Sunday Snapshot {his heart}

**I published this post as my monthly contribution to No Hands But Ours ~ a website dedicated to educating folks about special needs adoptions.  Many have asked how things are going and while overall the process of grafting a new member to the family is going well, it is difficult.  I feel that being honest and transparent may help encourage others who are either in the trenches now or soon will be...**

I'll never forget meeting our Daniel for the very first time.  We had met both Caleb and Darcy around the same age and while Ian and I were thrilled, it could be said that neither of them were...  I was prepared for a similar reaction from our youngest.  

As we approached the courtyard, the red door across the way opened and he stepped out.  I froze in my location, overwhelmed with the emotion of finally seeing him in person after watching him "grow up" in pictures via the New Day website.  His squeals of excitement snapped me out of it.  I could hardly believe my eyes and ears as he ran just as fast as his little toddler legs could carry him, but I managed to squat down and open my arms to him.  His joyful little giggles and precious voice calling "Mama, Mama" were such a blessing.  When he finally got to me I stayed at his level and gave him a hug, because I didn't want to overwhelm him.  That however wasn't going to be enough for him and he wouldn't let me stand up without picking him up in my arms.  It was obvious that he had been well prepared ~ and even more importantly, well loved ~ by his foster family and we were so thankful.

Now, some two weeks after that joyful first meeting, we are deep in the throes of experiencing the raw grief that comes with leaving those precious foster parents behind.  I think that I had forced Caleb's grieving process (2 1/2 years ago) into the recesses of my mind, but now that we're in the trenches again, those memories have come flooding back.  The first weeks home with him were gut-wrenching as he cried out for all he had known and lost.  Darcy grieved too, but hers was much different.  She was simply reserved and quiet until suddenly one day it was like she had "arrived" in the family.  Daniel's process is very reminiscent of Caleb's except that it started in China where Caleb's didn't come full force until after we were home.  

Each day with Daniel brings progress in him trusting us.  He happily toddles along side either Ian or me 90% of the time unless he is chillin' in the Ergo carrier.  He's allowing us to help him eat, bathe and dress, and is even starting to make eye contact for a few seconds at intimate times.  But when he is tired or even already asleep we catch glimpses of just how broken hearted he is.  It is in those times that his guard is down and we see the heartache he is experiencing.

Take for instance our last night in Urumqi. The bedtime routine went well enough that night.  Just a few whimpers when we turned off the lights and I pulled him into bed with me.  

It was around 3:30 when he slid off the bed that the sobbing started.  He sat there on the floor of the room for what seemed like forever reaching out his arms and calling for Mama.  Each time I'd reach for him he'd pull his arms back away from me and look me straight in the eyes as if to say, "please, won't you get her for me?"  Eventually he did let me pick him up but he resisted being held close and continued the full body heaving sobs until well after 4.  By that point both Ian and I were in tears too.  

It was one of those moments where I felt like we should take him back to Anna, not because we don't love him, but because we do…

Or last night, our fourth night home, when he woke up inconsolable at 3am.  To avoid keeping Ian up as he whimpered, I scooped him out of our bed and walked him through the upstairs of the house.   He indicated that he wanted to go to the boys' room.  After he pushed several times, I let him down and by the glow of the nightlight, he grabbed two cars and sat down on the rug in the middle of the floor and just sat there, looking around as if trying to figure out his surroundings and how exactly he got here.  He didn't cry, but he looked so tiny and pitiful sitting there in his confusion that my heart was breaking with him.  I knew he didn't want me, but I also couldn't just sit and watch.  The first few times I tried to rub his back he swatted at me, but finally he relented and leaned back into my chest and fell back into a restless sleep.  

His referral  talked about his congenital heart condition.  We researched the defect carefully and learned all we could in order to be as prepared as possible for his future.  And while I take that information very seriously, right now I'm more concerned about his heart for another reason.  Today it is still broken for the love of the wonderful foster parents he had.  

I do know that eventually we'll come through on the other side of this process.  We have three other children who have become integral parts of our family.  But right now it feels as though we broke up a family to expand ours and I don't like it.  Kylie, who has been thrilled to have him with us and has been going out of her way to be patient with the new brother who doesn't know our family rules yet even asked why we had to take him away from his foster parents after she heard him cry for his foster mother.

Yes, I know that Anna and Joseph are likely too old to have adopted Daniel themselves.  But I also know that they loved him deeply and cared for him well.  I pray now and will continue to pray for them in the days and weeks to come as they adjust to life without him.

Adoption can be a wonderful beauty from ashes story.  But it is often also raw, emotional and difficult in the process. 

I share this post in hopes that it will encourage others who adopt a child who's been in a good foster home.  I'm so thankful for the start that he got that has allowed him to trust and love.  But for today, it is hard.   

One thing I can say for sure, I'm committed to walking this journey with Daniel one tear at a time...


Ni Hao Yall

Don't know what Sunday Snapshot is?  Stefanie, the creator, describes it as:

"Sunday Snapshot is just a way to capture that special someone or something right now, because we all know time is fleeting... right now will be a distant memory before we know it!"

To join in, stop by her blog to get details.


Tina Michelle said...

Wonderfully written. Thanks for sharing.

Our Journey said...

You have brought me to tears this morning!! Thank you for being so honest. It is such a blessing that he was so loved - even if it makes it hard right now. Praying with you that hearts start healing!

Joy Graham said...

Thank you for sharing. Our daughter, Lian, we adopted from china a year ago. She was unsure of us the first few weeks and then just fit into the family. No bonding issues. We are adopting another little girl from China that lives in her second foster home now. I am worried about how she will react and the adjustment that she will face. Thanks again.-Joy

Rachelle said...

Praying for you all now. I know its hard and wonderful all at the same time. Hugs.

Pam said...

I love your honesty, Kristi. And there is no one better to walk this journey with Daniel than you~ HIS mama. Continuing to pray for you all....

jody said...

Wow , kristie great post! You know I am praying for you all. I was talking with a fellow "adoption mom" tonight about just the emotions you wrote about. One of the things we said is that only another "adoption mom" could really understand these feelings without judgement. If people don't share ( like you) then it just leads to isolation and perhaps depression. Than you for being so honest !

TanyaLea said...

Oh Kristi ~ This post is so candid and raw, so honest, and SO beautifully written. It clearly shows the understanding and depth of unconditional love that you have for your new son. It is SO hard to see them go through that grieving so deep. I remember when you wrote about it on your travel blog, too... these words pierced right through me, and I remember those raw, aching feelings: "It was one of those moments where I felt like we should take him back to Anna, not because we don't love him, but because we do…" So true... not because you don't love him, but because you do. Know that you remain in our thoughts and prayers, through EVERY tear!

Hugs to you Sweet Friend!


Ann Marie said...

Oh Kristi--we've so been where you are. It is heart wrenching and totally exhausting. One of the first things our social worker taught us as we started the adoption process is that adoption is born out of very hard.

Keeping you in prayer.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this beautiful and honest post. Our daughter, adopted at 14.5 mos. from Xian'an, had been in foster care. I remember her crying herself to sleep on my chest and my husband's. The first few days, it felt like we had kidnapped her. She came around relatively quickly, due to her (relatively) young age, and we are forever grateful to her foster parents. But it was heartbreaking at the time. We wish you all the best, and know that having three adoring siblings will help speed Daniel's adjustment to his forever family.

Annette said...

So wonderfully written, Kristi. But oh so hard for me to read, because both of my kids were in foster care. When they handed D to us, they actually said "she's really attached to her foster Mom" :-( But it was difficult with both kids in their own ways. It's heart wrenching to see your child grieving and know that you can't "make it better". Thanks so much for sharing this and being so honest about how hard it really is.

Kristen said...

Thank you for sharing. Not many people write about some of the harder parts of adoption. You brought me right back to October 2009. Praying for you and your beautiful family.

Traci said...

LOVE LOVE LOVE you guys! Praying for Daniel and all of you in your transition!

Jenna said...

I can ABSOLUTELY relate. Cooper is asking DAILY now to go back to China or just asking in general for his "China Mama" (that would be his foster mom). And, I have felt MANY a time that we should bring him back- not because we don't love him, but because we DO. It's HEARTBREAKING. When you wrote that, it so resonated with me.....Cooper didn't grieve outwardly for months. It's all happening now.

I also feel like we broke up a family to expand ours.....and while I know that they likely could not have afforded to adopt him nor were they likely young enough too, AND that they are CALLED to be foster parents to's still extremely hard to know that their fmaily is intact on the other side of thw world, and yet Cooper is here with us. And, we're HAPPY about it......but some days, as my husband says it, "it feels like kidnapping".

It's a strange emotional place. But, OH the love and preparation they have had- it's so unique....and wonderful....but it's a double edged sword for SURE.

This was an encouragement to me- to know it's normal (both for Daniel and Cooper, but also for US to act and feel and think these things) and to know someone else is walking it too. Cooper has never had a full-fledged meltdown or tried to swat at me or any of that, but he's a very easy-going, laid-back kid. He doesn't act t=like that at all ever. Daniel on the other hand.....well.....when I met him, I saw a stubborn little firecracker! :) I think he's not a fan of change (from what I observed), and he also digs his feet in and makes it known! :)

I am praying for you all! Really and truly, I am!

Jenna said...

and....I appreciate your honesty and transparency more than I can say!! Thanks!

Julie said...

Thank you for your honesty again Kristi! I appreciate this so much. I can read a hundred books but sharing real life stories are what I cling too. I'm filing this away for later.