I wrote this blog 5 weeks ago. I posted it for 5 minutes before I took it down, still not feeling able to share the struggles we’ve gone through. After talking with a lovely friend, she encouraged me to put it up. So here it is:
I have been postponing writing this blog.
I’ve actually written it twice. I’ve deleted it twice. It just didn’t feel right.
When a new mother births her infant the first post is usually the birth story. How everything happened; the meal before the first contraction, the first contraction, the water breaking, the verbalizing, the amazing heavenly experience of meeting your child for the first time. The next post however, that is the real post. The sleep deprived, bad latch, postpartum post that all experienced mama’s can relate to.
My fear in writing this blog is that I do not know very many mama’s who can relate to a post-adoption blog and I, in no way, shape or form want to give the wrong impression of what has been going on. That because of these trials and heart breaks I love my daughter any less or that I regret adopting her. Nothing could be further from the truth! But when we (adoptive parents) labor, fundraise, pray, break down to get our children here – I don’t feel that we can be as honest about the struggles when they do finally arrive as our biological parent counter part.
So I waited.
I waited until after the storm to write this post, because I did want to write it. Reading Megan Terry’s honest and open blog about her post-adoptive struggles is what prepared me that after Talitha came home, it may not be sunshine and rainbows right away. I want to make sure that I can be as honest about adoption as my predecessors.
Talitha is an amazing, smart, hilarious little girl. Her personality is as big as a house. She can’t not light up the room when she enters it. When she feels safe you see a side to her that is magic. I just want to eat her up. She truly is absolutely perfect for our family. But getting to this point has been very very hard. Hard in a way that I’ve not had to experience before.
I can’t describe the pain in watching your child, your happy, silly, cuddly child turn into a vacant shell. One who will not look at you and which is the only way that you can communicate with them.
This lasts for hours.
Everytime we left the house Talitha just… went away. She didn’t talk or smile. She didn’t make eye contact. I felt helpless.
I feel that some of the post-adoption adjustment issues were compounded by her deafness. While with a hearing child you could coo and talk to soothe the frightened traumatized child, with a deaf child if they chose not too look at you they are cutting off the only communication you have. So I sat. I held her.
I cried into her bald head.
It took 3 weeks before we could leave the house without her regressing.
Also, whenever we hung around friends she would climb into the lap of someone else (usually a woman) and play with them. She would let them hold her, tickle her; she would become the center of attention by charming everyone around her, all the while not looking at me, ignoring me, and occasionally, shot me a glance that said, “Look at the attention I’m getting! I don’t need or want you.” (The very first time she DIDN’T do this was 2 days ago [2 months 1 week post-adoption] however she since has done it every time we’ve had a play date [twice]. She still does this with Mike every. single. day.)
Then there was the physical illness. So very many. The worse being impetigo that left her buns, legs and stomach covered with open oozing sores. She could barely walk due to the pain. And even though I saw her limp and knew how badly she was hurt, she was smiling. Ear to ear. I would later find out she also had a double ear infection and sinus infection.
From all her contagious diseases I ended up catching the parasites, ring worm and lice. Her lice was so bad that even after 2 treatments she still had live bugs coming out of her curls. We ended up shaving her head.
Then there were the night terrors. 6-12 times a night she woke up screaming. If you’ve never heard a deaf child scream, I truly can’t convey how loud and horrifying it is. One night as I held her I put a pillow over my own head to bear the intense volume of her cries. At first not even my closeness would calm her down, thankfully, all I need to do now is grab her quickly and hug her and she calms, quickly falling back asleep. There are even some nights when she doesn’t wake up at all. (At 2 months post-adoption Talitha stopped needing me to lay with her to go to sleep and she doesn’t wake up at all anymore.)
For the first few weeks she also wouldn’t let me put her down without hyperventilating. I remember one day vividly. Michael was working and I had a crying Mary Kelley in one hand, a crying Talitha in another, the boys were fighting and I had a pizza in the oven that was burning. I have never felt more overwhelmed than in that moment.
Ultimately I look back and realize it’s only been a month. It could have been so much worse. And the strides that she has made are huge! She’s basically a little 20 lb thing climbing the mount Everest of emotional disorders. New family, new continent, new language, new everything! (Her language is an entire post on it’s own!)
I will finish by saying this. Adoption is amazing. God makes it abundantly clear how important it is to Him. But let us not gloss over the intense loss the orphan must deal with. This child lost her family. At a very young age they abandoned her. She was forced to live with a hundred other children in conditions too poor to comprehend by an American mind. Then she was put with yet another family. A family she bonded too and loved and ultimately was taken from them. Given to a new family. A family that didn’t look like her. A place that is unfamiliar. So when you see a family with an adopted child out and about, think before you say how “awesome it is that they were adopted”. Think of the loss and pain the child must have endured to get to this family and respect what the family could be dealing with.