Ten Years from Now {a letter for my daughter}

My daughter, I look at you and wonder where the years have gone.  You are getting taller, losing your baby fat, and seeking out things that intrigue you.  Ten years from now, I hope you will stumble upon this rambling of mine.

As a 5-year-old, you are bright-eyed, strong-willed, and quite the little drama queen. You organize my closet like no one’s business.  You worry about whether or not the pets have enough to eat, and you are already slightly obsessed with teenage musicals.

You push my buttons, and seem to enjoy it.  Yet, at the same time, you make my heart melt when I see your sweetness arise.  I watch you as you watch me.  You mimic my every move, and ask often, “When will I be old enough to….?” IMG_2616

My daughter, as we commemorate your adoption anniversary, I want you to know a few things.

Ten years from now when you are 15-years-old, life will look a little different from now. You will be sitting in a high school classroom possibly wondering if you are good enough.  You might look in the mirror and only see imperfections. You might even be hard on yourself, find things you want to correct, and maybe even wish you looked different. I did, too.

My daughter, ten years from now, I want you know that you are beautiful.  

Your beauty is beyond compare as there is no other girl in the world just like you. Your eyes, your hair, your skin tone, and your body are exactly what they are supposed to be.  They are pieces of the magnificent puzzle that make up who you are.

Your beauty is more than skin deep though.  Your beauty comes from the inner part of who you are.  It comes from that place where your deepest whispers of the heart are heard.  It bristles at your ideas.  It captures your dreams, and it carves out a spot in the universe just for you.

Ten years from now, your 15-year-old self is a person I cannot wait to meet.  I look forward to seeing where she wants to go in life, what captures her heart, and where her hidden talents are found.  I anticipate watching her try on fancy dresses for school dances, and listening to her giggle at the sound of a boy calling on the phone.

Ten years from now, please tell me if I am hovering just a bit too much.  Please let me know that I might just be getting on your nerves.  I already consider the trials you might face in high school, and wonder if you will see yourself with the same set of lenses that I see you.

I do not want you to feel the sting of rejection, or the intimidating glare of another girl at school.  I know though, that I cannot shield you from these things.  I can just build you up to be the confident girl that you deserve to be.

If someone tells you that you are not good enough, please say, “I am better.”  If someone tells you that you are not welcome, please tell him or her, “I’m sorry that you are missing out on a friendship.”

If you hear that you are too skinny or too fat, remind yourself that true beauty is not seen with the eyes. True beauty is experienced in those moments of tenderness between two friends.  It is felt when you are doing exactly what your heart wants you to do.  It hovers when you are showing kindness to those who need it the most.

True beauty does not have a physical image.

As I think about our adoption anniversary and scroll through the many pictures of you we have saved on our computer, I gaze with awe at how amazing you are.  You are exactly who you were created to be, and, we are exactly the family we were created to be.

I will never be able to replace your birth mother.  Your daddy will never be able to replace your birth father, but know this, you are deeply loved.  You were chosen.

Today, tomorrow, and ten years from now, I will always defend you, and stand with you.  I will always celebrate the day you came to me, and the moment I held you for the first time.

Ten years from now, I want you to know that…

You are beautiful.  You are hope fulfilled.  You are so worth it.  You are loved.

 

Beauty in the Complexity

Here is another insight I’ve discovered since becoming a parent through adoption:

Adoption is extremely complex, but there is beauty in complexity.

The closer we got to our first adoption, I was so eager to “get it over with”.  I just wanted the judge’s gavel to fall and for our son to be declared ours.  I did not want anyone else to be in control of my son anymore.  I looked at that day with fantastic expectation and with the thought that it will all be so much easier after adoption than when we were fostering him.

Our daughter was placed with us a few months later and I was also looking forward to the day that we could adopt her.  Right after our daughter’s adoption, we closed our foster care license.  What I have realized through the years since then is that adoption continues to evolve as our children grow older.  The gavel may have fallen, and the “cases” may be closed, but our journey really has just begun.

We see the look of confusion at times when the children are talking about birth parents and why they do not have the same birth moms.  We watch our son stare at his baby pictures and ask a million questions about the baby that he was.  We overhear the kids talking in the back of the car or in their rooms about birth parents.  I even heard my daughter say that she wished I was her birth mommy.

My husband and I have late-night talks on the couch after the kids go to bed about how we should address specific issues and questions as they arise.  Our son usually has a rough couple of days after visiting our daughter’s sibling, who is also adopted, because he doesn’t quite understand how his sister could have a sister of her own.

I often watch the kids and wonder how much of their lives will be affected because of adoption.  Don’t misunderstand me.  There are incredible opportunities, safety, love, and stability that they have because of adoption, but, it would be amiss of me to assume that it is always going to be easy for them.

I worry at times that we are being too open in discussing it, or maybe not open enough.  I used to weep for my children because of the losses they have endured without even knowing it.  I have wished to be able to wipe the slate clean for them.  All of these things are issues that my child-bearing friends do not have to take into consideration when parenting.

The complexity of it all makes me appreciate the opportunity to talk with other adoptive families about their experiences, and to learn from each other.  I love the diversity of each family and the journeys that many have been on.  I also have come to realize that adoptive families are unique and special in so many ways.  Yes, there may be worrying, wondering, weeping, and wishing, but in these things there is great beauty.

Beautiful for God (quote from Mother Teresa)

“Do you want to do something beautiful for God? There is a person who needs you. This is your chance.”
-Mother Teresa

I find this quote from Mother Teresa to be simple, powerful, and truthful.  I think that if you substitute the word child for the word person, it makes this quote even more awesome.  I hope your day is one that shines beauty for the Lord’s sake!

Voice of Truth

The song titled, The Voice of Truth, by Christian band Casting Crowns is one of my favorites.  I love this song.  Each time it comes on the radio, I crank it up.  The words of the chorus are quite simple:

But the voice of truth tells me a different story.  The voice of truth says, “Do not be afraid.”  And the voice of truth says, “This is for my glory.” Out of all the voices calling out to me.  I will choose to listen and believe the voice of truth.

-Casting Crowns

There was a time in my life when I did not know what truth was.  I heard many “voices” but none of them were comforting.  I guess what I’m trying to say is that there were moments in my growing years that whispers of darkness, cruel thoughts, and hurtful words were a part of my psyche.

I remember wondering after my hysterectomy if I had done something awful to cause it to happen.  I thought that perhaps I should have been born a boy…yes…being a boy would have been much better than a girl who could not have babies.  I also thought God surely knew I would make a terrible mother.  He must have wanted to spare a child my mothering.  Or, perhaps I was a child killer in a past life…even though I did not think past lives even existed.

As an adult, I wish I could say that these notions faded, but they did not.  I found myself thinking that God did not want me to be a parent.  If He wanted it, then it would have happened miraculously, quickly, and without any additional strife.  I do not know if anyone who reads this believes in spiritual warfare, but I do.  The fact that these horrific, cruel, depraved thoughts lingered in my mind as a child and an adult prove to me that spiritual warfare does exist.  Not one adult ever said these things to me.  Not one child, no one.  Yet, I “heard” them.

Back in 2000, I started going to church again.  As I began to do so, those hurtful words and  notions took a backseat to the Truth that is found in the voice of God.  The written Word became magnified.  In Him, I began to hear “You are beautiful”, “You have purpose”, “Your life was worth saving”.  Even more awesome though was the clarity I received from worship and reading the Word.  I was able to recognize that the voices bringing me down were not of Him. They were flaming arrows of the enemy and I was the target.

His Word and the hope I found in Christ became my shield.  The following verses spoke to me in ways that drowned out the cursed thoughts I once carried:

Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

Psalms 139:16 “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 139:14 “I praise You because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Your works are wonderful, I know that full well.”

Romans 5:2-5 “Through him we have also obtained  access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the  glory of God.  More than that, we rejoice in hope of the  glory of God. More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that  suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character  produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been  poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to  us.

Silence and suffering comes along with infertility.  It can dishearten the strongest of believers.  It can eat at the core of one’s relationship with the Lord.  The enemy whispers “you don’t deserve to be a parent”, “you must have done something wrong”, “it must not be God’s will for you”….and many more things.

I can tell you that when in the pit of despair over barrenness, it is hard sometimes to hear anything but the words of the enemy.  It is hard to see outside of the strife and beyond the pain.  It is hard to hear the voice of Truth calling out.  IT. IS. HARD.  

However, as the song says, THE VOICE OF TRUTH TELLS ME A DIFFERENT STORY.     

The stories of those of us who have struggled or are currently being challenged with the spiritual confusion of infertility are not written by the enemy or anyone else for that matter.  Our stories have been written by the One whose voice is true; the One whose love is everlasting; the One whose shield is strong; the One who breathes life into the most destitute of situations; the One whose grace saves; the One who created us; the One who set our limits; and the One who has declared our future.

What’s the voice of truth telling you?  

For those of you who are battling your way to parenthood, stay strong in your faith.  Know that you are loved by a God who is bigger than your doubts.  Know that He is not done with you yet.  Know that your story is just unfolding.   Take delight in the hope of His promises and the mystery of what He has in store. 

Listen to His Voice of Truth.  Be Blessed.

Unashamed

It was a challenge growing up after having a hysterectomy so young. I never really knew how to handle it.  I felt ashamed of it, and I really don’t know why I felt this way.  It was not my fault.  I was gravely ill and the surgery had to happen in order to save my life, but for some reason, I really didn’t want many people to find out about it.  I internalized a sense of guilt or embarassment because I was different than my peers.  Due to my young age, I did not fully grasp how my surgery would play out in my life over and over again.

As an adult, it has taken me many, many years to say out loud “I HAD A HYSTERECTOMY”.  Even now, when asked about my medical history at doctor’s visits, I always get a little tense and just a bit nervous.  Perhaps it is because the response is usually “You had a hysterectomy at age eleven?!?”…followed by an awkward moment of silence…then followed by “May I ask why?”  One of these days I may just say “No, no you may not ask why…” just to see how they respond!

Sometimes, I let medical professionals off the hook early and just go right into all the details of it.  I sense at times they are a little overwhelmed. Or at least, the women are.  They usually give me a slightly pitiful look, but most of the time they express sadness about it.  Men on the other hand just sort of skip right over, as if there’s “nothing to talk about here”…move along.

Often, they will stare at me briefly as if they expect me to say more, or break down sobbing, or something. The truth is even if I felt like crying, I would hold it in until I left the appointment anyway. This is not as much of an issue for me now that my emptiness has been filled with children, and I have come to a place of fully embracing who I am, but throughout my life, there was a tremendous amount of despair mixed in with a sliver of shame over it.

One thing that I habitually do time after time is quickly follow up my revelation of being infertile with an “It’s okay though. I’ve adopted children, and I wouldn’t trade them for the world”.  Before I adopted, I found myself saying things like “Oh, it’s okay.  I might be able to adopt” even if I did not believe my own words.  It is as if I have always felt the need to apologize for my lot in life.

Perhaps in my earlier years,  I was still trying to figure it all out.  I didn’t want or need anyone to explain things to me.  I also never wanted to be pitied for it.  This was my experience to navigate on my own – no one else’s.  Some things in life are just too big to wrap our heads around until we are fully ready to do so.  Giving simplistic and quick explanations to medical staff or anyone else who wanted to know what happened to me did nothing to help me understand my own circumstance.  I often felt I was fulfilling their curiosity at my own expense.

I’ve always wondered, yet never quite figured out what it is about infertility and hysterectomies that cause the feelings of shame, embarrassment, or whatever else it can be called. I just sometimes think that the rest of the world (all the fertile myrtles) don’t fully grasp the complexity of infertility.  Perhaps this is why those of us (non-fertile myrtles) feel isolated out in the “real” world.  There is nothing to be shameful of!  We didn’t cause this.  We didn’t set out in the world thinking “I’m going to do whatever I can to make having a family extremely difficult.”  Barrenness has been around forever; yet, there is so much restraint when talking about it out loud.

While pondering this issue, I thought “God has used barren women to do mighty things.”  Several women in the Bible, who were considered barren, ended up giving birth to children who went on to do noteworthy things.  I know the incredible ending of their barrenness was the birth of children, but I find it equally incredible that their struggle with it was written down.  Their stories were compelling.  They were often mocked for it.  Yet, their faith ran deep.

I choose to believe that barrenness is close to God’s heart.  I know that He does not want us to be ashamed.  I believe that there is no reason anyone should ever feel the need to apologize for not being able to have children.  My life is not desolate. I feel totally fruitful; quite the opposite of barren really.

The world may think, or even expect me to be angry, bitter, and even resentful about infertility, but I choose not to follow the world.  I am not listening to it; my ears, my eyes, and my heart are captured by the whispers of God.  Through Him, and only through Him, I am beautiful, purposeful, and redeemed.

I am unashamed.