Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Six Months Ago Today

Six months ago today I took an elevator to the 6th floor of the our hotel in Nanchang, Jiangxi province in China. The two other families I was traveling with were giddy with excitement to get their infant daughters but their joy only added to my guilt. I was on my way to meet my new 2 year old son and I was filled with fear and dread. I knew what was about to come.

When I got to the conference room my new son hadn't arrived yet. Julia and Jenna were beyond excited but my stomach was in knots. Within a few minutes a small group rounded the corner and there he was. Ling DeLong.

I saw my solemn new son. His eyes were wide with fear and confusion. He looked at his new family apprehensively, not really realizing who we were. After a few minutes of me kneeling down to talk to him, I asked our facilitator if it was okay for me to hold him. She told me yes.

This was not what he wanted. I looked like no one he had ever seen before and he was very frightened. Soon after I picked him up, the orphanage director and her family who had brought him on the 3 hour train ride, left. He then realized he had been abandoned.

I took him back to our hotel room. The next several hours were mixed with more crying and then somber watchfulness. He was interested in Jenna who made silly faces and sang songs to him. He was also interested in Emma, a baby who seemed okay with us. But he latched onto Jenna. Probably because of her cheerfulness, perhaps it gave him some comfort, and I'm sure because of her face. She looked like him.

The next day we went to the civil affairs office to make the adoption official.

On July 14, 2008 Ling Delong became Ryan Delong. We are with the orphanage director on the 23rd floor of an office building that had no central air conditioning in the middle of July. While I was thrilled to finally be holding my new son, now officially my son, Ryan was not.

The next week found us in Guangzhou waiting for Ryan's United States visa. This is a standard procedure but after my ordeal with Emma in Vietnam, I was taking nothing for granted. Ryan's face is more relaxed here but I can see in his eyes how unsure he is. To see these photos now breaks my heart and brings me to tears. To imagine the pain my baby went through... It brought us together but I wish it could have been easier for him.

Two months later he was fitting right in and becoming the silly boy we learned he could be. I was thrilled to see Ryan's personality emerge and show true happiness with his new family.

But when we put in new situations, he shut down. This was our trip to the "pumpkin patch" at the beginning of October. I realize now that anytime we took him somewhere he wasn't familiar with that he might have been wondering if we were passing him on to someone else.

But by November, some of that fear seemed to fall away. He was still apprehensive of new situations, but once he realized he was okay he would relax. Here he is after Julia's vocal music performance.

Last Friday Ryan and I met with Nancy, our social worker. She came to perform Ryan's 6 month evaluation and see how he's adapted to our family. It was interesting and encouraging to see how far Ryan has come in 6 months. He went from a very frightened little boy to a mostly happy little guy who loves his new family. He walks up to me now and spontaneously kisses me and says "i waa oou" (I love you) and often comes up to me and wants me to pick him up or hold him on my lap.

I won't lie, the first month of two I would look at this child, and while my heart ached for his pain, it felt like I was watching him until his real mother showed up. It didn't feel like he was mine. But I was prepared for this too. So I went through the motions. I hugged and kissed him. I told him that I loved him even when my heart didn't truly feel it, hoping it would come. And it did. That seed of love germinated in my heart and grew and blossomed into an overwhelming, all encompassing love. And now it feels like he has always been my son. I can't believe he's only been mine for 6 months. This little guy has brought me such joy, more than a mother deserves. My life has been forever blessed.

I love you Ryan Delong.

41 comments:

Elizabeth said...

You bring me to tears. This is such a heart-wrenching, beautiful post. I'm glad he's fitting in and comfortable enough to express his own love :) God bless you guys!

Lori said...

♥ beautiful post! ♥

Vickie said...

What a lovely post. It tugged at my heart.

Lindsey's mom said...

Thanks for you honest post! I am so glad to "know" you! You have helped me so much...We are sending off the $$ for the homestudy and sending in some documents this weekend...I am so happy for your 6 mo anniverary! It made me realize that Lindsey ahs been home almost 18mo! (July 19) and ours just over 18mo! And YES it was HOT in July!

BoufMom9 said...

What a lovely and heartfelt post. Thank you so very much for sharing these details of your adoption. It's so very different from what I experienced here in the US adoption system...

Glen and Andrea said...

Congratulations! I can't wait to see how well he is doing in yet another 6 months too. We also adopted our son when he was 2, back in April. It is such an incredibly hard age; to have your world turned upside down but not understand why. Ryan looks happier in every photo.

Upstatemomof3 said...

What a beautiful tale. So glad things are going so well. He is absolutely adorable.

The Sharp Family said...

Love it. Thanks so much for posting this! And while I do admit that I was giddy, I was so scared I could barely see straight. Ryan looks soooo big in this picture. There is just something about his face.... What a handsome boy!!

annie kelleher said...

such a sweet, lovely story. thank you for sharing it. goddess bless you all! :)

Heather said...

Denise,
Oh, how I can relate your beautifully written post. Kai was 2.5 when we adopted him and the sobs that came out of him when his beloved nannies left were heartbreaking. I also remember thinking "what have I done?" a few times. Like you, I faked my way through those times and they quickly faded away. Now we both have amazing, joyful little boys where fear and mistrust once was. Isn't life wonderful?
Take care and keep on writing...

Sandy Toes said...

This post was so touching..to see where you have been and now..wow!
-sandy toe

Wuxi Mommy said...

What a beautiful post! This was so encouraging to me as I'm waiting for our LOA to bring home our 3 year old daughter from Wuxi. Thank you for always being honest!

Crystal said...

Even I can see how much Ryan has changed just from the pictures. It's incredible.

Thank you for being so open and honest with us, Denise. Not many people would admit what you just did but it's obvious to all of us that Ryan is your son and that you love him.

Ryan is lucky to have you as his mommy.

Denise said...

Crystal, I was so honest because so many people don't prepare for adoption and think you instantly love the child you adopt and that they instantly love you, but adoption just doesn't work that way. Thankfully, I was prepared to feel that way because of others before me who were honest to admit to the same feelings. So when I went through it I knew I wasn't weird, or unusual or a terrible person. What I was experiencing was normal.

Jill said...

Denise, I had to cry a bit as I read your post...Ryan's fear, yet it turned to joy. YOUR fear, yet it turned to joy...I think I will look at some photos of when we brought our kiddos home today.
Congratulations! A major milestone in your family today.

Kat said...

Geez, I have to remember to have tissues nearby when I come here. Some times you make me laugh so hard I cry and other times you just bring me to tears.

I love the honesty that you bring to everything. I am glad that both you and Ryan have become "comfortable" with each other and have gelled into the family you were meant to be.

You are a special person. I believe that Ryan, and all your children, have a very special mommy to help them navigate this journey we call life.

JD said...

What a beautiful, heart-wrenching, love-filled post... I really appreciate your heartfelt honesty and your willingness to share the feelings you experienced looking back on the last 6 months.

You captured the emotions beautifully.


Congrats!!

Brandy said...

That was beautiful.

VintageChicChick said...

This is so wonderfully written! Love it and love your beautiful family.

Kim said...

I love reading your blog because your always so honest! What a beautiful post!

Congratulations on your 6 month anniversary!

Kristin said...

Oh Denise, that story just touches my heart right to the core. My Mom often told me about that "lost look" in my eyes after I was adopted at 13 months. It broke her heart too. She even said one day shortly after my adoption, when she was out of town with me visiting her Mom, that she realized I had been on her heels all day. She realized at that point that I was afraid she was going to leave me and that it was time for us to go home, and stay there for awhile, so I would know that she would never leave.

Ryan is so lucky to have you for a Mom. What a beautiful family you have!

Kristin from TX

Ann said...

You filled in so many questions I have about adoption. Afraid to take the first step, actually second, I'm frozen with fear. Now, I know it is a natural maybe even normal emotion. Your story was very helpful...another reason I love blogging.

Denise said...

What a beautiful post Denise! And I love how you are always so homest about your feelings.
Maggie also gets fearful in new situations and doesn't even like it when we have visitors. And she is always asking to go back to Maggie's house when we are out...still a bit insecure I think. But each month brings new milestones and I can't believe that she has only been ours for 10 months~

Denise said...

Oh, and also, your next book should be about adoption!

*And since you asked, there was still a bit of tp still left on the roll...lol!!!

Denise said...

Oh, and also, your next book should be about adoption!

*And since you asked, there was still a bit of tp still left on the roll...lol!!!

Denise said...

Oh, and also, your next book should be about adoption!

*And since you asked, there was still a bit of tp still left on the roll...lol!!!

Denise said...

Oh, and also, your next book should be about adoption!

*And since you asked, there was still a bit of tp still left on the roll...lol!!!

Cathy said...

What a touching post! He looks so happy now. He is truly blessed to be part of your family..as I know you are blessed to have him!

Kristin said...

It has been amazing to watch Ryan change in pictures from beginning to now. He obviously knows he is loved!

Aspiemom said...

Thank you for visiting my blog today. May I ask how you found me?

I've enjoyed looking over 2 of your blogs so far. I can't imagine all that you have been through this past year and you still keep opening your heart!

I'll be back.

Carey-Life in the Carpool Lane said...

Wow...great post. It made me cry sad tears (for all that kids go through before they get to their forever families and for the kids left behind) and happy tears. In all honesty, I'm probably overly emotional as I finished Silent Tears last night.
Thanks for the poignant and honest post...

Kelly said...

Thank you for writing that last part. We are considering adoption, and I often wondered about people who feel that immediate connection, and what happens if it doesn't show up at first. He is a cutie, and I appreciate the honesty.

Yaya said...

Denise,
This is absolutely beautiful.
Thank you sharing.
Ryan is adorable.
Yaya

Kat said...

Denise, I just tagged you over at my blog for Picture Tag. Hope you will join in on the fun.

http://katsdailyinspiration.blogspot.com/2009/01/picture-tag.html

Kelsey said...

That is such a sweet post. It literally brought me to tears with how much love you have for him!

Lula! said...

Oh Denise, you inspire me...Ryan is blessed beyond measure to have you as his forever mom!

April said...

i had no idea he was so new to the family! happy 6mo!!!

Anita said...

Denise, my smiles are here, under the tears I'm crying after reading this. How blessed is Ryan to have you, and I'm sure vice versa. Thank you for sharing your story.

Anna Molly said...

That was such a touching and lovely post! What a brave little boy he is!

The Johnson 5 said...

that was such a beautiful post!!

I'm glad that Ryan now feels comfortable with his WONDERFUL family.
Thanks for sharing your honesty!!

Janne said...

Wow...that truly is beautiful. I absolutely love the picture of the two of you at the end. You are both so very lucky to have one another. We are so glad Ryan has joined our family---what a gift!
Blessing to you both!