Thursday, November 1, 2012

meant to be

Yesterday marks exactly 17 months since Shu became our son.

Our mother-son relationship is not where I thought it would be after 17 months.  That isn't the point of this post, so I needn't go on about it, except to say this:  I always want to keep it real, because hearing from others who kept it true and honest--even when it was ugly--has been a saving grace for me over the past two years.  So what's real for us is that adoption has not been love at first sight, or even love at one hundredth sight.  It is still full of uncomfortable and hard moments.  Every single day.

Four weeks ago this little lady entered our family.

I tried not to worry much about how her birth would affect Shu, not because I didn't care about him but because I knew she was God's plan for our family...and she was on her way.  I did pray for him and for us, choosing to believe that experiencing a newborn entering our family would be healthy, even healing for Shu, and that it would actually benefit him not to be the baby of the family.  I've already seen evidence of this, thank you, God.  His issues are still his issues--no quick fix there--but Shu seems genuinely thrilled with his baby sister and I see a sweet empathy developing in him.

Instead I worried about my own heart, fearing that the immediate and all-consuming love I knew I'd feel  for Baby Girl (nickname pending) would only highlight all that is still lacking in my relationship with Shu.

I prayed.  I cried.  I gave birth to my beautiful daughter.  And I was torn between wild delight over her and guilt that I was loving and enjoying her so easily and instantaneously.  That seems like a reasonable emotion for a woman who just gave birth, doesn't it?  Guilt over loving her baby too deeply?  [No.  The answer is no.]  

Here's what the Lord opened my eyes to see.  I was (and am) feeling all that I should be feeling for Baby Girl.  No guilt or shame necessary.  All our delight in her--in her facial expressions, her funny grunts, her scent, the perfection of her tiny toes--is all that should have been lavished upon Shu from day one by his birth mother and father.  I'm in that camp, you see.  Adoption = redemption.  God's plan to make all things new and bind up the brokenness of the world we live in.  But there are two people on another continent who were unable to give Shu that automatic and abundant parental adoration he deserved.  Enter me and Dr. Husband, two flawed humans trying to stand in the gap, to fill in the deficit, learning to love and delight in a little boy who came to us already broken and afraid and angry.  All the neglect of his first year of life, and all the struggle since then to heal, to trust, to overcome developmental and emotional hurdles?  Definitely not Plan A.

I wrote this the other day to my dear friend (also an adoptive mama):  We are all adoring and delighting in [Baby Girl].  I am so grateful for God's beautiful gift to me--to let me experience one more time the wonder and joy of parenting as it was meant to be.  I do feel like my heart is more tender toward Shu as a result...not that things aren't still crazy difficult at moments, but my focus shifts away from him by necessity, and that helps put things in perspective. 

She wrote this in response (and made me cry, darnit):  Loved your P.S.  :)  You know, I can tell.  I mean, it is obvious she is adored, but you seem...more relaxed.  Softer.  In your element.  I love love love the picture of you holding her in the hospital.  You have this look, like you just found something you'd been searching for, and you're thrilled.  It is my favorite picture of you.  

She's right.  In the effort and disappointment and self-scrutiny of the past 17 months (and yes, I desperately wish I could say those weren't the predominant descriptors, but I'd be lying) it's been easy to forget that I love being a mother.  That's the reason we adopted Shu in the first place.   Yes, I've been mothering all this time, and not devoid of all happiness, of course.  (We've actually had three mostly good and "normal" days in a row with Shu.)  But giving birth to Baby Girl has restored some of that joy of motherhood, that identity of Mommy, to me.  An identity that isn't tarnished even when I'm cranky about the perpetually stuck seatbelts in the back of the van or wishing that a certain child's screaming didn't make me want to gauge out my own eye with a spoon.  

So what's my point?   I love Baby Girl.  I love Shu.  The path to that love is unique for each child.  And that's OK.  God creates a new "meant to be."  He knows how to give good gifts.  He knows how to restore identities.  He loves me whether I'm difficult or easy to love, so he can show me the most excellent way. 


Captain said...

Beautiful, beautiful words. You and baby girl and Shu hugging baby girl .... precious.

Amy said...

Wow. So very powerful. I have always loved your honesty, and you've done it again. I prayed this day would come for your family- that there would be joy for you again in just being a mom. You are so right, this was God's plan all along. Congratulations on your beautiful baby girl & on Shu's growing. Your family is where Shu was meant to be, even if getting to you was a difficult road for him to travel.

Much love friend! <3

TeamOehlkers said...

I love your honesty, Jerusha. I think one of your posts shortly after you shared that you were pregnant talked about how you and Hubby decided to "just see what would happen" with regards to getting pregnant... What a beautiful way for you to surrender and trust and for God to step right in with such a precious gift ~ both Baby Girl and tender healing for you :) I am so happy for you and your family. All your kids are so beautiful!

Rita and John said...

Oh, Jerusha. This is so beautifully said. And so beautifully felt. I am so happy for you that this new chapter in your adoption journey with Shu, your journey as a family, has brought you to this moment. And what a wonderful discovery to realize that you can fall in love all over again with motherhood. I do love that picture of you and your littlest one, and I hadn't known why. But you do look as if you had found what you had been searching for. And you are obviously aglow with joy. We continue to keep all your family in our prayers--and will. I love the photo of Shu and his baby sister. I love that this may be what he was searching for too--a better understanding of his role in the family and someone else to help care for in a different way.

Gena said...

I'm so glad to read this, J. Saddens my heart that you gave a single moment to feeling guilty over the love and delight you have for baby T. Your heart and your love are big enough for ALL your children!!! You are such a wonderful mother. I'm so thrilled to hear how Shu loves his baby sister! The photo is so precious! I was hoping the new baby would bring a new direction/focus to Shu's life and to your relationship with him. And indeed, that's what God is doing. Praise God, our faithful Redeemer!!! Love you!

Lindsay said...

Jerusha, I don't have much to say except that your words are always so beautiful and touching and truthful, and although I'm sure that our experiences have been quite different, and we haven't had many of the struggles you guys have, I DO understand you and relate to you. Thank you. Really. Thank you for writing.

Krissy said...

really really beautiful j.

M. said...

Congratulations to all of you! Everyone looks so content. Shu looks delighted to be a big brother. What a precious family!

You've written a beautiful post about the realities of life. Your truth is encouragement and opens the blinds on the p.r.o.c.e.s.s. involved in building a love that lasts through thick and thin.

anything but LoKEY said...

Beautifully written, my friend! I am so glad that God knows us so well. He knows what we need and He sends just the right comfort and encouragement to us when we need it. And though it may not come in the package we expected, it is ALWAYS good! :)