In the adoption community there is a little something called "gotcha day". Gotcha day is the day that families first meet their new little one. Many families celebrate this day with a birthday like celebration, while other families choose to have a more low key approach to the day. While reading through some blogs, I discovered that there is some controversy over the whole "gotcha day" thing- and I get it- what is a joyful celebration for the adoptive family can also be a day marked with brokenness and pain for the child as this is the day they left their foster family, or left the orphanage. Its the day they leave behind a life full of the only memories they have. Regardless of if you celebrate it or not, the day is significant.
I remember clearly the butterflies that swelled in my stomach as our plane taxied to the gate at the Entebbe airport when we went to Uganda to adopt Bridget. I was a nervous wreck as we walked out of customs and scanned the airport for the orphanage director. When the crowds parted we saw him and we saw our little girl, I burst into tears and scooped her up and probably terrified the living daylights out of her. It was the moment I had been waiting for for almost two years! My little girl was finally in my arms!
A year later when we returned to Uganda for our son, the same butterflies were there, but there was also more anticipation as we already knew our son (since we had met him while adopting Bridget). Joram was not waiting for us at the airport but was at the guest house, and when we got there he ran down the stairs and greeted us and my heart nearly burst with joy.
Those days, those moments, will forever be etched in my memory. Just as I remember the birth of my other children, those "gotcha days" and locked up in my heart like precious treasures.
Bridget's and Joram's "Gotcha days" are a week apart and they were both last month. I anticipated celebrating these anniversaries in some sort of silly, fun filled way (we do a "family celebration" focusing not on the adoption, per se, but celebrating the family as a whole). But that was not the case. There was no celebration. No cake. Nothing was really said or done. Why? Because it didn't feel like there was much to celebrate...
As you know by now, our son's adoption and transition has been hard. From the three months Mike and him spent in Uganda getting through the process to the past 10 months adjusting at home, it has been a roller coaster. The week we should have been celebrating our family, we instead spent checking our son into a treatment facility. Instead of eating cake, we hardly ate at all because the stress and heartache had destroyed our appetites. Instead of spending time together as a family, we had to coordinate babysitters so we could visit our son. Instead of merriment and fun, we shed a lot of tears.
Here's the thing about life, it often takes unexpected turns.
I never thought this is what our life would look like: psych evals, hospital visits, parent coaches, social workers, acronyms galore like RAD, TFC, RTC, TBRI, PTSD etc.
Over the past several months I have gotten messages from friends on Facebook inquiring about our family. "I never see any pictures of your son". "Is your son still living with you?" "Is your son ok? I only read about the girls." It isn't like we have been hiding what has been going on, but it is not exactly something you want everyone to know, especially when it comes to something like this.
Many people were part of our adoption journey. People gave of their time, their money, their gifts and talents to bring our boy home. When Mike was in Uganda for three months and we had no income, people brought us groceries, helped pay bills, cut our grass and helped with stuff around the house. People feel a part of our story because they ARE part of our story! It has been very hard to let people know that things have been this difficult.
Every adoption is difficult. I know we want to believe in the happily ever after and that a unicorn gets its horn every time a child is adopted, but no matter the circumstances, adoption is born of brokenness - be it a young mother choosing life for her child but unable to care for them herself, or a child orphaned from natural disaster or disease, or the child that is abandoned, adoption is born from pain. That is a pain that every adopted child will have to work through in one way or another. Is adoption good? Yes! It is a beautiful act and great things can come from it. Is adoption easy? NO! It is heartbreaking, messy, hard and at times devastating.
Every child responds to their adoption circumstances differently. The circumstances for each child is different. I have friends who were adopted at birth and to this day they still struggle greatly with that pain. I have friends who were or have adopted older older children and they have adjusted well into the family and worked through the circumstances of their adoptions. There is no way to determine how children will respond to their adoption, how they will heal, or if they will heal. There is no one magical treatment that will make things better. We can seek the counsel of others, read the books, watch the videos, do the therapy and hope for the best. These things can offer help, but ultimately, true healing and hope can only come from the Lord.
I have no idea what the future looks like for our family. I have no idea what the future looks like for our son. Right now we are taking things day by day, moment by moment. We are hoping and praying for healing of our sons heart and that he can come back and be a part of our family and our home - but there are no guarantees.
I do know this, we will not stop fighting for our son. We will not give up on him and will work tirelessly to give him the opportunities he needs to be successful. We aren't sure if that success will come in our home or with our family, but we will do all we can to see success happen in his life.
This is the hardest thing we have walked through. We have asked all five our our kids to walk a very hard road and it has been so hard to see the wear and tear on everyone - but it has not been for nothing.
There has been incredible gains in our lives, strengthened relationships, hurts healed, faith tested, perseverance grown, and grace experienced like never before. Just because life is hard, doesn't make it bad. Just because the path is difficult, doesn't mean the journey is a waste. Just because life takes an unexpected turn doesn't mean the destination won't be worth it. We keep walking. We keep pushing forward. We hold our hope in Him who has walked this road before us. We don't know what the future holds, but we know who hold the future.
2 Corinthians 4:16-18