Bracelets for Our Brothers
Help Us Bring Our Brothers Home
When mommy can't fix it
Posted on December 2nd, 2016

When I was growing up, my parents were my superheroes.  There was no need for Batman, Superman, or anyone else-- they could fix anything.  They knew how to make the monsters under my bed disappear, protected me from the big thunderstorms that used to scare me, and guided me through all of the emotional struggles we all tend to face during childhood and adolescence.  They were my champions, the ultimate support system, my advocates, my voice when I couldn't speak, and they always made things right, or as right as they could for me.

I can't imagine what it is like to grow up without a single advocate.  Sure, our girls (and their brothers) have had caregivers, social workers, NGOs, and private charities that have given to them, spoken to them, tried to help find them families.  But they did not grow up with the benefit of having a single champion ‚Äč (or in my fortunate case of having two parents at home, two advocates/champions/voices/superheroes).  In fact, what they have learned is to be very distrustful of adults.  They are temporary.  They are transient.  They are illusive.  They are sometimes hurtful.  They are not to be trusted.

In their experience, adults sometimes lie, they leave them behind, and they reject them.  Stella and Evvie are coming to terms with just how much some adults have lied to them and rejected them.  As their emotional maturity strengthens, they have a greater understanding of their story, and are coming to terms with some difficult truths.  This is heartbreaking to watch, but it is also beautiful.  Born from this realization is the ability to trust and attach to their two parents.  But, the reality is, mommy and daddy will never be able to redo the first 9 and 13 years of their lives (nor the first 13 and 15 years of their brothers lives).  And that, as a parent, is difficult to process and live with.

Many parents come to the adoption process believing "love will be enough."  Fortunately we had wonderful communities of people preparing us for the reality of the fact that this is not true, and were prepared somewhat to deal with the reality of adoption: the grief, the pain, the fact that adoption is born from a place of loss.  Love is not enough.  Mommy and Daddy are not enough.  Therapy, years of hard work, supportive teachers/coaches/churches/counselors, doctors, medications-- all of that is sometimes enough with massive amounts of love.

Only time will tell how much progress our children will make with processing and dealing with their trauma.  Our observation across the last eight months is that they are doing a miraculous job.  Last night, out of nowhere, Stella began sobbing, crying, screaming out for her brothers.  We've seen this before, but this time it was different.  It was wisdom and maturity beyond her chronological and emotional years.  

Watching this process she has learned that it is not easy, it takes time, it is unpredictable, it is expensive, it is difficult,  it is unfair, it is often not in the best interest of children.  People lie, people love money, people mistreat children, people exploit children.  That is so unbelievably hard for me as an adult to come to terms with, I can't imagine her 10-year-old brain trying to process that (especially when she is so emotionally and developmentally delayed).  But, I saw it last night: raw, genuine, unfiltered.  It was rage, it was anger, it was sadness, it was realization, it was both beautiful and hideous all at once.

This outburst occurs in the car on the way home from our concert last night at school.  It is 9pm.  I have to pull over in the middle of nowhere.  She will not let me drive any further.  She needs me to be present for her.  

She is so trepidatious about how this will go.  Will we, as parents, actually be able to bring them home?  Why is it taking so long?  Why can't they be here now?  Why was this done to me?  Why me and why Evvie?  Why do people lie?  Why do people hurt children?  She screams these questions to me-- her pain coursing through body, her tears are fiery hot. Valid questions that I can only answer in simple sentences.  My only assurance is that I will "fix" this.  I will make it right.  I am sorry and it is okay to be angry and it is ok to cry.  I tell her that I cry, and that my anger about this, but also my love for her and her brothers, is my motivation daily to keep working through this difficult process. I tell her that I want her to use this experience to make her stronger, but it is okay to be brought to her knees sometimes, and that I am, too, brought to my knees at times.  I tell her that this pain is similar to what I felt while waiting for her.  This is the best I can do.

She is learning to trust me to meet her needs.  She begs me again and again to promise her to fix it, to bring them home.  Tears are streaming down her face, "please mommy, please."  And, in this moment, I realize I am not her superhero, and I never will be.  My children have already learned that adults are fallible, imperfect, and broken.  They learned this far too soon.  The lesson they now have to learn is that some people will love them correctly, provide for their needs, protect them.  I explain to her that every person who has bought one of her bracelets loves her, Evvie, and her two brothers (without even meeting them).  I praise her for her hard work.  She still doesn't believe me-- "Mommy are you sure you can do this?".  I hope so.  I tell her yes.  I look deep into her eyes and say, "Yes, I will do everything I can to make this happen."  She skeptically asks, "Promise?".  Yes, I promise.

People oftentimes say that they will not let a tragedy "define them."  I understand this statement, but at the same time I don't.  I want this tragedy to define my family, but not in a negative way.  I want for us to own this tragedy and trauma together. I want us to work on it together, because in the last few weeks as we have worked together on bringing their brothers home, amazing things have happened in our house.  Difficult things?  Yes.  But, amazing nonetheless.   And, whether I like it or not, it is our story.  This is not the life I chose, but it is the one that has been given to me.  I finally feel at peace with that, and am ready to roll up my sleeves and get my hands dirty.  I continue to pray that God provide me the strength, the grace,  the right words, the wisdom, and the unbelievable amount of patience it takes  to parent all four of these beautiful souls.  I know that if we own our story, and let it define our purpose in life, we will come out champions over the tragedy, and, in that sense, it won't "define" us, but it will fuel us.

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