When I first met Evan, I had just exited a very difficult, very challenging relationship. Needless to say, as a result of my past relationships, it took me a long time to trust that Evan wasn’t going to hurt me, on purpose or otherwise. It took almost four years, actually, if I’m really honest.
Our past relationships often influence our present, no matter how similar or dissimilar those relationships are.
So it’s shouldn’t surprise me that Ephrem is still learning to trust us. I don’t know much about his past relationships with caregivers. I don’t know if he felt safe. I don’t know if he felt like his needs – sleep, hunger – were met regularly enough. I don’t know any of this.
And he didn’t know me. Although I had studied his little face, hands, and feet in every photo we got since October, he didn’t know me from any other “mzungu” (White person) in Africa. While I knew I would care for him with whatever he needed (food, sleep, a clean diaper…), he didn’t have any reason to trust me. And I don’t blame him for being scared. I still remember him waking up in the middle of the night that first night looking very bewildered and then screaming. I would have too. I probably looked like an exhausted ghost that early in the day.
(As an aside, my favorite advice I received from a dear friend and fellow adoptive momma was that my job was to be a “big fun white Barney” with him as he probably hadn’t been around too many white people.)
Here’s the thing about trust. It’s not a switch. We can’t just flip it and make him trust us. It comes after time and time of meeting his needs and caring for him. It comes when we wake at 11:30pm, 2:30am, 4:30am to reassure him that we’re still here and to give him a bottle if he’s hungry. It comes when he is startled and jumps into our arms. It comes when he needs to be held and we hold him. (Even when momma’s arms feel like they might possibly fall off.) It comes when he has each and every meal with us. This matter of trust is a long, arduous process.
But we see little progress every day.
He smiles much more. He is beginning to wander to play a few more steps on his own. He is developing relationships with his Nana and Papa. He can sit in the car seat for more than five minutes (most days). He is sleeping…a little better? He just woke up from his nap without screaming.
This is process will happen over a lifetime.
Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Love never fails.