Saturday, December 15, 2012

Loving the Hurt Child... Part Three

More Wounds to Come

There is something so deeply moving about offering love and hope to a child who has no family.  Again, words are not even full enough to grasp the beauty and intimacy of such a privilege.  It is Hope with skin on.   

When we adopted Abby, I thought the love and hope we had and offered her would be enough.  I had this idea that our love would just erase all the wounds and the pain. Love and hope are very much vital components of life with an adopted child but it was not always enough.  It was not enough for us.  It was not enough for Abby. 

Love is not enough?  That seems to contradict so much of what we come to believe but I can tell you... it is not enough for many children.  Although it motivates everything needed in all aspects of journey, there are other things needed that I/we overlooked.  Looking back at it all now, I think it was almost like a form of denial.  I didn't want to think anything was wrong.  I wanted to think that our generous out poring of love was enough to heal over her wounds and erase her pain.  I thought she was young enough to forget it.  I think I also thought it would reflect poorly on me if my love was not enough.  Love had to be enough.  What else was there?

I did not walk into adoption blindly.  I read numerous books on adoption, completed a adoption training course and THOUGHT I had all the bases covered.  In addition to the wounds Abby received before we adopted her, (you can read about that in the previous posts) there was another pretty big one waiting for us.

When we came home with Abby, she "hit the ground running."  She slept through the night and walked around our house like she'd been there all her life.  We were floored.  We were also blown away with how quickly she was learning English.  By the time we got home from Kazakhstan with her, at 21 months old, she already knew close to 10 English words.  Her first "word" was "ball."  She would fly through a deck of alphabet cards and knew all but about four of the letters.  We were amazed.  I can not repeat this enough.  THIS is probably what made me think all the more she would be "fine." 

And then things started to unravel pretty quickly.  My husband was hired with an airline in Atlanta and so almost as soon as we arrived with her in our home, we started packing.  Within two months of getting "home" with her, we moved from Virginia to outside Atlanta causing yet another transition for her.

In addition to the move, we started noticing funny behavior after she'd wake up from a nap.  She would wake up and sometimes have eye rolling episodes.  The eye rolling would last only about a second and then she'd be fine.  But sometimes she'd do it like seven or eight times in a row.  Before we moved, we took her to the pediatrician we'd had set up for her and she suggested it was absong seizures.  She reassured us there was nothing to worry about and she'd probably outgrow them.  Something didn't settle with me but again, I so WANTED to believe everything was fine.

Shortly after the move, Abby had a new kind of episode.  She was downstairs watching Sesame Street and I was upstairs making our bed.  I heard this weird cry... almost like a half muffled cry.  I went running and she was half sitting in her little rocking chair and half hanging out.  One of her arms was in between the back spindles of the chair.  When I pulled her up to me... she was limp... that arm was limp... and she looked drunk.  Reality smacked me.  Something was wrong and I went running out the door with her to our pediatrician who was located just 5 minutes away.  If she needed help, I thought it would be the quickest way to get it.  I moved so quickly that I was only wearing a pair of boxer shorts, my husband's undershirt, and I was barefooted.  This is important for later.

On the way there, I sang, "Jesus Loves Me," to her and kept trying to get her to look at me.  I ran a red light and several stop signs and actually made it there in less than five minutes.  When I got out of the car to get her out of the car seat, she was fine.  SHE WAS FINE.  She pointed to an airplane and said, "aypane."  She pointed to birds.  I stood there... puzzled to say the least.  She had raised her previously limp arm to point at the airplane and was clear and alert as if nothing had happened.  That is when it hit me.  I was standing in the parking lot of a doctor's office barefooted, in my husband's underwear (that I used for pajamas from time to time) and my daughter was acting "fine."

So... do I walk inside looking like a complete lunatic or drive back home?  I kept looking at her.  I stood her up on the ground.  She stood up just fine... took off running actually.  LOL  I started trying to think of logical explanations for the previous episode that had sent me running into public in underwear.  Could she have gotten her arm stuck in between the spindles, pulled on it and pulled it out of socket?  Could it just fall back into place by itself?  Could that have caused her to cry that weird cry and almost pass out and become limp? My husband was gone on a trip and... well... I was standing there in completely inappropriate attire... and so I decided to put her back in the car... head home... call my husband... and get his opinion.  

I told him what happened. We decided to talk about it more the next day and take her to the pediatrician (clothed properly) and get their opinion and guidance.  

Denial started wrestling with worry.  I was pretty sure at this point something was wrong.  As a new mother, you don't want to think anything is wrong with your baby.  But the next day, Abby would wake us up in the morning with yet another horrible episode.  Once again, there was a weird cry and she was limp.  The pediatrician suggested we pack a bag and head to the Children's Hospital in Atlanta.

Something inside clicks.  I call it, "handle it mode."  Unless you have experienced it, it is hard to explain.  I personally think a lot, if not all of it, comes from the Holy Spirit.  It is just this mode of calm that comes over you when everything inside is screaming.  As we drove into Atlanta, all sorts of things were running through my mind.  Things I had been holding back behind a locked door of steal.  Now, the door was open and it flooded me.  Was this a tumor?  Cancer?  Something simple?  Something horrible?  Could it be fixed?  Would she be o.k.?  Would we be o.k.  But something inside knew there was a shift happening... things would never be the same.  Dreams and hopes started getting hazy.

I have recently written about what followed HERE.  For the sake of my readers, I won't repeat it all in this post.  In a very simple nutshell, medical trauma would follow.  It would inflict new wounds on this little one who had already been through so much.  And worst of all, the new wounds would now include us... her new parents... the ones she had just allowed herself to trust.  

We would have to spend years fighting to get trust back.  We would spend years looking for the right "tools" to help her receive our love.  We would spend years fighting for her.  It would be a very difficult, lonely, exhausting fight.  And we are still fighting it.

But before we could really start fighting to get her back... we'd lose her even more.  There was yet another blow to this battle right around the corner. 

Part four to follow...

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