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.
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.