I am sure you have seen the posts. You have been given the information on how to be the village to your friends arriving home with their new, precious, yet traumatized son or daughter. You diligently studied how to be that good friend, how to give space for cocooning, how to offer meals and household help. You worried that you would fail your friend. You struggled to find a new balance.
We are home now. Victory was had, sacrifices made and a child was made a part of a family. But we have no idea how to function now. Some mornings that victory feels like a betrayal of sorts when everything we dreamed has become the biggest test of our faith, the hardest trial of our life, and the biggest burden to our marriage. And we have no clue how to cope with this loss and this war. We have seen images that belonged to National Geographic before we claimed them as memories. Our children bare the stories that belong to the genre of tragedy. Their scars have become our family history. We only now understand what that means for us. There are moments when we simply cannot get our minds out of the past and into the present. Everything changes so fast for us. Perhaps, on top of all of that, we have come home with children who need extra special attention or appointments. We become scattered and there is very little left of who we once were.
And so, I am apologizing to our collective villages. You will be caught if the aftermath without being allowed access to an intimate view of why there even is an aftermath. Chances are you will hear bits and pieces and always wonder what in the world is really going on with us. Chances are just as strong that we will never tell the whole, real story. After all, it doesn’t belong to us alone and we have no right to share it in its entirety. Adoption takes so many sacrifices and it seems to me that we rarely acknowledge your loss, your hurt in this. We lose ourselves in this process more often than not. Cocooning is such a beautiful word that leads the imagination to visions of fluttering, beautiful butterflies. Our reality is often not the butterfly emerging from a cocoon. The closest truth to that is that we emerge, transformed into something that is the same and yet so incredibly different it cannot be recognized.
And I’m sorry. I’m truly sorry. We have given you a list of ten million rules and regulations of what to say and what not to say, how to act and how not to act. You must feel like you’ll never get this right. How do you not offend a group of parents who are so easily offended, even if those offenses are warranted? We are battle worn and weary and we snap far too easily. We want to educate and sometimes we do so in hurtful ways.
We are terrible friends. I mean the worst. You won’t hear from us for weeks. We will be so sparse at church you will doubt our commitment to the Body and to Christ. And if we are really truthful, we may miss some of those weeks because we are shaken to the core and everything we thought we believed is flipped upside down on us. You will reach out time and again, only to be told time and again that we can’t make that coffee date after all, or worse, just sent to the abyss of our voicemail. Which we all know will never get you a return call.
Then you finally manage to find a few minutes with us, perhaps at church, perhaps at a miraculous coffee gathering with friends, and we may be sullen, withdrawn, unsure of what to say. As your world keeps spinning, ours seems stuck. Our hearts get stuck in that orphanage we left behind us. We can’t seem to find the old excitement about a new handbag or jewelry. Mostly, you just can’t get beyond that lost look in our eyes. You want to reach out to us, but feel like you can’t get through to us. Even our laughs fall flat.
But know this, we appreciate you so much. We notice things like voicemails. Even if we didn’t listen to them, we knew that you called. We cry over packages left on our doorstep, grocery sacks full and excusing us from one responsibility of the week. The offer of the coffee date that never goes away keeps filling us with hope that someday we will move beyond this stage of life. And we hope beyond reason that you stick this out with us. Because even though we are a mess and we have hurt you time and again, God is using you to bring us hope and love. You tell us often that you don’t know how we do it, you can’t imagine our level of patience. But, Friend, I can’t imagine yours. Thank you for sticking through this with us, and please accept our apologies. You are so much more than we deserve.
– image by Hannah