Saturday, October 30, 2010

Creating Space

Evangeline and I are doing so much better.

Case in point: tonight Sergei is at a party with Elaina and Zoya. Polly and Evie are fed and changed, ready for bed. They are playing and watching Caillou. Evie just stopped what she was doing, came over and climbed up on my lap and gave me a huge hug.

I can't tell you how that makes me feel. Well, that's not entirely true. If you've read Pocket Lint this last year than you know that our bonding has been difficult.

Today someone who just completed an international adoption wrote that she's been home for three weeks and she still feels like she is babysitting someone else's kid.

I know that feeling.

I felt that for quite a while when Evie came home. Adopting her was supposed to happen. In theory I knew it wasn't only a correct response to God to adopt Evangeline because he adopted me, but I also knew that specifically for us, the Marchenko family, this was his will.

That's why it was so hard when I didn't feel much for Evie after she came home.

I know, I was naive. I had no clue what it meant to adopt. I had no idea what it would do to both my heart and Evie's. Both our lives were turned upside down.

About a month ago Evangeline and I started attachment therapy at the Erickson Institute here in Chicago.

Honestly, most Mondays I don't want to go. It's a hassle every week to get there. All we do is sit in a room and play for an hour once we are there.

I pull out all my tricks; Itsy Bitsy Spider, peek a boo, all the things I know Evie likes. I know she'll respond. And the therapist sits next to us with a serious, curious look on her face, watching my every move. I catch myself daydreaming, 'she's probably judging me. She probably is a mother. She probably has a perfect relationship with her kid. And she's one of those ladies who doesn't need to wear make-up to be beautiful. Hmph.'

I tickle, I laugh, I make Evie giggle by hanging her up side down.

I am kind of faking. We never last a whole hour playing at home, not with three other sisters around, homework, housework, writing, and Polly's arms wrapped around both me and Evie, eagerly wanting to join in whatever game I've initiated. And I get tired playing. But what am I going to do? There's a chick sitting there watching us. It's not like I can check facebook on my cell.

But something magical happens when Evie and I go to therapy. We play. The therapist and I talk. We say our goodbye when the hour is done. I hold Evie's hand and guide her out of the office and down the hall. I press the down button on the elevator and Evie looks around wide-eyed. We walk slowly outside to the car. Evie loves the commotion of downtown Chicago. I stare at the reflection on the building. It's just the two of us, together, walking.

Magic doesn't happen in the little room with green walls and brightly colored blocks and baby dolls. The magic is in finding childcare for the other three kids and maneuvering our day so that Evie and I can slip away, walk while holding hands, play a bit without Polly on top of us. I get a little time to focus on Evie.

That's where the magic is: in creating space.

It took both of us a while to create space in our hearts for each other. And I'm not saying that everything is easy and sweet. We both still struggle as we mold together.

But a space has been cleared out in our lives for one another.

And it is being cultivated through the every day, usual things we do. It's cultivated by taking two hours out every Monday to go downtown to play.

We create space.

That's all the magic I need.


  1. I've been following In A Word, but somehow it meant that PocketLink got lost. Just spend 30 minutes or so bawling over the amazing video, and English Teacher's sweet little boy, and Evie climbing into your lap and such.

    Great, great stories, all.

  2. This is such a stirring and beautifully honest post, Gillian. Thanks for sharing these stories.

  3. Beautiful post. I'm glad you two are finding space for each other. That makes my heart glad.

  4. sometimes those moments of hand holding give me the hope I need to make it through the day.

  5. You paint a poignant word picture of your relationship. It's so good to see the hope in the lap climbing!

  6. It's so great that Evie is beginning to trust and feel secure! I hope that your cleared time continues to be nourishing for both of you.

  7. Amazing write. I loved it. You are a great person.

  8. I hope one day we can create space in our hearts for each other, too, my adopted daughter and me. Thanks for always being real.


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