In February I wrote a post about adoption and falling in love. Loving Nina has not been the same as loving Ellie or Nichole. There is so much about Nina that we don't know, whereas there is not a thing about Ellie or Nichole that is a secret to us. We have always been there.
Nina has been with us for five months, but Nina and I go back before arriving home. We shared two weeks together as we were finalizing the adoption in Ukraine. One would think that those two weeks were wonderful as we were getting to know each other; the foundation of our relationship. Those weeks were indeed the foundation of our relationship, but they were not wonderful. Those two weeks were the toughest, most discouraging weeks in my mothering journey. Every night as I listened to 2 or 3 hours of constant crying I would think about the day, and the many ways in which I had felt rejected. I felt like a failure, a rejected failure, and we were trapped in a little apartment with no place to go.
I understand why Nina was having a hard time, but unless you have experienced this first hand, nothing can prepare you to how it feels to be rejected by the child you worked so hard and passionately to save. It doesn't matter how well you understand it in your head, the feelings will still cling heavy on your heart. Whenever there was a Russian or Ukrainian speaker around, Nina wanted nothing to do with me. The more time we had together, the more she rejected me, the more she cried for other people. Three times she asked other women to take her, that she wanted them to be their mommy and not me because she could not understand me. They were familiar, I was not. Again, although I understood her feelings, mine were crushed and I wanted to run to my girls, the ones I had not seen for seven weeks and wanted me.
Once home there was no Ukrainian or Russian around thank goodness! Many people would offer having "so and so" help us because they spoke Russian. Let me think about that for a second... No thank you!
But my relationship with Nina did not just suddenly change. When your heart has been deeply hurt, it takes time to heal. I found myself being less patient with Nina, expecting more, and getting frustrated easily. I felt guilty about that. One day as I was spending time with God, praying for my children I though about Nina. I started to cry and I went to her, held her and cried some more. I asked for her to forgive me for being impatient with her, for not being more gentle. I told her that I loved her and that she was mine. It was a beautiful moment.
Then surgery happened and Nina was thrown back into the same behaviors she was having during those 2 weeks in Ukraine. She cried constantly and would ask for the workers in her orphanage by name. She wanted nothing to do with me...once again. Emotionally I was depleted, I felt like I had nothing to give. I had just begun to get up and was knocked to the ground once more.
Then one night she woke up spitting blood and we were back for another surgery. She was air lifted and I had to drive hour and a half to get there. Even though it was hard to have them take her and for me to stay behind, I actually felt like I could take a deep breath.
As we were coming home for the second time from the hospital, I asked a nurse to be with Nina while I got our things ready to go. I wanted to cry, dreading to go home and face life with a child that would reject me once more. God knew what was needed, and He sent the Russian speaking lady. He sent her for Nina and for me, because He is a God that restores relationships, or in our case, creates new relationships.
As I look at my journey with Nina, this is the one most significant moment we have had. This was the day that Nina chose me for the first time in her life, this was the moment that Nina realized she belonged in our family, and she wanted that. Nina wanted her mommy. And although at the moment I did not realize the significance of what took place, now I see it for what it was. It was a new birth.
(And if you did not read that post, click on the previous paragraph's highlighted words or click here)
Adding a new family members takes time to adjust. Weather it be a baby or an older child. A family has to learn to function with more people, it is not as simple as adding one more, but the family dynamics change and everyone has to adjust.
Nina is discovering what family is, and she is blossoming in her new understanding. She cherishes it.
Somehow, Nina is not just the little girl we are trying to include, she is a part of us now. We have six months to look back, and although not long, it is a history within our family. We know her favorite color and that she loves balloons. Although much of life is new to her, she finds comfort in us.
Before we met Nina, we had created a character of who we imagined her to be, one that pushed us to get her home. The love I have for Nina today, would have pushed me so much harder, because it is a love that has cost many tears, and therefore, great joy as it has grown.
Yes, she is my daughter, not born from my womb but from my heart. The love I felt for Ellie and Nichole as they were born is the love that has been born from me towards Nina. She is a without a doubt a"new baby" to me, to my heart.
She is mine.