Sammy has been home for one month now, and what a month it has been! I feel like I am just now getting my feet back under me (a little) and my emotions regulated. Everything I had read during this adoption process had told me to prepare for a difficult transition home that would work it's way out with time. But after being with Sammy in Ethiopia, seeing his personality, and having zero problems with him when I had full custody of him there in-country, I thought..."Oh, not for us. This transition won't be that bad." I stand corrected.
It takes time for Sammy to bond with us. I expected this, and he honestly has far exceeded my expectations in this category (in a good way). He extremely loving and affectionate...kisses and hugs all day long. Sammy has the personality type that just assumes everyone loves him and thinks he's adorable...which he is.
What I did not expect (at least for myself) is that it takes time for us to bond with him. I felt so bonded to Sammy before we ever had him. Before I ever saw his picture or knew his name, I was in love with him. I have been totally blindsided by my need to GROW in my love-relationship with him. This has actually been very difficult for me and I've carried an extreme amount of guilt and cried many, many tears this month as a result of it. I just assumed I would automatically have the same bond with Sammy that I have with Caedmon. I will one day, but I'm learning that it takes time to develop. I've had 4 years to develop this bond with Caedmon and only 4 weeks with Sammy.
It takes time for Sammy to feel safe and secure in our family. Right now, Sammy fears that every time I walk out of the room I may have just walked out of his life forever. He screams a petrified scream if he can't see us or find us for more than 10 seconds. I leave his door open at nap time and AS SOON as I hear him stir, I RUN into the room so he'll see me right away. If I don't hear him for some reason, screaming will soon commence.
Sammy's difficulty with sleep has been the most challenging part for us. He will only fall asleep if he can see me (or Andy), so I have to sit by his bed until he's asleep for naptime and at night. Whereas he would sleep for 2-3 hours every afternoon in Ethiopia, he will only take a 1-1 1/2 hour nap here. Once he wakes up, he is jolted awake and will not fall back asleep.
You'd think the shorter naps would make him extra tired and he would sleep great at night. Not so much. Sammy wakes up (on average) about 4 times a night. He sleeps in a pack-n-play right by my side of the bed. Most nights we're able to lay him right back down and he'll immediately go back to sleep. Other nights, however, there is so much screaming that you'd think he's in physical pain. But he's not. I think it's just fear and grief.
It's like Sammy tries to keep his eyes open as much as he possibly can to make sure we're still there. He only sleeps when his body absolutely demands it and he cannot hold his eyes open anymore.
My sister has a son who is almost exactly the same age as Sammy. When I shared this with her she said, "That makes me so sad. I just imagine if Caleb was in this situation. What if something happened to us and Caleb was being cared for by someone else, even by you? He would be so confused and sad and upset. He's old enough to know exactly what he wants, but there's no way he could have it."
Sammy has lost everything. And though, from our perspective, he has absolutely GAINED everything, he did not asked to be put in this situation. I have to remind myself of this when I'm sleep deprived and he doesn't seem quite as cute or endearing.
Adoption, being a mom, or living a life that honors Christ is not about my comfort, my convenience, or my desires. It is about laying down my life to serve and love others the way that Christ has served and loved me. "Loving" someone has a lot more to do with a choice and a commitment than a feeling. So these are the verses that I am claiming for myself during this season. I feel like they so perfectly speak to my need at this time:
This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers [sons]...Let us love not with words or tongue but with actions and in truth. This then is how we know that we belong to the truth, and how we set our hearts at rest in His presence whenever our hearts condemn us. For God is greater than our hearts, and He knows everything. 1 John 3:16, 18-20