My first visit to the clinic was in 2008. I went hopeful. Hopeful that the research and testings and interviews with my sweet baby boy and his birth momma would prove what we desperately believed to be true- that he should not be returned to her custody.
I spent that day in the waiting area- feeling curious, and helpless, and a little insecure as he spent the day away from me. I had been his mommy for two years at that point, and it was awkward letting him go with her. I felt the need to protect him but could only wait, apart from him. I was glad to take his hand and come home. The affect of spending the hours with her was obvious and immediate. The investment was worth it. The studies supported attachment concerns and eventually, with the testimony of the Dr. was instrumental in the termination of birth parental rights. The rest, as they say is history.
I've shared some intimate stories about our life- life of parenting a child who "had a difficult beginning." We've spent the last 4+ years looking for tools to keep in our parenting special needs kids toolbox. I wish I could say love was enough to make it easy. It ain't easy. Love makes it worth it. We are still in search of the easy but at this point we will settle for easier.
So Wednesday night, we headed back to Charlottesville to spend Thursday at the clinic. Still hopeful. Hopeful that the same expertise, years of training and research will help us to better parent our child. To get us to a place where we aren't exhausted just thinking about a new day. Still hopeful for healing. This time, the focus was on us, the adoptive parents. I was invited into the mysterious playroom with the one way mirrors, the room that kept me wondering for the last few years.
(what's better than a late night swim & midnight snack at a hotel without your brothers, you ask?)
The morning started with 1.5 hours of Rex and I interviewing together, then we spent the next couple of hours taking turns "playing" with our son in the playroom. Coming and going, and each time we'd leave him we joined the Dr. on the other side of the mirror and watched him. The other 6 hours or so was spent interviewing individually with the best in the field. All 8 hours videotaped- yuck. (We asked if they could make us skinny, but unfortunately, they aren't that good.) In the next few months we'll spend hours working with Jennifer to view, study and learn from the tapes. We expect to find those missing puzzle pieces, to learn how to read his (mis)cues so we can meet his real needs.
Can I just keep it real? The day was grueling.
The questions were intense. Questions like
What is it like to parent him? What was your childhood like? Give me a specific example of that? How does it feel when? What made you decide to adopt? What do you want for your son's future?How do you discipline? How has parenting E. affected your marriage? How do you handle it all?
I was able to speak of my faith, obedience to and our foundation on Christ. How lots of prayer keeps us going, and when extremely necessary we throw in long hot baths and chocolate.
I'm sure it sounds strange, unless you have adopted or fostered a neglected or abused child. We would have laughed and thought it was craziness too, before we started living the craziness.
Just because it ain't pretty, doesn't mean it isn't worth it.
Just because it's more difficult than we ever expected, doesn't mean we have regrets!
Total honesty is painful to face straight on. Many of the questions brought tears and raw emotions that couldn't be hidden.
But one question they asked- it was easy and joyful to answer.
"Has he captured your heart?"
(I know this is a repeat picture, but I just love it. It speaks volumes and keeps me focused on the joys of being his momma!)
My sweet friend Lora, who in difficult times reminds her friends to just keep putting one foot in front of the other.
That's what we are going to do.
And I'll keep sharing what we are learning about the realities of adoption one step at a time, and praying that God will take our normal chaotic craziness and use it to encourage somebody else in theirs.