Keep on Keeping On {a message for adoptive families}

Today was one of those days when I was reminded that adoption is a human experience that reaches the depths of emotions. I sat through an adoption staffing (interview with families in hopes of being selected for a child in need of adoption). I listened to the families pour their hearts and hopes out to the team members. There were tears, laughter, and a lot of emotions in between. As I finished my day, I watched a touching video of a family who adopted their little one that they have been fostering.

And, I cried.

I thought about our own foster care and adoption journey. I thought about the families who are interviewed time and again, yet never selected. I thought about the ones who are just taking their first steps to becoming adoptive parents, the ones whose hearts are just now being stirred about adoption, and the multitude of others who will soon join the ranks of waiting families.

Adoption is so much harder than it appears to be. I don’t think it is possible for anyone to understand this unless they have been through it. It forces oneself to be strong and courageous, while also being vulnerable. Foster and adoptive families are asked to give all of themselves to children with no guarantee that it will work out.

They have to prove to others that they are worthy of being parents – this is something that people who have had biological children will never understand. They are asked to be authentic and genuine, and by doing so, they are judged on their potential as adoptive parents. Their expectation and labor are not counted by hours or months. Often, they are counted by many years.

Beyond the glorious adoption announcements and videos are years of struggle, hope, angst, heartbreak, and resilience. These things are weaved into the fabric of adoptive families. These things reach into the deepest part of our souls, and remind us that in the end, it is all worth it. The children are always worth it.

Adoption is hard. It takes a ton of patience in the waiting. The ride up the hill is torturous, but my friend, the other side of this mountain is sheer beauty.

To anyone who is awaiting the time when adoption calls your name,

Buckle up,

Put on your boots,

Hold your head high,

and keep on keeping on.

Adoption is worth it

Momma-in-Waiting

photo taken when I was a momma-in-waiting
photo taken when I was a momma-in-waiting

Pssst…Hey momma-in-waiting. Yes, you…. You held your breath when the doctor walked in.  You lost his words after you heard, “I’m afraid I have some bad news…”  In that moment, you felt the weight of the world collapse onto your shoulders.  Your body went limp.  You became numb.  You had to shake yourself back out of the stupor you were in.  You were told that you would never carry a child in your womb, but what you thought was….

“I will never be a mother.”

You’ve gotten good at faking that shy smile when others ask how you are doing.  You’ve gotten even better at letting others think you are just fine.  “Fine”….that word is meaningless in your world, except for the fact that you are not fine.  That word has become the mask you wear.  Inside that mask though, you are devastated.  You are trying to keep it all together.  You are pretending to be okay with the news, so much so, that even those closest to you cannot hear the grief-stricken song your soul is singing.

Pssst…Hey momma-in-waiting.  Yes, you….You carry on, and pretty soon days turn to weeks, weeks turn to months, and now, it has been years since you walked into the desert.  Out of courtesy, you join in with others while they celebrate the new arrivals of precious ones into their lives.  You are on the sidelines, sitting on the bench, and waiting…waiting to be the one who is celebrating a life with children.  You feel shame for your jealousy; and yet, you cannot help it.  You feel embarrassment for those long, tearful drive homes after baby showers.  You are exhausted from crying yourself to sleep.  You cannot be comforted, and, you don’t want to be.

You don’t look forward to opening up birth announcements because you know that with each tear of the envelope, a little more of your heart is being torn.  It pains you to buy the gifts, wrap them with a pretty bow, and walk through the doors to greet the one who is carrying what you cannot.  Anger sits by your side.  It has become your friend, but it doesn’t serve you, it doesn’t care about you, and it doesn’t fix your problem.  You are a jilted daughter.  You have been robbed of the very thing you want more than anything.  You are thinking….

“Why Lord? Why can’t I be a mother?  What did I do wrong?”

Pssst…Hey momma-in-waiting.  Yes, you….Your life is different from what you thought.  There is great silence in your world.  The longing you feel is so deep that it feels as if it will consume you at any moment.  Your child, your baby, your dream….has vanished.  You think about your baby.  You visualize him.  He has your eyes, daddy’s chin, he is perfect, and he is wonderful.  He was perfect….He was wonderful….He was yours.  You feel haunted by a child who will never be born.

Pssst… Hey momma-in-waiting. Yes, you… You who have longed for years to have and to hold a child of your own, only to be told that it will not, it cannot, ever happen.  Your walk in this world feels heavy.  You know there are multitudes of others out there going through the same thing, but you feel like the loneliest person in the world.  You read the brochures about adoption that are sent to you, and you listen to the advice of others…but…you know this is a battle all to your own.  You are a soldier fighting in an army of one.

You are a momma-in-waiting.

Has anyone ever told you that it is okay to feel the way you do?  Has anyone told you that they too would be grieving if in your shoes?  Has anyone ever given you a true glimpse of hope for the future?

Pssst…Hey momma-in-waiting.  Yes, you…The One who created you sat by you when the floor fell out from under your feet while in the doctor’s office.  The One who created you sees your half-hearted attempt to be happy for others.  He holds your hand when you walk into baby showers, He reads the announcements with you, and He catches the tears that tire out your weakened body.  He is in the silence.  He is right there with you,very step of the way, as you meander around with infertility as your shadow.  The One who created you hears the song of your grief-stricken soul.

He sees the baby you dream about.    He knows the baby you dream about.    He is creating the baby you dream about.

Pssst….Hey momma-in-waiting.  Yes, you….Don’t give up.  Don’t give in.  You are weak from your battle, but the One who created you is standing firm.  He did not forsake you as He hung on the cross, and He will not forsake you now.  You are thirsty walking through this desert, but He is there to quench your thirst.  You feel devoid of life, but He is life.

Has anyone ever told you that there is great worth in the wait?  Soon, yes, soon…the wait will be just a memory, the pain will perish, and your soul’s song will be one of joy.

Pssst….Hey momma-in-waiting.  Yes, you….Lift your head and dry your eyes.

Soon, yes, soon….You will no longer be a momma-in-waiting.  You will be  a mother.

“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.” – Jeremiah 29:11

**I wrote this piece in hopes of both validating and inspiring women who are struggling with infertility.  As I look at the picture taken of me years ago, I can see the hardship of the years in my eyes.  If you are not a regular reader of my blog, you may not know that I am a mother through the gift of adoption.  I can look back now and see that while I was in the despair of infertility, the Lord was writing the story of my life, and the lives of my children, to include each other. For that I am truly blessed!**