A Letter to My Daughter on Our Adoption Anniversary

Happy Adoption Anniversary, Sweetie!  It’s been eight years since we were declared your forever parents; the ones who would walk you through the rough times and celebrate with you in the good ones.

There has been some rough times, hasn’t there?  There has also been some incredible times.  I know this.  You do, too.

I watch you.  I see the way you watch my every move, as well.  There is great pressure raising a girl in this world; raising one who is strong enough to be fierce when it matters and soft enough to be empathetic when no one else will.  Well, I’m here to proclaim that you are both of these things.  You’re fierce when you need to be and you are soft when it is necessary.  (Although, Mommy wishes you were a little more soft with me…especially when our shared strong-wills clash.)

It’s different raising a daughter.  Not bad, just different.  Us girls are complicated.  We feel every ounce of emotion that enters our psyches.  We over think and overthink until our brains are just done.  We love big and we grieve big.  Often, we are our worse critics.

It’s because of this that I want to tell you to never underestimate yourself.  Allow those strong emotions to come but do so in a way that will always respect yourself and those in your life who matter.  Don’t stop grieving for the homeless and others who are in a bad place.  That kind of empathy may not be rewarded on this Earth, but I believe it will be in Heaven.

Stick to your guns.  Stand up for what you believe in.  Don’t shy away from expressing your opinion (even when it’s not how others think you should feel).  Don’t give yourself away; to a job, to men, to anyone.  It’s hard to get yourself back once you do.

You, by far, have challenged me more than your brothers.  However, you, by far, have taught me more about myself and about this parenting life.  You question everything.  I mean EVERYTHING.  Don’t stop doing that.

You leave me nearly exhausted each day but you also give me the gumption to get up at each new dawn and try harder.  This, sweetie.  This is what it is like to watch your heart dance and prance around in the form of a little girl.  This is both challenging and incredible all at the same time.

It’s been eight years since the Judge declared you to be our forever daughter; although you were always “ours” from the minute you were brought to our home.  I need you to know that I’m constantly thinking of you.  I’m constantly considering how I can make a positive impact in your life and how I can protect you from the harshness of this world.

Yes, it’s been eight years since the Judge declared you to be ours forever, but to me, time is sifting by at too quick of a pace.  If there is anything I can teach you, it is this.

What you are right now is not who you will be in the future.  You will grow and stretch and sometimes, it won’t feel good, but it will be good for you.  Life is neither easy or hard.  It is both at the same time.

There will be times when you feel less than the girl sitting next to you.  There will be other times when you feel that you can climb the highest of mountains with ease.  Both are relevant, but both are fleeting. 

No matter what, always remember that as much as we love you, you have a Heavenly Father who loves you more.  Our love will never compare to His.  While we are your parents, you belong to Him.  He knew you before we did.  He knew you when you were in your birth mother’s womb.  He was present when you were born.  (We were not and that is something that has always grieved my own heart.)  You are wanted and you are cherished by us and by the Lord.  Don’t ever forget that.

It’s been eight years since the Judge declared us as your forever parents; eight years of laughter and tears.  Eight years of talking-back and saying “I’m sorry”.  I literally cannot imagine my life without you.  These years seem to have come and gone so fast.

Eight years from now…well…I don’t even want to think about that, yet.

Happy Adoption Anniversary, Sweetie.

We love you.

We always have.

We always will.

Eightisgreat

 

No, Adoption is Not Second Best

Adoption is a distinguished road not for the faint-of-heart but for the faithful one.I remember it as if it happened yesterday.  After our adoption of our daughter in 2010, family and friends gathered a local Starbucks to celebrate.  It was obvious that we were a happy bunch by the joy and laughter going on.

The barista behind the counter asked, “Are you celebrating something?”  I said, “Yes.  We just adopted our second child.”  He then said, “That’s great.  Are you going to have children of your own, too?”

Hit the brakes.  Inner Mama Bear rising up (Ladies, you know what I’m talking about).  Deep breath.  Tender smile.

Pause…bless his twenty-something, hipster little heart…

I responded with, “Our children are our own.”  “Oh,” he said.  “Well, congratulations.”

I always try to give people the benefit of the doubt when it comes to questions about foster care, adoption, and infertility.  I really do.  I’ve heard some doozies over the course of my lifetime of barrenness; ones that just ripped right into my heart.  Yet, I try my best to respond in a manner that is both respectful and educational.  After all, if we (foster/adoptive parents) want respect, we need to show it.  Plus, knowledge really is a powerful tool in helping to expand someone’s worldview.

Children who enter our lives, often through the tragedy of brokenness, are not replacements or an after-thought.  These precious souls are each born with their unique talents, challenges, and personalities.  Their histories are sometimes scarred but their futures are limitless.  The tapestries of their lives are weaved with love, loss and that incredibly soul-inspiring notion that there is always hope.

Adoption is beautiful and heart-breaking.  It is humbling and faith-building.  It is joy and laughter and tears all wrapped up in one.  It is a whole lot of things but it will never be second-best.  It is the path to parenthood that many families facing infertility choose to walk down.  It is a choice.  It is not easy and can be wrought with many unknowns.  Yet, each step is padded with the firm belief that adoption is a distinguished road not for the faint-of-heart but for the faithful one.

When following the command to care for orphans and the least-of-these, we should also look in the mirror and know that we, too, were orphans.  The Lord said, “I chose you”.  Not only are we chosen, we are cherished and known to our Father in Heaven.  I believe that Jesus had you and me on His mind when He carried that burdensome cross up the hill towards our salvation.  If I thought for one minute that adoption is second-best, I fear the glory and humbling essence of belonging to our Heavenly Father would be trivialized.

But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship.  -Galatians 4:4-5

Each child in need of adoption is a treasure to the Lord; worth more than gold or the greatest riches on Earth.  To Him, they are not second-best.  When I look into the eyes of my children, I do not see a secondary option.  No.  I see a longing fulfilled, redemption and the scripting of life without the borders that humans like to establish.  I see children who are worth it.

Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows. -Luke 12:7

Is adoption second best to having a biological child?  I don’t think so.  Instead, I believe that adoption is a predestination lovingly anointed with the mystery and power of the Lord.   When I hear people comment about adoption being less than giving birth to a child or just a fallback plan, I cringe.  Friends, these thoughts are the whispers of the enemy trying to sabotage what our Father holds so dear.  The Enemy wants to destroy families.  He wants to bind children.  He wants to remind us of our own loss.  He wants to complicate the calling on our lives to care for orphans.

However, the voice of the Lord is stronger and more powerful.  He calls us upon the seas.  He asks us to tread where others fear to go.  He seeks the willing.  He equips the courageous.  He does this in the name of love.  If we believe in this, then how can we ever accept adoption as second best?

To the hipster dude at Starbucks, it’s okay.  I’ve long forgiven you for questioning whether I would have my “own” children.  Just know that my children – the ones who the Lord declared and prepared for my life – are mine.  They are not second-best.  They never have been.  They never will be.

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. -Psalm 139:13-16

Note:  This was written as a guest post featured on the blog, Mess Into a Message Blog and can be viewed there along with other thought-provoking posts by the author of “Mess Into a Message”.  

Six Things I’d Like You to Know About Adoption {adoption is not perfect}

November is National Adoption Awareness Month in the US.  It is a month when we celebrate and advocate for adoption.  Being an adoptive parent myself, I fully understand the highs and lows of it.  If you are considering building your family through adoption (especially after years of infertility), here are a few things I’d like for you to know.

  1. Even with the joys of adoption, there is sorrow.  You will find that you love your child or children so much that you grieve for their life stories.  You know that they have come to you after a tremendous amount of hardship and despair of their birth parent(s).  With adoption, comes loss.  Helping your children understand and grieve this is part of your responsibility as a parent.
  2. You won’t and can’t have all of the right words at the right time.  People may say things to you that just throw you off.  You usually find the right response hours later and after the moment is gone.  There are also questions and statements that your children will state at the most random of times.  Just be prepared to not be prepared times like this, because they will happen.
  3. Adoption doesn’t stop at the declaration of the Judge.  I’ve said it before, but in many ways, adoption is an evolutionary process.  As your children grow up, they will yearn for answers from you, and they will want to know more about their histories and birth families.  This is natural and should not be taken as a negative.  Your children love you.  They just want to know more.
  4. You will have moments when infertility still sneaks up on you.  Let me give you an example.  Recently, I spoke at an infertility conference hosted by a local church.  I had prepared what I was going to say and tried to stay on target.  About mid-way through, I found myself struggling to hold back tears.  I said, “I would not trade my kids for anyone else’s.  I just wish I would have carried them in my body.”   This statement was not planned.  It hit me like a ton of bricks.  These feelings and waves of emotions will stick with you long after adoption.
  5. You have to be flexible and adaptive in your approach to parenting.  As much as family members adore and deeply loves my children, I still catch them saying things like, “You never acted like that as a child.”  Typically, the way we parent is either very similar to our parents or it can be the exact opposite (if raised in an abusive, neglectful or troubled home).  I recall being a sensitive child and just the thought of making my mother cry was enough for me to stop whatever I was doing.  I’d like to be able to parent the same way or have the same expectations of my children, but I’ve learned that I cannot and must not do this.  I’ve had to adapt and be flexible about my expectations and approach to parenting.  What works for my friends’ kids or worked for me as a child, won’t work for mine, and that’s okay.
  6. Adoption is so amazing.  There is a deep joy that dwells within you when you look at the children whom God picked for you.  It is hard to describe and a bit ironic in how you just know that your kids were meant to be yours.  Is it perfect?  No.  Does it always go smoothly?  Absolutely not.  However, it is hard to deny that adoption is an amazing and incredible experience.

In celebration of National Adoption Awareness Month, we should focus not only on children and older youth in need of adoption and adoptive families but also on the authentic and honest sharing of experiences and lessons gained through adoption.

Adoption is not perfect, but my friends, neither are we.