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Thursday, 4 November 2010

Our Day In Court: A Cold And Broken Hallelujah

"Love is not a victory march,
It's a cold and it's a broken hallelujah." - Leonard Cohen

Tomorrow is November fifth.

November fifth, 2009 was the day we sat in the sweltering court room in Colombo waiting to be called into the judge's private room. We sat there with beating hearts and sweaty hands in our "formal attire", while behind us William lay in his biological mother's arms.  Beside her sat one of the nuns from the convent, her eyes closed, silently praying her rosary in the midst of the noise and heat and crowd. We were to be called, one by one, to answer questions.  We had prepared for this and gone over it with the lawyer.  Each answer was to end with a small bow and the word "Sir".

I was afraid I would forget my name, my age, my reasons.   It proceeded with an air of unreality.  We all answered what was asked, it was translated, transcribed, the symbolic act of William being placed in my arms by his biological mother in front of the judge was somehow managed.

I felt so clumsy. Inept.

Several more minutes blurred past.  Then, we were done.  It was done.  It was really, really done.

We walked out of the private room.  Couldn't meet anyone's eyes.  Down the stairs.   Out the doors. Into a heat that suddenly felt oppressive.  We took William, were told by someone, no, no, no, not here...wait until we are farther from the building.  Down the street.  We walked.  Per and I, our guide, William's biological mother and William and the kind nun.  "Now."   On the side of a crowded narrow street.  I met her eyes.  Held out my arms, wasn't sure what to do.  Nothing felt as I thought it would.

(I don't want to write about William's biological mother's grief or try to imagine what she may have felt at that moment. I don't want to cheapen it with my words and interpretations.)

But I will remember.

Taking William in my own arms.  This time not symbolically.  The nun reaching over and making the sign of the cross on his forehead.  His screams as I took him.  The sight of his mother walking away, bent over, weeping, the nuns arms around her, supporting her, keeping her from falling to the ground.  Mohan saying "let's go". The people on the street stopping whatever business they were busy with and watching.  The feeling of shame that swept over me.  The car ride back to the hotel which only lasted minutes.   I held William in my arms in the backseat. Cried.  Cried.  Cried.  "I'm so sorry baby. I'm so sorry. So sorry."

There were no outside the court building pictures. This was love on all sides but it didn't feel like victory.  Not at the moment it occurred.

It was gut-wrenching heartbreak. Incomprehensible. It was life in an imperfect world.

I couldn't write about it then and I find it very hard to write about it now.  This day was agony.  This day was joy.  An end.  A beginning.  A changing of hands.  An answer to prayers.  An uprooting.

So no, love is certainly not always a victory march but somewhere under all this pain, there were strains of a cold and very broken hallelujah.


Pia said...

You made me cry...

Lori said...


How painful and joyful all at the same time. I am so thankful that you are Williams Mommy. I am sorry that for whatever reasons his biological Mom could not care for him. It took a lot of love for her to do this act of passing him to you, who could better love and care for this child. I can only imagine how heart wretching this must have many ways it reminds me of the pain of childbirth but a whole different kind of pain.

The only thing I have to compare this to is my situation with my little's...they came to me as my grandchildren over 4 years ago, their biological mom my step daughter. I remember that painful process all too well. I know too, that it took a lot of love for her to walk away from them because she could not mother them.

You gave birth to William in your heart and that is a beautiful thing Colleen. You have a giant loving mothers heart that shows through and through.

Bless you dear friend. I send you big hugs and love and will be thinking and celebrating in my heart tomorrow. XX

Crown of Beauty said...

I cannot stop crying inside as I read this post.

It is in the real sense of the word bittersweet.

What goes on in my heart is the love of William's biological mother.

She loved her baby so much to be willing to give him up. It is love, as you say - on both sides.

I don't know why she decided to let go of her son...maybe you know.

But one thing I know, it was a great exchange. What a sacred trust has been given to you - not only by that woman, but by the very creator of the life you now hold close to your heart.

What a privilege, what an honor, what a sacred and divine opportunity. I can't find the right words to convey what I want to really say.

It's too deep for words.

I can't imagine how you must have felt then, and even now.

Thank you for sharing your journey with me.

There is one last drop of water that falls into a cup that causes it to run over.

I think this post is that drop, and I find today that my cup is running over.

I have crossed the line - a divine connection has been made. And I'm no longer just an interested reader of your blog...I have become... your friend.

Much love

Mariannes blogg said...

Jeg gråter her jeg sitter.
Mine ord kan ikke beskrive hva jeg føler, så jeg prøver ikke engang. Men tusen takk for et helt fantastisk innlegg <3

Helen said...

I understand...

Felisol said...

Both you and baby William are indeed chosen.
The biological mom chose to keep him and give him the gift of life, when pregnant. When she could not raise him, she chose you to become his mother for the rest of his life.
Only few children in this cold world are born with this much love.
I know you will continue the miraculous good work, which started with you son being born and given to you.

I too remember that day my daughter was born in every detail, (when I was not sedated.)
I'll never forget the wonder of a new life being born, but also the overwhelming responsibility, the feeling of being naked and vulnerable beyond belief.
Nobody had prepared me of that.

Through these 22 years my shortcomings have been numerous, and I've often felt shameful and belittled.

The wonder is, my daughter still loves me, and says she wouldn't trade me for any other.
Because I love her more and more each day, I believe her.
Love and life are hallelujahs, even when they hurt.

Ine said...

It sometimes throws me completely off that someone else in the world actually has experienced an almost exact replica of a day so filled with conflicting feelings that my eyes get teary from even thinking about it. Like you say, we will never forget. And I love how you describe the day as filled with love on all sides, although there was no sense of victory or achievement or that sense of relief that I thought would come immidiately, but didn't come until much later. More than a few times I have missed having pictures of the three of us on that day, ezpecially with Tuva wearing clothes she got from the childrens home, since they didn't like the color of the brown dress we had bought for her to wear on that day. The same tiny outfit that now hangs in a frame beside her bed, with a picture of her in another outfit, at the childrens home. This is where that picture from that day should have been. But it was no time to take pictures, no time to celebrate. It wasn't a moment to catch. It was enough just coping with it, without breaking down completely.

Olga Marie said...

Måtte gråte en skvett jeg også. Du har gjort en fantastisk jobb i å beskrive det ubeskrivelige.
Sånn en fantastisk dag, men samtidig så hjerteskjærende.
William er en heldig liten gutt som har så mange som er glad i ham <3

Purple Cow said...

This is so heart-wrenching. How old was William then? Does he remember any of this? Do you still see the biological mother?

The happiest moments always do have a sad part to them. Every exciting beginning is mingled with an ending...

Be well! Thanks for sharing this...

Angela said...

This brought tears to my eyes....sigh...Thank you dear sister for sharing your heart with us...I could picture the entire scene through your words...((hugs))

Judi said...

Took me awhile to respond, I don't type so well when my eyes are full of tears! There are a lot of things running around in my head to tell you, only good came from this day...but the bottom line he is your son and he is loved! Will think of you alot today, sniff sniff after the tears finish falling! Big hugs and kisses to you all!

kate said...

I would have said there are no words to describe such a moment, but you found them! And beautifully! There are moments in all our lives that are cold and broken Hallelujahs, and this was one of them for you! I take comfort that God was in it, that He was author of it, and that He will and has blessed all of those dear souls involved........

Anonymous said...

There are moments in your life you´ll never forget. They are in your heart for ever!
Love, Marlies

Toyin O. said...

What a poignant story, I can only imagine what the biological mother felt, but I know that the Lord gave you William because he knew the depth of the love you will be given for this boy.

Just also wanted to thank you for visit and your gracious comment:)

Angela said...

Hey beautiful sister..can you send me an email so I can have your email under my contacts?

Janet Sewell said...

How does one even begin to respond to this? So many times we hear about adoptions and so seldom do we think about the pain behind that decision, choosing to look only at the joy not the brokenness.

Thank you for writing this, such a real and raw post. You're right love is not always a victory march. I can only think of Jesus carrying His cross, the world's burden on His shoulders, the angels knowing what was happening... the victory march... yet the pain and the suffering in every step He took... I'm sure it was a cold and broken hallelujah in Heaven that day. I can only imagine the pain and the suffering in every step William's biological mother was experiencing, knowing that, for better or worse, she was entrusting her little treasure to total strangers... Colleen you have been given a precious gift indeed, guard him well as I have no doubt in my mind and heart that you will.

I love you girl!

Colleen said...

Thank you all for the comments, it is so incredible to me to know you have read this and care so much.
Janet, I really like what you wrote about Jesus carrying His cross, the ultimate victory march and yet, I never thought of it as such. Thank you my friend!

Grandma K said...

Interesting how one 'stalks' blogs and finds all manner of interesting people......

You say you wish you were an artist. I say you are! Your words paint heart moving pictures. This one is especially descriptive. Thank you.

I am drawn to your life for a number of reasons. First you left Manitoba. Two of our family moved from Alberta to Manitoba. Second you chose Norway for home. My parents both came from Denmark so many years ago but I feel a connection to Scandinavia. You speak of your faith. I don't know where I would be today without God.

So, forgive me for stalking. I will probably return!

Colleen said...

Grandma K, thank you for your encouraging words. I appreciate your compliment about my writing! You are welcome here ANYTIME!:)

So fascinating that your parents came from Denmark! I can understand your connection to Scandinavia because my great grandparents were from Iceland and we were always raised to be very proud of that.:) Where in Denmark were they from?

Thanks again for your comment and for taking the time to read what I've written!

God bless!

Jenn Jantz said...

Hi Colleen. thank-you so much for the comment you made on my blog. I think we are kindred spirits although we have never met. I was once told the same by another kindred spirit... that moving to a new culture and people is indeed a type of grieving process. one that not very many people understand.I have a friend that lives here that moved here from Ohio.but she grew up in a missionary family and lived all over the world before she moved here. it appears to me she has had not one adjustment. but I tend to think that she is the lucky one because moving across the country for her was nothing like moving to Africa:) let me know what book you were talking about. I may need to buy it:) and what part of MB did you grow up in? my email-

hugs back to you- Jenn

anne said...

I love your story... this topic is one that is especially dear to my heart as I am one of those fortunate ones that was given a chance at life... adopted by loving,Christian parents... i admire you for the chance and the life of love you are giving to William... I also grew up in Manitoba... what area are you from? And my(adopted) mom's parents are Icelandic... it's a small world. Thank-you for sharing your heart...

Colleen said...

Anne, thank you for your comment and welcome here.:) How special for me to hear the your perspective on adoption and yes, it is a small world! I am originally from a small town outside Portage la Prairie but my family has since moved to good Icelanders.;) And you?
Please drop by anytime.:)

Colleen said...

Dear Prairie Girl, I thought I replied already but then realized it was all in my head!:) Thank you for your comment. I do think it's something few people can really "get" until they've tried it.:) I don't know how long you've been where you are now, but I think you sound strong and're just in a period of adjusting (I sometimes think it takes a lifetime!:). The book is called "Intercultural Marriage" was helpful to me. I really look forward to getting to know you better, so happy to meet another "prairie girl"!!:)
(I am from rural Manitoba, outside Portage la Prairie but my family is in the interlake region now.:) Where are you from?

Unknown said...

Thank-you for your honesty! It was and is beautiful!

Debbie said...

What a beautifully honest post. I can't imagine the range of emotions.

Unknown said...

Oh. I am crying so hard. Crying so unbelievably hard.

Shannon said...

Beautiful post, both in topic and writing! May God continue to bless you and your family!

Cheyenne said...

I have no words...sometimes our language seems so very small. You are a precious momma and I'm so enjoying reading your writing. I found you through A Prairie Girl in California, and also finding you to be a huge blessing.

You write absolutely beautifully and create gorgeous word paintings.

Rebecca said...

What an apt title to this post! I read it just a few days after our son and daughter-in-law returned from their first trip to Ethiopia to meet their soon-to-be daughter in person. The meeting included a face-to-face with the biological mother. It is impossible for me to imagine such a meeting. You gave me a hint of the feelings that might have existed in that hour...

So well written, Colleen!

Metu said...

I can feel it in my heart, what you discribe soo good. Tears are in my eyes, sorrow and happines, side by side.
A big hug for you, from me.

Haircutgirl said...

Colleen, this is a beautiful post, and I feel, like everyone else here, very touched by it. Thank you for posting this. Your writing is so clear, so good, so expressive.

I seem to have lost you on Facebook. But I have a blog now too:

Please feel free to visit and comment. it's basically just to ensure I keep writing.

Linda! said...

Enig med Ine, det er så rart å lese noe som er såå likt vår opplevelse. Utrolig godt beskrevet. Jeg har nå kommet til den uken, på bloggen min, der jeg skal skrive om akkurat denne dagen..
Btw, vi har også den 5. som vår rettsdato. Bare oktober og ikke november..

S. Susan Deborah said...

This post made me feel so tender. I cannot imagine William's mother and what she would've felt after giving William. As many have mentioned, it is feeling joy and pain at the same time.

Thanks for sharing this with us, dear Colleen.

Hope you are doing well and happy.

Joy always,

Anonymous said...

Colleen your post gave rise to goose bumps all over me... A shiver down my spine... You are right LOVE does not always have happy endings... as there is always one side that hurts....
Hugs to you

Rachna said...

That is so touching! I find no words to say any more.