Friday, February 8, 2013

When We Dared to Love...

I have a story that I need to tell.

Those of you that know me in real life know that my husband and I were days away from adopting our Thai foster son and bringing him back to the U.S. when the whole thing fell through. That was three years ago this past weekend. {THREE YEARS}

When I think about it, the emotions in my heart make me feel like it all happened three days ago. I can vividly remember the Thai social workers dropping off this blank-faced, chubby 8 month old baby boy who had only ever known life in a large orphanage. The orphanage staff named him "Makham". Makham complacently sat in my lap while I did my best to have an in-depth conversation in Thai about his schedule, eating habits, etc (lots of details were surely missed!). He didn't put up the slightest fight when the social workers left that summer day and his whole world changed. I remember the strangest whirl of emotions came over me as I found myself alone in the house, with my new foster son. Now what?

We had anticipated getting a foster child for months - for me, in many ways, it had been building for years and years. I read books, decorated a gender-neutral nursery, prayed a lot and then waited. 

But there were also still serious apprehensions in our hearts about fostering.

"What if we end up with a child with special needs that we can't deal with?"

"I've never been a mom, can I handle this responsibility?"

"What if I don't love him?"

"What if I fall in love with him and lose him?"

After much thought and prayer, we decided there was no way around it. How could we be in a world with hundreds of thousands of orphans and children being sold into slavery and all sorts of other atrocities and not do something {tangible}, albeit risky, to help. My mindset staunchly became, "These children deserve to be loved and I will love them with all that I am, even if it breaks me."

It did break me. Deeply. We fell in love with Makham and watched as his expressionless face became a face of exuberant joy and life. He was a tender, playful, truly adorable little boy. We celebrated his first birthday, took him on his first vacation, gave him his first haircut, celebrated his first Christmas, caught him after he took his first steps. We loved him as our own.

Throughout the months of our time with Makham, many conversations with the orphanage staff, government officials and Thai friends were taking place, all with one goal in mind: making Makham our forever son. It was a roller coaster ride filled with way too many twists and turns, ups and downs, "yes's" and "no's", uncertainty and lots of waiting. Finally, after several months, Thai friends came to our house for what we fully expected to be an announcement that the adoption had finally been approved. We had a pen ready to sign on the dotted line. Our baby would legally be ours!

I cannot put into words what happened next.

..   ..   ..   ..   ..

My heart shattered.

My dreams vanished.

I couldn't breathe.

My son was being taken away from me.

We were given about a week's notice. We got to visit with his new foster family once before having to drop Makham off for good. It still puts a lump in my throat and makes me sick to my stomach to think about that day. Unloading all his clothes and toys. Showing him fun things about his new house. Trying to be pleasant and positive so that he wouldn't be scared. Then walking to the car, Makham reaching out for "mama", crying that I wouldn't take him...and driving away. We were silent the whole ride home. In some ways, I think I've been silent for three years now. 

How do you talk about loss like that? How do you live life and recover from such devastation? How do you explain the emotion, the struggle, the breaking?

We tried to figure it out. We talked a lot, reached out for help a lot, cried {A LOT}. I know there is some crazy balance of forgetting so that you can move on and breathe again, but also remembering to honor the one lost. I couldn't ever seem to find a satisfying balance. I finally decided I just had to live again. Nothing was fixed or healed or made any sense at all; I wasn't whole, but I was alive and days were passing me by. 

I found myself a realist and despised looking for the silver-lining in things. To me loss is loss, life sucks sometimes and injustice is awful. I don't think it does anyone any good to pretend otherwise. That being said, there is something about time that gives us a wider perspective and a new appreciation for things. I'm not sure time heals, but it does help.

That first summer back we conceived our son, Kyler, something we never thought could or would happen. The following summer, his sister Havyn was conceived, another surprise! Makham's memory has lived on in our minds and hearts, sometimes vividly, sometimes distantly, but always, {ALWAYS} there. 

Yesterday, I got an email from Makham's {FOREVER} mama. Yes, he was finally adopted late last Spring, at 3 1/2 years old, by a Canadian family. What in the world took the Thai government so long to place him when he had been in their custody since 5 days old, I can only guess. But it did finally happen and yesterday I got to cyber-meet his new mama, Lori. She seems wonderful. She was kind and open and bragged about her boy like any good mama would. Makham, now J, looks happy and healthy and right at home. 

Picture used with permission

Meet J Makham, 4 1/2 years old now, learning to swim and skate and loving his family dog. My heart skipped a beat when I saw what he was holding in this family picture - almost unrecognizable from wear and washes, Makham still carries around the blanket we gave to him almost four years ago. 

I have struggled so often to find meaning in the pain and chaos of fostering him. It has been hard for me to feel any joy about getting to be a part of his life in light of all the heartache that followed. We dared to love and were broken to pieces because of it. It's all seemed truly meaningless. 

But then yesterday I saw him and his blanket. He's {still} holding that blanket!, I thought. My mind and my heart took a few minutes to catch up with my eyes. Wait  -  I picked out that fabric  -   I gave him that blanket  -   I wrapped him up with it for the first time....

That means I provided him with comfort  
and security
and love
and stability 

and it has all stayed with him for years. 

Meaning. At least in some small way.

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  1. Noel he will always be a part of your family and love you from his heart you and your husband are special and thats what the world needs Love you and may comfort be in your heart. Susan McKinley

  2. I'm in tears. That was beautifully expressed. You two were such a special part of our lives and Makham's and I won't ever forget your selfless courage in loving him so much. I can't believe how grown up he looks. Thank you for sharing this! Emily

  3. This is beautiful. Thank you for sharing.


  4. Oh my goodness. I don't even know what to write. What a journey. Just heart breaking. What a wonderful sign that must have been to see him with that blanket.

  5. amazing! thanks so much for sharing your heart!!! so incredible to see him now;)

  6. I'm so sad that Makham didn't get to stay with you. It is good that you got to see this photo of him holding onto the blanket that you gave him, knowing that he is safe, well cared for and that in some small way you are still a part of his life. There are many things in life that don't make sense to us.

  7. For you baby now you don't need to take any tension because you are going to get all professional nannies and babysitter by hiring a maid in singapore. And the place you have to visit universal maid agency there you will meet with Mr. Ed P he is really a nice person. No one can believe that how big person he is but he always try to serve his customer by own. After checking the problem he tries to find the best maid for our easy life.


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