The biggest adventure of our marriage began just a few weeks after our sixth anniversary. Fueled by faith, dreams and a photograph, we boarded a plane to Beijing to bring home a little boy we had never met. He needed a mama and baba, and, though we didn’t quite realize it yet, we needed him too.
From the moment we decided to adopt, we understood that we did nothing to deserve this child. God was granting us an incredible gift — an invitation to love, sacrifice and give everything for this child of his. We are constantly in awe of this undeserved honor.
This perspective is what I am most grateful for as a new mom. It’s what pulls me through the most difficult days of parenting. It’s what gives meaning to the moments when I’m the one helping my little person deal with his big feelings.
It is a tremendous upheaval to leave the only home you’ve ever known to go to a foreign country with people who look strange and sound like they’re speaking gibberish. Our son has a happy disposition, but he was certainly grieving during his adjustment.
Along with my son’s grief and anxiety during his adjustment, I was also dealing with my own grief. My career, my spiritual life and my relationships had all changed so much that I couldn’t recognize myself. I loved my son, yet ached for my former identity.
Luckily, I had a lot of support for my postadoption depression, and I urge anyone feeling the same way to please reach out to someone. It’s much more common than you realize.
A few months after we arrived home, something wonderful happened. Our son climbed into my lap for the first time. This little one that I love so much actually wanted to sit with me!
A few months later, he took his first steps. Seven months home, he gave his mama a kiss for the first time, and I just about died of happiness. Our son is happy and thriving in his new home, and I am so grateful.
Every step, every milestone, no matter how small, is such a joy because I know what it took for my son to get there. Every smile and every hug are a gift, and I’m keenly aware of this since it did not come naturally at first.
Sometimes I think about what this must be like for God. As much as I rejoice inside each time my son wants to interact with me (something that did not come naturally for him), I think of how much more excited God must be when our hearts rise to him.
Each time parenting tests my patience, I’m reminded of how patient God is with us. And beyond that — the love I experience for my son, even when he isn’t perfect, lets me marvel at how overwhelming God’s love must be for each of us.
St. Paul writes in his letters that we are the Father’s children by adoption. What does this mean for us? As a new parent by adoption, my mind has been fixed on this. Adoption is intentional.
Out of love, God intentionally become one of us, suffered and died for us, even if we never choose to love him in return. To be a son or daughter by adoption means that we are so deeply, deeply loved, beyond what we could imagine.
My child is now in preschool, yet I’ve been a mother for less than a year. I constantly feel like I’m in way over my head, which is probably true. In fact, I’d guess this is the case for most parents.
But I also know that God brought us together, and he has only our best interests in mind. After all, he’s a parent by adoption, too.
— By Connie Poulos, Catholic News Service
Poulos is a freelance writer based in Maryland.