(December 1, 2011)
I've wanted to share this part of our adoption story for a while. Arthur came home just over two years ago and life has been happening at full speed ever since! It's the part of the story that is scary and hard and ugly. I have kept it close, but now I'm ready to share. And the timing just happens to go along with this season of death and rising.
It was November of 2011, I didn't know it, but we were SO CLOSE to getting the news we were desperate to hear. We had been waiting for almost 6 months to get clearance from the Embassy so we could go get our boy. And when I say "waiting" that doesn't seem to capture it well. In just six months we had experienced so many ups and downs, scary news and then more scary news. Over and over I had to face the idea that maybe Arthur would NEVER come home. I had moments of clarity and peace. Moments when I could declare... "Arthur is not the prize, Jesus is the prize. Arthur is yours, God and you are still good even if we never understand. You are good even if he doesn't come home."
But those moments would pass and I would be in BAD shape. And I don't mean just sad... I mean my physical body was being overtaken by anxiety. I could not sleep, I had no appetite. I saw a doctor who prescribed xanax (which did nothing), I saw a counselor (first time ever seeing a counselor) who had me try visualization exercises, tapping exercises, I put little drops of herbs under my tongue... I was drinking calming tea (I had to stop drinking coffee), I wasn't performing at work. I was crying all the time. And for those who know me... I am just NOT that way!
I still remember exactly what it felt like... I described it to my mom as a gear spinning in the middle of my chest. It would NOT STOP spinning... around the clock, my adrenaline was on overdrive! Finally my mom sat down with me and was determined to help me work through it... she said
"Ok, when you think about Arthur coming home, what does that look like? Walk me through the steps."
Even with my anxiety, I couldn't help but smile at the thought. I started to explain,
"Well, the Embassy will call the police department and they will agree that the information recorded is correct and we will get clearance!
Still excited, I kept on going in great detail,
"Aaron and I will probably yell and scream and dance around the house and then call our travel agent to get the next flight out. We'll tell our family and friends, call into work, make an announcement on social media (of course). It would be a day of celebrating."
"And then... ?" my mom asked
I couldn't get much further into the story without shaking. The anxiety would flare up again. As soon as I got to a place where I would visualize being reunited with Arthur, instead of being overcome with joy, the fear and sadness would set in.
"Wait! What happened?" my mom asked "You were getting to the best part, why did it stop?"
"Almost as soon as I think about having that sleeping baby on my chest, I stop myself and think... 'but what if that never happens?'"
As soon as I said that out loud, I lost it and the tears began to flow. My tears were met with equals parts compassion and frustration from my mom. She hated to see me hurting, but she also wanted me to stand up and fight for my boy! It was clear to her what was happening. I was grieving the loss of my son maybe a hundred times a day and it was wrecking me! It was a cycle of grief and hope all day every day for 6 months and it was time work through it!
The next day, I went out for a run and I prayed and prayed... It may seem weird and maybe I will be the only one to really understand what happened that day, but it became so clear to me that, in a way, I was burying Arthur alive every time I had that thought. It was so crazy to come this realization! I was so disappointed in myself as a brand new mom, but I became very excited about the opportunity to fight these thoughts and believe in something bigger for my son.
...so I started to "dig" ...until I saw his face. I wiped the dirt away and he opened his eyes and gazed at me. Are you weirded out?? Maybe you are, but it's ok because this is the image that God gave me to help me work through the last hours of my long "labor" with Arthur and it's probably one of the most important things I have ever done.
Just a few days later, we got the call we were waiting for and the spinning gear was forever quieted when my son was back in my arms, sleeping soundly on my chest.