I would like to post one last update on this blog. I simply just do not have time or am not willing to make the time to maintain it. I have deeply enjoyed having a place to post about our adoption journey and other things on my mind. What it comes down to for me is that I am simply too busy enjoying life to take time out to blog here, and this place seems to have served its purpose in my life. For anyone who would like to continue to follow our family, you can find me on Facebook–Kim Sanders Stewart. I’m slightly better about posting photos there. 🙂 Just add a note that you found me through my blog, in case I don’t recognize your name.
I am writing this post to say that it is worth it…all of the wait, the worry, the anticipation, the shock, the adjustment of bringing your child home. Those of you who have followed from the beginning know how hard it was for us in China. We were honestly in shock–culture shock and shock of the changes this handful of a girl was going to bring to our family. Following other families, Tommy and I now try really hard not to judge any family’s reactions while they are in China because it is such a very stressful time. Fortunately, it doesn’t last long.
Don’t get me wrong–I love China. It is my daughter’s first home. Rachel and I regularly talk about going back to visit China which I intend to do when she is older. However, I think I will be able to enjoy and appreciate China much, much more as a tourist than as an adoptive parent. Advice that is repeated over and over on the Adopting Older Kids–China group that I am part of is “You just do whatever you have to do to survive and bring your child home safely while you are in China.” That is the truth.
I have tried to share on here before about how different it is adopting an older child. You look longingly at every photo you receive of your child during the wait, studying every aspect of them, trying to imagine what they are really like. Then comes the day you first meet your child, the day you’ve been longing and praying for. Sometimes you are met with a quiet, withdrawn, frightened (terrified) child; sometimes you are met with a screaming, kicking, hitting child; and sometimes you are met with a very hyper, talkative, into-everything, toddler-like child. There is no normal reaction for a child who is undergoing this type of change in their lives. Sometimes they are well-prepared for adoption. Sometimes they are not. Sometimes they are told good things about their adoptive families. Sometimes they are told horrible things like “If you are not good, they will send you back.” Either way, there is simply no way for a child to be prepared for having strange-looking people come, meet you, and immediately take you away from all that is familiar to you.
There are those families who have the love at first sight moments. Although some would not admit it, I think those are probably the exception. So that is why I want to share my experience.
Your time in China and the first weeks and months home, you just survive. You do your best to learn your child. You do your best to develop a relationship with them. You do your best to help make their adjustment to their new life easier. Meanwhile, you are struggling to survive, often sleep-deprived, grieving the loss of the way things were before–yes, this happens no matter how good the changes in life are.
Gradually, the relationship between you and your child unfolds. It happens slowly over time so that you can only really see it when you look back. You hold and comfort your child when they are grieving. You hug and kiss them when they are hurt. You tell them how much you love them even if you don’t feel that love inside you. It’s that kind of unconditional love that Jesus talks about–you act loving even though you may not always feel it. And slowly that love begins to grow. It starts out so small–those first feelings of pleasure over your child. They gradually grow stronger. Until one day you suddenly realize that when you see your child or hug your child or snuggle in bed with your child, you heart feels warm and tingly and like it is going to explode at the delight you feel toward her.
Whether you believe in God or not, what happens in adoption is a miracle. You feel “something” nudging you to step out in faith–adoption is always an act of faith–believing that there is something good in this for everyone. Then you are changed by this experience. The “something” that was missing in your life, the thing that you may not have even realized was missing, is now “found”. And even though your life may be crazier than you ever imagined, you realize that this “something” is changing your life for the better–making you into a better person because of their courage and resilience and hope and joy, their zest for life and love, and you wishing you could be more like them.