It’s been a year of crossing bridges and constructing them.
We’ve seen our girl cross milestones this first year together: ABCs, shapes, colors and 123s. Climbing, jumping, sorting, discovering. Here’s where adoption is different though: our little girl has trekked mountains while passing through these expected milestones. It wasn’t just ABCs, it was ABCs in a new language, culture, home, and learned on the shoulders of loss.
Her early weeks of life were acquainted with isolation and transition. She lost the very first mother-voice she knew, something I can only imagine like a song you love and long to sing, whose volume keeps turning down in a noisy room until it’s gone. I know she’ll always be looking for that particular song.
She knows we’ve loved her from the start. But memories of that plane ride home a year ago still puts me into a panic inside. I feel a piece of the same panic every time she wakes in the night afraid, or wakes us mid-night terror. No matter how many times I read about night terrors in scientific terms, the thought of hers alone makes me lie awake frozen and anxious. Some of my deepest fears as an adoptive mama have turned into an unwelcome shadow, whispering beside me on those nights. You aren’t her real mother. You don’t know her. Love can’t make it across a bridge of colliding cultures like you claim to so whole-heartedly to believe…
I’ve cowered in moments, but I’ve also chosen to speak truth back in the darkness. I’ve called on my God to silence that shadow. And I remember: All year, we’ve been building something beautiful.
This year, one of our sons has grown into a more caring, sympathetic brother as he’s witnessed his little sister adjust and grow. The first night she was home, she stayed near him, drawn to his tenderness and attention, and all year we have watched this enlarge his empathy and affection as a person.
Another son was jolted by the transition and resistant to the change with an adamantine stance. He clung to what was for months, and yet, over time, and almost undercover, his passion for the past morphed into an unlikely bond. His heart grew even bigger than it already was, in a corner he had originally intended to keep to himself.
Our daughter has gone from a girl who refused to speak, to a girl full of spunk and compassion. She’s tells me she wants to learn ballet while spinning dizzy in our living room one minute, and then chases her brothers around armed with a lightsaber, the next. She’s a forever Korean girl whose favorite things to eat are still rice with seaweed and Jajangmyeon, who’s also claimed the winning title of chocoholic amongst her siblings. If you ask her how much any of us love her, she will stretch her arms out wide and yell, “SO MUCH.” She’s a girl who’s known. She’s our daughter, and most importantly, she’s learning again to know that she’s undoubtably loved.
So many people frame adoption in the need that exists out there, but what I’ve learned this year is that there’s also an immense need in here for the kind of welcoming that is adoption. It’s the kind that requires every bit of us.
Day by day, long night after long night, memory after memory made, we’ve been crossing bridges and constructing them.
It’s been hard work for all of us, and a year later; I am tired. But a year later; I am in love with our family of five more than ever before. A year later; we’ve all learned a little bit more about what it means to love and be loved. We are still learning and that might be the best part.
Happy One Year, Everly Jun. You are loved and known. Loving and knowing you is more beautiful than we could’ve ever imagined.