Sunday, August 21, 2011

Emotional Protectant

Normally, Abbey's personality comes out like this:

She is bursting at the seams in everything she does. On the outside it looks as if she hasn't a care in the world.

Occasionally, though, that tough exterior cracks and I see a little bit of the vulnerability and self protective side of her psyche. Although she seems tough as nails, there is a part of her that is very fragile. Beth's visit and subsequent  move to New York brought that fragility right out in the open.

Every night after Beth arrived, Abbey would say, "How many more sleeps until Beth leaves?" We'd tell her and, at first, she'd say, "Ohhh, that's a long time!" (any number more than 1 is a lot apparently). Beth was leaving on Saturday. On Thursday night, Beth came in to hug Abbey "good night". All of a sudden Abbey ran away from Beth and into my arms. Beth asked to lie down and cuddle with Abbey before she went to sleep. Abbey shook her head, replying, "Nooo, I want to lay with my mommy." I could tell it was hurting Beth's feelings and I was more than a little perplexed. I encouraged Abbey to cuddle with Beth, but Abbey wasn't going to give. Abbey loves, loves, loves Beth, so I really couldn't figure out what was going on.

The next night, Friday, after we got home from eating out, Abbey came home from the princess show. She was excited recalling the princesses she had seen. Beth and I were sitting on the couch. Beth reached for Abbey to sit in her lap, and Abbey bolted over to me and said, "I want my mommy!" I took her in my arms and started talking to her. I asked her what was wrong; she didn't answer. I probed deeper. "You know that Beth is leaving tomorrow, right?" She shook her head. I said, "That makes you sad, doesn't it?" Again, she shook her head, and then she said, "Are you going to cry?" I told her that I might, but that it was ok to cry when we are sad. I also explained that it is ok to be sad when someone we love is leaving. It dawned on me that it was the crying that was bothering Abbey.

Crying doesn't come naturally to Abbey. She very rarely cries. When she does, she doesn't burst into tears, she just sort of grimaces, and tears just ooz out. No bellowing or screaming, never. When she was a baby, I had to train her to show pain when she got hurt. So, now I think I need to show her how to express sadness and that it is normal to be sad sometimes.

This all is just another piece of the puzzle of Abbey. I'll never know what her life was like before she came into our lives, but based on what that I've seen--her big bald spot on her head, her lack of muscle control, her self-soothing actions, her high pain tolerance, her fear that I won't be here when she wakes up and her fear of getting hurt emotionally, all point to a time of neglect for my little princess. I wonder if she was punished if she cried? I wonder if it's just that she cried, but no one ever came to answer her cries?  I always knew that early stimulation and love were essential to proper development, but I never realized how much is formed in the first year of life. (We got Abbey when she was 10 months old)

She has gotten better in some areas. She will now express pain and she openly loves her family, as long as they aren't about to leave her, then her protective mode takes over and she will ignore and distance herself from them. I feel certain that she will master and rise above her months of neglect, but I'd give anything in the world, if I could have prevented it from happening. The thought of my precious baby girl, (or any baby for that matter), laying in a crib and crying herself hoarse, to no avail, just breaks my heart! One of my friends said that adoption was a beautiful tragedy. I so agree. It is tragic that Abbey's life had to go through the start it did. But, it is beautiful how much we love her and Elijah and how much beauty they bring into our lives. God really does "make beauty from ashes" (Isaiah 61:3)

We love you so, Abbey Grace!

I pray for our little ones, that the Lord will show us how to overcome their issues. I am certain that He will do just that!



  1. We see alot of what you describe as far as pain with Cali. Just tonight she fell on the wet bathroom floor and banged her head. I think it was the first time she instantaneously cried and ran to me . Normally I have to tell her, it is OK to cry and tell her to let me hold her. Our kids , so incredible, so loved, so valued now, so treasured now. But they do have bits and pieces to their past that we and they may never fully understand. But through Gods grace and mercy they are treasured and loved and part of a forever family!

  2. Yes, beauty from ashes. I pray every night that God will use the beauty of our love (that comes from him) to cover the ashes of where my children came from...