"You have to know..."

I'm guessing pretty much every parent who has adopted kids from hard places has experienced the  mountaintop high's and depths of despair low's along the way...whether in the process of bringing children home or when the reality of a new reality sets in after the homecoming. We have been living in both the process and the reality for over 2 years now which adds an interesting twist. Sometimes I don't know what to do with comments or questions we get from other adopting families in the midst of both highs and lows along the journey because of our unique situation. Sometimes I just want to say, "The very best thing we ever did was move to Haiti. If that had not happened I am not so sure what would have happened both with the process or the reality of our new reality. But I can't imagine that that there is any chance we would have progressed where we are today." I don't feel that is very helpful information considering that is not everyone else's circumstance or possibility. I'm really happy with where we are today and I love our reality and what we have learned from the process even though it has been excruciatingly hard.  But our story is not everyone else's story. Most people don't move to the foreign home country of the child they are adopting. I don't think we are heroes or anything of the sort for doing so. In fact I kind of feel like a coward because when I imagine what life could have (most likely would have) been like if we had brought the girls "home" to America scares me half to death. And all of you who have done that and are living in that reality are my heroes.

I'm not sure how much we actually have in common with heroes like everyone else but there seems to be one thing that the kids do have in common wherever they come "home" to. And it's this. The kids you just went through hell and back for didn't seem to get the memo and don't really think you are awesome for plucking them out of their reality and giving them a new one. In fact, they probably have imagined a totally different new reality much like you did. Kicking, screaming, pouting, tantrums, not wanting to do this anymore feelings, and a whole slew of things I was too exhausted to blog about a year or two ago ensued in embarrassing quantities...and not just from the kids. I don't even like to remember. It was icky.messy.survival.sigh your way through the day stuff. Over and over. There were days that I just turned on movies and hunkered down because I had no energy left to do anything like be the mom I once thought I could be. I didn't even want to be her anymore. And I knew my girls knew. And we kicked and screamed and pouted about it together. And I let them see me cry. And I told them it was hard. But there was one thing I believed. One thing I always told them that seemed to always help. "We are a family. You will always be a part of our family. No matter what." I didn't think they believed it at first. There were moments I knew for sure they didn't. I doubt they believed it after a year. I think that only very recently they started to allow themselves to believe and let go of the fear that it might not be true. I think this is one thing we may have in common with other families who have adopted kids from hard places...especially older kids. So in case you need encouragement as badly as I so often do "you have to know"...that this is still possible. Even when you don't feel like you deserve it because adoption is often so hard and we don't always handle hard well and stop pausing to see how far we have come.

I received these messages in my birthday cards a week ago. And though I wanted to keep it to myself I felt that for others "you have to know" too that this is possible.

"Dear Mom,
I love you. I thank you for what you have done for Elita and I. God bless you. I am so happy that I have you to be my mother for ever now. You have to know that I love you so much with all of my heart. Love you. Love again, Esmée"

"I am happy to be with you. And I will always be a part of the family. God loves you sooo much. And I love you too. I am proud to be your daughter. I am glad because you have Jesus in your heart. You are the best Mother in the whole world. Your Daughter, Elita"

This melted me. I have been reading these precious words all week long with joy yet overwhelmed with a deep grieving that it has taken 2 years of going through every single day together for them to fully believe that "We are family. You will always be a part of our family. No matter what."

There have been many encouragements/bonding/learning to love well/not doing it well and making up moments along the way. I don't doubt there will be many more. But sometimes us parents really don't know. And I think that is ok. I tell my girls "I don't  know" all the time. But there are some things we just have to know. I have to know that my children know that I love them (even when...especially when I don't feel like I'm doing a great job). And when they really and truly know you love them (though unfortunately there probably isn't a way to know how long that will take) there is an inexpressible joy that comes when your child makes sure you know that they love you too.

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