“Will you let me hold you in my arms tonight
I have come so far to find you
So far to find you
Will you take my love and give up the fight
I have come so far to find you”
These striking lyrics from Casting Crown’s “So Far to Find You” were the cry of my heart for months. But the parenthood journey started long before these words became my anthem cry.
On August 27, 2012, after years of waiting, my husband Barak and I held Ruth and Emmanuel in our arms for the first time. We walked up to their house...holding hands, hearts pounding and so, so happy. I'll forever have a clear snapshot in my memory of Ruth running out of the door and straight into my arms. She wrapped her arms around me and buried her head in my chest. We both cried and I kept kissing her and telling her we loved her. I heard Barak say, "Emma!" and looked up to see my son, my son, all smiles and holding a huge bouquet of flowers. He ran over too, and all four of us hugged together. At one point he jumped up, right into his dad’s arms. Ruth kept her arms snug around me until she turned to Papi and latched on just as tight. That part broke me. She simply didn't want to let go. We didn't even see her face for at least five full minutes. Emma gave me this huge hug and said, “I love you, Mami,” and I swear life was absolutely perfect.
I didn’t know in that moment that just months ahead Ruth would enter a season that would pull at every string in my heart.
Within a few days together, we had our first insight into our children’s difficult past. But we expected these extreme behaviors and worked through them as a family. Although Ruth, in particular, would pull back at times (and sometimes with volatile actions), there was always a softness and a closeness when the rough moments ended. But then came Thanksgiving weekend, three months later. After that weekend, for reasons none of us know, there was a severe change in Ruth’s attitude toward me—sometimes toward B, too, but predominantly toward me. She stopped telling me she loved me, although she’d say it freely to others. At bedtime, she stopped reaching out for hug after hug and instead would push me away. Outside of our home, she always chose to be with others—never with her mom. Yet at home, there were still incredible moments almost every day. She began opening her heart. She was able to talk about how she would relate me to her bio mom and shared how she wanted to change. We would laugh, pray, share, and play together. Her favorite activity was telling stories; I told her stories over and over and over again. Yet between each of these special moments, there was constant rejection and a deep, unsettled pain in her heart. One night she’d want an hour of stories, and the next she’d want absolutely nothing to do with me. This was our journey for months.
As parents, we want our children to be happy, to be loved, to be free to be themselves. But we also hold on to a hope that they will love us, too. For far too long, I buried that desire, afraid it was wrong or hurtful. But with time, I learned that it is good, pure, and healthy, yet sometimes we have to put that desire on hold so we can purely and freely love our children—even when they can’t reciprocate. It was during these long months that I began singing and praying Casting Crown’s lyrics. The deepest pain was for my daughter. As she pulled back from me, I could see more of the hurt she had suffered during the earliest years of her life. I had to learn, one day at a time, to love her freely and to not subtly put up my own walls. And through it all, I continued to pray that she would be able to receive love—not just from me but from so many others.
Then came a day in October 2013. I can’t remember the details of Ruth’s battle that day, but I know that at one point I pulled her close to me (despite her angry words), looked her directly in the eyes, and told her my prayer is that God would show her that she can trust again. I asked her, softly, if she would give me a chance to be her mother. She didn’t say anything at first, but then she got hard and angry. She spouted a few familiar hurtful phrases in an effort to quiet me. I don’t remember the hour that followed, but I do remember how she turned the other way at bedtime and refused to speak.
Both of my kids know that before I go to bed and every time I awake during the night, I come into their room and kiss them…every night, more than once, I visit them. This particular night was no different. About an hour after Ruth fell asleep, I came in to say goodnight with full freedom to hug and kiss my sleeping daughter. Usually on my nighttime visits, I don’t speak aloud. But this night, right as I bent over to kiss her, I quietly said, “I am your mother…” I will forever remember how I couldn’t even finish my sentence. Ruth—who I thought was sound asleep—reached up, wrapped her 10-year-old arms around my neck, pulled me close, and whispered, “And I am your daughter.” At some point after we’d talked and I’d wiped away happy tears, I asked her if I had woken her up. She told me that she had stayed awake. She was waiting for me because, in her words, “Mami, you always come.”
Since that day, we have moved forward. There are still challenging moments—just like with any family. But after a full year together, something broke that day for my daughter. Emmanuel is also experiencing a deeper security about his forever family. Halloween seemed to be a turning point for him because it was the first holiday we celebrated a second time together. He told me that morning, eyes wide and happy, that we’d been together a full year. Both of our kids are learning more every day that they are loved. We sing, laugh, dance, tickle, forgive, love, grow, and learn together. This is family. This is forever.
With a combined 275 years of experience, Children’s Home Society of Minnesota and Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota serve children and families through adoption, child welfare, and family preservation. We are driven by the understanding that a child in a safe, nurturing home is a child who thrives. We work to give every child security, opportunity and a loving family. Through our partnership, we offer the following services to families nationwide. We encourage you to visit the Lutheran Social Service Rainbow Kids page to view additional country programs.