What I was the most clueless about, was how hard everything would be once she got here.
Today we celebrate GOTCHA DAY. In the adoption world, this is the day that your adopted child enters your family. August 15, 2013 Anna was in my arms on US soil. I had imagined that day for so long, prayed for it and dreamt about it. When she finally got to those anxious arms I felt only one thing – OVERWHELMED!!! For starters, she was sick when she arrived. The poor baby slept the whole trip over which was a blessing to my kind friend Anita who escorted her sick herself. I spent the first 5 days home holding a feverish clingy 17 pound 13 month old stranger while the boys stayed with mom. I should have been well prepared for this type of beginning but I was scared. Big time. All the feelings I thought would rush over me the minute I held her in my arms just seemed stuck somewhere between my idealism and my ignorance.
I was told she was walking in Ghana and when she arrived she wouldn’t even put pressure on her tiny legs and stand holding onto a chair or something. I worried about a host of medical and developmental concerns almost constantly.
I spent some time at counseling trying to sort through these concerns I was having. Months into the adoption I felt like I was babysitting someone else’s child and it was DRIVING ME CRAZY. Could I possibly do this for 17 years? I pushed her too hard to conquer all of her ‘issues’ way to fast and pushed her away. I began to resent the decision to adopt Anna and felt extremely guilty about it. This has been the toughest year of my life.
Fast forward 12 months and Anna is a healthy, beautiful little girl with a spunky personality. She loves to be loved and included. She loves food, laughing and hangin with the boys. She can run very fast and is learning to ride her tricycle quite well. Her speech is coming along at a very fast pace and she seems to ‘fit right into our family’ from the words of so many. Today she told me “Mommy nice, we buddies”. It was the first time she’d ever said anything like that. It was exactly what I needed to hear.
The theme I’ve been thinking most about these last few months is just how backwards I had Anna’s whole adoption in my head. I walked into this adoption thinking this would be a redemption story. A story of a Christian, American family who felt they had “room in their hearts and family” for a little girl who had no one. A life redeemed. How ridiculous.
The real redemption story in Anna’s adoption is how God is redeeming me through this process from the selfish, faithless, easily angered and lacking in compassion woman that I was into someone that is still those things, but hopefully, each day, a little less of them. Anna’s adoption brought out flaws and weakness within myself that I didn’t know needed fixing before.
When I look at her today in the morning I don’t have to force a smile when I walk in the room. It took much longer than I wanted or expected, but I can honestly say I’m thankful she is in our family. She is beginning to feel like my daughter. I can make her happy without always trying and watching her grow and run and laugh makes me happy. I’m thankful that she is in our family and I’m so thankful for God and my husband loving me through this first year as a new family. It hasn’t been easy but nothing worthwhile in life ever is.
Happy Gotcha Day Anna….