If you follow us on Facebook, no doubt your news feed has been inundated with photos of Baby Shows…er, Ephrem. (I guess we can use his name now. :-))
He is adorable, sweet, kind, and curious. Mostly curious about the furry kid in the house and all his accoutrements recently. Today, while I attempted to cook the first home cooked meal without Evan home, Ephrem found the dog’s water dish and spilled it into Pippin’s food dish (while Pip ate..at least Pippin had the foresight to eat as fast as I’ve ever seen him eat. I think he views E as his competition) and later pulled on Pippin’s ear so hard that Pippin yelped. Pippin never yelps.
But beyond the adorable smiles and sweet photos, we are in the trenches. I hesitate to put this out there publicly but here’s the truth. Ephrem is still learning the trust us. This attachment process is probably going to take many, many months. He needs constant reassurance that he is safe and cared for. And it’s a long process.
Until we get there, we are in the trenches.
Most prospective adoptive parents think that adopting an infant means that the child will have less traumatic experiences and everything will be “easier.” Admittedly, I believe I naively held some of these ideas. I wanted the baby stage as a new parent, definitely. I was intimidated by jumping into parenting with an “older” child and any trauma they may have experienced.
But here’s the truth. No matter how old, a child who is being adopted experiences trauma, whether or not we (as parents) talk about it. They have experienced any number of losses – biological parents, caretakers, culture, language, food. And they can’t tell you about how these losses make them feel. If they are scared or insecure. If they fear hunger. (You haven’t heard a hungry child cry until you have heard an orphan-no-more cry for food.) Many times there are emotional reactions that seem extreme. While we know he’s safe and that food is available, he does not always know that. While we know he can sleep peacefully and doesn’t need to be awake, he does not. While we are probably doing everything “all wrong” according to the baby books, we know what we are doing is right for Ephrem in these moments.
These are the trenches we are navigating.
Beyond the photos is where this becomes real. We are learning what it means to parent a child with 11 months of life already lived. We are learning to love a child from a “hard place,” places where I can imagine hunger was much more real than I know. I can only pray that God’s grace is enough for each moment and that each day Ephrem learns to trust us a little more.
Ephrem, we will love you always. And always means always.