Though I had been at it for four years, I could never get the celebration of the adoption right for our boy. I tried cooking his favorite meal ~ a tradition for birthdays in our family, that didn’t hit the mark. I tried baking cakes, he didn’t care. We tried keeping it low key, more of an acknowledgement than a celebration, to no avail. So each time I got nervous as that adoption anniversary rolled around, ‘How would I screw it up this year?’ I wondered. And to be totally honest, I also wondered why he was so resentful of living in a family that was so good to him, who loved him, cared for him, and provided the first safe place in his life.
This year was different.
We are now at the two year mark of him living away from us. At the 15 month point of the program he began a journey leading him more and more into healthy thinking, less destructive choices and he seemed to turn toward relationship with us. As the 5th anniversary of the adoption drew closer he began to bring it up, “October 8th is coming up.” he would proclaim. “My adoption anniversary is coming up.” His drawing our attention to this date was unchartered territory…‘Proceed with Caution’ my spirit seemed to say.
We had our weekly Skype session on the 5th anniversary of his adoption into our family. That day we had our first open, honest and mature conversation about why this date never felt very happy. Except it did on the day of the actual adoption ~ oh, what a happy day that was. Although in retrospect, maybe he truly wasn’t very happy that day. The truth is ~ although he gained a family who loved him and would be there for him, he also lost a lot that day too. And he was not quite 11 years old, how could he possibly understand all that may have been coursing through his mind and heart.
I remember being cognoscente of the losses ~ his mom, living with his siblings, aunts, uncles, grandparents. Even if they weren’t healthy or safe, they were his. They had known him from the beginning. He had learned how to navigate daily through treacherous waters and had to learn where to put his feet. I knew he also lost camping, country music, cooking that was familiar to his palate, even living out his given birth order ~ he was second oldest in a sibling group of five, now he was the youngest in a group of four. Somehow I just believed that the love, safety, consistency, stability, and community would be enough to offset those losses. I knew he lost a lot and I wished none of it ever had to be taken, a family being split was not in the original plan for the family. But wasn’t it good that he landed in a safe and loving place? He was likely too young, too immature, too damaged by his time on this earth to ever communicate all that was swirling around within him.
He was adopted at an age where he clearly understood who his mom was, craved her arms, her scent, her voice and laughter. He was old enough to know he didn’t want ME to be his mom, he wanted HER to be his mom. He wanted her to be his safe and secure place. He wanted his own family, not ours. Although in my mind I got it, I’m not sure even I could grasp the emotional enormity of it all…for either of us.
Anyway…October 8, 2014 he wanted to acknowledge his adoption. He reminded me of some of the things we had done for him, of which he told me were very nice, one thing I had even forgotten. After living in an environment with other boys who also had great struggles, issues and problems, and family styles, he went on to tell me he realized he was indeed lucky and blessed to call us his family. I didn’t feel over the moon with joy, I didn’t utter ‘Finally!’ in my soul, I just felt peace. Sweet, quiet peace.
This is our continuing adoption story. It’s beautiful, it’s messy, it’s evidence of the grace and faithfulness of God. And it’s beginning to turn the corner.