Sunday, September 18, 2011

Adopting Older Children: Transferring the Bond

Sometimes God blesses us with knowledge and wisdom and sometimes he chooses to bless us by letting us remain blind to a particular truth until he believes we are ready.  The latter blessing is what I would like to share in this post.  In the words of Dick Cheney, you have your 'known unknowns and your unknown unknowns'.  The same is true in the world of adoption.  

When we decided to an adopt an older child, we knew there would be a host of unknowns.  We read, studied, connected with others who blazed the trail, and did all that we could to prepare ourselves.  The known unknowns were hurt, grief, and loss.  However, there are simply some things that can only be revealed in time, especially when language and culture barriers are factored in. 

From day one, Sporty referred to us as mommy and daddy.  In and of itself, for him to immediately bestow those euphonious titles on us was a huge gift from God.  It is not natural, yet it was completely natural.  Deep inside though, he was going through an internal struggle.  Yes, he knew we were his mom and dad and yes he understood the meaning of family.  Even so, his heart and mind were trying to come to terms with everything that had just happened.  When one experiences so much loss, I imagine it is hard to truly open yourself up to anyone.  I imagine one is skeptical to trust the permanency of anything, including family.  That is just another known unknown, one we were prepared for.  The unknown unknown, something that has now been revealed, was the extent of the bond Sporty had with one of his primary caregivers at the transition home.  While I was prepared for him to mourn his family and grieve the loss of his country, I simply did not realize that God had provided our son a mother figure for his entire stay at the orphanage.  Because older children tend to have much longer stays (often years) in the orphanage, I image that time to be scary and lonely.  True to his Word, God did exactly what he promised in the Gospel of John 14:18.  He did not leave Sporty as an orphan, but provided a special caregiver to love and mother him, while he was waiting.  

Very recently, as we have been able to communicate more clearly and openly, Sporty shared with me stories of how his special caregiver loved him and protected him when he was alone.  How she went out of her way to make him feel special and loved.  He gave me all of the letters she wrote to him and wanted me to know that he cared for her very much.  He shared how much he misses her and wanted to know how she was doing.  He cried, I cried.  I told him I was so happy that she was there to love him before we were able to get there, how it was OK to love her, love his first family, and love his forever family.  We talked and bonded and I could sense his guards coming down.  He had been carrying around a secret and his allegiance was divided.  We were his family, but she had his trust.  The bond went from his grandmother to his caregiver and rested there, safely on a shelf, until we proved our worthiness.  

I am tearfully overjoyed to share that the 'mother bond' has been officially transferred.  The light in Sporty's eyes and the amount of hugs he asks of me everyday are symbolic representations of what is going on inside.  While he has always accepted me as his mother figure, I believe I am now officially his mom, with all its rights, duties, and privileges.  

Thank you, God for unknown unknowns and for your promise to care for the fatherless.  Thank you for counting us worthy to be on the journey of our lives.  

"If you exploit them in any way and they cry out to me, then I will certainly hear their cry."  
Exodus 22:23