I woke up at 4:30am today. Got dressed, put my hair up, made some coffee, ate a rice cracker with peanut butter, and woke Vee up. This is not part of a new routine we have; today was a special day. Today Vee and I drove to Orlando, FL so two great doctors could perform a joint surgery on Vee’s left eye.
When Vee was around 5 years old and came to the U.S., doctors noticed that his retina was detached. That was when Vee had his first eye surgery. The second time was two years ago, when the doctors inserted silicone oil in Vee’s left eye to help the retina stay in place. Today, during the third surgery, doctors removed the silicone oil that had started to bubble over his lens and implanted a new lens, because the old one developed cataract. The retina specialist was also able to remove some scar tissue from the eye, which leads us to believe that some eyesight might be recovered in a now legally blind eye.
This day had been awaited for several months. Initially, the surgery was supposed to be performed in Atlanta, GA. However, the move to Florida pushed things back, so we had a lot of time to think and talk about this day. This morning, as we walked into the hospital, Vee and I talked about safety. We talked about the fact that he is safe now and does not have to worry about what will happen during surgery. We talked about his doctors, and how they were going to take care of him. We talked about the fact that I would be with him from beginning to end, and the doctors would know that I was in the waiting room if they needed me.
After the IV was on and the anesthesia was flowing, the nurses rolled Vee from the prep room into the surgical room. Several magazines, half a book, two doctors’ updates, and four cups of coffee later, I was called into the post-op room to see my boy. There he was, totally knocked out with a patch over his eye. The nurses assured me that everything went OK, and I could wake him. In between consciousness and an REM cycle, I explained to Vee that I was going to help him get dressed. A zip-up jacket, to prevent touching the eye patch, was put on; then, the pants. The nurses, that had stepped outside while I dressed him, opened the curtain as I was putting his shoes on.
There I was, trying to put tennis shoes on a 17-year-old, with my heart slowly melting. The truth is, my heart has hardened during the last couple of months. A product of survival, I imagine. Somewhere along the way, when the hard times started to hit, we discovered that attachment did not come with instructions, homework is not always a pleasant time, date-nights are only a memory, and learning to trust one another did not “just happen” after adoption. I realized how vulnerable I was. I had opened my whole heart the night that we decided to adopt; but becoming a family, after an orphanage, a disruption, and several foster care placements have made roots, hurts a little. Don’t get me wrong. There are great times, but they are weaved in between the peeling a lot of layers. Between layer and layer, I started doing what I was taught in social work school: I tried not to become so attached that the hard times would break me down.
But today, as I was struggling to put shoes on 17-year-old feet, Vee mumbled something about how not every mom would do things like that. The nurse immediately said, “trust me, all moms do that. I do that for my children all the time.” And I remembered, sadly, not all moms do. That is why I was by Vee’s bedside today. That is why I called and emailed person after person, cried at court, had some people yell at me, and fought for the opportunity to become Vee’s mom. It all came rushing in like water breaking through a dam, softening my heart and moistening my eyes. It is because every child deserves someone to stand by his bedside after surgery, help him get dressed without the child worrying that he is being touched or looked at inappropriately, figure out how to shove on his shoes, and tell him that we are going HOME.
The nurse took Vee to the front of the hospital, while I went to get my car to pick him up. On the way to get my car, I went to the restroom, closed the door behind me, and praised God, because I get to take my son home today. And through His grace, Vee will know that he is safe, and I will be here when he wakes up.
It is funny how God makes things work out. Today, the doctor was able to remove some scar tissue from Vee’s eye, creating the hope that he might recover some of the vision he once had. And, at the same time, God removed some scar tissue that had formed in me, and let me recover the vision He gave me months ago.
Because of God’s amazing grace,