Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Redeeming and Redefining.

Over the 6 years we've been part of the adoption community, I've had a lot of time to learn and think about the good, the bad, and the ugly of adoption. A lot of time to mourn the broken-ness of our world at large and the losses in Li'l Empress' and Mei Mei's little worlds that brought us all together. To think and pray about how God would have us intentionally go about redeeming that broken-ness and loss. It's not the easy part of adoption to dwell upon but I've chosen to "go there" in order to more fully understand and thus be more available to participate in my daughters' healing and growing.

Yesterday, as the household was returning to the normal week-day routine, Mei Mei was bewildered by all the activity. After all, the first two days since she's been home we've spent largely on the couch or on the floor together, propping our eyes open with toothpicks and watching her play with the kids. (It's actually kind of amazing how quickly she has gotten used to having an older sibling at her beck and call during the waking hours of her day!) But yesterday she was noticeably unsettled. It took me a while to catch on, as I was puttering around the kitchen and reveling in my coffee.

First, Dr. D left. She kept reaching for him but didn't really cry.

About half an hour later, LadyBug was ready to catch her bus. Mei Mei didn't want to be put down but LadyBug toughed it out and said good-bye while Mei Mei cried a little bit.

Then I ran up to hop in the shower while The Boss supervised Baby BlueEyes and Li'l Empress as they prepared for their day. The Boss walked them out to the bus and the good-byes were likely more painful for BBE and Li'l E than they were for Mei Mei, as she was busy taking in the big yellow thing and the fresh air and green trees all around her.

Twenty minutes later, The Boss put on his coat and started doling out the hugs and kisses. He was trying to say good-bye and she was having no part of it. We walked him out to his car and she was crying like her little heart was breaking. Reaching for him, calling "Baba!" and arching her back to get out of my arms. It was pitiful. Just so sad. 

To her, this was another good-bye. In a long line of good-byes over these last two weeks.

I've been particularly mindful of all the good-byes we've been logging since we met her.

Good-bye to the nannies in her orphanage. Who likely doted on her, as reports indicate that she was a favorite with her charming little smile and teasing sense of humor.

Good-bye to the orphanage - the only home she knew from about 2 weeks old, for 21 months.

Good-bye to the familiar sights, smells, and sounds of those 21 months of her life.

Good-bye to the familiar routine and rhythm of her daily life.

Then, good-bye to our guide in Beijing, with whom she thoroughly enjoyed flirting and teasing.

Good-bye to the hotel room where she had just started to feel noticeably confident and secure.

Good-bye to an environment where her emerging baby-babble actually made sense to the Mandarin-speaking folks around her.

Good-bye to Beijing - on to Guangzhou.

Good-bye to yet another hotel, another city.

Good-bye to China.

Now a good-bye to all these great new playmates who jump when she says jump. And who sit right where she tells them too when playing the magnet game. Who fall all over themselves and each other to make her giggle, smile, or best of all, offer a rare kiss.

Worst of all, good-bye to that new, big man, that Baba who kept her safe on all those big moving vehicles she had to endure for the last two weeks. "Why, oh, why, are they making me say good-bye to him?!"

But as I was simultaneously giggling and empathizing with her pouty face and big crocodile tears and trying to soothe her little sobs, it hit me.

"This is the day we begin the process of redeeming all those losses. Today, she will learn, even if she forgets it tomorrow, that when the kids go away, they come back. When Baba leaves, Baba always comes back."

This is the day we get to redefine "good-bye" for our girl.

I can't promise either of  my daughters that they will never suffer loss or heartbreak now that they have been planted in our family forever. I can't promise them that the broken-ness that brought them to the place of adoption will go away and never touch their hearts or minds again.

But I can promise them that in this family, good-bye is not forever. Good-bye can also mean another opportunity for a joyful and loving celebration of "Hello again."

I held her tight against my heart and whispered in her ear, "Don't worry. Baba will be home later. He will come back soon. Baba always comes back home."

And I thanked the Lord that I get to be part of redeeming the losses for these two gifts He's given us to parent. It's a privilege and an honor that carries a huge responsibility - may I be mindful of it, no matter how good, bad, or ugly it gets in the process.


Scott and Jane said...

Sitting here in a puddle of tears. This is beautiful, just beautiful. Have your camera ready and snap a picture when The Boss gets home. I love that she will learn that goodbye really means "see you later!"

csmith said...

Thank you for sharing your beautiful girl with us, it's been great to watch her come home.
This is not meant to be a criticism AT ALL, so I hope you don't take it that way. Most of what I'm hearing from other adoptive parents says that when you bring your new child home you should avoid crowds, not let others hold them or feed them, stay home as much as possible, in order to create really good bonding and establish you as the primary caretaker. You guys seem to be out and about a lot, sharing her with others (not that I blame you). Are you planning to have more private time after these initial introductions? Do you think it's better to immerse a child in the typical home life right away? Does it just depend on the child's personality? I'm really interested in your feelings on this because we are planning an adoption in the future and I'm really studying up on transitions and bonding. Your other children seem well-adjusted and close emotionally and obviously your last adoption worked out well enough that you are doing it again, so maybe you could share your thoughts.

Aus said...

Morning GM - yeah - I so "get this" - and yeah - this will become the "new normal" quickly enough - but thanks for taking the time to recognize and understand your daughter's (those words have a ring to them!!) angst...that's the "bittersweet" part of adoption - loss for gain...aloneness for love and family.

hugs - thanks for sharing this little part of parenthood -

aus and co.

Heather H. said...

My husband, too, went right back to work. We arrived home on Thursday, and he was back at work on Monday. I'm not sure it was a good thing for our daughter (she was VERY angry with him (and probably much more anxious) for a long time), and I know it wasn't the best for me! But it was our reality. Here's hoping it's a much easier transition for your sweet girl.

Best wishes.

Heather H.

Fannie said...

This gave me goose bumps. You are soooo right! This is the beginning of her new story. How wonderful that this can be the start of a new chapter in her life, written so differently than those before. These babies have already dealt with so much more than we can truly imagine! But it does start new, thank the Lord. :)