Sunday, November 29, 2015

There is a stranger living in my house...she calls me "Mom".

***Disclaimer~ this is written from a very raw place of an honest mother's heart. Please do not leave unkind comments if you disagree. These are my thoughts and feelings. If your experience with an older child has been vastly different, that is wonderful, however, these are my feelings. Please do not judge me for them. Thank you for your respect.
This post has been on my heart for months but I haven't been able to sit down and articulate it. Honestly, I am not sure I can even now.

Adoption is hard on a good day. On the day when that cute little 4 year old comes bounding over asking you to play the Minnie Matching game for the 10th time that week. That same little girl who you has been with you since she was 21 months old and had a smooth transition. Her first language was English, and the truth is, that even though this isn't how it should have been, she will never remember not being here. In fact, you have to remind yourself that she is adopted.
That little cute 4 year old with her minimal demands is easy to love. She can be scooped up effortlessly and soothed when her heart is broken. You can whisper in her ear while you hug and kiss the boo boos away that you love her, that God loves her and its all going to be OK. Because, in truth, it will just 5 seconds.
This is NOT the case with an older child. And allow me to say for the record, that our 14 year old is pretty near a "perfect/normal/text book" case. However, she is still behind and while she is 14 in age, most of the time she acts like a 7-8 year old.

When you bring an older child into your home you are basically agreeing to a stranger coming to stay with you; permanently! Now, I don't know about you but when I have company or go and stay with family/friends, it is pretty much understood that a week at maximum is about all anyone can handle. And these are people you know, love and can communicate with. Imagine having someone come and stay with you who you only have minimal knowledge of at best, they don't speak the same language, they are in a completely different culture, different smells, sights etc., oh and they call you "MOM". On your absolute best day with this kid being the best case scenario, and lets face it, that is rare, this is so hard. The realization of just how selfish you really are can bring you to your knees, literally. It is almost impossible to explain, hence the reason I have struggled to write this post. And consider this, when you meet someone for the first time, yes things are slightly awkward but after a few more meetings the tension disappears because you get to know them. Why? Because you have conversations. You learn where their from, how they were raised, their likes and dislikes and on and on.
NOT SO!!!! We have had 7+ months of silence. Now don't get me wrong, we communicate on the most basic of levels but until this past week we knew virtually nothing about our daughter. Nothing about that is easy and of course this is not her fault. She has major trauma bottled up inside her. I can't even begin to imagine things from her perspective. And I've tried. If records are correct, she has now been abandoned TWICE!! Once by her birth parents and now her foster family. I cannot imagine going through it once. So, its possible she doesn't even believe this is permanent. She didn't want this, she didn't choose this, not really. She knew after months of convincing by foster mom and social worker that this was her only choice unless she wanted to go back to the welfare institute and that was the last thing she wanted. She knew (and we have the video) that the reason they were not keeping her was because there was not enough money. I don't know how to wrap my brain around that as an adult let alone being 13 and hearing those words. Please do not misunderstand me, I am not judging this mom. I am not walking her mile, so I have no idea the torment she may have gone through in trying to make this choice for Joy. However, I do know Chinese culture where this is concerned. There was never a chance they would have kept her. NEVER. That just isn't how things work over there. A foster child living with you equals a paycheck. And at 14 when that child has aged out of the system they return to the welfare institute (orphanage) and the paycheck stops.
It doesn't matter how much they loved her, she was never part of that family in the real sense that you and I know.
And I know now that Joy DID NOT want to be adopted. She DID NOT want to leave China. It was heartbreaking. Her opening up came out of the blue and took me by surprise completely. But I believe wholeheartedly this is very possibly the start of her healing. I know, for me, it brought me closer to her. I finally feel as though her trust in me (us) is building. This is so very important for our bonding because up to this point, I have just had a house guest for 7+ months. I now feel like she is a little closer to really thinking of me as her permanent mom and I couldn't be more thankful.

More to come...stay tuned.



  1. Oh, how wonderfully sweet!!!! I know those same feelings. It is not easy adopting older children.

  2. Can't even imagine what you are experiencing as a family and as a mom. But you are inspiring and strong and literally being the hands & feet of God. Thank you for your open honest heart. I know God is so proud of you & your family's decisions. And He will continue to walking with you through this journey. Please keep sharing & opening up - you truly are such an amazing mom!!!!

  3. You're amazing rachel. One day joy will realize what a great opportunity you have given her in life. Love and miss your family. Kim

  4. No need for judgement or criticism here, these are words I've been expecting at some point because what you are all going through must be the natural progression of adopting a young person from another country.
    You are all amazing and Rachel, as a Mom, there is no rule book, you get through it with instinct and common sense, love for your child and the love of God and your family and friends. I truly believe the healing process has started. Joy has opened up and been honest about how she feels...her trust is growing, the wounds are starting to heal.
    Love you and miss you. Jo.. X

  5. It makes me sad that you would be worried you'd be judged. Not for you, for "us"...that the world around you would consider being anything but supportive. You are truly doing God's work. And, no doubt, it's exhausting on every level. For all of you. Continued prayers for you and your family, especially you and Joy as you build the bond that will replace "stranger" for both of you.