Thursday, September 27, 2012

Broken to Beautiful (beware long post)

I know it has been way too long since my last post. Great things have happened here. We have been home with Kahsay now for almost 3 months. After our first trip my heart ached so much for our son that I couldn't blog. After our second trip life was so crazy I just did not have the time. I will admit I am not much of the blogging type, but wanted people to be able to follow our adoption journey. Since we have been home with Kahsay our lives have changed in ways I never expected. I debated on writing this testimony, but thought if I can reach one person through this it is worth it.

Let me begin by saying I am not a gifted writer. I only speak from my heart and testify to the work Christ has done.

When we began our adoption journey 2 1/2 years ago it started with fear but a strong desire to follow God's call. The financial part was difficult but God took care of that. The paperwork sucked (sorry that is how I felt). The wait was at times excruciating. The reminders from God that we were doing exactly what He wanted brought about peace. The unknown of when God would bring our boy home taught us patience. The support, prayers, and encouragement from family, friends, church family, and even strangers was overwhelming. The journey before seeing our son's face had it's ups and downs, but nothing compared to what God had planned.

It was April 5 when we saw our son's face for the first time. We celebrated together with hugs and tears of excitement. We were not prepared for the way our hearts broke for the story that brought him into our lives. His story is an amazing example of selfless love. I could only compare it the same selfless love God had for us when He allowed his one and only son to be the sacrifice for all of us. We look forward to the day when we will be able to share with Kahsay how much he was loved and wanted.

Our first trip to meet him was filled with excitement but also a bit of anxiety. We could not wait to finally hold and kiss our son, but also knew it would be a very different experience than the birth of our girls. We knew he would look at us with strange eyes. We watched as his Special Mother knew exactly how to feed him his bottle and put him to sleep. We could see the peace he had when we handed him to her when he was fussy. The special mothers who loved on Kahsay are our heroes. They give each child so much love and attention even with the knowledge that this child will be gone from their lives in a short while. It was hard as a mother to not be able to soothe your child. It was hard as a mother to only be able to hold him while he slept. The day we had to leave Kahsay in Ethiopia was horrible. The only peace we had was knowing he was being well taken care of and loved on.

The weeks between trip 1 and 2 were so hard for me. I felt like I gave birth and then left the baby in the hospital. I could not focus on anything else going on around me. I forgot about appointments, suffered from some depression, and longed for God to be near to me. It was hard to talk about it, because no one else except my husband and other adoptive families understood the deep desire to have my son home. I tried to focus on the time we had left as a family of five. I tried to spend more individual time with my girls and Jason. While my intentions were good, my heart still focused so much on Kahsay.

Trip 2 came, and after some crazy paperwork drama, God worked a miracle. We arrived at Hannah's Hope to pick up Kahsay forever. In the first hour during our talk with the director he screamed, puked, and finally fell asleep. He slept the entire way to the hotel. When we arrived he woke up and screamed in terror for over 2 hours. The next three days in Ethiopia were very hard. It is so heart wrenching to see your child look at you in fear. He did bless us with a few smiles, but looking back I see now he was very guarded. We survived the "fabulous" flights home and could not wait to be united as a family forever. Seeing our family and friends at the airport to welcome us home was all I had expected it to be. It felt amazing to finally be a family of 6 and introduce Kahsay to his sisters.

The next few days we were on a "finally home" high. We watched as the girls fought over him and as family and friends couldn't wait to finally catch a glimpse of him. Kahsay seemed happy and looked as if he was settling in. The next 6 weeks were what I refer to as the "trenches". We were encouraged to cocoon in our home and spend time as a family so the bonding between Kahsay and us could begin. We were committed to this as much as possible. We also did not let anyone else feed, diaper, and care for Kahsay's needs. We did allow grandparents and aunts and uncles to hold him for brief periods. As much as possible we limited our time out of the house to ensure Kahsay did not get overwhelmed. We noticed quickly that he continued to be guarded and limited his eye contact. He constantly wanted to be sleeping and tended to be fussy when he was awake. We knew this was how he was coping with this drastic change in his life.

Daily life was filled with tears from Kahsay and I. We fought every nap time and bedtime. I had this strong desire as his mom to rock him to sleep as he looked into my eyes. That is far from what happened. He tried everything in his power to not be close to me, yet he could not soothe himself. I struggled between trying to love him and be close to him even when I wanted to put him in his bed and be far far away. We both sobbed together. He was mourning what he once knew, and I was crying out for God to save me and heal this relationship. There were a few weeks even when I did not want to be the one to take care of him. I began to feel anger and resentment.  I spent hours trying to soothe him to sleep.  Once he was sleeping it lasted only about 30 minutes. I tried everything we are told to try with an adopted child.  Sometimes these methods would work and sometimes I failed miserably. I desperately wanted Kahsay to love me.  I desperately wanted to feel the same love for him as I felt for my girls.  My 3 girls were being ignored and left to figure out the day on their own.  I pasted a "this is great" smile on my face when seeing people.  I shared with most of my family members the struggle, but never too detailed for fear they would sense my weakness.  This was when God broke me.  I finally picked up the phone one day and called someone from my church who told me to call them anytime if I needed prayers or anything else.  I called her crying and pleading for her to pray for me and Kahsay.  I have never been good at asking for help and admitting I need help.  She prayed with me on the phone and assured me she would keep praying for me.  When I hung up the phone I immediately felt a peace that only God could provide.  It was from that moment that God began to miraculously bring beauty to a broken relationship.  It did not miraculously turn from bad to good.  The journey to healing was still hard.  There were still days of tears on both ends.  To be honest there are still days of tears.  I will never forget the night Kahsay let me rock him to sleep without protest.  He finally felt safe in my arms and knew I was going to provide for his needs and not give up on him.  His walls finally started to break down and I was prepared to be the foundation he could rely on.  None of this was in my own doing.  This healing was only possible through God.

Today when I look at my son I feel such an intense love.  I can testify today that the love I feel for him is no different than the love I feel for his sisters.  He has changed our lives in ways we never expected.  He has brought such life to our home.  I am grateful God has chosen me to be Kahsay's mom.

Adoption is hard, but AMAZING.  It is the hardest thing I have ever done, but also the best.  This journey has brought me to a closer understanding of Christ's love for us.  What started out as a broken relationship has been made into something beautiful.  I am grateful for the journey God has led us to.  It is far from over and still will be hard.  I am grateful that I have a God that can have victory over any trial.  I am grateful for a God that can break me in order to make me stronger.  We often hear how great we are that we adopted and how lucky Kahsay is.  Kahsay has brought such blessing to our lives.  We give all credit to God.  We would not be where we are today without Him.  He brought us here and we know He will see us through.