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Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Done faking it

I want to start with this.

Some say 143.  Recently I heard 153.  But the number heard most frequently is 147. There are approximately 147 million orphans in the world, right now.  And that's kinda sad that I have to say approximately because no one knows for sure how many there are.  There are so very many that we can't even count them all.  Let's say we're talking about socks or hand bags.  Ok, we don't need to be precise.  Even if we are talking about dogs, maybe it's ok if we leave one or two out of our final count.  But these are children.  With souls and dreams and eyes and bitty fingers each an orphan without family to wrap her loving arms around them and give them each what every single child should have... a home... a family.  And we can't even count them all.
So we welcomed a daughter (and a son) into our family with excited and loving arms.  I was given this child.  Because I was too fearful and distrustful of what the Lord said I could handle.  I got this daughter.  She was 12 months old.  Because I was fearful of older.  Older would mean that I might have to deal with uncertainly.  Could she love me?  Could she love at all?  Would she turn her back on me?  Would she run from me, leaving me with outstretched arms, empty, longing to be held?  So she was 12 months old only, because this young infant surley could be molded and with time and love... could love.  She could be healed of the deprivation?  Surely, I thought?  I thought wrong.
But again, God knows.  Not me.  Again I am reminded of this.  And this daughter of mine for only 20 minutes, did not love me.  She loved noone.  She wanted no one.  She wanted the quiet solace of her own inner world.  She wanted to be left alone.  All alone.  Alone was when no one saw her or attended her or touched her or cooed to her or sang to her or looked into her eyes to tried to get a glimpse into her soul.  For days.  For months.  For years.  Forever?  This malnourished baby of only 15 pounds who never knew or felt love in her orphanage.  Maybe it was there and she just wouldn't let it in her soul.  Certainly she didn't know or feel the Lord's love.  She turned her head from me.  Turned her body from us.  She did not smile.  She certainly didn't love.  She wanted to be placed in her crib, and she wanted us to leave the room and close the door.  And that fact made me weep uncontrollably and broke my heart.  And in the beginning we obliged her.  Being alone was her only peace in the beginning.  We wanted her to have some peace at least.  From my own naive experience, I will tell you, this was beyond orphan adoption adjustment issues.  This was serious attachment life-altering stuff.
So we were left with a child, our beloved daughter, that knew nothing of love.  She scratched her skin till it bled.  She pulled out her hair.  She dug in her ears till the blood came.  She hoarded food.  She did it all trying to avoid us and trying to avoid looking at and touching anyone, and most of all trying to escape any contact with her soul.  When she started to be less silent, she screamed to get what she wanted.  When she didn't get what she wanted she'd bang her head against the wall.  She didn't want to look at us or be touched or held.  She knew me and noticed me no more than the mail carrier and the random stranger in the checkout line in Walmart.
To remain sane, I borrowed a phrase often used in foster parenting.  I adopted the motto, fake it till you make it.  I said it over and over in my head.  So I faked my enthusiasm.  I faked maternal joy during the many doctor visits.  And I faked the fulfillment that comes with milestones achieved during 8 therapy sessions a week.  I faked it around my family so they wouldn't worry about me... or my daughter.  I got quite good at faking it.  But sometimes I couldn't any more.  And out would burst the fear, or anger, or countless tears.  Hopefully they didn't see me do it too much because it's really hard to fake it when they see you cry.  But I did continue faking it, honestly because there were no other options.  This was my chosen path after all.
And I came to realize something in the course of these months now turn years.  I can't fix her.  I don't have that power.  Despite 8 therapy sessions a week, nutritious meals considering of 4 food groups, with one meltable solid and one crunchy texture and 2 snack-times in between those 3 meals, despite consistency, and routine, and sensory integration therapy, and unconditional love, despite brushing therapy up to 5 times a day, and daily baby massage, and rocking her in my grandmother's rocking chair and reading her books, and so much research my brain hurt, and stress and lots of lost sleep, and the assistance of the Early Intervention program and the Arizona Department of Developmental Disability, and a preschool with a teacher/child ratio of 1:2, and so so many tears, and praying with her and over her as I tuck her in to bed each night, and wrapping her with a constant source of mama love, and a forever family that would never ever leave her, and despite 30+ years of previous parenting experience...
I couldn't fix her.  
I don't have that power.  
Only He can fix her.  
Sure, I could lay the foundation and follow directions, but I'd never be able to fix her or make her whole or redeem her soul.  Only God has the power to love completely and see her for who she is underneath all the  issues and redeem her.
Now almost 3 years later, He has molded her.  We have provided the foundation for her change, but He has looked deep within her soul and let her feel His unconditional love, through a really ordinary mama and papa.  She is transformed.  She is healed in {not all} many ways.  She is a glorious, giggly, get-in-to-everything lovely little girl.  A sweet little thing that will patter down the hall and wrap her arms around her papa when he comes home from work each day.  She has been transformed into my baby that will look for my eyes, and literally reach out her arms for the comfort of her mama when she falls and needs lovin'.  She is {and always has been} my daughter.
Today there are 147 million orphans in the world minus 2

And I am the most transformed of all.  No, it's not that she's so lucky to have us.  I am so blessed and lucky to have her.  I am transformed.
I'm not going to be talking about Tess and her adoption and healing journey too much anymore.  3 years later, she's loving us and letting us love her.  Her delays are still evident, but it's ok.  She's eating pretty normally, the hoarding is pretty much under control, and although she still occasionally bangs her head when she doesn't get what she wants, now she tries to find a couch, or carpet, or blankets, or some place soft, to do it.  She's not hurting herself nearly as much anymore.  She will still look us in the eye, and scream I want to go away! when we tell her she can't have more candy or hit her brother.  But more and more often she can be coaxed into my arms for comfort and mama lovin'.  Her My transformation is largely complete.  A transformation of surrender to Him.
So any future posts about Tess will be a reflection of my sweet twirly bouncy girl.  It's a celebration of sorts, or a letting go of so many fears.
Because they aren't necessary anymore.
And they really weren't necessary all along.


  1. A gift for you today from your heavenly Father from the wilderness of cyberspace Rev 12:6Truth...
    Not one child of God will be put in a hell fire no matter what their sins. It never entered the heart or mind of God to ever do such a thing Jer 7:31, Jer 19:5 and I prove it by the word of God at Prophecy is fulfilled, Rev 12:5, 13the true word John 1:1 of God is delivered to the world as a witness and then the end will come. God has an eternal place for all in his world.

  2. I am absolutely in love with your blog, and I wish I lived close by because I would force you to become my BFF :)
    Every time I read your posts I feel like you're in my head but just speaking way more eloquently than I ever would.
    I am thinking about stopping my blog..since we are done adopting and I don't really want to focus on the issues we are facing, but when I only show the pretty happy family side I feel like such a fake. Having 6 kids isn't easy... the fact that our 3 adopted children each have their own special "issues" makes it so much harder. I love how you just decided to move past it all.
    I often say about one of my daughters, God is the only one that will be able to fill the whole that is in her heart. I can not live up to that pressure. I can just love her with everything that I have. It took me a while to figure that out.
    Thank you for the post. Love it!

  3. I just don't have the right words to tell you what a beautiful post this was. Thank you so much for sharing it. Learning to surrender has got to be one of the biggest challenges we face, not just as adoptive parents, but as people. You did more than provide the foundation for your girl though. You partnered with God to bring about her healing. God used you, and NEEDED you, to carry out His plan. That's why He sent you for her.

  4. So beautiful, Nancy. I'd give you a big hug (not hut...oops...unless you'd like a big hut) if I could! :o)

  5. You already know this, but your words resonate so deeply with me. As a mama to two "trauma" kids, I so get it....every single word. Beautifully written. Love you my friend.

  6. God's makes a way where there seems to be no way. A beautiful testimony of letting God do His work in and through us.

  7. I love that little girl and her silly smiles and her jibber-jabbing and her running in puddles, etc. You are the perfect family, brothers and sisters, and the perfect parents to display God's perfection in her to the world. It could not have happened with anyone else, thats why it happened with you.

    Now come home! I know its hot, but its time for coffee!

  8. just such a wonderful post, your love for your child is surely from heaven, you were a partnership with God and your daughter is so blessed! i pray for uch happiness for you all in the years to come xxx

  9. I ditto Amy's comment. I wanna come over and hang with you.

    My kids all act pretty crazy. Sometimes I would like to adopt them OUT! But we are mamas and love them...and sometimes we have to pretend.

    Beautiful always.

    beautiful post

  10. That was so well written and the pics are just take-my-breath-away!

  11. Like I always say, you're amazing. What a wonderful post. Your words are so poignant. Thank you for sharing that story with us.

  12. Beautiful ! Thank you for sharing your journey. I am still on the roller coaster of therapy sessions,what ifs and dealing with new temper tantrums ( head banging).
    Wish we could sit down for coffee and chat !!!

  13. Wow! I REALLY needed this today! We are having some intense power struggles and hitting issues and so on and so on. I find myself saying over and over ...." I have no control over this." "I can not fix her." Norah has come a long way. I think that sometimes I am the one with farther to go. Your right. We can't give up or give in. We chose this. It's just so nice to know we are not alone. Tess deserves to be celebrated, remaining issues and all as does Norah. Thank you for reminding me.


  14. I read this post sitting in my car waiting for an appointment today. I realized about halfway through that I was tearing-up, not because I was sad but because of the joy that this precious little girl brings me. Thank you Sweetness (Mama) for all that you do for us.

  15. Wow Nancy what a eloquent and lovely post! Liz

  16. Wow. So glad you decided to post on B+W Wednesday or I never would have found your blog.
    You write so captivating that I felt like you were sitting beside me, sharing your soul.
    Thank you.
    For the images you shared in both word and image.

  17. With three adopted kids in our home, your perspective
    is what I needed to hear today. Thanks for the honesty.

  18. What a beautifully transparent post! I think that perhaps God has indeed taught you to love like Him...through Tess. You and Papa are such an encouragement in so many ways. Our family will pray that God continues to pour upon you His grace and infinite ways. Thank you for opening up your home and your heart!

  19. Beautiful! This brought tears to my eyes. She is such an incredible little girl and you are a great momma!

  20. So beautifully said. HE is in control of us all & things change as he wants them to- in his time. What a beautiful young lady she is with such an infectious smile!

  21. What a truly beautiful and thoughtful post. A sweet arrival and transition into a new season of loving her and loving Him.
    May you be hugely blessed!

  22. I am amazed at what God can do through us......if we let Him! And how He can salvage our hearts and make beauty from ashes. What a beautiful little girl Tess is - the baby girl of your heart. Thanks for your transparency and sharing your story with all of us!


  23. Oh, and I am totally with Amy (above) I would force you to be my BFF too, if we lived close, I would do pop ins and bring you iced coffee and a chick flick :-) and then maybe we could make a red velvet cake while the kids played :)

  24. So I know some of the ladies wanna come hang with you... I just wish you were my Mama...
    What an amazing gift you have given her..
    way to go Lady!

  25. so sweet. love this girl and you. what a sweet post.

    and...tell us about the photo contest??

  26. Incredible post. It left me speechless. I am sure happy to find this post, and to see how things are turning out for you. -- from another adoptive family.

    My blog is at Email me for access to the private one.

  27. Beautiful. I'm not sure how/why I stumbled across this today as I write about the "faking it until you make it" stage. I love how none of this is about us, you know? Because many days I feel like I'm bumbling along, but He still works out His beauty in His timing. Thanks for sharing this part of your story.


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