Thursday, October 17, 2013

Breaking the Silence

“Bridget, you have to write about this.” Tears slip from her eyes and hearing her say it aloud just confirms those God-whispers I have been brushing off. “There must be others out there. What if it would help someone; someone who feels alone, like they can’t talk to anyone?” I shift my napkin and look around the restaurant, not wanting to even consider it. Yet, God is persistent. In the days that follow, there are a million confirmations that I need to write this post. Even today, someone asked the question again. “Is it normal for adoption to be so hard… after they are home”?



A loud, resounding YES.

And we don’t always want to admit it, do we? If we admit that it is hard, will people think that means we regret it? (We don’t.) If we admit that it is hard will it mean that others won’t adopt? (Because we hope you will). At home you are trying to put together all the pieces of a puzzle and figure out what the crying means. Maybe there are mood swings. Maybe there are language barriers or speech delays or even an unwillingness on their part to tell you what they want/need. So you guess. You try. You use all the tools in your toolbox. You fall short. You have bad days- maybe more bad days than good days. Everything is new, uncharted territory. Your other children are comforted and soothed by your touch just because you are “Mama”. But to this child, your presence isn’t enough. Maybe they have started to call you “Mama”, but do they even know what a Mama is?

There are a million different things that parents deal with when they adopt children from “hard places” or from difficult circumstances. I could turn this post into 27. Even the youngest children come with a story.

With hurts.

With fears.

Some come with medical problems, cognitive problems, or other “special needs”. And trying to wade through all this new territory is difficult. It is intense. Coming home is about getting to know a child. It is about earning the trust of someone who finds it difficult- or impossible- to trust. It is about giving unconditional love to someone who might not know how to really receive it. It is about learning to draw closer when pushed away. It is about coming to terms with the fact that your love doesn’t make everything instantly better. It means admitting that love is, in fact, NOT enough.

At least, yours isn’t.

It’s a painful truth to face. But then, something beautiful happens.

In steps Jesus.

In steps Jesus, offering abundant grace that is more than enough for your little (or not so little) one.

In steps Jesus, giving you rest- REAL rest- when you have had no sleep.

In steps Jesus, reminding you that love has nothing to do with butterflies or feelings. It is a much more beautiful, more steady, faithful determination to give everything you have for the sake of another.

In steps Jesus to meet your “I can’t” with His “I can”.

To meet your “This is hard” with His “My yoke is easy and my burden is light”.

Notice I did NOT say “In steps Jesus and everything turns to rainbows and butterflies”. It doesn’t. Yet, something even better is happening here. He is teaching me to abide. To abide in Him. Friends, I will take that over rainbows and butterflies ANY.DAY.OF.THE.WEEK. Ok, except Saturday at 7:00am. Then, I usually wish for rainbows, butterflies, and sleeping in over spiritual growth. But I digress.

Adoption is hard. It is like learning to parent all over again, only with twice the hurdles every step of the way. When do I push him to try harder and meet his potential? When do I show grace? Is this adoption related? Transition related? Normal for his age? Related to his medical needs? His background? And oh my word... let us please promise to never even utter the words "food issues" around newly adoptive parents. Amen?

The questions can be draining, and you might not ever get all the answers you want. But there is One who knows the answer to every question.

Let's not forget that He chose you to be Mama or Daddy to this child.

And He said He promised He would never leave you or forsake you.

At night I rock Isaac and sing songs to him. You’d probably guess most of the songs I sing (Jesus love me, Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star), but there is one song you’d likely raise an eyebrow at. It is a song by Ginny Owens that has long been a favorite of mine when something in my life seemed hard. It is called “If you want me to”.

It goes something like this:

The pathway is broken and the signs are unclear
And I don't know the reasons why you brought me here.
But just because you love me the way that You do
I'm gonna walk through the valley if you want me to.

Cause I'm not who I was when I took my first step
And I'm clinging to the promise You’re not through with me yet.
So if all of these trials that bring me closer to You
Then I will go through the fire if you want me to.

And it may not be the way I would've chosen
When you lead me through a world that's not my home
But you never said it would be easy
You only said I'd never go alone.

I think I probably sang it mostly for my own comfort in those first, hard days when Isaac would cry at all hours of the night and I was as delirious as I was when I came home with nursing newborns.  But I have continued to sing it for two reasons. One is because Isaac seems to really like it. The other is because God reminded me of something as I sang those words. Adoption is not all the glamorous thing that welcome home videos are made of. There is incredible joy, yes. 
But there is also loss and grief and transition. There are wounds and scars- though often inside, that are very real. There is spiritual warfare- always. ALWAYS. Sometimes the pathway IS broken and signs ARE unclear. 

But ... I have never walked alone. Through Christ, I have known the kind of patient, devoted love that was relentlessly gentle when I pulled away in fear, and always wrapped me in His arms and His joy when I came to Him. I have come to know that I am never alone and no matter what darkness I walk through, He will always be my light.

And I want to teach that to Isaac- by example. 
So if he walks through valleys I will be right by his side, holding his hand through whatever life may throw at him. Because although Isaac doesn’t know it yet - that is what a “Mama” is.

Sometimes I sing that song and I feel his tense little body relax in my arms. I see him make eye contact- that he refused to make 3 months ago- and he smiles as his little hand outlines my face. And I hope on some level he gets it. That me and him – no matter – we are in this together and no matter where he goes, he will never go alone.

So, adoptive Mama- YES, it is normal to struggle. Yes, it is suppose to be hard. Your suspicions are correct: you cannot do this on your own. Get some support from the adoption community. Get support for your church. Press into Jesus and lean on Him like you have never leaned before.

Because Jesus is enough.

So is it easy? No. Love – real love- isn’t always easy (but it won’t always be hard, either).

Is it worth it?


(And for the record, if you still wonder if we would do it all again … we would. And we will.)

Well what do we have here? (Besides the finger of an ameteur photographer) Looks like a little bonding happening! 

“If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy but don’t love, I’m nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate. If I speak God’s Word with power, revealing all his mysteries and making everything plain as day, and if I have faith that says to a mountain, “Jump,” and it jumps, but I don’t love, I’m nothing. If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don’t love, I’ve gotten nowhere. So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love. Love never gives up. Love cares more for others than for self. Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have. Love doesn’t strut, Doesn’t have a swelled head, Doesn’t force itself on others, Isn’t always “me first,” Doesn’t fly off the handle, Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others, Doesn’t revel when others grovel, Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth, Puts up with anything, Trusts God always, Always looks for the best, Never looks back, But keeps going to the end.”    - 1 Corinthians 13 (The MSG)