Her name wasn’t intended to be Ella, and Charlie wasn’t the name we had chosen. We had another name picked out, but I can’t write that name. It was written to her in letters that were meant for her. Maybe someday she’ll get to read them, or maybe they will remain tucked away forever, but for the sake of this post, I’m going to call her “Ella.”
You might say that Ella and Charlie are the same. Technically, Charlie was the daughter we thought would be coming home with us, but I don’t think of Charlie as mine. I think of her as Wendy’s. I think that is why it was so important that Wendy change her name. It really is a strange thing: to grieve a child who is alive and yet who isn’t. To grieve a child you spend time with and yet you know isn’t yours and apparently wasn’t meant to be yours. At the same time: to grieve a child you wonder will ever come into existence in your life. Will I ever have a daughter? Was it some sort of strange dream?
I’ve been thinking about Ella even more with Christmas approaching. Originally I thought I’d have 2 stockings to hang this year and gifts filled with little girl things. The carefully hand knit sweaters I had purchased long before her arrival are packed away, the little girl clothes as well, and any trace of her is no longer in my house but for the few things left in sight in the basement such as the crib or the bouncy seat.
Every now and then James asks where she is, and then I explain to him things in his terms once again . I don’t think he minds really – still being the only child in the house. His inquiring little mind often fascinates me. It won’t be long and he’ll be further grasping what his “normal” is and that there’s more to it than the fact that he didn’t grow in my tummy. That is a whole other post in and of itself.
Most of the time I am fine, but the grief usually hits me in unexpected ways. It comes in the form of a song I haven’t heard in awhile that spoke to me during that difficult time. It comes in the middle of shopping when I find myself in the little girl section of a store and then I ask myself, “Why am I here?” It comes when I see someone else with a baby girl and I think, “Why don’t I have a daughter?” Usually it is a sad grief. A feeling of great loss and pain. Other times it is in the form of anger. For instance, about a month ago Ben received a message from the birth dad saying that he didn’t know much about the baby except what people told him and in closing, “I’m sorry it didn’t work out bro.” I’m sorry it didn’t work out bro? Who is this man? This man who wrote us such heart warming words in June and then whipped us in return with his actions only a month later? What is it like to “create” a life and then have the power to walk away from it? How can one be so callous? I forgive, and then I have to forgive again. And lately, grief comes when I hear that someone else is expecting. I don’t envy them. It’s not like that. I feel sorry for myself. What is it like? To get pregnant? To have a life grow inside of you? To plan your family so effortlessly?
I can’t foresee another private adoption in our future. We’ve been burned. I’m not sure at this point about International Adoption. We’ve been burned there as well. Any form of provincial adoption is on hold because we don’t know what the next year holds and whether or not we will even be living in Sussex. Once again, we pray. We wait. Once again I work through wondering if James will always be an only child and finding contentment in that while learning to believe in what I can’t see. What is to come. What I believe is to come.
Last year during January I entered a 21 day partial fast in which I found out about Charlie shortly thereafter and believed she was my answer. This year during January I will enter another 21 day partial fast. I look forward to that time. A time of renewal, of refocus…
More has been going on in our lives than most realize – it’s not just the adoption loss we’ve had to deal with…other things have been happening that have threatened to uproot us and shake our faith, and yet, we remain firm.
Perhaps I’m not just grieving Ella, perhaps I’m grieving our life as it was. I can’t fully explain it, but our lives were greatly altered in September when numerous events occurred at once. Serious unexpected life changing events. Were it not for the grace of God and what I believe to be His protective covering, I would be depressed. Nonetheless, I am still working through my grief.
“We’re not necessarily doubting that God will do the best for us; we are wondering how painful the best will turn out to be.” – C.S. Lewis