Since recently celebrating Sammy's 3rd "Gotcha Day", I've been doing some reflection on just how far God has brought us over the past 3 years. Last week I shared with you two lessons I wish I had learned a little earlier in the process:
- When in doubt, error on the side of grace
- You should never judge how your adoption in going within the first 6 months of having your kids home.
- Love grows.
From the moment I found out I was pregnant with Caedmon, I was in love. That love grew deeper and stronger with every movement I felt inside my growing belly and it about knocked me over like a tidal wave when I finally held him in my arms. The love of a mother...there is nothing like it.
Throughout our adoption process, I had been having a very parallel experience in my growing love toward Sammy. When we started our paperwork (conception), I could not have been more thrilled. Excitement and happiness pulsed through my veins. When we received his first picture (ultrasound), we showed it to every one of our friends and immediately put it in a frame over our TV. The day we finally met him was one of the happiest days of my life (birth). I could not stop staring at him and trying to memorize his every expression. He was my dream come true, my answer to prayer. I was head over heels in love.
But then we got home.
And suddenly I felt like I was taking care of a neighbor's kid who I hardly knew and he was ruining my life. He cried all day. He stayed up all night. My older son was falling to pieces. And everything about my calm and orderly life just got flipped upside down.
I cried because I was so miserable with him. And then I cried because I felt bad that I was so miserable. Where was my motherly-love? What kind of horrible person was I that I didn't feel compassion and tenderness for this wounded, grieving child? Would I ever love this child the way he deserved to be loved? As my own son?
The guilt that I felt was unbearable. I was pretty confident that I was ruining Sammy's life every single day, at increasing measures. I was blindsided by the lack of attachment I felt toward him. I knew it may take time for him to attach to us, but I was sure that my attachment would be immediate, fierce, and without any gaps.
I was wrong.
That love took time to grow. It took picnics to the playground and dance parties in our living room. It took hanging pictures of our family of four on the wall. It took learning that his favorite food is tomatoes and that he can't stand a grilled cheese sandwich. It took seeing him get embarrassed in front of his friends and realizing that my heart ached to protect him from that pain. It took time, memories, and shared experiences.
I remember crying on his 1 year "Gotcha Day" as I confessed to Andy, "I thought we'd be further than this." I thought, for sure, everything would feel normal and natural by the one year mark. To be sure, we had made a world of progress. But we still had progress to be made.
It is a layer by layer process. Some days you feel like you're getting no where, but then you look back over the past six months and realize that God continues to do a miraculous healing in all of your hearts. The old is gone, and the new has come. He is making ALL THINGS beautiful in His time.
At one of my lowest moments in the midst of my self-hatred and depression feeling like the worst mom in the world, God gave a verse. A life-line really. A promise to cling to that I could LOVE this precious little boy the way that he deserved to be loved regardless of what my feelings told me. My feelings would catch up later, but I knew what I could choose to do in that moment:
Dear children, let us love not with words or speech but with ACTIONS and in truth. This is how we know that we belong to the truth and how we set our hearts at rest in His presence: If our hearts condemn us, we know that God is greater than our hearts, and He knows everything. 1 John 3:18-20I desperately needed my heart to be set at rest. I was filled to the brim with condemnation and guilt over my lack of emotional attachment to Sammy. And Jesus said to me, "I already know about it. I'm bigger than that. You can love him with your actions and I'll take care of your heart."
So today, if you are a parent and for whatever reason you're having a hard time feeling love toward your child, be encouraged that you can faithfully love him with your actions and God will transform your heart.
Give it time, because LOVE GROWS.