So if you read my post about our Angel Tree bub, you know that on October 21st, we were officially matched to Boo. And that means his file has been pulled and matched with our dossier…and that might seem insignificant, but it’s the first time in his little life that someone has claimed him. He BELONGS. To us. We don’t deserve it. And although we still have to wait for more information and an official referral, it definitely makes things more real. For me, it felt similar to when we found out the gender during our 20-week ultrasound. Just knowing I had a little girl (and then boy) growing inside me somehow solidified the pregnancy, reminded me that yes, this is really happening.
And it’s the same reminder here. This is really happening. And sometimes when I lay awake at night with that realization, a thousand taunting voices creep in. And sometimes those voices can be paralyzing. Lies always cloak themselves in darkness. Truth is revealed in the light. And when I wake up in the morning, my heart in calm, and my resolve strong. But I wanted to be honest here about those fears. However, please know, in that honesty, there is never doubt about our decision. We have never second-guessed that we are doing exactly what our God is asking, and that He will be there every step of the way.
But we are human, and our hearts are fragile and our flesh is weak, and sometimes we grow weary. And I’m a mama of two toddlers, which probably makes me more emotional. And okay, I’m fairly Type-A, so my inability to control the outcome of this journey rocks me to my core.
“Safe?” said Mr. Beaver; “don’t you hear what Mrs. Beaver tells you? Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.” -C.S. Lewis, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe
This isn’t a safe choice. But it’s good. And it’s right. I can still remember this quote painted on the wall (Tiger 10 represent!) at the Air Force Academy that said, “If it wasn’t hard everyone would do it. It’s the hard that makes it great.” (Which a quick Google search tells me is attributed to Tom Hanks in A League Of Their Own). I loved that quote, and loved reading it on the wall as I sweated (swat? ha!) through a training session. And it’s not that I’m a glutton for punishment and I think that doing something hard somehow makes me worthy. But there is truth in that, right? If adoption was easy, we would have no orphans.
But at night, when the rest of the house is quiet, sometimes all I hear are whispers of just how hard this hard might be. And those little lying whispers, man, they are surprisingly loud.
What if this ruins everything? Any by everything, I mean US. Our family, our life, our plans. Sometimes, I will be rocking my sweet man cub in his room in the dark at night, smelling his baby hair and savoring his warm little body and fear suddenly strikes, “What if I never do this again?” The boys will share a room, and bedtime with two boys will mean less rocking, less cuddling, more chaos. And what if Bug resents that shared time. . .what if he feels replaced? And what if that feeling ruins the rest of his life? Or maybe worse, what if Bug doesn’t resent it, because Boo doesn’t want to be touched? He might not want his mama to hold him or kiss his head, preferring to be laid down alone in his crib. Will I feel resentful? Will I unintentionally place unfair expectations on our new babe, and stress him to just LOVE us the way I think he should? What if it’s worst-case scenario, and Boo never attaches to us as his family? Are we still committed then? If he’s angry and disconnected, doesn’t communicate or engage? What if I’m not as strong as I want to be? What if I stop believing He will be strong when I’m not?
My kids are so amazing. And absolutely crazy too, yes. But I love this family we’ve made, and in the dark of the night, fear says I might blow it. It’s tricky, fear. Because it doesn’t even have to be specific to cause damage, and it preys on emotions. Which for me, are sadly pretty fickle. 🙂 My hubby, he’s amazing also. But what will this new little man do to our relationship? We know date night will be out of the picture for awhile, but then what? What if he resents all the time I spend with Boo? What if I resent all the time he doesn’t? What if he thinks I’m not giving enough attention to Sissy and Bug? What if the stress in our house makes him want to be somewhere else? What if it makes me want to be somewhere else? But that somewhere else isn’t together? What if we regret this?
And the truth is, in the middle of the day when the sun is shining, it’s actually hard for me to remember what I was even worried about. It all seems insignificant. Then I get lucky, and stumble upon a post like this one and I remember, it is NOT all rainbows and unicorns. The pre-adoption adrenaline we are feeling now WILL give way to post-adoption blues, and we will get down to the serious business of redeeming life. His life, our lives.
Adoption is hard. It is inherently loss, not just for the adoptive children, but for everyone in the child’s life. Beautiful, lovely, miraculous things come from adoption. But we do a disservice to adoptive families and their children when we overlook where that beauty came from. It came from ashes, ashes that are blown into a home, leaving the family to clean up the great mess that follows. It’s not pity that I, or any adoptive parent, needs. It’s prayer. Understanding. Support.
We are under no illusion that we are part of a fairy tale. We know Boo’s transition into our family will be difficult, but knowing something and experiencing it are two different realities. It’s hard to prepare for something you know will be hard, but aren’t exactly sure what that hard will feel like. It’s like giving birth the first time. Or becoming a mother for the first time. Or, you know, #life, in general. You don’t even know what you don’t know yet.
And yet, you do it anyway. You weigh the cost and you make a choice to embrace (or at least tolerate) the pain. Why? Because of all the beauty that follows. And when a mother cries out in the pain of childbirth, we don’t smugly look in her panic-filled eyes and say, “Well, you asked for this.” So why do we do that with adoption? When life gets hard for those who have grafted a child into the tender tree that is their family, why do we feel like we need to say I told you so? You asked for this. As a military wife, I hear that sometimes. And I just think we need to clarify the difference between asking for something and accepting it. When you ask for something, it generally indicates that you actually WANT it, for some reason or another. And while sometimes a person might ask for pain or difficulty simply because they desire the attention that often accompanies such situations, I’m guessing those people are in the minority. And most likely those people have deeply rooted security issues that are best left addressed by professionals, while the rest of us work on our compassion. But most people in this world, they aren’t asking for the brokenness around them. They are accepting it as part of the deal.
Adoptive families don’t ask for the tension and chaos that comes home with a new child. But they accept it as part of the deal for bringing that child into a home. Adoptive families don’t ask for the financial stress that lingers after spending thousands of dollars to ransom a life, but they accept it as part of the deal for that redemption. Adoptive families don’t ask for attachment disorders, severely neglected and abused children, or self-harming behaviors that might plague a child from a hard background. But they accept that it might be a part of the deal to give that child a chance for a better future. Adoptive families don’t ask for countless hours of therapy, hospital visits, and insurance claims, but they accept that monotony as part of the deal for the privilege of seeing a child made whole. Adoptive families don’t ask for the loss of friendships, isolation, or loneliness that sometimes mark a homecoming. But they accept it as part of the deal for refusing to let a child spend their life alone.
Think about that the next time you want to tell someone they “asked” for something. Do you really mean it? And I try to think about that whenever fear surfaces. There are so many unknowns in our story, and that is the hardest part for me. We have no idea what we have chosen to accept as part of the deal for making Boo our son. We are willing to accept whatever may come, but the uncertainty of it all can be scary.
But the truth is, we are stronger than the fear. Well, maybe we aren’t, but He is. He will sustain us, maintain us, and surround us with His beauty. In the midst of the pain, and the hurt, and all of the broken, He will show us His glory. He will put our family back together more beautifully than we can imagine. He makes beautiful things out of dust. He does, I promise. It’s our belief in family that led us here in the first place. Boo deserves to be part of a family that doesn’t give up on him. Or each other. Or hope and joy and life. Sissy and Bug deserve that too. So we have accepted that there might be some ugly before the beautiful.
Please be kind to us during that time.
****And please, consider buying a shirt to support Ryan, a spirited little boy who doesn’t yet have a mama in his corner, no one willing to accept his hard in order to uncover his beautiful. You can also donate to this handsome boy through the link either on the side (computer) or bottom (phone) of this blog!