Sometimes, you peel too much, and a wound opens again, but you heal better and stronger because that layer is gone. Sometimes the wounds are so deep that they can't heal completely, but they get smaller and more manageable as time goes on. Once I wrapped my mind around that, I did better. All those wounds, for all our kids, are RIGHT at the surface now. Any little trigger opens them again. It will get better. I promise."

She had no idea just how much we needed to hear those words.  And amidst the turmoil, that evening  brought relief...our most beautiful mother and son moment to date. After I'd put the kids to bed, Joseph emerged from his bedroom about half an hour later. I met him in the hallway and quickly scooped him up to take him back to his bed. When I laid him down, I sensed that he really needed me. I put my open hand on his chest, and he clutched my arm, with both of his hands, so very tightly. So I sat down, on the floor, beside his bed...and we stared at each other. For ten minutes, we just stared at each other. A son soaking in the face of his new Mama, and a mom studying the expressions of her new son.

As I gazed into his deep little dark eyes, my own eyes flooded with tears. I didn't want him to be confused by my tears, but I couldn't stop it, so I softly began to whisper "Wo ai ni" (I love you) over and over to him. The look on his face was so priceless as his little brain absorbed it all...having his own Mama to love him. It was such a deep, and beautiful moment...the most special moment of bonding we've shared yet. 

Finally, a slight, peaceful smile came to his face, his hands relaxed, and I knew that his heart was fully content. I knew that I could leave that bedroom and leave our son with sweet dreams of his new future.

His facial expression--those eyes--are imprinted on my brain forever.

The moments like those are the true treasure...the gifts of grace that make the difficult times so much easier to bear. They are reminders of how God loves us and accepts us despite our brokenness...that we can be angry one minute, and forgiven the next. 

Every single day has brought difficult moments for our son since we've been home. Ones that have resulted in tearful tantrums, stemming mostly from disciplinary actions.  But even though this mother and son have already had our fill of struggles, we've also begun to share true that grows stronger with each layer peeled.

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