Saturday, September 10, 2011

3 months home

Sitting somewhere on my to-do list...not exactly at the top...has been the transferring of all our China photos from the laptop we traveled with to the hard drive on our desktop, with the hopes of actually doing something with them.  I mean, my kids still haven't even seen the video footage of the baby elephant who fell in a ditch at Safari Park while all the adult elephants stood around bellowing and trying to help until the zoo worker, dressed inexplicably like a rodeo clown, finally came to rescue the baby.  Pure entertainment, right?!?

But here's the honest truth:

I wasn't ready to look at them yet. 

Everyone tells you to "soak up the China experience and your child's culture," to "enjoy every minute of it" and so on.  That was certainly my intent.  And I enjoyed some of the minutes, yes I did.  But when you receive into your arms on day four of the trip a scared, grieving, angry, more-delayed-than-you'd-imagined child, soaking in the culture kind of takes a back seat to desperate attempts at parenting that child who neither knows how nor necessarily wants to be parented by you.  Nearly everything we did, everywhere we went, every experience in China was punctuated by our son's unhappiness, or was modified to somehow prevent it.  And so you won't think I'm being harsh and unfair, this is exactly why we don't vacation with any of our young children.  (OK, we don't actually vacation at all.)  But we did one time, during a lapse of rational thinking, take the three kids to Silver Dollar City, along with my sister who drove her own car.  Our car broke down outside of Branson, but come hell or high water, we were going to SDC!  So we crammed three adults and three children in car seats into my sis's smallish sedan (don't ask how we did it) and made it there.  It was hot.  The kids were big enough to go on about 1.5 rides.  And my youngest daughter was less than two months old and needed to be nursed about every 67 minutes.  Somebody...I don't remember who (it wasn't me)...cried for a good chunk of the way home.  

As I was saying...I was not really able to fully enjoy our experience in China the way I would have if I were not there to adopt.  That's the point.  The Adoption.  The Child.  Happy, sad, scared, nervous, rambunctious, grieving...he or she is the point.

So back to the photos.

Jiushu has been home three months now, many happy details of which have been written about in other posts.  Now that the trauma, felt by all of us, is subsiding, I feel ready to look at the pictures.  To remember the details of the early moments which rendered us a (bigger) family.  To soak up a bit more of Chinese culture, even from half a world away.  To laugh about the hilariously translated signage.  To show my family the videos of "gotcha day" and crazy traffic and an elephant in need of rescue and a few other sights and sounds of our son's birthplace.

Here's a look back.  If you're wondering why he's crying in nearly every photo, it's because...he was.  I didn't manipulatively select these to paint an overly negative picture.  This is simply an accurate portrayal of the majority of our trip.

Saying hello for the first time.
Jiangsu Civil Affairs...he's officially ours and we are his.
Bananas, apparently, do not bring cheer.
Making the best of Confucius Temple in Nanjing.
Doesn't everyone feel this way at Walmart, really?
Me with my game face on at the medical exam in GZ.

Finally, after six days together, some peace.
And then, at the end of our trip, a breakthrough.
And that was merely the tiniest hint of what could be.  Of the goodness yet to come.

Today marks exactly three months since we pulled into our driveway, home at last after a harrowing, everything-gone-horribly-awry return trip.  I did transfer the photos.  And I did look at them.  To be honest, they are mostly still tinged with sorrow for me.  How can I look at picture after picture of my grieving child without reliving the pain we felt at tearing him away from all he'd ever known and the acute fear that love and joy and contentment as a family would forever elude him and us?

I know now what I was not sure of then:  that love and joy and contentment as a family will be ours.  And I am sure that one day I will be able to see those photos through a more neutral lens, understanding that the sorrow was an inevitable part of our gaining a son and of providing a family to a small Chinese boy in need of one.  He never should have been in need of one.   But he was.  And as his name declares, God is redeeming it all. 

The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor.  He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn,  and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes,
the oil of joy instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.

They will be called oaks of righteousness, 
a planting of the LORD for the display of his splendor.  Isaiah 61:1-3  


Rita and John said...

It's so understandable that looking at those photos would be hard. With our first son's photos, looking at them now I realize he was more worried then than we recognized at the time. It's hard to believe you've been home with your little one for three months. How time flies when you're watching from afar!

Nancy said...

Oh... the "game face." SOOO remember it. I remember thinking, I don't know how long I can fake this. It was so much more than I had imagined it would be.
Sooooo glad to see the smile on his face now. What a gorgeous family!

Amy said...

Beautifully written (as always). Once again, thank you for the brief insight into your journey. It's so wonderful to see that beautiful smile on Jiushu's face!

Lindsay said...

You write what I feel better than I can. Well said. Other than a few peeks here and there, I'm still not really ready to relive our China experience through photos and video (and it probably wasn't even near as challenging as yours). So happy that things continue to turn around for you and become more and more clear. (Same here).

D said...

O what pain we see! But now,o what joy! Could it be compared to biological childbirth?
D & M

LBC said...

May there be many more smiles to come!

Michelle said...

Well written! We haven't had nearly the struggles that you have, but it still makes me sad to go back and look at our pictures from our first days with Amelia. She looks so pale and scared. And of course she was! But watching God redeem her life and make her a beautiful part of a family is priceless!

Lola Granola said...

I unpacked every single souvenir we bought in China into a laundry basket, put it in a corner and refused to even look at it for months, let alone the pictures. We gave people the gift we brought them three months later. I just couldn't do it.

And that's ok. If it was easy--well, if it was easy, it would't be love.

Stephanie said...

Surprisingly, I found myself grinning as I looked at all the sad pictures of J throughout your trip. Goodness...he grieved, didn't he?! But you? You had a smile on your face...the game face..and it made me chuckle.
Our trip was anything but rosy either and thoughts of it bring icky feelings. The strength of the ickyness is subsiding, but ours will never be "The Adoption Story" everyone covets.

TeamOehlkers said...

Jerusha~ Thanks again, as always, for keeping it real and sharing your experiences transparently. I find that I cannot talk about our trip to China with any kind of positive feeling (my game face has left the building :), and our boys were not grieving like Jiushu was. Jiushu's healing and attaching is such a gift from God.

Krissy said...

so very different and yet... unhappy memories for something that needed to happen and was planned for and prayed over and still i hated my 15 days (m's fontan surgery)... im 2 years out and i am unable to scrapbook that event - to put words and journaling with pictures... my emotions are still too close. my tears still flow very freely while looking at pictures and reading my carepage posts and the messages of the carepage readers.

its okay - its so okay and normal and... okay. you have an amazing story - and reading your posts is very - precious - to me... reading of your love for Jesus, and the thoughts, feelings, lessons learned - precious.

thank you for your open heart and for sharing often raw thoughts and activities with those of us who follow your journey and story!

love you j - you are an priceless woman!

a blog full of weldons. said...

oh how my heart aches to see and feel his grief and how hard it must have been for you guys! but what joy to finally see those first smiles after so many days of tears!
wow, your last paragraph was really profound "he never should have been in need of one (a family). but he was. how true. no child should be in need of a family. but what a joy to be able to end that journey.
i have to say, when i pour over your blog, i feel like i should know we have so many similar thoughts...last week we had so much go wrong, i thought i would never survive. one of those in which i found myself using my highest sweet voice (i laughed when you said the same thing) to keep from crying (or screaming). good gracious i'm glad there is such an amazing community of moms. it's healing to know we aren't alone. we aren't the only ones who's kids do crazy and wonderful stuff. and i love the journey of healing. your sweet boy has so much brightness ahead. what a delight he is!