I even have a superstition that has grown on me
as the result of invisible hands
coming all the time..
Namely, that if you follow your bliss
you put yourself on a kind of track
that has been there all the while,
waiting for you.
And the life that you ought to be living,
is the one you ARE living.
-joseph campbell

Sunday, November 29, 2009

For Crying Out Loud

As the holiday season rolls in, I am aware once more, how different our life has become. Different from before of course. Our family, consisting of mostly grown big kids a few years ago was blessed by excitement times two when Cami and Delilah tumbled into our lives. We have been given a chance to experience the holidays once again through the eyes of a child, and words fail me when I search for a way to express my gratitude and joy!

It is a GIFT to live in this magical time and place.

After much strategic planning and weighing the pros and cons, we packed up our bags and spent Thanksgiving with relatives,and there I began to see our family through other's eyes. It was certainly not the first time, but by spending time at a place we have traveled to many times over the past 25 years, so much was illuminated.

Not only are we different from the average middle age couple because we are starting over with small children, we are different from our former selves as parents. Adoptive parenting really is different from parenting birth children. Sometimes people want to gloss over this difference and makes sure everything is equal between mothers who give birth and mothers who adopt. But it is really a shame NOT to acknowledge the ways, the incredible ways, lives can be forever altered by the presence of these sometimes puzzling little souls who hang in the balance between searching and embracing, and in the process, finding the Faith to learn to love and trust again.

Whatever sorrow, whatever trouble, whatever weakness exists in one's heart, the holidays have a way of shining a light on it. Perhaps that could be a true gift of Christmas......the chance to unwrap our packaged grief and hold it close and begin to heal sitting in the soft light of candles and trees and angels.

Adopted children come into our lives with stories as powerful as any history has known. Their hearts have broken too soon after they began to beat. They know the meaning of loneliness on a primal level. They have endured, struggled, and survived. They lived to see another day, another summer, another life.

But there was a price to pay for survival. And I believe my goal as a mother is to fearlessly help them through the dark places and learn to trust the light again, and forever.

As the holidays begin, I see my girls become stressed, even in the middle of all the traditions they are coming to love. During these times, my job is to pay attention so I can understand what they need, to hold them close, and to accept there is a sadness and pain at the center. Most importantly, I need to accept them exactly where they are and allow them to express their joy and their pain without judgment.

Thanksgiving was a joyful mingling of laughter, food, pets, and cousins. My three and four year old girls enjoyed the attention as they danced and twirled their way through the day. Unlike the adults, the meal was a small moment to be endured, before they could return to their adventures. As the day wore on, I saw the slow unravelling. It was as if all the laughing and talking and anticipation had crawled inside them and expanded until it filled every crevice and had to be released.

One child has a mantra she uses when she is overwhelmed. She moans, "Nooooooooooo" over and over in a variety of keys and tones. It usually fits any situation and it more than sums up her feelings about her life at the moment. However, it can be disturbing to others who are within hearing range and I project, perhaps wrongly, that everyone expects me to stop the noise. And I cannot. It cannot be quieted. Not by me. It has to run it's course, like a ritualistic dance and it is not mine to control.

So I hold her. Not tightly, not with force, just gently allowing her to lay across my lap or put her head on my shoulder. At first she resists. She is deep in the privacy of her own pain. But I sit and I persist and I wait. Soon she will allow a hand on her back, my hand on her hand, and then a gentle pull onto my lap.

After some time, the crying mantra will give way to a sad sobbing so pure and raw it breaks my heart. And then, in the end, no matter what the challenges or joys of the day have been, do you want to know what my small girl with a soul a big as the sky says?

She looks at me, straight into my eyes, black coals burning truth and she says, "I miss my mommy in China". Then she hugs me and rises again, into this life, into the light where she grows and thrives and laughs and loves. She is back and balanced. Some weight has been lifted for now. But the loss remains. It will always be a part of her. My hope and my duty is to be a comfort in the storm and a companion on the journey.

When someone asks, "What is wrong"?, I could answer "everything"........or I could tell the other side of the truth.....which is less understood but no less true:

She needs to Cry Out Loud.


  1. Beautiful, Sherri. Thank you for writing so freely
    and openly.

  2. i say thank you as the tears flow...

    you are exactly right...and it feels so comforting to have fellow moms out there who understand what our children go through...


  3. Exactly, my friend. Exactly.

  4. So beautifully said. As a mom who has been right there in that moment in my own way, I get it--and it's nice to be gotten.