We were in love the minute we saw him. The nurse rolled up a little, round peach of a baby and announced his name. The crazy and surreal experience of waking up without a baby and going home with one is something that foster parents can relate to. By the end of the evening, we were mesmerized by him. Our hearts were completely captured and dare I say it? We were instantly in love.
Fast forward 72 hours. After a weekend of parents and friends stopping by to visit and discovering the joy of caring for a newborn, I received a call. When you are a foster parent and the number of your case worker shows up unexpectedly on your phone, there is a bit of anxiety that runs through you body.
“Caroline, I just want to let you know that we found a relative and I think she’s going to pass the home study so it looks like we will be moving him in about 90 days.”
“Oh. Okay. Great. I’ll be at the next meeting. Thanks for letting me know.”
As soon as I hung up the phone, I stood in front of our little one asleep in his crib and then, I collapsed. With hands held high and knees to the ground, I said, “Lord, your will be done. Your will be done but if this is your will, you have to carry me through this. You have to help me through this.”
Hands held high hovering and praying over the baby that we had fallen so much in love with.
In that miserable and silent moment, these words were whispered,
“Caroline. It’s not about you.”
“It’s not about you.”
This moment in time will forever be sketched in my mind. I was vulnerable and tired and just felt that FINALLY I had a baby I could potentially believe was mine. I knew that there were no guarantees with fostering. I knew that this child was not “ours”. I also knew that we had to do our due-diligence to support the biological parents and hike the terrain of foster care. I knew all of this, but I did not fully realize how this whole experience was never about me in the first place. It felt like it was supposed to be about me.
I know that sounds selfish. I know it seems backwards. I also know that it is very human to feel that way.
The Lord spoke to me while I was a crumpled, weeping mess in front of a sleeping baby that was already loved by two mammas. He gently reminded me that fostering was not about me. This carried me through each moment, step-by-step, until our adoption almost two years later.
Now, nearly nine years following our first adoption, these words still linger in my heart. Two more kids; many years of laughter and of joy, of thankfulness and questioning, I still hear, “It’s not about you.”
Our three beloved children are wonderful and unique. They are wanted and precious. They are “ours” through and through. Yet, it is not easy. We deal with behavioral issues. We manage medications. We answer tough, heart-breaking questions.
We have extreme defiance. We have hyperactivity and impulsiveness. We have a learning disorder and developmental delays. We go to bed weary. We worry and wonder what the future might bring.
We get rejected. We seem to live through it all. Somehow.
We do this all because it’s not about us. It’s never really been about us.
I’m not the kind of person who will ever paint the realities of life in a rose-colored glasses kind of way. Doing so is a disservice and I just don’t think it’s right. Folks, adoption is hard. Raising kids with extra needs is hard.
There really is no comparison to that of a broken-hearted Mamma; one who wants to transfer her own lessons learned from her Mamma but can’t seem to do it because the messages are not well-received, don’t seem to apply and do not take into consideration the needs of her children.
Despite the struggles and the daily trials, I get up each day believing that, “Maybe, today is the day that he will do things more independently. Maybe, today is the day that she will open her heart and really listen to me. Maybe, today is the day that he won’t have meltdowns. Maybe, today is the day that we will have peace in our house.”
You know what is profound to me? I know that what I experience is minimal compared to the heartbreak that the Lord must feel. I wonder if He feels the same way when we (His children) reject Him on a daily basis. I wonder if He thinks, “Maybe, today is the day…”.
When thinking about the unique experience of parenting through adoption, I know that there is a deep connection to our own relationship with God. We are adopted. We reject Him. We struggle on a daily basis with following Him. We fight. We spit. We struggle. When Jesus hung on that dreadful and glorious Cross, it wasn’t about Him. It was all about us. Jesus took the hard road and He did it for love.
If there is one message that needs to be spread regarding foster parenting and parenting via adoption, it should always be that it is never about us parents. It is always about the children we are fortunate to raise, despite the hardships.
Our example is Jesus. He took up the Cross for His children and for love. He did the hard thing.
May we all do the hard things because it’s not about us.
It’s about love.
“It’s not about you.” Yes, Lord. I’m thankful for that.