Sunday, January 24, 2010
When Fear Sets In
Two years ago I was packing a suitcase in preparation to head to Liberia. Only a little paperwork was left and soon I would be holding my son. The next 2 weeks proved to be volatile. I didn't know what was happening from one minute to the next. In the end, though, I had my son.
He entered the room with his eyes to the ground. Dale offered him his hand and he willingly took it. After that, he only wanted Dale. My son knew his father was "safe". Dale is gentle, attentive, fun and protective. He is an easy man to trust. I don't think my baby boy has ever once questioned his father's love. He has felt it with the first grasp of his hand.
Then, there is my relationship with my boy. You see, he was left by his birth-mother at an orphanage. She was doing the most loving thing she could for him, but his little mind cannot comprehend this. She dropped him off and made a promise - one she could not keep. She said she would be back for him. A year later, my baby boy was still in the orphanage...waiting. He believed his mother would keep her word, despite the jeers of the other kids. And then the long awaited day comes, his mother has arrived. Only, I was not the mother he was expecting.
Our first weeks together were quite trying. He did not want my love or really anything to do with me. I had been forewarned to expect this kind of behavior, so I was not surprised. I continued to love and hold despite his resistance. Slowly, he started to want to sit on my lap or have me carry him. As soon as he would feel himself starting to attach to me, though, he would throw a fit. Crossing the line of actually caring for me is scary. To do so would give me the power to hurt him like he has been hurt before. I could leave, just like his birth-mom did.
Last week I did a road trip with my sister. Just the 2 of us went to see our cousins in Alabama. I was gone a total of 6 days. My welcome home was full of hugs, stories, notes and messy kisses. The fanfare was nothing less than what royalty receives. Then...there was the next day. I can't even remember what caused the meltdown. It usually isn't much, but it escalated to the point where my boy slapped me as hard as he could across my face. I went to grab him to put him in his room until I could think of a fitting punishment, plus I needed time to cool down. As I picked him up, he started screaming,"Don't touch me!" In adoption lingo, this means "touch me".
I wrapped my arms around him tightly (my legs too:))He tried to break free from my clutches for a few minutes. And then it happened, he melted. Instead of fighting me, he started clinging to me with all that is in him. The tears started pouring down his cheeks and in a brokeness I cannot describe he said over and over, "Mommy, I'm so sorry. I'm sorry, Mommy." In that moment, I knew he cared. He has reached the point where he loves me as much as any 5year old can, and it is scary to him. I now hold the power to hurt him by leaving. He has given me his heart - the most precious of gifts.
He sat on my lap for a very long time as I assured him that I loved him back. We had a few moments of silence and then I told him that I will never leave him. I said I will always come back to him. He grabbed me as tightly as he could and said, "I love you, too, Mommy!"