Today's blog post is the first in a series about connection in the post-adoption stage.
We hope that it leaves you encouraged!
It’s often difficult to determine what is shareable in the world of grief, trauma, loss and adoption. I mention those things because they are all wrapped up in adoption and also exist outside of adoption. Grief and trauma in any form has to be handled carefully. As parents we need to protect our children, but we also have the responsibility to help others feel… not so alone. So I’ve started sharing, with few details and in return I hear sighs of relief echoing through my little world. I hear, I’m so thankful your day looks just a bit like mine. There is strength in numbers, and strength can often come from numbers.
The week leading up to this day was a long one. I was ready to dissolve into a pile of tears and laments... but my thoughts turned to prayers, desperately seeking some divine intervention. We needed a good day, some connection. Something.
So on that day after work and school and dishes, I told my precious, struggling Liam that his bike was in the car. I said, let’s head to the park and work on your 2-wheel riding. He agreed and we headed out to do just that. Things were going well. No raging in the car, no escaping from his car seat. The short drive to the park was fairly peaceful.
We strapped on his helmet and I began by giving him a choice. Which trail would you like to take Liam? He chose, feeling a bit empowered, and we began. I needed to RUN. As much as we needed connection, I needed the outlet of pounding pavement even more. So I ran and he rode, I said let’s race, we raced. Then he crashed. It wasn’t pretty; it was full of screaming and I hate you and yelling you wanted me to fall.
This moment and the moments afterward are what solidify my belief that if we seek the Lord and watch for him in the details of our lives he will respond with overflowing grace and love in our most desperate moments.
As the screaming continued I glanced to the side of the trail, near the lake and saw a nest with two large goose eggs. Liam! I shouted. There are eggs right behind you! This surprised him a bit and he turned to view the eggs. I walked with him and we peered at the eggs from a safe distance. Within moments two angry geese stormed out from behind the bushes with mouths ready to bite. I snatched him up and we moved to a safe distance.
At once, I knew what to say to my precious boy.
I grabbed his shoulders tight and put my face in front of his.
Do you see how angry those geese are? They thought we were going to hurt their babies. They wanted to protect them. Liam, do you understand that’s how I feel about you? Do you understand that I will always protect you? I will never leave you and if anyone tries to hurt you… I’ll bite them! Just like the geese wanted to bite us! We giggled about that for a moment and I looked him in the eye again. When your heart hurts I can protect you. Share your hurt with me and we will talk or hug until it feels better.
I do mama. You a goose. You a mama goose. (followed by laughter)
We hugged and teased the geese one last time. Liam got back on his bike and we finished our outing peacefully. We ran and rode together while I pondered the gift of crashing right near a nest full of goose eggs; and how a crash gave me the opportunity to explain my love with live, honking, angry examples.
Later that day anger cropped up again. Hot rage filled his eyes. And I said, hey Liam, do you remember those geese? It took a moment, but he remembered. The anger subsided a little quicker than usual. That’s what connection does, it develops little pathways of communication that feel safe and meaningful.
We will keep struggling. For years to come we will struggle. But I’m learning that when our resolve is strong and our faith is stronger we will find divine opportunities to connect with each other along the way. Every bit of the struggle is worth it. Because our kids are worth it.
Erica blogs at Goodbye Normal, on faith, parenting, international adoption and the whole nine yards. She also serves as the Community Coordinator for One Orphan, a ministry of America World Adoption. If you are interested in sharing YOUR story of connection drop her an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.