Saturday, November 13, 2010

Hard Stuff, Part I

I know it may seem that once Karis is finally home, the hard part will be over.  That couldn't be further from the truth!  There will be many more hard things that come with the territory of parenting an adopted child.  Worth it?  Oh, yes.  Challenging?  Yes.  Bad?  No.  Just hard.

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...

8 comments:

Amy Wood said...

Wendy--You are making me cry already this morning! I love what you said about Karis being a part of your family. My heart breaks for my little girls' moms. It hurts for where they are in life and the choices they have made that made our adoptions necessary. love you guys.....and I'm glad that by the time you make it out here again, Karis will be so used to you that we can all squeeze her!

Anonymous said...

AMEN Amy. Mark and Wendy, God has given you such good wisdom for the days ahead. Praying much for you and that you can bring Lemlem home soon.
The Snyders

Mei Ling said...

"What happened to her? Why was she up for adoption?"

I've had friends who told other 'friends' that I was adopted, then proceed to go into the details of how I ended up being adopted.

*sigh*

Not nice to expand on adoptees' privacies... those are their details to share, if/when they want to.

Thank you for realizing this.

Stefanie said...

Thank you for sharing your thoughts - it makes me think about what I say (and how to say it) to people who have adopted children or been adopted. Praying for wisdom for you as you bring Karis Lemlem home. :)

Kim said...

Way to "get it" on her behalf and set the healthy boundaries up-front!

Melissa Guernsey said...

Beautifully written...I have been catching up on Karis Lemlem's life journey...Big Hug...

Lara said...

Great insight. I get so annoyed when people tell us how lucky our child will be to get adopted. ugh.

Barbaloot said...

This is sooo right on!!

I used my son's new first name and his pre-adoption (now middle) name in combo for months and it worked well. I still sing his full name to the tune of a lullaby at bedtime every night. He was nine months when I adopted him and he did know his name, and he learned his new first name quickly.