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.