Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Misplaced Guilt and Arriving at the Beautiful

I am sitting here in bed, upright with my laptop cradled here in the warmth of my blankets, and I am realizing I am going through a very challenging and odd time of my life, emotionally speaking. Much is up in the air for our family, struggles abound and yet I am more at peace with it all than I ever would have been a few years ago. I am still able to see the sunshine through the clouds, the hope in the face of what at the moment feels very futile. Little long distance "hugs" provide me with a sense of well being, and a conversation I had today with an adopting mother who is struggling with her own sense of guilt at turning down a referral for reasons I will not share here have reminded me of how lonely this all can be at moments. As I explained on the phone today, only those who have walked this path can truly understand what it feels like...the misplaced guilt when a child will not be coming home with you, the sense of urgency at moments, the desperate futility of someone in our current situation. It reminded me again not to place unfair expectations on my closer friends, as it is simply an impossible task to put themselves in our shoes. I doubt if I were in their place I would be able to really understand how deep the emotions run at times like this.

It's not that people don't care, because they do. It is that they can not imagine what it feels like, this ability we all have to care so much about the future of a child who is not biologically connected to us and not even in our arms yet. I am finding that this last adoption trip to Kyrgyzstan has only dug a deeper well of compassion and concern in my heart, one that now feels almost bottomless and unable to ever be filled. It is holding that many more children who might not ever have a family to love them, it is seeing that many more children who are underfed, undereducated, underloved.

It is hearing Kenny softly tell me the other night after our family said our bedtime prayers "I prayed all the time in Kyrgyzstan, I pray for family to love me, I get in trouble for talking in bed but I still pray like the American ladies showed.". And it is knowing there might be others out there praying that same prayer this very night, wondering if it will ever be answered.

It is emotions like these that can not be escaped, they haunt you. In sharp contrast, there is Matthew who came home at 11 months old asking me this week "Mom, was I the cutest baby you had ever seen?" with a wide grin on his face, and of course I replied that a cuter little guy had never lived before he came along. And I realized that was a question Kenny and so many other can never ask, they can't ask if their forever mommies thought they were the cutest baby they had ever seen because their forever mommies never had the chance to see them as babies, to cuddle them and coo with them. At least for some of them their story ultimately has a happy ending.

During my conversation today I reminded my new adoptive mommy friend that every child over there deserves a mom and dad, there are none more deserving or less deserving. Declining one child in favor of another equally deserving child doesn't make you a cold and calculating person, and yet that is exactly how it hits some of us. We lose sight of the fact that we didn't create their circumstances in the first place and then we feel misplaced guilt at our inability to accept a particular child based on so many variables. We feel we would have no choice if we gave birth so perhaps we should have no choice if we adopt. We try to equate child birth and adoption, which is ridiculous regardless of the political correctness of that folly. The two are not at all the same sxperience, and what would happen when giving birth should have no bearing at all on how you approach decision making with adoption. And yet there are still the faces in the photographs quickly emailed, the videos taken by others, the face to face encounters that leave you wondering how in the world anyone walks away from this process unchanged and emotionally intact. I can still recall quite clearly the face of every single child we have considered adopting, at least 12 of them remain in the recesses of my mind, brought to the forefront once in awhile when I wonder what may have happened to them.

We do what we can, we build our families, we nurture our children and raise them. We try not to revisit in our minds they hardest moments of it all, and then our children grow to the ages our sons now are and the questions arise, and we answer them to the best of our ability knowing full well it will never really be enough.

Our friends will weakly try to comfort us, not really knowing what to say about all of this happening that is invisible to the naked eye and yet hurts as deeply as any obvious injury. We often don't have the words ourselves to narrow down the exact cause of our distress, we just know that it feels awful.

Sometimes you have to move past the awful to arrive at the beautiful. I am praying daily that we arrive at the beautiful ourselves one day soon.


Dan said...

So true and so well put. We are just in paperchase phase and already at times feel the lonliness. Thanks for speaking to this subject.

Shannon said...

Eloquently said and so, very true, Cyndi. I have struggled with just these emotions over the last 10 months. As we have begun the process again, I find that I am better organized and more prepared, yet the lonliness, concern and guilt is so much stronger than before.

Jamie said...

Oh my, Cindy! Every post you do touches my heart in some way, but this one cut right to the core of it! I am crying like a baby! You described some of the same feelings I have so accurately! Thank you for this, and for being there for so many of us in our times of need. You were there for me, too, at referral time...and between your advice and that of a few trusted others, and prayer and council with my husband- we chose to look at a referral that we almost passed on without even looking at, simply because of age! You are right- they all deserve a family- not one any more than another. And God had one very specific little girl in mind for us (at least just one for now:)...she wasnt what we went into this expecting, but God knew better- and he used angels like you to help us see that!

Rachel said...

This is such an eloquent take on this process. I was just trying to explain to someone today the reality of all children being equal. I may have to plagarize some of your blog to get my point across! Thank you for sharing.

kelly bee said...

you mean i'm not the only one who feels this way?!?!


Anonymous said...

All of us who have traveled to bring our children home will be forever haunted by the faces of those left behind. All I know to do is to love, the best I can, the two that God has given into our hands, and leave the others in His hands.

May His peace be upon your family and upon all those who walk this adoption journey and mourn for those they cannot bring home or must wait to bring home.

Peggy in Virginia

Beth Wakefield said...

As usual, you put into words what so many of us feel. Thank you!