Sunday, December 22, 2013

Love Is Christmas

I thought I knew what unconditional love was. But now I know my idea of it was not even close to what it truly is. After having one of successful therapy session we are back to awful. I knew it was coming and tried to prepare for it, but there is no real preparing for getting your heart broken....again.
We intentionally kept our gift giving to a minimum this year, because we knew no matter what we gave her, Sweetie would find a reason to be disappointed. And as expected she was disappointed and this time over shampoo. Weird I know.
First I should tell you I love stockings! Almost more than big gifts. I always thought they were fun and if you ask Sweetie about last Christmas, the first thing she would tell you is she caught me sneaking into her room at 4 am to put her stocking at the foot of her bed. And how she pretended to sleep until I left so she could rummage through it. Which is exactly what I did as a kid. I know this is a good memory for her. I put lots of fun stuff in her stocking. Lip balms, hair bands, nail polish, cute socks and cute gloves. She loves my Pantene conditioner, so this year I put a big bottle of that in there as well, since she doesn't have any at the residential facility. She opened all of her gifts with minimal response at all. She wouldn't even make eye contact today. She just opened her gifts and in a monotone voice made some kind of comment on most of them, mostly negative like "this is too big or it's not from Rue 21". Then she says "Where's the shampoo?' I just said it wouldn't fit in the stocking. She just said " Well I'm done, I'm going to take a nap". I could tell she was getting upset. She has tell tale body signs, like grabbing her ear or moving her chair side to side while staring at the ground and she gets a very sharp tone. We did not want there to be any negative memories for today, so we just let her go. The whole thing took maybe 10 minutes. No smiles, no laughter, just an empty girl, who wasn't pleased with anything we gave her. She has found a new way to reject us. From the outside most wouldn't think anything of this. People often make comments like "she is just a teenager, they are all like that". No, no they are not like her. Her actions are all calculated and manipulative. Each comment is meant to have a direct effect and meant to push us away. But they are also self preserving. In the words of my friend Melissa "Trauma Sucks". There is no other way to put it. It destroys our children's childhood and tries it's best to destroy their future. But I do not accept defeat in this. Yes today, trauma won. But the battle for my Sweetie is far from over. I will be honest, I am not really as strong as I appear. I do rally up my strength, but a good part of the time I am just a mess. I cried for hours today. I battle with wondering why I don't deserve to be happy, why don't I deserve a child who can love me back. I know in my mind that it is not about deserving, but my heart just longs for a family of my own to love and for them to love me. But adopting a child is not about having someone love you back. And in reality, Sweetie may truly love me. I know she does love me the best she can. And I will just have to accept that it is the best she can do. Her defenses will not allow for more. This is when I see what true unconditional love is. I receive nothing in return of my love. I am hurt over and over and I still adore this child. I can only credit God for this. This is not something I was taught or experienced. I am someone that has always tried to be perfect for people to love me. So I have always experienced conditional love. People love that I am funny, kind, a good cook and giving. But how many really love the hurt and dark me?  The one that no one gets to ever see, for fear of being rejected. My dear husband is trying so hard right now. He is the closest to seeing the real me, but I don't even show him the brokenness. He is sweet with his words and he is even humoring me by helping me prepare meals for the homeless. I feel at times like I react to him the way Sweetie is towards me. I know he takes the burden of my sorrow heavily. He wants nothing more than to fix it.

So, now I will get into the part of my weekend where I realize how I must really enjoy being tortured.
Every once in a while I check out the adopt nc kids website. Mostly to check if any of the kids we inquired about while looking for our children have been adopted. I want so much for them all to have loving homes. I wish the system was different and I could adopt several at a time. But it is not. You have to wait a year between adoptions and then the adopted child must be stable for at least 6 months.
Which means each time Sweetie gets hospitalized or spends time in residential our clock gets restarted from her discharge date. Back in September I wrote about the day I picked up Sweetie when she was discharged from her first residential treatment. The staff at the facility made an exception for me to come to chapel that day. Sweetie did not want to be seen with her mom, so I sat in a row towards the back by myself.  Then a group of the younger kids was brought in. And this little girl with big brown eyes sat down right next to me. I can still picture her hair in a ponytail and her banged up, scrapped up legs from playing outside. She was a bundle of energy as they sang their hymns. They showed a video of an interview of the kids at the facility about how they would make the world a better place. Sweetie did not participate in this project, she did not participate in many activities while there. This little girl was in the video and she said she would make the world a better place by using her super hero powers and shot her fist toward the camera. After the video, the pastor was discussing different ways of making others feel good and asked the kids to share a good memory from a birthday that they had. This girl looked at me and said " she never had one". That was the moment I knew I needed to more for these kids. They deserve to have birthdays and holidays. They deserve to be protected and loved. They deserved so much, but were failed, just like my Sweetie. At the time I thought this was finally "My Calling"! I thought I was meant to be a foster parent. Maybe I still am. So, I come back to the website. I was looking at it this weekend and I saw her picture staring back at me. Her bio so much like my Sweetie's. It is very common for kids like her to be available for adoption for years. Sweetie was 9 when she could be adopted and it took 3 years for her to get to us. Could we be this girl's family? Maybe we could show her unconditional love before it is too late for her and she is unable to accept it. I put out an email to Sweetie's therapist from the residential facility and she is going to pass it on to the girl's team. I know this is crazy, I know we (In the words of my mom)" already have a lot on our plate. It may take months or a year for Sweetie to stabilize and for us to add to our family. But I can't lose hope that we will have our large family. I know many will not understand this... why we would want to bring more chaos and potential pain into our lives? But in my heart I cannot find a reason not to. Does God stop loving all of his hurt children? The ones who strike out and try to hurt themselves, others and him. He has not turned his back on any of us. How can I turn my back on those who so desperately need parents. This is what I have found unconditional love to be. Isn't Unconditional love really what Christmas is about? It is not about the presents and the parties. For me, it is about loving one another wholly, unconditionally.

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