Sunday, October 2, 2016

Mama Bear Feelings for All My Children - the Ones I Know and the Ones I Don't Know, Yet

I wrote my last post while still in despair over circumstances I could not change or influence.  But my feelings have changed since I wrote it!  I'm more sure that what my friend Merri said was true, and maybe some of the things I said in my doubting and despair shouldn't have been said.  Recently, the notion was presented to me that kids who are adopted aren't meant to be in your family because they weren't born into your family, but it's choices that led them there. I was instantly fighting mad - infuriated to say the least about this notion.  I should have been patient and kind, but I thought, who would dare say such a thing?  (Never mind my very own post could have potentially lead someone else to think that.)  I knew instantly that the doubts I presented about wondering if God really has a plan for His children were clearly not deep rooted in comparison to my deeply rooted outrage with the idea that an adopted child "isn't meant to be" with me.

I actually DO KNOW that my future children who are adopted are MEANT to be with me, because of the FEELINGS I have had from the very beginning of this journey.  My heart has been open to adoption for a very long time - before I was ever married or had children.  I have had unusual experiences & even dreams about adopting throughout the years.  About a year ago, a friend and I were talking about adoption & how people get to that point if it was something God wanted you to do, and I told her, "Well, God may want you to adopt, but He's not going to fill out the paperwork for you."  My own words have been ringing in my mind ever since, except those words sort of surprised me when I said them, so I know they weren't really MY words.  They were actually inspiration.

My husband was suddenly open this year because of some of his own experiences, and when we both prayed about it, the answer came to BOTH of us OVERWHELMINGLY and URGENTLY that THE TIME WAS NOW.  We felt we couldn't tell our friends & families when we knew, because as supportive as they are, we knew that the timing wouldn't make sense to them.  So we waited to share our news, but we actively took steps to move forward.  Immediately upon that decision, inside my heart was sudden & intense heartbreak - I knew with ALL my heart that there was a child - MY child - SOMEWHERE out there in the world - maybe born, but maybe not yet, whose circumstances could be putting them in danger, and I knew they needed to be safe home with me.  The feeling KILLED me inside.  To have no control over the circumstances to protect this little child or children who we were on a journey to find.  All I could do was get my license as fast as humanly possible so that I could get to them, but "as fast as humanly possible" is not a term that goes along with the State Licencing system - that's for sure.

I'm actually very grateful that we waited to tell friends & family, because we were emotionally fragile and we needed time to process the life change and know 100% that we weren't going to waver on it before anyone's opinions were presented whether the opinions were for or against, excited or worried, on the ship or not on the ship.  My family might say that I'm still emotionally fragile about all things related to fostering or adopting.
And in many ways I am.

Basically at any point that ANYONE has chosen to act as a Mama Bear FOR ME - by expressing their worries that my needs would not be met, or that they were worried about me and my kids first depending on what kind of a situation was brought into our home - I would take it personally.  I felt that because they were being a Mama Bear for me, that they cared NOTHING for the child I am ready to protect.  The child I am already bonded to before meeting.  The child who needs me.  But because they weren't worried about the child and they were only worried about me, I was upset and felt they weren't on board in the slightest and it made me all the more defensive to protect my soon to be adoptive child from them.  I felt that if my family really wanted to "take care of me", that they would feel the same protective feelings about my future child as I did.

But the problem is that not everyone instantly bonds with an unknown child - some people cannot do that until they meet the child, especially if it's not going to be their child & it's going to be someone else's child in their family.  You'd wish that people would feel instant bonding like they would if you were pregnant, but it's harder for them when you're adopting sometimes.

My dad did inform me that there are cases where people have a hard time bonding even with their biological children - that's something I've never experienced, so I hadn't thought about it.  But he reminded me not to fear and to just press forward approaching the situation like I would any other situation - with faith and prayer, and following the Spirit's direction.

But this process to get licensed has been grueling & excruciatingly difficult - even cruel at times.

Two months ago, we were actually supposed to take a placement for 2 little kids.  That placement was one of the hardest of my life. It was a situation that none of the classes prepared us for....  We stopped our lives and got ready to take the kiddos, but something happened that prevented the children to come to our home, and that something actually put the children in danger...for 2 1/2 weeks I was a wreck.  I could hardly even function.  I was worried, and stressed. Missing children WalMart signs never meant more to me, and I just cried reading the posters. All I could do was pray.  But I couldn't see any results of my prayers.  All I could see was a continual wall of not knowing, and all I could do was cling on to the faith that God really did hear my prayers, and that He really was answering them, even though I couldn't see the answers.  I was experiencing full grief by the end of a week.  People were surprised that I felt so strongly about a child I had never even met.  But the connection didn't surprise me, because I've lost 4 children to miscarriage, and maybe through those struggles from years past you could say that I've developed the strength of being bonded to and caring for a little one I'd never been able to see with my own eyes.  Sort of a sad thing, really, but a strength none the less.  The fierceness for which I cared seemed to shock people around me.  I was told I couldn't feel the way I felt, but I couldn't stop caring.  I was even threatened by someone who could have affected my licensing, because they were surprised that I cared so deeply.  All of that infuriated me all the more - excuse me for caring about a little someone who no one else in the world seems to care about.  When they say to you, "Well, DCS has a lot of children to help, so they'll get to it when they can." It's easy to just think, "Well that's easy for you to say, because THIS ISN'T SUPPOSED TO BE YOUR CHILD!"

It's awful the way that people turn their hearts off to the little ones in the world who are the most helpless.

The ONLY thing that stopped my intense grieving was the day that the children were safe.  They didn't actually come to my home because something positive in their family occurred, and that positive thing kept them with their family.  So I felt like maybe God only intended for me to be involved for those 2 1/2 weeks because He knew I would care enough to pray without ceasing for these kids, and maybe, just maybe my prayers were the kind of thing they needed during that difficult time.  I believe He answered my prayers even though I couldn't see them.

But while it's been 2 months, and while I have recognized times that I was grieving over those children, something happened to me yesterday that was an answer to my prayers.  I have become increasingly unhappy with the stage my youngest is in.  I actually have said to a few others - "This phase is probably the least favorite for me that children go through."  As I said those things, I knew it was unusual for me to say that - because I usually love all the stages of childhood development (even if they are more needy in certain phases).  But I also have been increasingly unhappy over time, and especially this week.  As I was praying to ask God to help me resolve the issues in my life that were affecting me negatively, I felt like I should go tackle a pile of boxes from moving.  I opened a box, and right on top was book that was handed to me at my doctor's office on the day I found out I was having my 2nd miscarriage. I still remember the doctor's kind voice as he handed me a tissue, telling me he was so sorry.  He opened up the cupboard. He pulled out a pink book entitled, "Empty Arms", and gave it to me.  I honestly don't remember reading much of the book back then, but yesterday I opened it.

What would you know? Here was a book about miscarriage, stillbirth, and infant death, but I flipped open immediately to a page that talked about losses associated with adoption:

"There is another kind of adoption loss - I have met many parents who were in the process of adopting a beloved baby and then something happened.  Either the baby was no longer available for adoption, has died, or something else occurred that made it impossible or impractical for this baby to come to your home.  The experience of grieving for this baby will likely follow.  After all, you are already bonded with this baby. 

.....If the baby did not die, but is no longer able to be placed in your home, you know the child lives and may at times feel good about that, but you, too, will grieve for what could have been.  On top of that your loss may not be visible enough for others to see.  They may truly believe that since you did not have the baby in your home, you will not grieve as deeply.  They are wrong.  In any case, if your baby is missing from your life you, and others, will need to recognize that you made plans in your heart and life for this child.  Now you need to work on saying goodbye.   That will be hard and painful.  Reaching out to others, finding support groups, and books will be critical.  You need and deserve support and understanding." 

Yesterday I immediately understood that the Lord answered my prayers to show me why I was feeling the way I was.  I've just been so unhappy.  But upon reading this, I realized that while I thought I had dealt with grief for one of the children who was supposed to be placed with me, I actually hadn't dealt with grief over the other - but I was definitely still grieving.  The 18 month stage is not actually one that I dislike, and I actually AM NOT BETTER OFF to NOT have 2 children that age in my home.  All of that was a superficial excuse to shield my heart from hurting.  But it's important to recognize that I have been hurting, and I have been grieving the loss of that child.

Ever since I have recognized what happened to me, I have been able to ENJOY every moment of the day with my 18 month old.  He has made me laugh, the things he needs are not bothers, and I don't mind that he's not talking very well, yet. I am enjoying this stage again, because I am now on the path to healing from an adoption loss.

At any rate, being a Mama Bear is hard work.  It's a labor of love.  Sometimes (especially on the journey of foster care an adoption) you will feel feelings that you never knew existed.  But I know that I'm here because God knows how I feel, and HE needs me to feel this way so that I can be there for the children He sends me.  And if I didn't feel the way I feel, I couldn't be there in the ways He needs me to be there for them.

I'm going to keep being a Mama Bear for all of my children whether I birth them or adopt them.  I know they are meant to be with me, and I WILL FIGHT FOR THEM.