Family photo 2013

Family photo 2013

Friday, December 20, 2013

Stage Five

It is said that the fifth stage of grief is acceptance.

There have been a couple situations throughout the journey of my life where I have entered a process of grieving to one extent or another. 

Our adoption was certainly, to date, the most notable and significant grief trigger I have ever faced. 

In the beginning I grieved for the loss of Our Family as We Knew It. I grieved for the end of the mother I used to be, for the one I was becoming, for the surprising harshness and unwelcome barren dryness of my once overflowing compassion and the coarse bitter root that sprang up in my heart, demanding the need to be laboriously repressed with the break of each new day.

I spent so much time overwrought with guilt I buried myself under, and shame I felt I deserved. Why couldn't I love them the way I did my other kids? I was ashamed at what I saw as a failure of my own making, my inability to fully assimilate them into the fold of our family and turn them into something that felt like my own.

I wanted them to hurry up and thrive so I could get on with my own thriving. Most of all, I intensely craved normalcy again. I romanticized the way it was before, when our whole world hadn't been toppled over and rejection and mourning and immense loss and pain that rained down on me, seeming too severe for my senses wasn't a part of our every day existence. Their sorrow, the depth of their insecurity, their mistrust that our home would be their home, our family would be their family, our food would be their food -- always -- the shaky ground of instability on which they stood where keeping adults at a distance was viewed as paramount for safety infiltrated our way of life. From here forward, nothing was to be as it was.

I mourned my ineffectiveness, my inability to will them healed, my insufficiency, my naivety to foolishly believe that I would be up for this task. I resented that in my own mind, I had gone from a decently good mother to a wretched one. I longed for the pure simplicity of mothering as I once knew it.

I joined groups and read books and worked techniques and tried and overcame and failed and tried anew. We made progress and we regressed, always walking a tenuous tightrope with little margin for error.

Things got better overall. Sometimes they got worse.

Eventually, I left groups and put down the books, weary of the weighty expectation that I could/would properly therapeutically parent. I just wanted to live life, to go with my instincts, to let it be what it may.

It was a gradual, slow, barely inching along process, but over the course of the four years since the arrival of Inter Country Adoption of Older Kids in our lives, I have learned one, single, huge, monumental concept that has radically altered my whole world for the better.

I have learned to enter into, to breathe in, to let myself graciously rest in acceptance. Blissful, light, kind, acceptance.

Acceptance is generous and merciful. It is forgiving and transcendent and it is easy.

Acceptance lets myself off the hook for not feeling exactly the same way about them as I do the children to which I gave birth. It allows them to not feel the same way about me as the women who gave birth to them. It grants us grace to come to each other as we like, and space to breathe when closeness is more than we can take. Acceptance tells me I can nurture them and provide a stable environment and a home and Christmas gifts and birthday celebrations and meals around the table and trips to the park and bikes to ride and family movies and prayers and read aloud books around the fire and that all of that is enough. It releases the tension in the once taut line of division and demarcation between biological and adopted. It provides sweet and fresh air from which we can drink freely. It loosens strings and gently disarms lofty expectations under which we both collapse. It lets us hug and smile and simply exist together, taking what we need and want from one another and not obsessing about the rest. It relishes in the willingness to wholeheartedly say, it's okay. It carves out room for me to be a maternal figure without replacing or feeling as if they are betraying the mothers who gave them life. It understands, this is hard for them, it is hard for me, we are doing the best we can, we all need bountiful grace. Our ties may never bind to the extent of the ones birth formed within our family, but they are lovely and worthy and substantial enough, precisely as they are. They are uniquely tethered and intimately wrought and wonderfully distinctive in their own right. Acceptance removes disappointment from limitation and infuses refreshing life into honest reasonability.

With an abundant dose of acceptance covering our days, different and difficult and messy beyond what I ever expected transforms into something truly beautiful.

It is what it is. And at this point, I can honestly say, I would have it no other way.


3 comments:

Dawn said...

Tisha...this is beautiful...

This, "It relishes in the willingness to wholeheartedly say, it's okay. It carves out room for me to be a maternal figure without replacing or feeling as if they are betraying the mothers who gave them life. It understands, this is hard for them, it is hard for me, we are doing the best we can, we all need bountiful grace. Our ties may never bind to the extent of the ones birth formed within our family, but they are lovely and worthy and substantial enough, precisely as they are. They are uniquely tethered and intimately wrought and wonderfully distinctive in their own right." This is exactly where I am too. Like you, I've started to walk away from all the books and such and just BE.

I am sharing this post on my blog. Beautiful.

MicheleH said...

This is so incredibly true. From an adoptive mom who struggles at times with what you struggle with at times, and whose adoptive mom friends also struggle, THANK YOU!

Unknown said...

Thank you for this post. I felt like you wrote this straight from my heart and I understood every word! I am only 2 years into the adoption process and still trying to get to the acceptance phase, but I am hopeful that it is coming soon. Thank you for your honesty, it has helped heal my heart!!

Blog Archive