One challenge for us is how to handle comments others may make once Karis Lemlem becomes part of our family. I know it's inevitable, and I want to help people understand the realities.
But it will be a challenge if someone says:
- "She's so lucky to be part of your family." No, actually. If luck had anything to do with it, she wouldn't have been an orphan in the first place. We're blessed to have her in our family.
- "What happened to her? Why was she up for adoption?" Thank you for your interest, but that's her story to tell to whomever she chooses when she's older. Please don't be offended...and put yourself in her eighteen-year-old shoes. You wouldn't want everyone knowing all the hard places of your life, either. We're holding those hard parts of her life carefully. We're new at this (obviously!), and as we figure out what we're doing, we want to err on the side of caution. Information can always be shared later...you can't take it back once it's out!
- "She was meant to be part of your family!" Um, I beg to differ. I don't think God sets upon a plan to destroy families. Her adoption into our family is making the best of a really tough situation...He does work all things out for good, but she was meant to be part of her first family. We're the "Plan B." Yes, I know God knew about it from the beginning. But it doesn't mean the injustice of the tragedy that brought her to us in the process is pleasing to Him. If we could, we would give her back her first family, and give her the opportunity to be nurtured by her own parents. It's not possible, and we're grateful that we're allowed to parent her, but I am so sad for what she has had to endure in her short life.
While we're on this topic of "hard stuff," a few things to share about her name...
We plan on calling her Lemlem for a while, until we are at least familiar to her. Then we'll call her Karis Lemlem...until she becomes used to hearing both names. And then? We'll just see what happens. If she were older, I'd ask her which name she prefers. For now, I want both to be familiar to her.
This isn't what we originally planned. But when I think about this transition for her, it makes me cry...by the time she gets carried off the plane in D.C., there will be not one shred of anything familiar to her remaining. A sea of white faces. Unfamiliar voices, sounds; language rhythms. New smells, new formula (never mind the fact that it will hopefully help the spit up trouble!). Love, yes...but love expressed in different form and language than she's used to.
The very least we can do is call her by the only name she knows. It means nothing to her, nor should it, that we've had the name "Karis" chosen for a daughter for forever. The significance of its meaning is lost on a tiny baby who is feeling set adrift. It's the opposite connotation of what we hold for adoption. We perceive love and safety and a family to cherish her. And it is all that and more...but not from her perspective-not yet, anyway. Will she come to feel loved and safe and that she belongs? That's the goal. But for now, I imagine she'll feel pretty lost.
And the name Lemlem? It was chosen for her specifically because of its meaning, which given the circumstances of her life, is profound. It was a name chosen with love. It means "to flourish and grow." We love all the more the family member who gave it to her for choosing life for her, both literally and symbolically. And yes, it's undeniably beautiful with "Karis," which is the Greek word used for "grace." Think about that...for grace to flourish and grow in her life, to grow and flourish in the grace bestowed upon her. Amazing.
Speaking of helping her to not feel adrift...
For a while, Mark and I (and the kids, too) will do most of the holding of her. We know you love her. We know you've waited just as long as we have to love on her-and we appreciate that so much! And maybe we can just sit down on the couch, you-me-and Karis Lemlem, and you can sorta hold her. :) (The jury is still out on initial airport greetings)! :) See, for the whole of her short life, she has been cared for by a rotating staff. We want her to realize that this isn't just another orphanage with a different staff. It's her family. She needs something? Moms and dads take care of needs. If we don't do everything for her, it will make it that much harder for her to realize that "home" is something different. Hard to do? Yes. But that's our job.
More posts to come on hard stuff that may be helpful for you to understand...