My Child, There Are Better Days to Come

My child had a rough morning.  I could see it all over my darling’s body; eyes a bit wilder than usual, hair somewhat disheveled, and arms flailing with impulsive movement.  It reached a game-changing moment during a redirection.  I looked up and saw that hand, the one that often grabs mine when walking together, fly up in the air and smack hard against my skin.  Sure, it was a slap on the arm but it hurt.  It left a red mark.  It was not a “toddler testing boundaries” kind of hit.  It was meant to hurt me and it was full of pent-up angst.

First, came the shock, followed by a brief moment of anger.  Just as soon as my anger began to swell, I melted into tears; sadness took over.  My child fell back into the seat and started to cry.  I sat there for a moment not knowing what to do.  We were loaded up in the van and on our way to school but the last thing I could focus on was getting there before the bell rang.

While trying to find the right words, I heard, “You are going to just give me away to another family.”  I could not believe my ears.  With the sting of my child’s hand still lingering on my arm, I said, “No, of course not”.

Soon, my child said, “I just get so mad.  I have anger issues.  I’m sorry.”  I tried to find the right words but it seems during moments like these, words can be elusive.  I offered the knowledge of “Even if someone has an issue with anger or whatever, it is still up to them to make better choices.  You have to choose to do the right thing and ask yourself, “Is this worth it?”.  I don’t know if that was good enough or if that is what my child needed to hear but it was all I could come up with at that moment.

There was a hug, followed by an apology, and a statement regarding the worry about other kids noticing my child’s tear-stained face.  “Just tell them you had a rough morning,” I said.  The van door slid open and I watched as a piece of my heart formed in the shape of a child slowly walk to the doors of the school, pause for a moment, and then look back to make sure I was still there before entering.  My kiddos know I always stay put until they enter the doors to their school.  On this morning, it was especially important for me to stay a while.

Ugh.  Of all the things that happened, the saddest and hardest part was hearing the words, “You are going to just give me away to another family.”  Where does this come from?  My child has been with us since infancy and despite filling the space between us with love, this child still seems to meander carelessly somewhere between the knowledge of being adopted and the full measure of being in our family.

Sure, there’s counseling, training, and all sorts of ways to intervene.  We’ve set up boundaries, applied consequences, talked openly about adoption and biological parents, followed through with providing moments to build self-esteem and show our love, but there is still a void that is hard to fill.  When the void gets too deep, the claws come out.

My child thinks deeply and has big emotions.  This child is sensitive, inquisitive and always wants to know more and more…even when there’s not a lot more to offer.  Moments like these are tough to swallow.  Knowing how to respond is even harder, and I tend to receive the blunt end of all that emotion welled up inside a youthful body.

Being an adoptive family is a wonderful thing but it is not perfect.  It is filled with a lot of loss.  We do our best to weave the tapestry of our family with as much good as we can but there are issues.  We’d be foolish to think that everything is okay all of the time.

This is a part of adoption that others don’t see.  This is the part of parenting children with invisible special needs that are often unseen by many.  This is hard.

Even with all of the intentional efforts put into raising a well-rounded and secure child as one can raise, we still have to navigate these valleys and they are deep, my friends.  We put on a smiling face that does a good job of covering up some of the battle wounds we’ve endured.  We pretend that everything is great but sometimes, it just isn’t.

Telling an adoptive family, “Oh, kids will just do that, sometimes” is useless.  We know that kids, regardless of their histories, will do things that can break one’s heart.  We are well aware of that but there is a difference, you know.  When your child is exhibiting things that seem to carry an invisible message, it is hard but it is not impossible to manage.

I guess that is where the fortitude to keep going comes from – the awareness of possibilities covered in a glaze of hope.  Hope is found in the possibilities; hope for change, hope for better responses, hope for a recovery and hope for healing.  If it weren’t for the belief in possibilities and the endurance of hope, nothing would be gained and so much would be lost.

There will be tremendously painful moments full of emotion throughout our life as an adoptive family.  Yet, in many ways, the complex splendor of life is often found in the midst of incredibly hard times filled with blood, sweat, and tears.

My child, the one with the big emotions wrapped up in a small frame,

I love you.  I have always loved you.  I will always love you.

Nothing you have done or ever will do would cause me to not love you.

I have never regretted adopting you.  I never will.  I am yours and you are mine.

I wish I could retell your story minus all the bad stuff, but I cannot.

It must be scary to feel like you are carrying the weight of the world on your shoulders.  Let Momma carry it for you.  If I could, I would swallow it up so that you never have to feel it again.

I will never be able to claim myself as your biological parent.  I know that breaks my heart and I suspect it breaks yours.

You are unique.  You have a gift to give this world, baby.  You’ll find it and when you do, hang on and hold tight.  I believe you could be a world-changer.  

You may feel broken at times but history shows us that the Lord uses broken people for mighty things.  That’s the incredible part of faith – knowing that our weakest moments can become part of our strongest testimony.

You have a place in our family.  You always will.  Don’t lose sight of that, my child.  Don’t lose sight.

My child, there are better days to come.

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

-Isaiah 41:10

 

Do Not Fear {in the midst of barrenness}

During a sermon at church a few months ago, my pastor told the audience that he had met someone during the week who is really close to “giving up on God”.  When he asked her why, she said, “infertility.”  She then went on to say that she questions why God would allow infertility in her life.

When he said the word “Infertility”, I felt a chill of sorts run through me.  I stiffened up a bit, and wondered if any eyes were looking at me.  The more I listened to him, the more I was reminded that not only is infertility an emotional and physical battle, it is also a spiritual battle.

What is it about that word that makes me still feel so uncomfortable?  I suspect that it feels like a label of sorts.  My efforts in earlier life to understand what all barrenness encompasses was dreadfully challenging.  People who have been diagnosed as infertile understand that it is more than just a diagnosis.  It is an uninvited guest in their lives.  It is consuming, and holds power.  It sweeps the rug from under their feet.  It becomes their new normal.  And, it is painful; woefully painful.

I recall feeling that God must surely have thought I would make a horrible mother.  I also remember questioning, with sorrowful confusion, about why I was left out of the incredible gift of pregnancy and birthing a child.  I used to think, “I only have one life here on Earth, and I am missing out on one of the most beautiful endeavors that a woman experiences.  Why would God allow this?”

Growing up in the midst of barrenness taught me so many lessons about life.  It also tried to form a wedge (and succeeded for a while) between me and the loving Father that I had come to store my faith in as a child.  I truly feel infertility is one of the most misunderstood, all-consuming, complex, and spiritually challenging experiences that one faces in life.

As I sit here on the other side of life without kids, I now know that barrenness is just a technical part of who I am.  It is just a blip on the radar of what my life really is.

Medically speaking, I am barren, but spiritually speaking, I am now far from it.

The adoption of my children and the path that led me to them drew me closer to the Lord, not away from Him.  It took many years to get me here, though.

If you know someone who is experiencing infertility, pray for them.

  • Pray for clarity in their situation.  
  • Pray for fortitude as they face so many unknowns.
  • Pray for them to see, feel, and hear God in the midst of their distress.
  • Pray for their sweet spirits; may they not be dampened by their despair. 
  • Pray for a miracle – I still believe in them.

If you are experiencing infertility, my hope and prayer is that one day it will all make sense, and that you will look upon it like a distant memory of your life.  I do not know if adoption is the right choice you should make, but I do know that is it your choice and your right to decide if and when you are going to jump into adoption.

Adoption of my children definitely fulfilled my life-long quest for an answer and happy ending to barrenness.  I no longer grieve.  Instead, I find delight in the story that was written for me, and for the incredible, emotional journey that carried me to my children, and to a deeper understanding of our Savior.

Friends, I wish the same for you.

So do not fear, for I am with you;
    do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
    I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

-Isaiah 41:10