The day we brought Henry home was the happiest day of our lives. We were thrilled beyond measure and couldn't believe that the day we had waited so long for had finally arrived. Day 2 is a little different story. We are overwhelmed and exhausted....still happy....but reality is setting in. Day 3 has me in tears right along with Henry and wondering if we've made a mistake. We trudge along this way for the first month. We slept very little and had to figure everything out. Before you think, "Oh, that's similar to how it would be with a newborn," please consider that our 25 lb. 11 month old was NO newborn! Think of his life until he got to us: He was placed in a loving foster home at 8 days old and remained with that same family for 11 months. They cared for all of his needs and provided him with the love and stability that most orphans do not get. To him, he HAD a mother--a kind Korean woman who has fostered children for the past 11 years. Her voice, her smell, her touch were all familar and comforting to him. Imagine what he's lost--his family, possessions, routine, familiar surroundings, even his language!
Needless to say, these losses have been traumatic to Henry. During the past 3 months Henry has been learning to trust us. We won him over quickly in the beginning (as he won us over!), but his sense of safety was very much shaken when he left his Korean foster family. In those early weeks we were together, he grieved at night for his other family--sobbing and screaming in his sleep. We got past that, but then he started acting out with temper tantrums. Things would get better, but changes seem to send Henry back into his stressed out state. For example, following the move from our house, he became very clingy and stopped sleeping well. Just as we get him settled and secure here in his new surroundings, he loses ground yet again when we leave him in a church nursery for an hour without us 2 weeks in a row. Even leaving him with James while I go elsewhere upsets him. This Monday evening I had to go help out my mom and James stayed here to give Henry his bottle and put him to bed like always. Henry, however, cried much of that night and was extremely clingy to me yesterday and acted out all day with temper tantrums and even hitting me. Today he was back to his usual silly, sweet self.
Honestly, looking back, I realize that I also had problems. I was overwhelmed, tired, and very stressed with my huge new responsibility. I didn't talk much about it because I felt inadequate as a mother. After all, what kind of mother sobs right along with her baby or gets so frustrated that she has to literally leave the room to protect the safety of her child? Tremendous guilt comes along with these feelings, and I didn't want anyone's help because that would amount to me admitting I needed it!
At the 3 month mark, we have all come a long way. He still has quite a long way to go before we can say he's completely happily attached to us, but I know that he will get there in his own time. I'm getting better too. Talking about it helps, especially to adoptive parents who know exactly what we've been through. This has been the hardest thing I've ever done, but it's also been the most wonderful. I love Henry Eun-wu more than I can put into words, and I'm so grateful that God gave me the awesome task of being his forever mommy!