crying in the bathroom: real post adoption stories
I shut the door to that bathroom stall and the tears that I had been holding back started. They came slowly at first and then increased into a flood. My body crumbled to the floor. Thinking back now it seems crazy that I would sit on the bathroom floor at our neighborhood pool. But in that moment all my body knew was that it was finally alone. We were one month home.
To the mama who cried until she was sick because she desperately wanted her child home but now cries because being home is hard... you are not alone. To the mama who is scared to share what life is really like because she doesn't want to turn people away from adoption... you are not alone. To the mama who wonders if she made a mistake and then in the next minute feels shame for having that thought... you are not alone. I have walked the road you are on and so have many, many other mamas. We have survived and one day at a time...you will too.
Our daughter came home at age five. We were told in our training that you should expect to give your child time to adjust. For as many years as they had lived in institutional care, you should wait to make any final judgments until the same amount of years had passed in your family. Five years, it seemed an eternity. I told myself before she came home that it didn't matter if she never loved me, never attached to me, never really accepted me as mom. My view of myself was somewhat hyper-inflated and it didn't take very long being home for me to realize that ideal was just nonsense. Of course all those things mattered. I longed to not just be her caretaker. I wanted to be her MOTHER and more than that I wanted her to want me to be her mother.
My girl is a fighter. She is a survivor. The more language she gained, the more of her story we learned. The more we learned, the more we grieved and understood. Her past is her story to tell but I will just say it was not one that you would wish for your child. She was going to make me prove that I was worthy of her trust. And I had to wait for her to be ready without losing my mind in the process.
We had to live outside during all waking hours those first few months home. It was beastly hot that summer, but to come indoors meant absolute chaos would ensue. And so the heat became our friend, along with sprinklers and popsicles and buckets of water. Everything took forever. If we had a medical appointment, I knew that we should start to prepare to leave three hours prior to when I normally would have expected to go. The day I found myself sobbing in the pool restroom I had spent two hours trying to make six peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for our family meal. TWO HOURS. My day consisted of constant behavioral crisis management. Our new daughter was trying to figure out what being in a family even meant and how to navigate a whole new culture. Meanwhile, our other three kiddo's souls were bleeding. Daddy and Mommy were gone for three weeks and when we came home we were not the same people who had left them. We had left with a nice rhythm going. Not perfect by any means, but there was some predictability to our daily lives. Now the rhythm had changed. In fact there was no rhythm at all. I think if our life had been a muscial score at that point it would have sounded like a room full of children playing on musical instruments for the first time. Just chaotic noise and confusion.
We kept going. Day after day we kept trying. And somehow the days turned into months that turned into years. We all learned more about who we were and who we wanted and needed to become. Ever so slowly we watched our daughter start to let us into her heart. She started to discover who she really was and we discovered who she needed us to be. There are still moments that are so hard but, thankfully, not the hard like before. Some of that is because she has changed and some of that is because her Daddy and I have changed too. Her burden and her struggle have become part of my own story now. We are forever entwined together through this crazy thing called adoption. Her past will forever be a part of her and forever be a part of our family. But that is not the end of the story because her future is forever a part of our family too. As we approach our year five mark I am thankful for all the growth and healing in her life and I am thankful for the growth and healing in my own life as well.