Five years ago was our first Christmas together as a family of seven.
It has not been an easy road. Adoption never is. Just recently I’ve been able to truly start processing. For five years it’s been too emotionally draining to type my thoughts. Lately though, the words are coming to me... even full paragraphs.
I wish I could spill all the details out for the world to see because authenticity is just my personality. Honestly though, those of you who are considering adoption might just change your minds, second guess, or rip up the mound of paper work you recently started.
For now, I want you to read this: (And if you have a friend or relative considering adoption -please share this post with them).
1.There is hope. Period!
2. Love does not conquer all, but we must still do our human-best to give it away as freely as Jesus does!
3. After 5 years you’ll see a glimmer in their eyes that says, “I think I can truly count on and finally trust that you’re not abandoning me.”
4. They will always feel like they don’t fully belong or that something is not settled within them. You will constantly feel that odd tension and built up wall. Still, it’s not their fault.
5. Not every family will see a glimmer even after 5 years, but if you were called to this, press on because God knew you were strong enough.
6. Hold on even tighter to your bio children. They will slip away while you’re “dealing” with the adopted children. It happens. We weren’t ready for that. There are things we wish we would have done differently, but at that time in our journey, we did the best we knew how... and so will you.
7. Their story, your bio’s story, and your full family story are truly all just God’s redemption story. When you’re flat on your face and you’ve cried so many tears that your regret takes over, remember this is God’s storyline for your life.
8. Let me type this again so you can re-read it: “Love does not conquer all.” You might strongly disagree and that’s ok with me. Honestly though, it’s more messy and complicated than that simplistic phrase. Still, hold tightly to God’s definition of love because on most days it will be the only thing keeping you from jumping on a plane and escaping to South America to an alternate sunny reality.
9. “Hurting people hurt other people.” Remember that for all humans, but look for it in your own family, especially your bio children as they might be hurting and emotionally slipping away. Look for it in yourself too. Actually, start by looking for that in yourself! This step is emotionally excruciating!
10. Encourage your children to talk about their problems to a counselor, a youth pastor, a friend, or grandparents. They most likely will not talk to you especially as teens. It sucks, but its ok. Just encourage communication because when we “stuff” our problems deep inside, we will eventually blow, and as I stated in point #9, “hurting people hurt other people.”
11. Adoption draws out a lot of marital problems. The stress, the extra mouths to feed, the responsibility, the constant rejection from the adopted kids, the unexplainable fits, the bed/wetting issues, the hoarding, the feeling of losing your bios, missing your original family structure, the lack of date nights, realizing you lost your bios, the guilt, the endurance, the feeling of wanting to give up, the sleepless nights, ... the list is too long for this one post. Basically, life itself will whittle away at the intimacy together. Add in adoption and it magnifies you’re marital problems 100 fold!
12. You and your spouse (and children) will need countless hours of intentional counseling. Your bio children might need interventions and specific therapies. That costs money. Your bios will not tell you they’ve been suffering until one day they are suicidal or extremely depressed. All time will stop and you’ll halt every plan you had for that week, or month, or year and help your children! As a result, you and your spouse will have to fight for alone time. You will see the darkest side of your spouse and contemplate leaving (see point #8 about escaping to sunny South America). You will also see the best parts of your spouse and remember why you took this adoption journey together, and you’ll stop day dreaming about living alone in South America... for the moment at least.
I type all of this with a new found understanding that only 5 years of experience has provided me. The life we have as a family is tightly bound together through the simultaneous dynamic of hardships and joyfulness. We seek to fully understand, provide forgiveness, and move through trials with vulnerability and authenticity. We fail a lot.
There is no perfect-ness. There is no white-picket fence. There is no amount of money, education, and perfectionism that can escape the brokenness of humanity. But charity, hope, and forgiveness can break the negative cycles that perpetuate from generation to generation.
I pray if you are feeling called to adopt, or if you have adopted already, that you feel validated and/or realistically encouraged by this truthful post.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year