Eleven years ago today, we took a deep breath, and got ourselves to the Holt offices in Seoul. This was the day we would get our child. Our son. He'd have one last check-up with the doctor, then handed to us.
I know I should SHOUT with CAPS and !!! that 11 years ago today(!) we became a family(!) when we brought our little guy home(!) and it was the HAPPIEST day of our LIVES(!!)
But honestly? I was exhausted and confused and stunned. (Maybe a little like after you birthed your child?) I look at those pictures of myself, and I don't really remember a whole lot. I do remember hearing the foster mothers in the Lobby saying to our son's foster mother that he looked like her. They didn't know I understood them. And that I resented that. Because you see, he was my son. Mine. I filled out all the paperwork and paid thousands of dollars and The Law said that he was mine. I wasn't thinking so much about the foster family. Or the mom who bore him for 9-months, then really didn't have a choice but to give him away.
I certainly wasn't thinking about this child, that he might be just as exhausted and confused and stunned as I was. And he was. This little 7-month old, cried and cried and cried. And cried. And later, so did I. Sometimes, even, on the kitchen floor. From exhaustion, disappointment, regret, failure.
If you've read this blog, you might know a little of our adoption journey; the tough road that this little guy went through. But it's been eleven years. We've talked and held and therapied and cried and not talked and not hugged and rebelled and disassociated and and and stimmed. But I believe we are on the other side of the tunnel. Not without some scars. Or slime. You know the wet stuff that slithers down the side of dark, scary tunnels.
The other day, we were sitting together in his room. He, with his Legos. Me, sorting through laundry. He said, "If you had known I was going to have such a hard time, would you still have adopted me?" I was too quick to reply, "No. I wouldn't have wanted you to suffer so much." This time, I was thinking only of him. Had I known he'd be so traumatized, how could I, or any human being, want that? If anyone had told me he wouldn't sleep well for 6 years, panic at anything new, wouldn't know how to hug and wouldn't allow hugs, but at the same time hyperventilate if you left the room...who would wish that?
Later that night, in bed, he reminded me of that conversation and said, "When you said 'no,' it made me sad."
So we talked. That I had been thinking about what I had said, that it was a complicated feeling of both/and: loving him and being happy that he was my son but also sad that he suffered so. I think he got it.
It's been months since we've laid in bed together to read a bedtime story. But that night, he wanted me to stay awhile and hold him. Just hold him. I walked away and realized that because he shared with me that he was sad, that we had actually made it to the other side of the tunnel.
What's a few drops of slime, anyway?