|Reclining Mother and Child by Henry Moor. Photo by flickr user lizjobes112.|
There two sides to every adoption story. There's the adoption, full of belonging and at last and forever. And there's the relinquishment, made of goodbyes and sorrow and loss.
I'm ready for the adoption. But is my son ready for the relinquishment?
Reality? No. He's two years old. He's about to loose everything he's ever known. His home. His langauge. His routines. His friends. His caregivers. The only family he's ever known. The only everything he's ever known. In the moment of my greatest joy he will know his first true sorrow.
In my preparation this week I've been reading the book Toddler Adoption by Mary Hopkins-Best (I recommend it). The book is research based and very informative, but less engaging than the story-driven tales I love to read. I had to put the book down last week though, in the middle of a chapter on "Parenting the Grieving Toddler."
I had to put it down because it described what toddler grief looks like.
It looks like tantrums and bad behavior and learning regression, like I expected- but it looks like something else I wasn't prepared for.
It looks like limp-bodied sobs. Inconsolable sobs.
Sad crying is very different from crying associated with rage or terror. When grieving, the child's body is typically limp or curled in the fetal position, and there are lots of tears (Pg. 173).
I know that this change is for the best. But he's two. He doesn't know. All he knows is he wants his bed and his nannies and the familiar sounds of a Russian tongue. My job as mother will also be my job as his grief counselor.
As I pray for the grace of God to meet me as I hold my baby through his grief, I also pray that this sorrow will not rob me of my joy. In that prayer, God points me to the cross in a new way.
In the cross I see my moment of salvation as a greater picture of this paradox. I see my greatest joy and my deepest sorrow in the cross. I see an abundant life and the fullness of all eternity secured for me. But I also see my precious Lord and Savior, dead for my transgressions. My moment of salvation hangs in the paradox of sorrow and joy.
And you know what? I live well in the paradox. I live with the depths of emotion but also the heights. I live with thankfulness because of it. I see my sibling-hood with all humanity because of it. I know my brokenness and I know my hope because of it.
So as I myself mourn my son's loss, I am strengthened to know that his present sorrow will be met with the hope of tomorrow. That his relinquishment is answered in his adoption, as my brokenness is answered in my salvation. Not that every question is undone, but that neither of us have been left in our helpless situations. I am strengthened to know that the grief of my son's loss can somehow exist in perfect tension with the joy of his gain. This is one more picture of salvation. One more story to tell of the goodness of God. A paradox of joy and pain- somehow, beautiful.
May the Spirit ready my soul as I guide my son through the depths of this life so that he may, in turn, go the heights.
PS: I have been so grateful for all the wonderful comments on my last guest post about open adoption! Thank you all! To enter the giveaway to win a necklace or t-shirt be sure to post your comment by noon tomorrow (Wednesday). I will announce the winners tomorrow night!