This was also our first trip to meet Samuel and Helen. Oh, I can remember that day like it was yesterday. He walked across the room with a HUGE smile on his face and wrapped his little arms around my neck while she stood back very unsure, untrusting, scared.
I knew our work was cut out for us with our sweet daughter. And for the next two weeks while we were in Ghana she proved us right. Time after time she tested us and tried us. It was a very long two weeks, but two that I would NEVER trade, even in the hard. The really, really hard.
Once we got home and waited to return to pick them up, we kept praying for little Helen. Our sweet angel who had endured (and was still enduring) so much pain. So much suffering. Words can never erase any of it. In my mind, I thought Samuel would adjust so well when he came "home". We had all bonded while we were in country with him. He was so happy and loving. Something was brewing, though. Something that would stand between he and I, but no one else in the family.
In November of 2010 we landed in the US as a family of 7 and everything changed. Some good, some not so good. Some really, really hard stuff. Some really, really good stuff. And I saw something so different than what I had seen in Ghana. I saw a desperate little boy, hurting deeply. Confused and trying to understand. Thrown into a new culture at the age of 6+ and not understanding "our" ways. A little boy who had never really experienced love. Who had never been shown affection. A little boy who was confused about his whole life now. He had been lied to, deceived and my heart was broken. I wondered if he would ever trust again. I spent hours rocking his little body as his tears poured down his face. And I prayed for God to give me the words, to live through me, to help me parent a little boy that I loved so much. And I did this while my husband traveled for his job and I realized how much our son needed his daddy to be home.
As the months passed, Samuel went through so many transitions. He disobeyed (almost nonstop). He hit. He fled. He had almost no regard for me, but oh how he adored his daddy. That didn't help, though, because he was only home 3 days a week. Almost every day, I thought I would reach the end of my rope. I wanted so desperately to help Samuel, but I felt like I kept hitting a wall. I felt this distance between the two of us that I came to despise. We just couldn't "get" one another. There was a constant disorder, disagreement between us and I hated it. On the other hand, he had attached so well to his siblings.
Righ and I (along with many friends) covered Samuel in prayer. We pleaded with God to restore the relationship between he and I. And at times, I lost hope that it would ever come. Then, I was reminded that God gave me this beautiful child and He was bigger than the wall between us. He is a God of redemption. Redeeming love kept playing over and over in my mind. Redeeming love.
When Righ, Sydney and Keenan hopped on that plane two weeks ago and I was under the weather, I didn't know how things would go. God, however, did and He has AMAZED me. Their trip is exactly what Samuel and I needed. A good two weeks to BOND completely, wholely. For him to sit with me and listen to me tell me for the millionth time I LOVE YOU. I will never leave you. I am here and I'm not going anywhere. For me to ask him if I can hug him and for him to say, "Mom, no one ever hugged me before you. I really like it, but I'm just not sure what to do." A time for God to break my heart all over again for this treasure He gave me. A time for Samuel and I to make a deal that he has to intitiate one hug each day and I do the same. The joy on his little face over that deal was remarkable. I needed time to see Samuel thrive in the helper role. And he needed to feel needed.
I have watched this little boy become my guardian over the last two weeks. Constantly helping me, wanting to do something for me because he LOVES me. It hurts me to walk up and down the stairs so he helps with Bless in the mornings and at night. This morning, we were all awake except Bless and he started crying. Samuel jumped up and came back with the sweetest little guy all cuddled up against his shoulder. Tears of joy and happiness and relief and love poured down my cheeks as I realized once again just how awesome our God truly is. How He is a God of redeeming love. And how he had done a mighty, mighty work in our family.
So many people have said adoption is so hard. Yes, it is. And the hardness doesn't get talked about much. Sometimes it does, but sometimes not. After bringing four little ones home, I am no expert, but I know what we have lived through. It has been HARD, but so worth it. I would live each moment again to get to where we are today. Do we still have struggles? Of course, with each of our adopted children, but also with our biological ones. We will always have struggles, but they will never be bigger than our God. He is greater than all of them. ALL OF THEM. Remind yourself of that in the hard days, the days when you feel like you are at the end of your rope. God will be there waiting for you, constantly waiting.
Romans 8:31 - When God is for us, who can be against us?