I remember that moment like it was yesterday. I walked up what seemed to be never-ending stairs and saw a bright, sunlit space filled with bambinos. I hadn't even noticed the rooms off to the right or to the left. My broken Spanish got the point across that we were looking for Sylvia, our son's caregiver.
She came flitting by us, flashing her sweet smile we had seen before-only in pictures. She motioned for us to follow her into the room on the right. We stood in the doorway, between the light and the dark room she had walked into. She walked to the row of bassinets on the back wall and picked up a tiny, precious child. We backed into the hallway as she walked towards us. At first, I thought he was wrong child. And then-I saw his sweet, sleepy face.
Sylvia handed him to me with gentle care. I wrapped him in my arms and closed my eyes. AJ wrapped his fragile little fingers around my woven purse strap. He snuggled into my chest. I didn't want to move. Neither did my son. I opened my eyes to see my husband beaming with pride. I handed him his son and instantly fell in love with him all over again. There is something about men and their children that stirs this incredible emotional love inside those of us who love them.
For a very, very long time I was unable to recall or share memories such as the one above. The circumstances, wrong-doing, etc. that occurred when we adopted deeply overshadowed some very sweet memories. Everything in relation to our adoption became negative. Everything was wrong. I couldn't talk about the adoption without including all the things that were wrong. I was a sad, sad person.
Yet at the center of it, was this precious little boy. This human, living soul who was in the midst of all this pain and anger. I've always been able to, somehow, compartmentalize what happened with the adoption and my love and caring for AJ. A blessing, without a doubt. But it was still an unfair perspective, to both of us.
It took five solid years, almost to the day, for me to heal those wounds. It was a bright and sunny morning in August. I found myself is a sea of tears standing during the music portion of our church service. No one noticed me, bawling upright. It was a clear moment. I.just.let.it.go. And I haven't looked back.
I can recall many, many, many conversations with myself over this very issue. My heart wasn't healed. I wanted it to be, but it just wasn't time. I have no idea why it took five years-but it did. No matter how many people told me to "get over it" or "it's not that bad" or "well my child does this", I was still aching in pain. What I didn't realize that I was healing, a little bit at a time, as the years passed.
Recently, we've been surrounded by many people adopting. Adopting domestically, internationally, fostering, and fostering-to-adopt. These friends have been kind in sharing their stories, just as we continue to share our adoption story. But the amazing thing? Their love and passion for adoption is reminding me of those amazing moments WE experienced when we adopted AJ. How I didn't blink when traveling to a foreign country three times. How I didn't care about everyone else's opinions on how we were crazy. How extraordinary it was to love and miss this little boy I hadn't even met yet. How exciting it was to decorate his nursery. How overwhelming it felt when they placed him in our arms-FOREVER. How full my heart was after a long trip home and watching him sleep in his crib for the very first time.
He has blessed our lives tremendously. How we "got" AJ doesn't matter anymore. He's here and is my beautiful little boy. He keeps me centered and focused on what is truly important. I don't stress over the little things anymore.
Adoption is an amazing experience. It's where my healing began...
P.S. Happy New Year!