Last month, we celebrated our 1-year-home day! I have hesitated to post much the past few months, as I was awaiting an “aha” moment or moment of great inspiration before I wasted my readers’ time on “just another” blog post. Additionally, I always want to be careful to protect our daughter’s privacy and not reveal too much of her story until she wishes to do so. But we must celebrate the ordinary, and sometimes sharing our challenges and triumphs blesses others.
True story…the past year has been hard. As I write this, our sweet girl is coming down from her birthday festivities’ high, and it’s not pretty. Truth is, we all love to see “gotcha day” photos and then think that once the child has her new family, she and they live happily ever after. And happy does happen. Like last week, when our Little One asked me to come watch her play outside. Less than 12 months earlier, we had bought her her very first bicycle. With princesses and pink and purple sparkles, she was anxious to try it out. However, we immediately learned that she had no experience pedaling and steering. Even though the bike had training wheels, the concept was completely foreign to her. We sought therapy to help her little knees stay forward instead of protrude outwards as she pedaled. Then we had to work on steering, which seemed to be so much for her little brain to handle at once: both legs and arms coordinating to make the bicycle move properly.
But here we were last week, and she had decided to try out her brother’s bike, which did not have training wheels. I had underestimated the fight in her, as I watched in awe as this feisty girl had taught herself to ride Brother’s bike, sans training wheels, within less than a year of being introduced to bicycles. She is determined to keep up with those brothers and nothing will stop her when she puts her mind to something.
I admire that about her. I am so proud of the fighter she is. She had to fight to survive her early years, and it must seem impossible to turn off the fight mode even though she is safe and loved now. She will do mighty things for God.
But that fighting spirit doesn’t bode well in every circumstance…
For instance, when a brother completes his handwriting before she completes hers, that competitive spirit creates havoc in our classroom. And when Mama needs Little One to clean her room, that fighting spirit makes a simple task much too complicated.
I’ve discovered that I’m not as tough as I wish I was. Little One is not the only strong-willed child in our family, and I have found myself emotionally exhausted on a regular basis. However, instead of beating myself up about it, I am realizing that this is par for the course for most adoptive families. I see that girl who can now speak in some English sentences, and who gave me a willing hug this morning out of the blue, and who taught herself to ride a bike without training wheels, and I realize…she’s growing leaps and bounds. With the help of God’s Spirit, we are doing alright. Perfection does not exist. This is what we call “spending ourselves.”
So, how is it going a year later?
She still prefers her daddy over her mommy. I suppose that’s just the way it’s going to be, and that’s OK. It makes Daddy feel pretty special, honestly.
She started and “graduated” from speech therapy. She amazed the therapist at how quickly she learned and developed.
Her hair has grown! Eeek! I finally have little girl hair to play with. Sadly, I’ve discovered I’m not really good at it…but Little One doesn’t seem to mind my imperfection in that area.
She hates restaurants. Anyone else deal with this? Something about going to eat, sitting at a table, and having to wait for food really drives her crazy. Yesterday we did this, and the whining and slumping in her seat began almost immediately. I’m praying we can work through this soon.
Another issue we dealt with yesterday…I was visiting with my nieces and nephew, who are all very affectionate. Little One is not physically affectionate, especially with me. It doesn’t stop me from giving her hugs and kisses, though. However, she didn’t know what to think about seeing my nieces hug and love on me. We had behavior issues the remainder of the day.
There is so much to consider with children who come from hard places. Loss, abandonment, early neglect…all of these will play a role in how our children see and interact with the world. And it doesn’t “go away” when they are adopted. Not immediately, not 6 months after “gotcha day,” not after a year with a loving family. Sometimes never. We love anyway. She is ours, and we choose to love no matter what.
This journey has had a profound impact on how I see myself. It’s funny how adopting a child and entering into their hurt will bring up any issues within one’s own heart that may have been left unaddressed. So, I see the beauty and growth that is happening in both mother and daughter. It’s a good thing. God is sovereign, and He uses so many experiences to shape us.
I’m thankful for that.
Hug an adoptive parent today.