Thursday, July 16, 2015

Sorting Her Feelings And Softening My Heart

It has been 3 1/2 years since Alethia physically joined our family and Josh and I still get asked how Alethia has transitioned into the family.

Most days now I can hardly even remember life without her.

It is amazing how God just begins blending all of the past together.  Somehow I still have individual memories with each of my kids and even remember life without any kids at all, but at the same time have a hard time remembering what it was actually like without a single one of them!

So how HAS she adjusted?

She is such a typical part of the Colony that I don't even notice that there should still be some differences...until she gets upset (or angry, or offended, or mad, or upset, or sad) and refuses to answer my simple question; "what's the matter baby?" (which, embarrassingly enough, quickly turns into a stern, "Alethia Grace, use your words and tell me what is WRONG!").

This simple question literally sends her off the edge, which in turn sends ME off the edge and we are at a stale mate!

Often times I lose my patience and give up, not wanting to wait out her stubborn, unspeaking, emotional self.

But every once in a while the Lord graces me with more patience and compassion that I am capable of (a DAILY prayer of mine, actually) on my own and I wait.

I simple take my hand (that desperately wants to withhold its affection out of my own spite and stubbornness) and gently stroke her arm or leg while softening my voice (and heart) to repeat the innocent question.  I tell her that I'm not going anywhere until I can figure out how to reach her heart so we can figure out a solution to the problem.

Tonight ended up being a 15-20 minute wait as I repeated the same questions over and over and she sobbed through partial sentences that made no sense, until we finally reached the verdict for her highly emotional state and reassured her that she was NOT in trouble, but that I just needed her to use her words.

Somewhere there is a gap and it has GOT to be filled.  She is so full of emotion but unable to communicate those emotions with words.  So tonight, after I got the boys in bed, I took advantage of this time with just my Laithy.  Areyna is away at camp, which already leaves Alethia feeling lonely and sad, so I KNEW I needed to spend a few extra minutes with her.

We pulled out her white board and markers and I asked her to draw people with specific emotions.  Then we pin-pointed exact scenarios that bring on these feelings for her.  I was shocked that the very first thing that she communicated in her "mad/angry" category was "talking to mommy".  I didn't take offense because I knew exactly what she was talking about!

We spent the next 5 minutes in deep conversation as we walked through actual scenarios to help each other understand how we each felt and what the appropriate responses would be.

Alethia and I are far from having the perfect bond, but she is worth being patient with.  Our relationship is worth working on.  Her feeling safe is worth fighting for, even when I have to fight my own selfish tendencies.

Adoption isn't a bed of roses.
You have to dig deep to get to the root of issues that have been buried under years of abandonment, disappointment and feelings of neglect and instability.
You have to fight your own natural tendencies to withdraw when things get irritating or difficult.

But just like any relationship in life, it is a choice, and this relationship is forever going to be worth the fight.
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