February 16, 2012

I am the Abductor

This might come off sounding awful,
but here it goes.

When my new daughter comes into my arms, {17 days from today!} I think it's ok if she cries.
Screaming, wailing, flailing... it's all ok with me.
And here's the awful part, part of me is hoping there will be "a reaction" or some kind.  I'm secretly hoping for a big awful transition.  Ya, that must sound awful.  It feels awful too.
You may have guessed that we hope that Mazie will be happy and smiling, and everything goes smoothly on that instant that she is passed to our arms.
But we don't hope that at all.

You see, we have a child that was passed into our arms that had no reaction at all to being passed to strangers.  No crying, no fear, no shut down, no nothing.  We were just another caregiver in what we assume was a long line of many.  And we've seen how that affects a child's soul long term.

Not that I want my child to suffer. I don't want Mazie to experience pain and sorrow and grief.   But if I'm to be honest, not only do we hope she cries, but I hope she's scared.  And frightened.  And even terrified! Maybe so much so that she throws up, even on me.  Or can't look at me.  Or pees on me.  Or kicks us and bites and tries to scratch our eyes out.  It's totally ok with us, if she tries to run away.  Or if she bangs against the hotel door, for hours and calls out the only woman she's ever known as mama.  It's ok if she does it for hours and even days, and I think it's good and true for her to be able to process the feelings and emotions.  I hope she has a reaction, any kind of reaction to what is happening to her.
It'll be heart breaking to see.
It'll be gut bewitching to watch this happen to our child.
But these things are reactions that we can hope for, if our daughter is having a healthy reaction to what is happening to her.  If she has had a healthy attachment to someone in her past, than these would all be normal reactions.  And I have prayed every single day since I saw her face that she has had an attachment to someone... anyone.

Let's take Trolley into the land of make believe.
We have a 9-year-old son, Boo.  He knows no other family.  He only knows himself by the name we've given him.  He lives in an American style home, wears American style clothes, and eats American style food.  He's a pretty normal kid.  (and pretty stinkin' handsome too if I don't say so myself, but let's not get sidetracked.)
And let's pretend that one day, that I drive him to the county court house and give him to a wonderful loving couple from another country.  {Yes, I said "give" him to someone else.}  And maybe they give him a piece of candy and a toy to entice them to their arms.  Surely I would cry as I handed off my child, that I have raised for years, to someone else.  I would cry hard giving my boy to these strangers.  But he didn't know any of this was going to happen!  I didn't tell him!  And it soon would become obvious to him that he is being given away.  To them.  To strangers.  Forever.  And away from the only family he has ever known.  He would miss me.  He would miss his family and his home.  A lot!  Miss doesn't even seem to be the right word for such a life-altering event.
He would soon realize that he knows nothing about this new country, or its people or food or new family.  He doesn't look anything like them.  They have different skin and hair and clothes.  They smell different.  He doesn't speak or understand their language, or even know where it is or how he's going to get there.  The food is weird and he gets hungry.  He only knows that everything he now experiences in different.  Every smell, and taste, and sight, and sound.  And those loving strangers keep touching him.  Maybe they are stroking his cheek or insisting on holding his hand or rubbing his back.  Even his name has been changed to a new one that he's never heard of.  Nothing at all is familiar anymore.  Despite the fact that these hypothetical new mom and dad seem nice, it's all different, and it's very very scary for him.  And he does this all this while grieving his old family and his mama and his papa that he soon realizes he will Never. Ever. See. Again.  He remembers them.  He can't stop looking for them.  Or stop thinking about them.  And on top of being terrified of it all, it breaks his heart.

Lastly, take away all the ability for this child to process internally and rationally comprehend and communicate even to himself  like a 9-year-old would... because the child is actually only 23 months old.  Same feelings, same terror and panic about being taken away, and same memories about the love she once had for someone that is no longer there... but when you're a toddler none of it is processed with words and none of it can be explained.  All she'll know is the moment she's in right then and right there.  The overwhelming fear and the grief.

This will be my daughter as we get her on March 4.  I Simply. Can. Not. Imagine. the feelings she will have.  She will be taken from her foster parents, the only mama and baba that she has known since she was days old, and driven 3 hours to our hotel.  There she will be given to us. That word "give" seems so trite.  Like it's candy or a handbag or even a puppy we're talking about.  It's not.
It's a person.
A real live human being, one person being given to another.
A person with
a soul,
and terror,
and panic,
and memories,
and possibility for anything in her future.

When this person, my daughter is given away, to us, I hope it rocks her world!  And if that means that it rocks her world to the point that she is physically ill, then so be it.  I'm fully prepared to accept it all.  Or at least I'm trying to be.  I'm praying like mad that she has attached so well to her foster parents that this transition to us will be momentous.
I'm praying to be prepared to be hit and pinched and bit.
Prepared for screaming.
Prepared for nightmares.
Prepared for rage and overwhelming depression in a toddler.
Prepared for terror in the eyes of a 2 year old being taken from everything that she knows and love.

And I'm prepared be the abductor.

Until the love can shine through.

This is Jude just a less than 5 minutes after he was placed in my arms, September 1, 2008.
It's with a bitter sweet heart that I look forward to this fast-approaching day of giving and receiving.  I'm so anxious to wrap my arms around her, to claim her {as nobody has done before}as my daughter once and forever, to plant my kisses on her cheeks, and feel the warmth of her head in the crook of my neck.  I want to touch her skin and feel her hand in mine.  But I don't want to  won't will try really hard not to exacerbate her fear for my own peace.  A peace she will be so so very far from in those moments.
It will be a fine line of offering our love and not scaring her further.

I pray we navigate this line well enough for her.



  1. I understand your fears and desires for your new daughter. In a way it is necessary that you have these feelings because that means that you understand what she will be going through. It means that you are ready to put her first. Great post.

  2. Replies
    1. Mine didn't either.
      And not that it's the ultimate determining factor, but I hope this one does.

  3. I left some personal comments on your family blog - but his really is great stuff!

    And torahgirl - don't worry yourself too much! Go with how your daughter is now! What Nancy is describing is the pain that an attached child can experience as they transition that attachment from whomever to them.

    Our first adopted daughter (Korea) was actually transferred to our care in Chicago rather than in Korea (just how it was done "back in the day"). She was 6 months old at the time. She fought her care giver all the way across the ocean - but when handed to her mom (my wife) calmed immediatly and we didn't have that diffuculty. Today she is well bonded and attached to us (9 years later) - but there were several months after she had been home a year or so - when we had to "fight" for that bond to develop.

    Everyone's experience is different - but - a proper bond with a child can be established at any age....and frankly....good bonding with bio kids sometimes doesnt' happen or needs to be worked on by parents too!!

    But there's always time (even into adulthood) to do that!

  4. So true... it is so completely and utterly traumatic to be handed off to a complete stranger who looks, smells and acts like no one you've ever known. Glad you shared this, it is a glimpse into how very un-fairytale-like 'gotcha' day can be.
    Praying for sweet Mazie!!

  5. Oh. This is still so raw for me. It was June 26, yet still like yesterday when I think of the look on his face when he realized that we were no longer the "fun, field trip parents" but the ones he was staying the night with...
    Praying for you all as you begin the dance of becoming family together!