Adoption: Proceed With Caution!
I read this blog post by Adeye and her husband only a few hours ago. While I'd meant to be asleep by now, I'm still thinking about it, and feel a tug to share my thoughts with all of you. Adeye and Anthony's post is a very important dose of reality to people who are either adopting or considering the adoption of an institutionalized child.
I am reminded (again) tonight that I need to strip away any and all expectations I may have had for my Samantha. I need to prepare myself to welcome her home and love her as she is. Even if she can't love me back. (At least not right away.)
Cute as she is, my little girl has been neglected and mistreated for years.
She lives in an institution.
She is incarcerated in a crib, day and night.
Her cognition has already been irreversibly damaged by malnutrition. Her body will try to catch up, but the damage to her brain is permanent. She will likely be severely delayed.
She may have acquired Institutional Autism.
She may suffer from an Attachment Disorder.
She may have developed strange habits in order to comfort and stimulate her brain: rocking back and forth or banging her head against the crib. She may chew on her fingers or wrists.
It's possible that she will not want to be hugged, or even touched at all. She may have to learn to enjoy my touch over time.
She will need all manner of therapy when she gets home...speech, physical, occupational.
She will very likely spend the rest of her life in my home, needing full-time care.
All of this to say that I understand this adoption is no small thing. There will be MANY times when I simply do not know what I'm doing. There will be frustration. There will LOTS of tears. There will probably even be times when I grieve the loss of my care-free-travel-the-world-do-as-I-wish independence.
I also understand that the same God who created the world, and raised my Savior Jesus from the dead, LIVES INSIDE OF ME. And there is no limit to His ability. His love for Sam (and me) goes on and on...forever.
So for now, I'll continue to educate myself. And more importantly, train myself to trust the Almighty. He can do what I cannot.
The Psychologist who did the mental health evaluation for my home study introduced me to an author and theologian I'm now surprised I'd never heard of before, Henry Nouwen. After my evaluation, he graciously sent me a copy of one of Nouwen's books, entitled, "Adam: God's Beloved". This incredible book details the last 10 years of Mr. Nouwen's life, in which he dedicated himself to the service of a severely handicapped young man. While some people questioned Nouwen's choice to give up his career in the Ivy League in exchange for life with Adam, Nouwen insisted that Adam was the greatest teacher of his lifetime. He credited Adam as giving him a deeper understanding of the gospel of Jesus.
I often think of Henry and Adam as I imagine my new life with Samantha. I suspect, in some ways, she'll understand the world better than I do. And I expect she'll see the Lord more clearly than I, with a purer heart. And as I seek to care for her, as Adam did for Mr. Nouwen, she will make me more holy. She will help me to see God.
I know life with Samantha will have its challenges. But I welcome those challenges, and I welcome the opportunity to draw nearer to the Lord through them. And through her.
Thank you all for your continued, generous, overwhelming love and support. I am so, so blessed.
Love to you.