Samuel has lived through more trauma in his first year of life than any child should experience in a lifetime. I think we sometimes take this for granted, assuming that because he's young, he hasn't been affected. Unfortunately, that's just not true. It's not true for any of them. These children feel the brunt from the moment they are abandoned, sometimes way before.
Samuel was born with a visible special need, one that stigmatized him in China. His birth mother immediately decided she couldn't handle it. So he was left in the grass for someone to find. He was admitted to an institution where no one knew his story, his background, his name. When he cries, his mom isn't there to soothe him. If someone hears his cry, a nanny, a stranger, someone may or may not care enough to respond. He lives in a place with hundreds of other babies. Even if the workers there do care, it's simply impossible to meet even his basic needs. Statistics (ones that I'd love to forget but can't) estimate that over 50% of institutionalized children are abused physically or sexually (Jesus, please envelope Samuel with your protection). We can't ignore the fact that even at one year old, his life has been no cake walk.
So when I hear, "Aren't you so excited?", my immediate response is, "of course!" I can't wait to get my Samuel lovin' arms wrapped around his little body. There's no place I want to get to faster. But I can't shake the reality of what's really about to happen.
Gotcha days are not glamorous. It's not a "happily ever after" moment. He doesn't know me. I am just another stranger to him, someone who will pluck him from everything he's known for the past year. Whether that scenario was okay or terrible makes no difference to him. These children are only comfortable in the atmosphere they know, even if it's not what's best for them. We know this adoption offers redemption. Samuel does not share this perspective. When I arrive at the civil affairs office to meet him, I will tear his world apart, once again. He will experience tragedy on a very deep level. He will grieve. And it will be evident. Anger, confusion, fear, sadness are all emotions he will relive.
I remember so clearly the levels of grief our sweet Emily had to endure. She cried so hard when we took her away. She screamed. She trembled. She cried herself to sleep. Then the painful days of zero expression on her face. Then a laugh! It was 2 steps back, one step forward for weeks, even months, but we held on to those forward steps. Eventually, she was taking 2 steps forward, one step back. In less than a year, it was clear she knew where she belonged.
I am well aware of the darkness I am about to enter. It won't be the first time I've caused an incredible feeling of loss for a child. It will be painful for me to witness. I will grieve with him. He will experience a sense of abandonment once again. He will have to learn that he can trust us. And we know this miracle of attachment will come to fruition in time. We will be patient and we will teach him that he can trust us always. It. Will. Happen. But there's a lot of hurt that has to come before the healing can begin.
Am I daunted? Not a bit. This is one kind of pain I welcome. I pray often that the Lord would burden my heart for what burdens His. He has answered this prayer by blessing us with the ministry of adoption. To be the rock that Samuel has never had is a privilege beyond anything I can explain. The pain it brings is a beautiful blessing. There is no greater satisfaction than to whisper in the ear of a crying, scared orphan, "You are chosen and wanted. I love you and I will never, ever leave you. And your God has promised the same." Hard? Sure. But what part of leaving a helpless child in the pit of despair is okay? It's just not. And I'm forever grateful that I get to be God's vessel, His hands and feet, as HE rescues His precious Samuel.