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Monday, February 23, 2009

Our Attachment Journey- Part 2 Pain and Prayer

In Part 1 of Our Attachment Journey I told you about my motivation to share about the process we're working through as new adoptive parents. I'd like to add that I am not a professional and am not proclaiming to have all the answers. I am simply a mom working to make connections (largely through trial and error. Emphasis on error) with a son who's been home less than two months. If you, the reader, can look in on our process and begin to think about how you might handle things- if your creative juices start flowing, if you feel inspired to come up with a game plan to fortify your heart for the potential trials that lay ahead of you- then, I would be blessed to have played a small role it that endeavor. If not, feel free to click past me on to some other blog more worthy of your time. Please, just don't judge or criticize me.

With that being said, let me pick up where I left off.

(What's that? You say you've forgotten already. Well let me remind you....)

We begin with my screaming infant. (It's all coming back now, isn't it.)

I held my child in the cradle position while he pushed my body away, arched his back and flailed his head wildly. We had enjoyed a nice day together- as we often do- filled with peek-a-boo games, giggles..... kisses even. It was good. Felt like progress. I rocked him to sleep at bedtime and he went down without a fuss. But, he awoke just under an hour after he had gone to bed for the night screaming and inconsolable. I found my voice trembling as I attempted to convince my son to look at me. I wept when he did everything in his small (yet mighty) power to avoid looking at my face. He spiraled deeper and deeper into his angry pain. Nothing I tried would convince him to let me share in the moment with him. I longed to help him keep his head above water. To keep him from slipping under the surface of solitude in his suffering. In that moment the magnitude of the pain and sorrow my little boy was battling against washed over me. I grieved for him. Deeply.

Then, I grieved for myself. It had to be done. I wasn't above it. I don't think anyone is. I mean, there's nothing like an enraged infant's extreme distaste for anything, well... you to make you feel like an impostor. Or child molester. Take your pick. It felt like the bench-warmer who finally got his chance to make a winning play only to fumble it all away. But I couldn't tarry there. I got it out of my system and moved on. Any more such business and the temptation to pity myself might have become too compelling.

I am Jonas' mommy, though apparently someone forget to notify him of that. Seems he's not too impressed with that little piece of paper with a stamp on it that verifies my claims. And, while I'm the only mom available to him I'm not his only mother. It goes without saying I'm not his first choice lately. I gave myself permission to grieve alongside Jonas because he couldn't have the mommy he wanted in that moment. It would have been so easy for me to be deeply hurt by his reaction to me instead of sharing in his grief. ( In this one instance I will offer a small bit of advice. Guard your hearts against this mommies! Don't give the enemy a foothold.) Only by God's grace was I able to look beyond his rejection and love him the way he needed me to. I believe I would absolutely have taken it personally if he were my first child. I thank the Lord, Giver of good gifts, that I have the experience of raising three other children under my belt before my current enlistment. You better believe I chanted "You're a good mother. You may not be what he wants but you're what he needs." in my head over and over again. (If you are a first time mommy, an adoptive one at that, then you MUST get some friends around you who can verbalize these things to you. You call them up and you tell them to remind you what a good mommy you are. Then, you hang up and begin telling yourself the same things.) Without that anchor I am sure I would have lost my footing and drifted further away from progress on a current of self defeat.

Somehow, despite being momentarily stunned by the tragedy of our son's losses while watching them play out through his behaviour, I was energized with renewed determination not to relent. I reminded myself this was just one battle in a fierce war for our son's heart. I was campaigning to storm the gates of Jonas' defences armed with a mother's love. A good soldier can't just expect to breeze right through battlements of self preservation without exerting vigorous effort. So I prayed. And called for reinforcements. I asked God to break the back of Jonas' resistance to me as the mother He divinely appointed. Knowing that it may not happen in this moment- that it may take a thousand moments like this one- but that one day my prayer would be answered . I asked God to make me secure enough to allow Jonas to work through his grief and take his time learning to allow me to be his mother.

There was freedom for me in the realization that while Jonas needed time to surrender to- and eventually climb his way out of the grasp of- his losses I was free to pray prayers of hope for him. I was free to dream of the day when he will have passed through the waters and come out healed, despite the circumstances of the present. I am not bound by Jonas' sorrow in the same way he is at the moment. Because of my experience with God's healing in my life I can have confidence for Jonas' future. I rejoiced knowing that God desires healing for Jonas even more than I do. By His hand Jonas is moving away from pain and toward healing. Despite appearances. That's the truth regardless of how either of us may feel at any given moment.

Oddly enough, over the loud wailing I was able to hear the Lord's voice more clearly than I have in a long time. God encouraged me to know that the prayers the He led me to pray are laying the foundation for healing. He will give me the wisdom and insight I need to effectively parent Jonas. My prayers will be answered because God has inspired them. The words of my mouth and the desires of my heart toward Jonas are in line with God's. As I held him I knew Jonas would have his heart restored. No doubt about it.

I may have panicked for a minute there but God had brought me back. Hope restored.

Now what?

....To Be Continued in my next post in the series.


Demer & Dana said...

Thank you for sharing your story. I am learning and appreciate your openness and honesty.

Audrey said...

So awesome - thank you for sharing this struggle, Jen. God will bring you through this and all the Glory will be His. You are digging deep to find that selfless love and I know that it will pay off huge. Good job, mom!

E said...

Jen, thanks so much for sharing your heart & experience. So much of what you've written echoes my own experience. This is also a reminder of so many of the things I've been processing this last year and that I need to get writing!



Crapstal said...

My blog is way, way less serious and important than your blog. It was nice meeting you, and once again congrats on finding the Mardi Gras baby in your Zabglione. Come in an sit in my section any time.

Crapstal said...

Zabaglione = Tsah-bahl-YOH-neh. Impress your friends with your Italian. Another good one is Panettone (Pan-eh-toh-ne), it's this Italian bread that comes out around the holidays, tastes like challa fruitcake and makes great french toast. Never tasted it though, it's not vegan, but please take my word for it. It's delicious :)

Zack and Rebecca Caldwell said...

Jenn- you are really an amazing woman of God, and I know that he is going to use your experience and what you are going through right now to touch so many people. Keep sharing!

Sassy Granny ... said...

What a challenge! Something tells me, though, as fierce as his pushing way is today, there will come a day when his love will be fiercer still!

God bless you!

kristin said...

Wow.. this is tough to read but good to read. I am so glad you are writing this and I am for sure marking it all down in my mental note pad! I might be coming to you for advice becasue you are handeling it so so well!!!

Lori S said...

I needed this! I, also, needed to be reminded to lean on God in prayer during those difficult times.
I believe we must've been in Addis at the same time--we arrived on the 21st of December.
Just a few days ago, while being disciplined, my 7 year old adopted daughter said, "You don't love me, only my Ethiopian mommy loves me." OUCH! I thought many things, but did not say anything until I could say, "Yes, your Ethiopian mommy loves you very much, and so do I." She gave me a big hug!

3 going on 4... said...

So awesome that you know you must allow yourself to grieve- it took me a lot longer to give myself that permission. You're right- you ARE the mommy Jonas needs. Your son is blessed beyond measure to have a mommy like you.
Blessings in Christ,
mom to Caleb, home 8 months
fellow AWAA mom (Russia)

Kelly said...

Great posts Jen!!! I had a similar experience on the plane bringing Rae home. God somehow gave me that grace of understanding too that you received as well, but I definitely had to fight off those feelings of inadequacy. Thankfully they were short lived. I second your idea for first time mommies to get a suppport system of encouragement!!!!