Monday, January 19, 2009

Pain Amidst the Happiness

I've been trying to write this post now for several days but just haven't been able to emotionally get myself there, but we're only here a few more days and it's something that needs to be shared.

There are many facets to adoption. There is a call from God on your life to share your home, your heart and all your love with a child who desperately needs all of those things. There are families who are now literally waiting years for these children and at the same time, there are children who are waiting years to be joined with their families. There are families praying for children and there are unspoken prayers from children wanting the love of a family.

But while an orphanage or a foster home is not the same as a family, it is what the children know. In our case, Rebecca has lived at the Starfish Home since she was around 18 months old. She turned 3 in September so she has been with Amanda over half of her little life and she loves Amanda fiercely.

When Amanda brought her to us on that Sunday little Rebecca had been as prepared as she could possibly have been prepared. She had been given pictures of us and she knew us all by name. We had talked to her on skype several times and she already knew us as mama and baba (the chinese name for daddy). But none of that completely prepares a 3 year old for being taken away from everything she knows. I've already written about her shaking and being scared but how she warmed up fairly easily and how over the course of the next few days she seemed to adjust easily.

A few nights after her adoption we met up with Amanda at an Indian Restaurant along with another family who had just adopted another Starfish baby and Rebecca was delighted to see Amanda. She has the cutest little English accent and proncounces it "Amahnda". Amanda let her talk on her cell phone to one of the nannies and sweet little Rebecca asked about each of the babies. She talked and talked and talked. All too soon dinner was over and it was time for us to go back to our hotel. Amanda walked with us to catch a taxi and she talked to Rebecca about going back with us. But all that talking does no good when she is driving off from all that she loves. Our poor little girl bawled her eyes out and yelled out for her "Amahnda" over and over and over. Absolutely gut wrenching cries. That night after we were sound asleep is when Brian woke up and heard Rebecca trying to leave our room.

Amanda is a firm believer in new families spending as much time with the foster family as possible but there were so many things going on with us and also Amanda had the other adoption. But I had promised her that we would return to the Starfish Home to visit before we left. It was a promise I regretted making after driving off with a screaming child from the restaurant. There was absolutely not a thing I could do to comfort her, I felt totally and completely helpless but I knew that without a doubt my grief didn't come close to touching the grief Rebecca was feeling. Brian did not want to take Rebecca back the next day. There have been very few times in our married life that Brian has told me firmly that we were or were not doing anything but we went to bed that night with me being prepared for him to tell me I was not taking her back. I sent a quick email to Amanda and asked her to pray ... not that her will happen, or that my will happen but that we all do the right thing for Rebecca.

I prayed and prayed and prayed some more that night for little Rebecca and asked the Lord to guide us in the way we should go. In my heart I believed that painful or not, I needed to take her back and give her the chance to say goodbye. We woke up the next morning and I had an email from Amanda basically saying the same thing and suggesting I bring her alone. She also wanted me to bring her back on Friday too. After much discussion we agreed that I would take her back that day but that was to be the final goodbye. There would be no visit on Friday.

So Thursday morning I loaded up Emma and Rebecca in a taxi and off we headed. My heart was heavy and my soul filled with dread on how Rebecca would react.

It's funny how you look back on things and realize how strongly you feel something at a moment in time. When we walked into the room I was struck with how happy a place it is. The room was filled with volunteers and babies seemingly everywhere. There were also some visitors from the orphanage and I think there were also some people visiting who wanted to volunteer at a later date. Everyone was so happy to see Rebecca and she went from laid back to wound up in a matter of seconds. Amanda had bought her another bag of tangerines and Rebecca was busy as could be pulling them out of the bag and passing them out to everyone.

The part that is not easy for me to share is that when we had dinner and then again when we were there in "her" home, she didn't want anything to do with me which just broke my heart but I tried looking at it from her perspective. I wasn't sure what to do. Is it best to step in and remind her that I'm her mother or is it best to step back and allow her the time? I chose the latter, but it wasn't an easy choice for me.

Amanda and I along with her assistant retreated to her bedroom and Rebecca calmed a little but still did not want anything to do with me. We were able to talk quite a bit and then another family I had befriended online were staying at the guest apartment and she came and talked with us a while too.

Amanda had ordered lunch in and when we joined everyone else and went to sit down Rebecca did not want anything to do with me. She became very unruly during lunch and at one point the nanny took her away from the table and fed her in a different room. My heart was breaking for her and as a mother I felt like I truly didn't know what to do.

Emma asked to go down to the guest apartment so someone took her down for me which then upset Rebecca even more so Amanda and I ended up going down there too. This seemed to calm her some and so I told Amanda that we would have to say our goodbyes from there. My friend Gayly's husband was kind enough to take a taxi back with me and the girls and so we started preparing our things to leave.

Both Amanda and Rebecca's nanny were given some time alone with her to share their goodbyes. I cry now even as I type this because the love they all share was so evident. Amanda's eyes brimmed with tears as did the nanny's. Amanda had told me the night before that one of the nannies had commented that with Rebecca gone, all the fun was gone.

As we left and Rebecca was once again sobbing for Amanda, I couldn't help but wonder if we were really doing the right thing for Rebecca. Amanda's goal is for all the children to find their homes but I know that part of her heart drove off with us that day.

Amanda wrote a four page letter to Rebecca that she sent back with me, but I can't even bring myself to read it yet. There's just no doubt in my mind how much Amanda loves her babies and I just do not think my heart can take reading it at this point. The pain is just too much for now.

Me, Gigi, Emma, Amanda & Rebecca as we were leaving.

Rebecca loving on her nanny.

Special goodbyes for Amanda & Rebecca.
Gigi painted the girls fingernails, of course Emma LOVED that. She told me she loves Gigi!
Rebecca's nanny, Rebecca, Gigi & Emma
Chilling out in Amanda's room.
Rebecca sharing her tangerines with her friends.


Anonymous said...

Our little girl was brought to our room, handed over to us by the orphanage director, and had no further contact with anything she had ever known prior to us ever again. While I truly believe that she was given all the care she needed in the 18 months leading up to our being united, I do not think she knew the bond that your daughter seems to have had with her caretakers. I applaud you for having the strength to give her a chance to have that final farewell and cannot imagine how difficult that must have been for you or her. You truly have a special family.

We hope your last few days there go smoothly. Alison says that with Chinese New Year going on things are extremely busy and crowded. May your return home be a safe! Also, we pray that Rebecca's flight experience go as well as possible.

The Hunt Family

Teresa said...

Wow Carolin, I can only imagine how difficult it was to write this post. Waiting a few days seems to have helped you sort through just how to write it.

No two adoption stories are alike, are they? Emma's story is different than Rebecca's.

Whether it was a good or bad decision, the reasons for the decision were done in the best interest of Rebecca and it seems that it may have helped. She seems like she has accepted her new family and life and will be fine in her own time. I will be praying for healing in her heart and yours.

Looking forward to your postings from home.

Norma said...

Carolin don't beat yourself up.Rebecca leaving the only life she has ever known was bound to be painful.
Being one of the oldest she was a little queen bee there and there is no doubt she will miss her little friends and the nannies. Her nanny's name was Leoling and she was a lovely woman. My heart goes out to Rebecca's buddy Jade who is left behind to wait.
Believe me having a Mom and Dad and a sister and brother......a real family and a shiney future is what will matter in the end. Children are resilient....she will be just fine. She is so blessed to have you as her parents. I love that your husband was standing up for her.(I will forward photos when you are home)
Was it Pat and Cindy you had dinner with?

Jboo said...

I am so sorry that little Rebecca had such a difficult time and I'm sure your heart was breaking too. So many changes in so little time, it has to be hard on everyone. You and family are doing such a wonderful job helping her. Hoping you have a better day today and in the days to follow. Take care.


Wendy said...


I can understand how difficult this was and how you all must have been filled with so many mixed emotions. I think going was the right thing to do. Rebecca may have seemed uncomfortable or upset, but there is no hiding or protecting her from these emotions and locking her away from her past won't help her. It is what it is....and it is full of pain and loss amidst the happiness, as you said. Rebecca was loved and will always be by Amanda and her staff. Not all of our children had that connection, that quality of care and most of our children can never continue the relationships with those who cared for them in any form. Rebecca can have an ongoing relationship with those who cared for her should you/she choose. She also has no idea of where she is headed and the love and relationships that will nuture her post adoption. Why would she want to leave what she knows, but in the end, being in a family is the best for her...she just has no idea of that concept...she will soon! Bonding and attachment will take many months and saying goodbye and having you all together might, in the end, do so much good (even if she seemed to reject you at that moment). Many adoptions feel more like kidnappings for the children and Rebecca had the gift of experiencing her transition in a much different way. She was fortunate to have shared time with all of you together. I believe that in the future all these things will be of utmost important to her as she comes to understand her story and builds her identity. It's a bumpy roller coaster and difficult to know what's right and what's wrong, but you are putting her needs first, being extremely thoughtful, nurturing and loving. She will benefit from it all! She is lucky to have such an amazing momma!

Sharyn said...

I'm glad you were able to share this. I hope it helped to think about it, write about it, reflect on it. Decisions made for love are the right decisions so I'm sure that everything will work out for Rebecca in time. She'll heal and thrive. She has a loving mother - one who she'll love very much, I'm sure.

Fliss and Mike Adventures said...

I got your link throw the Starfish Site...
What a gorgeous happy but sad story...
Will have to check out more later... congrats to you all...
Take care

Mia's MaMa said...

The picture of her little hand wiping away her caregiver's tears melted my heart and brought tears to my own eyes. What a very precious moment that you captured.
Your daughters are both very beautiful!
waiting on TA!!!