An entire year has transpired since we brought our son home. It has flown by and crawled by at the same time. So much has happened this year, it’s hard to believe that it’s all been packed into one year.
Those first days…gosh I felt so uncertain of everything. How strange it was to have a new son, who was four years old, finally home after all these years, and feel like I didn’t know a single thing about him. Will he sleep? What does he like to eat? What is he saying? What does he do? What toys does he enjoy? Seriously? Like, what am I supposed to do now? Deer in the headlights.
Cocooning at home was much harder than I anticipated. I felt isolated and overwhelmed, yet suddenly “bored.” If “bored” is even the right word!? Stunned? Listless? Traumatized! We took things at a snail’s pace here and introduced people and places very slowly. It’s such a strange thing, really. To want to do and show him so much, yet so carefully inching through life’s events. It’s also exhausting… monitoring how he’s processing, constantly watching for signs of stress. Gas, brake. Gas, brake.
I think after an adoption process that takes so long, your brain etches a pathway of longing, waiting, and frustration. Then, they finally come home and you’re still left with the pathway that still needs to slowly close and heal. It’s like PTSD! It leaves you in a sort of funk…and YES, you’re happy and elated that your child is finally HOME! But, now you’re left with the trauma of it all, and you’re also pouring all of your guts into trying to figure out how to parent a child who is essentially a perfect stranger with orphan responses and behaviors. Meanwhile, you simply DO NOT have the capacity to maintain outside relationships and friendships. This is where you find your true people, I think. The ones who give grace upon grace and expect nothing. The ones who text you words of encouragement. The friend (or sister in-law!) who says, “I’ll be at your door when you need me. In the meantime, know I’m praying for you today.” Or, “I’m stopping by for a few minutes to bring you tacos and a hug.” Let me tell you, those friends and family members were the wind in my sails.
It has been one of the hardest years of my life, and also one of the best years of my life. God has shown up.
He’s taught me how to give myself grace.
He’s taught me how to love a child born of another woman.
He’s broken my old heart and given me a new one.
He’s shown me what true friendship looks like.
He’s shown me how love and care can transform a little four year old soul.
He’s reminded me of the gifts that I have in my bio kids, who have struggled alongside us, and have grown up a whole lot.
…and He’s been merciful to all of us. We have all grown and changed. And with all the change, all the pains of growth, we have somehow been welded into this new family. God has done the welding with His skilled hands, making us stronger than before.
Photos by Kim Calabrese