Thursday, February 11, 2010

This Isn’t The Chocolate Factory and I Am Not Willy Wonka

When we adopted our first two daughters, I had it all figured out. Since the little one, Belen, was only four years old, she would have an easy time bonding with us. I was prepared for our ten year old, Rachel, to possibly have a more difficult go of it. I quickly learned two valuable, life-changing lessons: I will never have things all figured out no matter how sure I am that I do and God has a plan that is usually very different from mine.

The first words Bel ever spoke to us were these, “Do we have candy at our house?” Seeing that beautiful brown face enter the room for the first time, watching as she climbed onto the couch and snuggled close to me and then hearing those sweetly funny words escaping her mouth should have told us something. We were headed for trouble with this one!

Once the girls were home with us, we quickly moved from the honeymoon period to reality. I am thankful for that now. It wasn’t a week since moving the girls in that Bel began to show what was hidden in that little broken heart of hers. She would scream and throw temper tantrums if I tried to give her a bath, brush her hair or take her picture. Shopping for clothes was a nightmare. The girls arrived with almost nothing so I was thrilled to have a valid excuse to spoil them rotten while shopping for new clothes and toys. I never imagined the scenes Bel would create however.

One of the first times we shopped together, Rachel shyly and quietly would pick out clothing and ask if she might have this or that. Of course, I was beyond happy to get her whatever she wanted. Bel, on the other hand would lay on the floor screaming that I was trying to make her wear “ugly clothes.” My boys were little monsters but rarely in public places so I felt instantly like a failure with Bel. I had no idea how to handle a four year old girl that rejected me on every level. Fear began to creep into my heart. I had taken the classes, read the books, even taught some of the classes for DHS. How could I be so clueless?

Over the next fourteen years, I am ashamed to say that I found myself avoiding Bel on many levels. I was a good mother in that I provided all the things necessary for a decent life. I guarded my heart closely though. Time and time again, when I would reach out only to feel rejected, I would escape deeper into hiding hoping to protect my heart. I never blamed Bel. I knew I was the one failing her, she wasn’t failing me. We even sought counseling. Prayer at church. Fighting it out at home. Nothing seemed to help.

Right before Bel’s nineteenth birthday, she had a medical scare which landed her in the hospital for a week. The thought of losing my baby girl was more than overwhelming to me. It took my focus off of me and my pain and placed my eyes where they should have always been from the beginning, on Belen. The night we rushed her to the hospital, I sat in the backseat of the car, holding my daughter in my arms. I don’t know that I have ever wept the way I did that night. The only words I could say over and over were, “I love you, Bel!”

It’s an amazing thing what vulnerability can bring to a relationship. From that night on, as I opened my heart again, no longer worried about being rejected but focused on what was best for my daughter, each day has brought more than I could have hoped for. More than I deserve. I learned to be honest about my feelings but more importantly, I learned and am learning to listen. Bel has opened up about her fears from the past and her fears of the future and you know what? As we have opened ourselves up to one another, most of those fears have suddenly faded away. Light seems to do that to darkness….melt all the boogie men you just knew were laying in wait to get you someday.

Bel just turned twenty-five years old. She is one of my favorite people in this world and definitely my favorite Belen. She and I have so many things in common. She loves the poor and needy. She cares for others with her entire heart not just a piece of it. She is funny and witty and kind of weird. She is one of the most amazing and strange people I have ever known. She is just like her mother.

Rachel and Bel ~ 2008

and the story continues....


Sarah said...

what an incredible journey for both of you. the reward makes it all worth it.

Two Shades of Pink said...

Thank you so much for this story. I have so many fears about being an adoptive mother to Cati...fear of failure, fear of rejection. But they are just that. My fears, no tmy reality. Oh, Marla you have no idea how amazing these posts are for my heart and so many others. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Monkey Man said...

Why is it so hard to communicate with our kids. Mine are my birth children, yet I still feel stymied at times in talking to them. their mother doesn't have that issue. Great story. I am inspired.

Rae said...

Such an incredible story. I am wordless to write anything that adequately expresses how beautiful it is. It is filled with love and I sense the pride you have for your girls. You are an amazing mother.

Parsley said...

Such a beautiful story. I hope my daughter and I become close like that as she gets past these teens. It's hard, but you know that.

Brian Miller said...

what a wonderful story...adversity often breaks down the walls we put up. thanks for sharing this. gave me smiles.

Ms. Anthropy said...

I gave birth to mine, raised them and still have more questions than answers. Your posts are so inspirational.

Erin said...

What a great story, thanks for sharing!!

ModernMom said...

Oh I am so glad I read this post! So powerful! What a journey you have been on. You are one strong Mama and I am so pleased to meet you:)

♥Georgie♥ said...

I am in tears! what an incredible story and Thank you for sharing it with

Beautiful girls!

Unknown Mami said...

I am in love with all of you!

Your girls look like my family.

Boomer Pie said...

Brilliantly written Marla and what a touching, heartfelt story. Can't wait to hear from time to time about the journeys Rachel and Bel will embark upon.

Monique-aka-Surferwife23 said...

That was truly beautiful! And Belen is just as beautiful herself.

Lily Robinson said...

They are so beautiful! I have heard many nightmare stories about the bonding issues. Yes, letting the light in drives out the darkness. God is good.

Fragrant Liar said...

What an incredible story, so candid and vulnerable. I'm glad you shared it with us. And I'm equally glad that you and Belen have worked it out. That's the important thing.

gayle said...

What a journey!! I want to hear more!!

Marla said...

Sarah ~ Yes, it does

Two Shades ~ Being a parent is being a parent, adoptive or otherwise. They all tear your heart out eventually. Remember, it's their job and we did it to our parents. Do I have the gift of encouragement or what? lol :-)

Monkey Man ~ I think it is just called life, my friend.

Rae ~ Thank you for those kind words.

Parsley ~ I have full confidence you will

Brian ~ That is so true

Ms Anthropy ~ Don't we all?

Erin ~ Thanks for reading

ModernMom ~ Thank you, friend!

Georgie ~ Thank you for reading it. Happy tears!!

Mami ~ Awww....we love you too. Maybe we are related!

Boomer ~ Thank you. I will write more if I can get their permission .... or their internet goes down.

Monique ~ Thank you!

Lily ~ Yes, He is!!

Fragrant Liar ~ You are so right

gayle ~ I'm so glad because I want to write more

Lola Sharp said...

What a lovely your daughter(s), to motherhood, to family, to love.

Thanks for sharing your story with us.


The Duck Herder said...

You are amazing Marla!

Auntie Cake said...

Another amazing story. You are both so lucky to have each other in your lives... Beautiful!

Bel said...

what God did with us and in us did come to full bloom..I can't tell people enough how blessed I am to be adopted by you and dad!

Marla said...

Lola ~ Thank you for seeing it that way!

Duck Herder ~ You are too kind

Kate ~ We are!!

Belly ~ We are the blessed ones