Gotcha Day is the moment every adopting mom longs for when the child you have been dreaming of, praying for, and aching to hold, gets placed in your arms. Forever. That moment, you assure yourself, will make the months of paperwork and the thousands of dollars worth the sacrifice.

Realistically you know the actual moment may not go the way you dream, but a mom can hope, right?

On our gotcha day, I was handed a scared two-and-a-half-year-old who wanted anything but a new mommy, especially one with blond hair, blue eyes, and who spoke no Chinese. She cried hard, desperate for her foster momma, and eventually cried herself to sleep in my arms.

The days that followed were more of the same. While my husband made progress with Suhn, she continued to reject me. She would laugh with her daddy, but if I attempted to join in, the wall would go up and the light would leave her eyes.

Logically I could understand her resistance. Through my reading and conversations with other adoptive moms, I knew I was not alone, but rejection hurts, even when it is not personal. I wish I could say I only responded with patience and love, but instead my own wall started to go up.

The weeks and months that followed were hard. When we returned home, our daughter warmed up to me, but the wall I had started to build did not evaporate overnight. I learned firsthand that attachment and bonding are processes that take time.

During our first dark week in China, a friend and fellow adoptive mom left a comment on my blog that has stuck with me: “In the darkest moments, I once in a while remember that I would still do this all over because it is right.” I cannot tell you how many times I reminded myself of this truth during our first months with Suhn. When I didn’t feel love for my daughter and wondered if our relationship would ever be normal, remembering that adopting her was right helped me through. My feelings could not be trusted, but God could. He had called us to Suhn. Regardless of how I felt, I was 100 percent committed. She was my daughter.

Little by little, the walls came down, and the love I pretended at some days became real. I cannot put into words how blessed I am to parent Suhn. You hear about the “miracle of adoption,” and it’s true. Adoption is miraculous and allows humans to experience a piece of God’s love like nothing else.

But it is also hard, messy, and gut-wrenching. If you experience the hard side of adoption, know you are not alone. Show yourself grace, look for moms who have been there, and lean into the arms of God.

He understands. After all, He is an adoptive parent, too.

 

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9 Comments

  1. Megan – thank you for this post. So honest and real. I think it will bring many adoptive moms encouragement! I love you!

  2. Victoria Stover says:

    And foster parents need to hear it! As one myself, I have hit that wall with EVERY child who has came into my home. We trudge along, and then one day it hits me that I love them exactly like my own.

  3. Thank you for this post. It's good to see that other "blessed mom's" have these feeling also. I know that I don't walk alone.

  4. Thanks Jami and Victoria – It is always good for me to hear that other moms deal with "the wall." My hope is this post will help other moms realize they are not alone, and selfishly :), remind myself that I am not alone! I am still working at breaking the wall down completely, but we have made huge progress since those first two months. Thanks for your comments!

  5. Thank you for sharing this, Megan — it's so easy to forget that attachment and bonding are processes that go two ways. And I love the reminder that God is an adoptive parent, too!

  6. Leah downs says:

    Beatiful and honest post. We adopted twins at age two with attachment issues. Far too few adoptive parents are aware of attachment disorder and how to handle it. It has taken us 7 long years to educate ourselves and come to a place of healing and wholeness with our sons. I wish it was possible for more transpancy, but it is hard to admit when things aren't perfect. Thank you for being the exception.

  7. Megan- so many adoptive parents need to hear this message! The blessings do outweigh the tough days but we need to be real about the difficulties. Thank you for sharing.

  8. Dr. Karyn Purvis' book, The Connected Child, is a must-read for adoptive and foster parents! It explains how to bond and love a child who has experienced loss and abandonment, abuse, or behavior issues. It has been a HUGE help to us as adoptive and foster parents. You can find it in FamilyLife's Resource Center. Also recommend Adopted for Life for adoptive families.