when bloodline, biology, and borders are dismissed

My seven-year-old has been struggling with stomach pain for a few months now.  It had gotten to the point where the pain was waking him up in the middle of the night. I took him to the doctor and we determined that it is probably acid reflux.  The doctor started him on a temporary medication to see if it helps.

While out running errands with my dad, we sat in his car and discussed my son’s stomach issues.  My dad said, “You know….I wonder if he….oh my gosh….(grabs my arm)….I just started to say I wonder if he inherited any of our intestinal problems…I’m so stupid.  Can you believe that I almost said that?  That was so stupid.  I can’t believe I almost said that.” 

My response, “That just shows how natural adoption feels.  It was not stupid at all.”

I’ve thought about this conversation for a while now, and have decided that it demonstrates just a small part of the miracle of adoption and love.

Adoption is a miracle.  It shakes one up.  It stirs one’s heart.  It causes one to rethink the idea of what it feels to be family, to be related, to be eternally connected, and to be predestined in a life shared together.

When bloodline, borders, and biology are dismissed, all that remains is love in its most magnificent and miraculous form.  

 

Dear Parent of a Sick Child (letter #3)

Dear Parent of a Sick Child,

It’s been a while, hasn’t it?  It has been too long since you laughed with authencity, thoroughly enjoyed a lunch date without that cloud of despair hanging over you, or even, been able to swallow your meal without effort?  People are telling you that it will be okay, but somewhere in that place of despair, you are wondering if things will be okay.  You know now, Parent of a Sick Child, that things will never be the same.

You look at the other kids in the neighborhood or in passing at the store.  You hear their laughter.  You feel their joy.  You see their smiles, and then, your thoughts are pulled down with the image of your own child fighting for a sense of normalcy beyond illness.

You get angry.  You spit at the curse of illness.  You want to rage at the reasons, and yet, you cannot find one.  Nothing makes sense anymore.  Your child, once vibrant, healthy, and in love with life, is now fighting to stay out of Heaven.

You have pleaded with God.  You have demanded an answer.  Your anger has sprouted wings.  Still…you know that anger breeds despair.  You do not want despair to knock on your door.  Instead, you want clarity.

You lift your child’s name up in prayer.  You ask others to do the same.  You question,

“Why my child? Why?  Please….WHY?”

And then, you return to reality.  You calm down.  You regain that strength that has kept your feet moving.  You meet with the doctors.  You discuss options.  You grab your child’s hand.  You wipe away tears while holding your own in.  You listen to others who agonize for your child.  You hug.  You comfort.  You absorb the pain.

Dear Parent of a Sick Child, has anyone thanked you lately?  Has anyone told you that he or she doesn’t know how you do it?  How do you continue to get up everyday and put on that smile of fortitude?  How do you keep on holding down a household, a job, and other responsibilities?

Maybe, just maybe, there have been times when you do not even know where you gather your strength from.  Perhaps, you wonder when your grit will be no more. You fear caving in to your sorrow.  You know, though, that you will never show the collapse of your armor to anyone else.

You seek the quiet corners of the hospital, the silence of your car, or the closed doors of your home.  In those places of solitude, you let it all out.  You wail.  You wonder.  You wish for a return to life before the sickness.

You want your child to live a life beyond all of this.

Dear Parent of a Sick Child,

Cling on to that spunk that is getting your child through the tough days.  Pray with continual perseverance.  Be present.  Demonstrate determination.  Speak of strength.  Whisper your mighty wishes.  All of this does not, and will not, ever go without notice.

Thank you, Dear Parent of Sick Child, thank you.

Thank you for not giving in, giving up, or walking away.

Thank you for the sleepless nights,

the continual nearness,

the courage to wipe away the tears of others,

the advocacy for what needs to be done,

the non-dented armor you wear every day,

and,

the light of hope you shine each day.

 

 

My Teachable Moment

It was one of those moments that I wanted to get just right.  My son, age seven, popped into the car after school and said, “Mommy, I’m popular!”  I said, “Oh?”  “Yes, I’m popular!”, he said with excitement.

I paused for a moment and asked, “What makes you popular?”  He said, “You know…when you are good at things and people know you.”  I paused again, searching for words, and then said, “Well, you know being popular is not the most important thing in life.  Do you know what matters more than anything?”

In my mind, I was already rehearsing how loving others, being kind, sharing your gifts, not judging others, being a good friend, and being popular for being someone who causes others to feel accepted and loved, matters the most.  Until this time, being popular, getting picked on, and other social issues had not entered into his first grade existence at his smallish elementary school.  I had already decided that I was going to push person-hood before popularity.  This was a teachable moment opportunity, and I was not going to let it slip by!

I asked again, “Do you know what matters more than anything?”

In his sweet little voice, he said, “God.  God matters more than anything.”

Stunned, I sat there.  Smiled a bit, and gathered my thoughts.

I said, “You are right.  God matters more than anything, and you know, God wants us to be kind, generous, to be a good friend, to not judge, and to love others.”  He said, “I know, Mommy, I know.”

And there it was….

my teachable moment....

my gentle reminder….

my continual realization that while I have so much to teach my children,

in return,

they have more to teach me.375917_341839525907009_1617492878_n

 

 

Momma-in-Waiting {Part #4}

Pssst…Hey momma-in-waiting. Yes, you….

It is that time of year again, isn’t it?  The day where mothers are celebrated, loved on, and honored.  You are already thinking about this upcoming Sunday.  You are dreading sitting in church, listening to the sermon about motherhood, and watching people clap for the all of the mothers who stand up in the congregation.  You know that little by little, your heart will collapse upon itself.

You are sick and tired of being sick and tired of worrying about motherhood.  You hear people say, “Just stop trying and it will happen”, “God has a plan for everyone”, “Relax, it will happen when it is supposed to”, or “You can always adopt”.  The truth is, sometimes, you just want to scream out when people say these things to you.  You want for them to not just hear the binding pain you have experienced through the barren walk…you want them to feel the crunching of your bones, the twisting of your guts, the dryness of your spirit, and the haunting of your hopes.

You are a Momma-in-Waiting, and you are tired of being one.

Pssst…Hey momma-in-waiting. Yes, you….

You dread this time of year.  You watch kids pick out Mother’s Day cards in the stores.  You see social media posts about the simple gifts given to momma’s by their wide-eyed babes, and you “like” them out of courtesy.  Sometimes, though, you would rather ignore them.  Sometimes, just sometimes, you despise them.

How could it be that you are still a Momma-in-Waiting?  Why has another Mother’s Day crept up on you without any difference from the years gone by?  Anymore, it is often that you have forgotten to ask when it will happen.  Instead, you are surrendering to the emptiness of unanswered why’s.

You are a Momma-in-Waiting, and you are longing for an answer.

Pssst…Hey momma-in-waiting. Yes, you….

There is something special about you.  You are strong, courageous, patient, and hopeful.  You choose to keep your pain to yourself because you do not want to dampen other mother’s experiences.  Instead, you hold it in, take it home, and unleash it into your pillow, your prayers, and your tears.

Only the other Momma’s-in-Waiting will ever understand the path you are on. Despite the attempts of your friends and families to empathize, you know this desert you have found yourself in, is unlike any other.  It is a dry place.  It is a woeful place. It is an agonizing place.  Still yet, it is also a place where hope seeps into your clutch.

You are a Momma-in-Waiting, and even though you despair, you also carry a burning torch of hope for your future.

Pssst…Hey momma-in-waiting. Yes, you….

You are a Momma waiting on her children to arrive.  You do not know how or when, but you are starting to visualize them.  You have cried out their names to the Lord (even if you don’t know them).  You have hung their images in your mind.  You have engraved their stories onto your heart, and you have included your own story of being a Momma-in-Waiting.

So, Happy Future Mother’s Day, Momma-in-Waiting.  

Happy first time you look upon your children’s faces, or the moment when your children call you Momma for the first time,

Happy first time they tell you that they love you, or snuggle up next to you in the middle of the night,

Happy first time you hear the pitter-patter of their feet,

Happy first and forever moment you look into their eyes and see yourself,

Happy glorious moment when everything makes sense,

Happy instant when you look at your scars (physical and/or emotional) and no longer see the pain they harbor,

Happy breathtaking time when you know the Lord carried you through it all,

and,

Happy day when you will no longer be a Momma-in-Waiting.

But those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. – Isaiah 40:31

*Author’s Note:  Sunday, May 11th is Mother’s Day in the United States.  I wrote this to be an encouragement for all of the Momma’s-in-Waiting.

I’m here again, birth mother.

I’m here again, birth mother.  I’m here on the eve of celebrating the anniversary of our son’s adoption day, and I’m thinking of you.  It happens every year, you know. We mark the seventh of May with joy and celebration at the gift that he is to us.  It is the day that the courts declared him to be forever ours.  Still yet, my mind travels to thoughts of you.

Six years ago, on the eighth of May (the day after our big court date), I sat in his room, watched him play with toys a bit, and then pulled a blue t-shirt over his head to wear.  As his blonde curls popped up out of the neck of the shirt, his big brown eyes caught mine, and then it hit me.

I sat there for a moment, captivated by his precious face, and suddenly, felt the tears as they began to well up in my eyes.  Something about that moment….getting him dressed as my “official” son…on a new day…with a new start…being able to exhale for the first time in almost two years…with a new legal description of who I was to him…moved me greatly.

photodayafterI snapped a quick picture of him.  I wanted to capture that moment in time.  I did not want to forget it. I was a blubbering mess in the middle of his bedroom.  We had shared nearly two years of a life without permanency, and in that moment of our eyes meeting, I knew full well that he was not going anywhere.

It was not just the beginning of our new life together that caused me to pause, it was also the ending of the journey that you and I shared.

I’m here again, birth mother.  I’m thinking about the first time I met you, the meetings, court hearings, visits, laughter, tears, and restless nights.  Your words remain on my mind.  Your laugh, your concern for my family, and the friendship we formed in love because of our son are held in a place in my heart that will never belong to anyone else, but will be shared with our son as he grows.

Your kindness was an incredible and unique experience that is sometimes not expected in the world of foster care.  People may wonder why I feel the way I feel for you.  They may even question how I could form a friendship with someone who found herself in the position that you did.  Instead of understanding your “lot in life”, they judge.

My judgment fell away the moment we met.  I looked at you, heard what you had to say, and realized that you were not my enemy.  You were never meant to be.  We just found ourselves wrapped up in the legal drama that is foster care.  Instead, we formed a friendship based on very difficult circumstances. It grew out of the love for our little boy – yours, and mine.  Your love for him was never questioned in my heart – not then, not now, and not ever.

How can I love him and not love that part of him that belongs to you?  How can I not think of you when he learns new things, calls me Momma, succeeds at his talents, gets sick, and moves along in his journey to adulthood?

I want you to know that on our joyous day six years ago there were many loving people in the court room.  Each one played a small part in forming our family. Some prayed for us.  Some cheered us on.  Some loved on him with genuine and unmistakable adoration.  Some pushed paperwork, and some allowed me to cry on their shoulders.

Even still, no one in the cramped court room mattered more in the whole scheme of things than you.  Although you were absent from the court room, I carried you in my heart that day.

You chose life.  You carried him.  You labored bringing into the world.  You called him by his name before anyone else.  You left the hospital alone. You were gracious to the strangers (us) who took him in.  You hung in there, and visited him.

You said your good-byes, and you let go.

I’m here again, birth mother.  I’m returning to that incredible day six years ago when God proved His faithfulness, removed the mountain-sized weight off of my shoulders, and blessed me with adoption of the son we share.

Do you want to know something, birth mother?  On the day after, I thought the hard part was over.  I thought that being his foster-mother, not knowing how permanency for him would unfold, and wondering if I would be his forever momma, was the hardest part.

However, I’m learning that raising him is the hardest part.  It is not because of him. He is a challenging, at times, but he is remarkable, beautiful, smart, witty, creative, ornery, and loving.  He is an incredible son, and I’m one of the most lucky momma’s on Earth.  Being his momma is an important responsibility and privilege in my life.

kiteIt is just that the world sometimes does not look upon children like it should.  Raising him to love, respect others, enjoy the simple things, remain loyal to his family, and not be swayed by the winds of ego-driven goals, is a struggle for most parents these days.  I’m no different.

I do not ever want to dishonor you by not giving my all to him.  I want him to experience a life of opportunities, one full of friendships, and dreams that soar.

I want him to live life to the fullest, while also, learning how to be a responsible soul that passes on goodness to this world.  I know you want that, too.

I’m here again, birth mother.

I’m thinking back at what seems like a lifetime ago.

I’m sifting through memories.  I’m looking through pictures, and I’m experiencing the emotions felt when the gavel fell, and the Judge declared our adoption as final.

I’m thanking the Lord.  I’m praising His mighty Hand.  I’m marveling in His penmanship in our lives, and I’m relishing in His powerful ways.

I’m here again, birth mother, and, I’m thinking of you.  I’m thanking you.

 

Related Post:  I thought of you today, birth mother.

Dear (Foster) Momma of a Stranger’s Child {letter #3}

Dear (Foster) Momma of a Stranger’s Child,

You see the looks. You hear the whispers. You watch as others watch you with a bit of a snarling glare. You wonder what they are thinking. The child you are caring for is struggling to maintain any sense of control over his body, actions, and emotions…all while you are frantically trying to get the much-needed groceries bought.

You are on a rush to beat the clock – one kid to be picked up, the other dropped off, one has an appointment, and the baby desperately needs a nap. Yet, here in the middle of the bread aisle is a little soul melting down before your eyes, and in front of a multitude of strangers who do not understand.

You hear someone whisper, “If that were my child, I would….”  Another person kindly suggests, “Spare the rod, spoil the child.”  You keep your calm. You maintain control, and yet, you desperately want to scream out loud, “If you only knew!  I’m picking up the pieces of this broken vessel in front of you!  I’m a foster parent!!”

Dear (Foster) Momma of a Stranger’s Child,

You know it is more than about sparing the rod. You are the carrier of the dark history of the child to whom has made his way to your home. The child in front of you does not need another set of adults disregarding him. The last parents he had rarely used gentle hands when reaching out, a curious and loving ear when listening, or a soft place for the child to land when disappoints came.

The child you are loving on has swallowed a lifetime of grief through the years, and sometimes, it has to come out. It comes out like the ferocious roar of a lion at times. Other times, it comes out in the longing wails of agony that should never come from a child’s soul.

And then, it does not come out at all.

Before you, sits the silence of years long gone. This is probably the part that concerns you. You can handle rage. You can comfort agony, but it is the silence that unsettles you the most. You desperately want to unlock that cage, and let the pain out. You know what could happen if the pain continues to fester deep down.

Still, there you are,

Calm,

Steady,

Cleaning up the mess,

Being that soft place,

Listening with a loving ear, and waiting…

Waiting….waiting for a breakthrough….waiting for a sign that suggests the wounds are being exposed, unplugged, cleansed, and maybe…just maybe, closed.

Dear (Foster) Momma of a Stranger’s Child,

You pray over the children in your care, and for God to be in the midst of important decisions. You petition for Divine intervention. You cry out to the Lord for healing….healing of the children in your care, restoration of their birth families, and mending of your own heart that has been afflicted through the years by this war you are fighting.

Deep down, you know that healing is a spiritual battle. It starts from within. You trust that mending comes from the Giver of Life, the Keeper of Promises, and the One who conquered your own battles. You work to be His hands and feet, but you know your limitations are bound to this Earth. So…you lay it all in His hands, and wait.

Dear (Foster) Momma of a Stranger’s Child,

Stand tall. Put on His armor when faced with the assuming looks of people who choose to judge instead of help. Take deep breaths. Pray with each pore of your being.

Be the constant tower of strength you set out to be.

Take care of yourself. Seek out other warriors who understand the battles you face. Lay your burdens down, and…

Stay calm.

Be steady.

Continue cleaning up the mess.

Remain that soft place.

Lovingly listen.

And, wait….

Wait with expectation, enthusiasm, and hope that comes from the Lord.

Dear (Foster) Momma of a Stranger’s Child,

The next time you overhear someone question your parenting, comment about the children in your care, or glare, remember, it is not in the opinions of others that your worth is found.

The value of the work you do in helping to restore children is not found in the judgmental looks of others. It is not dependent on the meltdowns in the bread aisle, the raging roars of anger, the woeful sobs of sadness, or the still silence.

Dear (Foster) Momma of a Stranger’s Child,

The clock is ticking. You know you have very little time to make a difference. Still yet, you get up each day, ready yourself, put on His armor, and forge onward.

You are His hands and feet when others have chosen to walk away.

You are the calm in the midst of what seems like a storm.

You are steady when no one else has been.

You are the mess-cleaner.

You are the soft place to land.

You are the loving ear who listens.

You are the patient prayer warrior who waits.

Dear (Foster) Momma of a Stranger’s Child,

Your work is not in vain. Yes, there are many…too many…wounded souls who need help, but to the children in your home, your work does not go unnoticed.

It is seen in those miraculous, healing small steps towards wholeness that you witness on a daily basis.

It is felt in the long hugs, or better yet, clinging of the children who once stiffened at your touch.

It is heard in the soft giggles that are starting to visit your home each day.

It is declared in the messages of hope and restoration that are spoken from children who once could not visualize a future.

It is witnessed by watching birth parents, who once battled the fog of addiction, seek clarity about life.

And, 

It is felt in the revival of your own heart that just won’t stop trying to fix hurting children, and working to make a difference in this fractured world.

“Anyone who welcomes a little child like this on my behalf welcomes me, and anyone who welcomes me welcomes not only me but also my Father who sent me.” – Mark 9:37

Related Posts:

Dear (Foster) Momma of a Stranger’s Child 

Dear (Foster) Momma of a Stranger’s Child {letter #2}