Friday, September 7, 2012

the bitter and the sweet

Zoe's our daughter. I don't think of her as a former orphan, though she is. We've settled into life with her, and it feels like it's been far more than eight weeks since we brought her home.

But.

Today has been bittersweet. Precious, but only made so by the difficult realities of adoption.

First, a bittersweet and wonderful word...
Mama.

She's been saying it occasionally, but we haven't been sure if it had meaning or not. Today, she was fussing on the floor with Jocelyn, and I scooped her up from behind. When she saw who it was who had her, our eyes locked and her mostly gummy grin let out a beautiful "Mama." 

This moment with each of my other two was just sweet. No bitter in sight. 

But the reality is that adoption only exists due to brokenness, be it poverty or death or sin or some other circumstance that won't exist in heaven and didn't exist in the Garden of Eden. In the absence of brokenness, Zoe wouldn't be ours. She would be saying "mama" to the one who gave birth to her. 

The sweetness, though, is in redemption. Just as God's redemption of me transformed me from a sinner to His child, the beauty of redemption in earthly adoption takes an orphan and makes her a loved daughter. 

A daughter whose Mama's heart fills with joy when she uses her first word to call me by name.

Second, a bittersweet and wonderful moment...
Lee went on a week-long business trip, returning today. Zoe has been a little cranky all week.

I thought it was teething, but she hasn't acted this way with other teeth. It could be that she has been carted around more, with school registration and carpools and a developmental evaluation. It could have been any of those realities. But I realized today that she might not know that Daddy - her favorite parent by far, which I love - was coming back.

With Jocelyn and Robbie, I could say, "We've always come back." And "Mommy and Daddy have always been here for you." And "Do you have any reason to doubt us?"

For Zoe, we haven't always been there. She's learning to trust us. It's different.

For Zoe, I don't think she knew that Daddy was coming back. She is more tentative with him this evening than she has been since our first days in Taiwan. In time, she'll trust him again, but we're not quite sure she does right now.

That's the bitter.

The sweet? It's this. 




22 comments:

  1. Seriously she is the cutest kid on the block!

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    1. Her beauty can literally take my breath away for a moment!

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  2. Wow, thanks! Beautiful on all kinds of levels! What you have done for Zoe is the Gospel in shoe leather! It really stinks that sin brought so much brokenness but - in a sick kind of way - without the brokenness we would never know the wonder of the Gospel!

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    1. Yes, adoption has offered me a whole 'nother layer of understanding about the gospel.

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  3. Oh, how sweet! Adoption is certainly not for the faint of heart....... not the kiddos & not the parents. We've been home for almost 4 months with our son. There are amazing moments & bittersweet ones. So thankful for Father God's redeeming love that brings healing to broken hearts!

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    1. I love all the moments, though, the bittersweet ones and the ones that aren't. God is teaching us so much through all of them, isn't He?

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  4. Lovely...I have been meditating this past week on the fact that parenthood is full...absolutely chock-full of bittersweet.

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    1. Yes. I am so thankful God has work in His ways to place each of our three kiddos in our family, because I learn oh so much from parenting them.

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  5. Its sad. Alina was 3.5 when she came home, and she's now 5, been home almost 2yrs and she STILL has to ask repeatedly if I'm coming home, when I will be back, when everyone will be home. She cannot relax when people are out of the house. If the boys are at school or dad is at work, or I go out for dinner with girlfriends, she's on constant alert until all of her eggs are in her basket. :) She knows us, she trusts us, she shows obvious attachment and love, but she's still hesitant to really give it her all, fully trust that we won't abandon her like everyone else in her past has. She's come a long way, but it will still take us coming back and reassuring her before she gets to the point where she doesn't worry.

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    1. Oh, my heart aches for Alina and the boundaries she feels like she needs to place around her heart. I am thankful for how far she has come and hopeful for how far she will go from here.

      We think our adoption stories are just beginning and that Zoe won't be the only child added to our family in this way, and I've been thinking about the bittersweet that comes with an older child (because our plans have always been to adopt an older waiting child rather than a younger one, though God clearly switched that up for us with Zoe). I don't think trust issues will be an ongoing issue for Zoe, given how young she is, but it probably will be for the future children we add to our family.

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  6. I'm slightly jealous. Jonathan has been with us since he was 4 months old and definitely knows us as his parents. He's now 21 months but I still haven't heard "mama". "Hi" and "bye" are the only words in his vocabulary. He's a boy and being raised bilingually (his nanny is Taiwanese) so he's taking his time with verbal communication. It's fun watching the ways he figures out to communicate without words, however. He definitely lets me know I'm his mommy. Still, it would be nice to hear. The race is on -- will he or his 9 1/2 month old sister figure out how to say it first.

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    1. Keep me posted on who says it first! Our friends speak both English and French in the home, and each of their children has been later with speech than our kiddos, so I know how that goes. I wonder if - like it was with my Jocelyn, who was a late talker - his language will just explode one day!

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  7. We have gone through both domestic foster to adopt and international adoption (well we have started, but not completed), and I found an interesting difference. With domestic adoption we were told NOT to let our foster to adopt daughter call us mother and father (and if she tried to we were told to tell her no and insist on Mr. and Mrs. Kaiser). We were told not to allow such until we were certain she had bonded. But with international adoption we found out that in our soon-to-be daughter's country of origin the children call all middle aged adults mama and papa and that was fine (older people are referred to by the terms for grandma and grandpa). I have to admit hearing "papa" melted my heart, but remembering it had a different cultural meaning brought me back down to earth.

    John Kaiser
    www.helpbringalexhome.com

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    1. The cultural connotation might bring you down to earth again, but it's still precious. How sweet it will be once she returns to your home for good and calls you "papa" after the adoption is final!

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    2. We can't wait. Never have days passed so slowly as we wait to get all the require paperwork done and wait to raise the funds we will need. When I was a kid I thought there wasn't a slower unit of time than that hours between Christmas Eve night and the next morning when I got to open my presents. I was so wrong about that. But it was especially tough hosting her and having top put her on a plane to fly back to the orphanage when all we wanted to do was keep her here with us. But we take comfort in knowing that she will be with us again and the Lord will provide along the way.

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    3. I know friends whose hearts have ached at traveling to meet and go to court for their children and then leaving until the US approves the adoption, grieving at not being able to bring their child(ren) home in the first visit. I know it must be more challenging to wait when she has already been in your home when you hosted her!

      I'm not sure how much I'll be able to help, but as you plan the race and other events where you might need volunteers, please let me know. My email is shannon@dinglefest.com. We were expecting to adopt a child who is HIV+ - and may still - so I'd love to help with and advocate for the adoption of your sweet Alex in any way I can!

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  8. Second thought, we are having a fundraiser at Assaggio's Pizzeria in Fuquay on September 27th (11 a.m. until 9 p.m.). Anyone who eats there can drop their receipt in the specially marked donation box and the owner will give us 15% of the total value of all the receipts collected by the end of the night. Please spread the word, since it isn't too far of a drive from Raleigh. We won't be around the restaurant for long (since there is limited space), but we will have plenty of posters there and two very well decorated boxes for those receipts.

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  9. Shannon, I love this! Would you be willing to let us feature this post on We Are Grafted In? Just let me know!
    Stephanie
    co-administrator of WAGI
    smurphy28 @ juno.com

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  10. Shannon, I was going through my post requests and I don't think I heard back from you about this post. (Please excuse me if you replied and I missed it!) Are you okay with us featuring this on WAGI?
    Stephanie
    smurphy28 @ juno.com

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