Category: adoption

following the light

The lies breathe down my neck…sometimes it’s impossible to bear their weight.

It’s hard to write about adoption. It’s a tangled web of attachment, parenting snafus and mistakes and privacy. My daughter’s story is her’s alone—and it’s not fair for me to broadcast across the universe about learning to navigate her PMS or what brings her pain and what she can sit through. This is none of your business.

 

But…

 

But if I don’t say anything then it’s an incomplete picture. If I don’t write about these hard things then it’s an unrealistic picture of adoption and how it irrevocably changed and shaped our family. How it changed me. So it’s not your business, but I do want you to know something.

Like how I battle shame for the way I sometimes have to give myself a pep talk as she walks in the door. Or feeling guilty when my sister called me out on the fact that as soon as Glo wakes up in the morning, the first words out of my mouth are commands for her to go do something so she would stay out of my way. Whereas, when my other two wake up, they’ll crawl into my lap and we’ll spend time snuggling. Because that doesn’t make me feel like the world’s largest slime ball and it’s super easy to talk about it to every other person on the planet.

There’s a line between being honest and over-sharing.

So I don’t write much about our adoption because so much of this isn’t any of your business—it’s private matters worked out in my heart between me and my God, between my daughter and myself, and between her and her God. She’s got a lot of trauma to work through and a lot of her story with which to come to peace.

I don’t feel like I rescued her. I know logically and in a very tangible way, we saved her life. And I know she is for loving and that she’s mine. I also remember standing outside the door to our hotel in Africa, leaning my head on the door crying in defeat. We’d been there for three weeks and our quiet, friendly, accommodating child had transformed into this needy, destructive, dramatic human I didn’t recognize—and all I wanted was a giant red button to reset the whole thing, to make a different decision that led us to a different place. Those are my weakest and darkest moments. The moments when I wish we had never entered into this.

Our family is knit together and she is mine and I am hers. It’s in my bones. My body and heart would break if anything happened to her—and I know that I know that I know I am her mom. The end.

 

But…

 

But there are moments I think back to before I had kids and I wish my biological children away because I’m tired of piles of laundry and 90 requests in the first hour of the day and I just want to sit on the couch and drink my coffee and not have to be “on” for anyone else; or I crave the days when my time was my own and I could be as selfish as I wanted with what I did and how I did it…But when I think about life pre-adoption there’s this small voice, the cynic inside, who whispers that I really do mean it with Glo. That I really do resent her and the way she upset my life.

And a knife twists, and I submit to the lie that I’m a terrible mom and so I stay quiet and let the guilt and shame eat away. I can’t tell you this because you’ll tell me everything I already know—that I’m broken and wrong and hateful. You’ll see her and see a great kid and assume I’m exaggerating about how hard it is to choose love.

And there probably is a biological imperative that makes staying with your kids that look and sound like you a tad bit easier—

Someone once told me it would feel different when Kyler gives birth than when Gloria gives birth…I’m scared they’re right. I’m scared that blood matters more than choice. I’m scared that Gloria will turn 18 and walk away from us and I’ll breath a great sigh of relief. I’m scared that I’m checking the boxes of what a good mom is, without actually feeling the feels of a good mom. I am going through the motions, but have completely separated myself from her. I’m on one side of the wall and she’s on the other.

 

But…

 

But then the still small voice, whispers–not the cynic, the other one. The one who is lovingly tender as I walk out my life with fear and trembling. The Spirit presses in, reminding me that I too am created and beloved, I am for loving and that I am good. I am reminded of the power of the light, that by writing and speaking–even of the darkest and hardest parts, they begin to lose their power. Shame and guilt give way to grace and humility. I confess my hardness, and am softened.

So, I’m exposing these lies to the light. Here, now I am showing you the darkest parts of me. I am letting the lies have their moment in time and space—and as I write these words, tears drip down slowly, and my heart grows softer and more tender towards myself and towards my daughter. There is grace and love here. There’s a chance for hope and life to speak into these dark places.

 

glo

for Elora

I read the words of the text and my heart drops into my stomach.

She’s keeping him.

No. No. No. I long to run to my friend whose world just tilted in on itself but she’s in another city and I’m at a freaking ballet. My other friend who teaches me so much about Jesus immediately (but figuratively) falls to her knees in prayer. And I grasp her hand, needing something to hold onto.

How can this happen? Not again. And I breathe in and out, praying for strength and love for the days of mourning to come. I send inadequate words via text hoping they offer some comfort and love. That Jesus infuses them with some supernatural ability to speak more into her heart than what is said on that insignificant, tiny screen.

I oscillate the next day between praying and going about daily life. I offer to come over, but also know that space and mourning is sometimes done alone. I pray for her God and her husband, also shattered, to comfort her soul. Because this darkness, this loss is shattering.

The next morning I orchestrate to bring lunch. I throw my hair up and brush my teeth. But today is a day of mourning and sackcloth and ashes so I skip the makeup and usual bold accessories. I feed the kids and kiss my husband for working from home so that I can go and sit and mourn alongside and in the middle with her.

Chocolate shakes. Fries. Burgers. The food of comfort. Something meaningless but an offering. Balancing it all in my arms I knock on the never locked but this time locked door. Dogs are wrestled to the ground for jumping on me as I walked in. And then after my burden is lifted I take the other into my arms. Holding her close, joining into this with her.

We don’t really talk about it. I don’t pry and ask questions. I just sit. I’m just there. Hours pass. She naps. I pull up the newest JLA book and read. But I am there. I do not leave. As the sun passes through the skies I sit, eat, drink coffee, read, watch an episode of Dr. Who and paint my fingernails. Infusing prayer, normalcy and with-ness throughout this day. A dark day. A day of fasting, sackcloth, and ashes.

//

Sometimes I hate adoption.

I hate the uncertainty.

I hate the sadness.

I hate that parents are killed and leave behind children.

I hate that some mothers are made mothers too young and are unable to care for their children.

I hate that some people are assholes and shouldn’t have had children.

Adoption is never pretty. It came out of death, disease, and darkness. It exists as a very necessary thing in a very evil world.

My sweet girl lost her mother and her sister because of disease. We wouldn’t have her if they hadn’t died. How fucked up is that? Because of death my family grew.

It is beautiful and amazing and there is so much joy. But there is so much darkness too. There is so much heartache.

My girl is traumatized.

My friend is broken today because the birth mom changed her mind.

We will never escape this reality.

Shattered hearts. Shattered souls. Brokenness.

But I cling to my Jesus who promises to make all things new. I pray out of this darkness he can speak forth light. So I sit and mourn. My heart is heavy and I may have yelled at God.

And I breathe in and out. Sharing breath with my friend. Breaking bread with her. And nudging her to walk in the light, so that she has the reminder that she is never alone. Never forgotten. Never forsaken. Sitting in this mourning as long as it takes, with her until strength once again infuses her breath and her body–until she can find the words to write that will bring healing to her soul.

against overwhelming odds

27 million
147 million

These numbers overwhelm me. It feels like standing in front of a tidal wave and ordering it to return to the ocean. I see them and I feel almost immediately incapacitated. What am I? One against those kinds of numbers. I can’t even fathom it. It’s like trying to think about how big the sun is. My brain is not capable of holding onto those kinds of sizes.

And in that moment of feeling overwhelmed it’s somehow easier to turn a blind eye. To leave it on someone else’s doorstep. To let them take over the problem. And I harden my heart so that I won’t feel guilt or shame for things that are seemingly outside of my control. I can’t help that I was born here as opposed to there. I can’t change the color of my skin, or the experiences of my life. I can’t undo my educational opportunities, and I don’t want my kids to  lack or go hungry just because millions do.

But those are the numbers that I am also passionate about.

There are 27 million slaves today in the world. People making your clothes. Children working in atrocious conditions, making little money, being deprived of ever being able to move out of poverty so that my children can have that perfect doll, or that red race car. There are children and women whose bodies are being exploited for sex–used by men, being raped over and over and over again. And it happens in my own city.

147 million orphans. Children growing up without a family, never knowing they are created for a purpose and that they are loved. Their parents have been killed because of diseases, wars, and hunger. They themselves are starving, lost and forgotten. Again, there are many in my own city who need the love that only a family can provide.

For many years the sheer volume that stared me in the face led me to try and bury those feelings of guilt and shame. I couldn’t really do anything about it. So I froze. I went on with my pretty little life, in my pretty little suburbia and hoped that the world would take care of the world’s problems.

But then it got personal. My sister sees these conditions every day. My daughter was one of the statistics until she wasn’t. And it became less about what I can’t do and transitioned into what I can do. There are ways to serve, ways to shop, and things to do with my hands and my feet that make a difference. There are now businesses dedicated to empowering women and moving them out of poverty. There are organizations living and working in places who really can make a difference if they are freed up from the financial burden of having to care for the people they interact with. There are trips to take. There are kids who can be adopted, or orphanages that can be funded. Medical trips. Feeding programs. There are ways to help if we just open our eyes.

The numbers don’t have to dictate us. Rather, they should move us to respond. To do what we can to try and help the people we interact with. I think it was Peter Parker’s uncle who said, “with great power, comes great responsibility. ” Scripture says, “too whom much has given, much will be required.” I don’t think that should inspire fear or guilt. I think, instead, it gives us the freedom to make a difference. So, you don’t know Martin in Uganda, but I do. So I have the joy to pray for him, pay for his schooling, and help make sure his family is taken care of and that he is not forgotten. You didn’t meet Gloria in Africa a year and a half ago. You didn’t hear her story, or feel the rising tide to fight for her. But I did. These are just two who could have fallen through the cracks. But they are two who are no longer apart of the above statistics.

But to hear those stories, you have to open your heart to be broken. You have to face the numbers. You have to feel. The minute we harden our hearts, we have already lost. It hurts to feel and to feel incapacitated at the same time. But I promise that season will not last. Somehow, someway your sword will find you and you will figure out how you can help, how you can fight. Your unique gifting and the journey your God has led you on will all come to a head and you will respond. And it will be beautiful.

My exhortation is just to start reading. Read my sister’s blog: http://www.aisforamyinafrica.blogspot.com/ Read Interrupted by Jen Hatmaker, or Irresistible Revolution by Shane Claiborne. And stay in that place of brokenness and face your demons, face your insecurities, and your frailty  Let the Spirit of the Living God rise inside you. Because the joy of the Cross, is that YOU have the same Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead dwelling inside your flesh. So when you choose to feel these numbers, when your heart is broken for the things that break His heart, His righteous anger will rise up inside you. He will direct your steps. He will give you the strength to stand and to fight.

changing

We’re all changing into something new. None of us are the same. And while some of these changes are hard, some also provide a lot of entertainment. For instance, the way our language is changing. One night over the dinner table Kyler asked for some more salt. But she didn’t say salt the way an American says salt. She said salt the way Gloria says salt. Sa-ll-u-t. Emphasizing the L. Doug and I cracked up laughing. Just like the time Matthew yelled at the top of his lungs “I need to go sou sou!” (the Ugandan word for pee). We all now say sou sou more often than potty, or pee-pee. I also told a friend I needed to go to the toilet instead of the restroom because Gloria has no idea what a restroom is. Extend means scoot over. Goggles for sunglasses. Torch for flashlight. Things are now “over” as opposed to being gone, finished, etc. Catch means take this.

And because we’re totally awesome parents we keep asking Gloria to say, “I want the doggie Megan to sit in my lap.” Because when she says it, it sounds like, “I want the donkey maggot to sit in my lamp.” Who can pass up that opportunity?

I love how as we’ve embraced this little one, our family is growing around her. It reminds me of the tree from Fern Gully, wrapping itself around the fairies to keep them safe. The fairies didn’t sit in the branches, but were intimately wrapped up in it’s very bark–inside the heart of the tree. That is what our family is doing. We’re growing. We’re changing to accommodate this new life. Things are being ripped out and replaced. Sometimes it’s funny and awesome. Sometimes it drives me to my room in desperation for some alone time.

But at the end of the day, I can’t imagine going back. Don’t get me wrong–I still have moments where I just stare at her and think, “do you wish you were back in Africa?” But even in those darkest moments, I want her. I enjoy the tug and pull, the rip and tear of grafting her into this family. I enjoy being sliced open so we can make room for her. It’s been a painful process, but the laughs echoing down the hallway and the funny expressions, and the weird words get us through those moments.

We pick up our feet and we try and embrace and walk more fully and obediently into what God is doing in this family. Sometimes with grace. Sometimes I’m sure He’s pulling me by my ear thinking, “do you wish I’d left you where I found you?”

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