Libby was adopted at 10 months of age from China. She was our first baby. The bonding was easy. We were attached to her in seconds. She was attached to us within days. But attachment can be rooted in some troublesome soil for the adopted child. Of course, most of the attachment is rooted in the basic need/desire to be loved. But sometimes, attachment is rooted in something even more tenacious than the instinctual need to be loved....the fear of rejection. This is Libby's story, only its just recently become so clear.
As I mentioned in my previous post, Sunny's arrival home brought out a commander/guard-type side to Libby's personality. She was stiff with Sunny. She felt that her life was ruined. She was angry and her tone and body language proved it. I knew to expect a dose of this from her as her "birth" order was being disrupted, but I could never have imagined how fierce Libby's response would be. Only recently was I able to clearly see what was going on in her heart. I had an idea, of course, but I never wanted to put words in her mouth or assume I could understand all the complexities of the situation within her mind/heart. All I knew to do was pray. That, I did.
Libby has always struggled with Billy showing me affection. When she was 3 and 4 years of age she would have wild meltdowns if Billy hugged or kissed me. But over time, this seemed to dwindle a bit. She'd laugh it off, though she was still clearly unhappy with it. Fast forward to about a month ago. Libby was in our room and Billy mentioned something about kissing me. Libby leaped onto the bed and started pounding Billy with her fists. She was sent upstairs to calm down. After a while I went to check on her. She began crying, saying, "I need to tell you something, but I don't want to." Naturally, I became concerned but tried to keep calm. I convinced her she could share anything. She asked me to come in the closet with her to talk about it. Sitting in the playroom closet she shared with me that she has never been comfortable seeing anyone give affection. She began to cry the deepest cry, a cry that could only come from a place where there are no words. I asked her, "What do you think about when you see people give hugs and kisses?" She began sobbing saying, "I don't know. I don't know." And right then, for the first time I knew it was time to give her the words.
I shared with her that her first 10 months in China were very lonely ones. I said, "You can't picture it or remember it, but your mind, body and soul know it well. You were not held very much. You just laid in a crib with no touch, no warmth, no eye contact. It must have felt very lonely." Her eyes were staring into mine with absolute agreement. I went on, "I think this is why you have a hard time seeing others give affection. You have a hard time receiving it and giving it, so it hurts your heart when others can give hugs and kisses so easily." She completely understood. I continued, "You're being uncomfortable with affection is not a secret. Satan has made you think that no one knows how you feel, but the truth is, Mommy and Daddy have always seen that it is hard for you. For example, when I kiss Gracie she puckers up her lips for a kiss, but you stiffen up and turn your head for a kiss on the cheek. Now, I know you love me so this has never hurt my heart, but I've always known that receiving my love was hard for you. But now that you know why you have this hurt inside, let me tell you some good news. You couldn't have known it when you were a baby, but Jesus was with you during those first 10 months. He calls himself the Father to the fatherless. He was right there watching over you. Also, he assigned a guardian angel to you. So you had two people with you during that lonely time and they were making sure we found our way to you. You were never really alone. But Satan tried to make you think you were." She was tracking with me and her crying had calmed. I prayed over her. I reminded her that I will keep praying that this good news brings her the healing she has always wanted. Then I let her have some time to herself as I must get dinner started.
About twenty minutes later Libby came down the stairs holding a drawing. She proudly showed me her work. It was a picture of a heart with Billy and me holding hands inside the heart. Below the heart at the bottom of the page Libby wrote, "Not broken anymore". This profound response brought me to tears.
That night as I made my rounds of goodnights, I went to kiss Libby on her cheek. She said, "No, mom. Right here." And she puckered up those sweet lips for her goodnight kiss.
In following days, the Lord continued to give Libby words for what she has been feeling deep down. One day she shared with me, "When I make mistakes I hear in my head, 'I'm stupid, I'm dumb!'" Her need to be perfect, also rooted in the ugly soil of fear of rejection, was finally being fought against by way of confession. The lies were coming to light. I was able to share with her the beauty of our weaknesses; how our weakest places are where God gets to show off His strength. I shared of the beauty of God's grace and how Jesus sees her as perfect because when she received him as her Savior her sins and imperfections were thrown as far away as the east is from the west.
A few days later, she mentioned that when she does something wrong she thinks in her mind, "I don't belong here." [Side note: May I just kick Satan in the ass, now? REALLY!] Oh the joy of explaining the power of adoption - how its stronger than blood. She is chosen. Not once. THREE TIMES. Her biological mother CHOSE to give her life against all ridicule, self-sacrifice, and shame. We chose her from a world away. And Jesus has chosen her - FOREVER to be His! How many people get to say that? I reassured her of our unfailing love for her; that she was our first baby and our hearts are for her all our days.
And somewhere in that same time frame I realized, all the anger Libby had towards Sunny was not because Sunny was older. It was because on that first night home with Sunny, Sunny grabbed Gracie's hand and immediately connected with her and Libby feared she was being rejected by Sunny AND Gracie. Her world really was turned upside down that night. That dear, poor, child. Oh how I hate the lies of the enemy!!! BUT! BUT!! BUT!!!!
He never forsakes his beloved. He never stops pursuing. He never stops making His love known. And He NEVER NEVER stops restoring the broken. And He had a perfect plan for my Liberty Song......FREEDOM! Freedom from ever believing the lies of rejection and fear again.
Sing a song of freedom
Shout out, "I belong!"
Sing loud through the darkness
Til light and healing come
Sing my freedom child
Until there's no more fright
For love has won your battle
You can let go the fight.
Sunny's arrival felt like the end for Libby. But God was just getting started. With Sunny's arrival came new freedom. It took pressing Libby on all sides for the words of pain to pour into the light. Six and a half years after been placed in our arms forever, we finally see her attachment rooting itself completely in the pure desire to be loved. Fear began losing its grip as Libby penned, "Not broken anymore." Hallelujah!
Since those first months, I've seen Libby, my all-tom-boy-hot-wheels-playing-girl, intentionally learn how to braid Barbie doll hair so she can play with her sisters in a way they like to play. I've seen her defend Sunny when I was being too hard on her. I've seen her sing lullabies to Sunny when Sunny was crying over being disciplined. I've seen Libby giggle a thousand giggles in one afternoon at play with Sunny. I've seen them become close friends. Teammates. Both of them considerate of Gracie as well. Today I found all three of my girls cleaning my entire kitchen together. Libby said, "We have one rule mom: Never give up and always stick together." Later in the evening, the three of them ate dinner together. Sitting around the table they made up "once upon a time" stories and laughed so hard I thought they might cry. It was my heaven hint for today. Eternity's reminder: Because of these adoptions my girls will know Jesus and all three of them will sit at the table of Jesus, sharing "once upon a time" stories and they will be laughing. Three little ladies from three different countries with no ill-will between them. Just love and Jesus. Yes, God Redeems!