Looking at the image above of my family causes me to think of how blessed I am. We are a family filled with lots of love, lots of trial and errors, lots of do-overs, and lots of moments that leave us laughing. Looking at the image above makes my heart happy, and yet, it also makes my heart a little sad.
I know that sounds strange to say it makes me sad, but truthfully, it invokes a sliver of sadness. It is not my children or my husband that do this to me. It is the thought that my family…my everything here on Earth….was created out of the terrible circumstances of others. The birth parents, grandparents, cousins, siblings, and other relatives that will not be pictured on the couch together with my children are on my mind. My children will most likely never be embraced by their birth grandparents. We have some limited contact with a sibling of my daughter, and we send letters to my son’s birth mother, but these things do not replace or ever will replace growing up in their families of origin.
I love the little ones I’ve been charged of taking care of. I love them so much that my heart can’t help but break for what their birth parents have or are going through. Substance abuse, mental illness, instability, homelessness, severe impoverishment…you name it….these are the things that make up the lives of birth families of the sweet ones I tuck in at night. I know that the Lord formed my family. I know that He took the messiness of life’s problems, and created the portrait of love above. I know this.
Adoption has blessed me in some many ways. It has fulfilled that deep longing to live for and love on a child. It has broken me, humbled me, and rebuilt me again. Taking in someone else’s child has brought me to my knees in tears and in prayer. It is complicated, requires full attention, and yet, it is beautiful. It is beautiful.
Still yet, my heart aches for those out there with whom my children come from that are missing out on the hugs, kisses, temper tantrums, scrapes, good dreams, bad dreams, and longings of children learning who they are in the world. It was not meant to be this way. Fathers and mothers were not meant to abandon their children, have severe addictions, or struggle with mental illness. Still, here I am benefiting from these tragedies.
People may look at our situation and think, “What a great thing that has happened for them.” I think that way too, but still, in that quiet place of my heart, that place that is secret, I grieve for my children’s birth mothers. I carry them with me. I think about them when celebrating the goodness of my children.
I know the day will come when my children will learn and fully understand the circumstances that opened their paths to our hearts and our home. I know that day will be hard. It saddens me. It worries me, and it humbles me. It also builds my courage to do a better job as a parent, to try each day anew to meet my kids where they are at, and to gently guide them as they grow.
There’s a lot of love on the couch in the photograph above. There are moments of utter chaos and craziness that comes with three young children. There are moments of exhaustion, and moments of exhilaration There is definitely plenty of happiness that goes around.
There’s also a family sitting there that has shed tears, whispered prayers, and spoken hope. There are two parents who know that out of the ashes of mistakes, darkness of addictions, and pain of regrets, this family…our family….was created.