Happy New Year, No Hands But Ours Readers! I don’t know about you, but the year’s end always leaves me a feeling a little reminiscent about the past yet excited about the future. This transition from 2015 to 2016 is no exception as I reflected on where our adoption journeys have taken us and where we are headed next.
Three and a half years ago, with shaking hands and unsteady feet, my husband and I said Yes to adoption. Since that time, we have brought home two beautiful boys from China, making me outnumbered five to one. Our first adoption was filled with a lot of exciting anticipation and intense longing to bring our son home. We received incredible support from friends, family, coworkers, and strangers as they all cheered and prayed us to China and back.
Upon coming home, we faced challenges related to attachment, sensory needs, insecurity, fear, sibling rivalry, food issues, control issues – the list is long and goes on. At the same time, we got to witness our children fall in love with one another and become the best of friends. We saw a child who froze with fear begin to feel safe and secure in our home. Attachment to one another grew stronger with intentional connection and time. Challenges related to food began to occur less and less. We stood as witnesses to how love heals, how forgiveness mends broken hearts, and how faithfulness is rewarded.
Just as we began to take a deep breath and celebrate that we had finally made it, the Lord led us back to China. He had chosen another child for our family, and we couldn’t wait to find out who our new son would be. However, under the surface of joy and happiness, I had been carrying a burden deep in my heart. Throughout our journey to Tucker, God had opened my eyes to the raw reality that millions of children are living in desperate conditions without families. I was hurting so deeply for those children and wanted more people to be willing to bring them home and felt guilty for not starting sooner. I began to feel isolated and alone, finding understanding only within the adoption community. All of my adoptive momma friends felt the same way, and the feeling left us raw, alone, and heartbroken.
Many of you reading this post can probably relate with how desperate and broken we are left feeling about the orphan crisis in our world. We strive try to shine a light on how beautiful our children are and show others how much joy they bring to our lives. Although adoption can bring a host of challenges, the Lord brings so much beauty from those ashes. Those around our families get to see how God redeems the brokenness in our children’s lives – and honestly within our own, as well. I don’t know about you, but I am constantly resisting the urge to send my friends and family pictures of children who are waiting for families to choose them, and sometimes I send them anyway. Many of my loved ones have solid marriages, incredible resources, great faith, and tender hearts, and I am confident they would provide healing homes where these children would thrive. It’s difficult to simultaneously see waiting children and amazing families living apart from one another.
My heartache for that situation came to a head once Tucker had been home for about a year. Despite only living in our new home for 18 months, I began to feel so conflicted about where we lived. I no longer felt as though I fit in with those around us. I was constantly looking for houses in other cities, desiring a fresh start and in all honesty, wanting to run away. I longed to live near many of my adoptive momma friends. Seriously, why do so many of them live near Atlanta?! The year 2014 was such a year of loss, struggle, and isolation for me, and as the ball dropped at midnight, marking the beginning 2015, I couldn’t help but wonder what the Lord had in store for us.
As it turns out, the Lord blessed us in such overwhelming ways last year. Here are some highlights from 2015:
January: We received a phone call from our agency, which ultimately led to seeing our new son’s face for the first time. A week later, Chinese officials gave us our preapproval to adopt Tyson.
February: Our new church allowed us to host an informational meeting about adoption, foster care, and orphan care, and we had a great turn out.
March: Our second annual Passion Into Action initiative raised over $4,200 for Pastor Lee in South Korea as he and his family work to serve and protect the fatherless.
April: We launched our puzzle fundraiser to help bring Tyson home, and in 4 days, our loved ones donated over $5,000 to our family!
May: We flew to China, and I quickly fell in love after meeting my new son. I truly believe our prayers for supernatural recognition were answered, and our fast bond paved the way for strong attachment to one another.
June: Ryan, Noah, Tyson, and I had such a wonderful time in China! This is the month when I celebrated finally having all of my children under one roof.
July: Tyson had his cleft palate successfully repaired by our incredible surgeon! Our son was finally able to make new sounds and learn to speak.
August: Our family really began to settle in with one another. The older boys all went back to school, and by the end of the month, Tyson seemed fully recovered from the trauma he endured post-op.
September: Tyson’s security and attachment in our family continued to increase, and Tucker was exhibiting huge gains in language, as well.
October: We celebrated Tyson’s second birthday with our family!
November: Our church allowed us to host its first ever Orphan Sunday event! This was an answer to so many prayers. My heart is so encouraged seeing people take action steps to defend the fatherless. Tyson also had surgery to repair his cleft lip. His first two words just hours post-op were momma and home, as he could finally put his lips together to make that m sound. Such music to my ears! He did not seem to experience any significant trauma as he had during his previous surgery. The picture shows his healing two weeks post-op, and despite being pretty swollen, doesn’t his lip look fantastic?!
December: We traveled around the state to celebrate Christmas with our family. We had so much fun, and Tyson’s security seemed to grow stronger with every stop on our tour.
Today I smile and reflect on all of the beautiful redemption we experienced this past year. In 2015, deep roots of love and security replaced my previous struggles with attachment. Grace and love healed much of the all-consuming heartache and isolation from my community. God gifted us a new son, who is so deeply loved by all of us and brings us immeasurable joy! This past year, the Lord began revealing why He planted us at our new church when He answered prayers for two awesome advocacy opportunities. Although this may seem insignificant on the surface, I finally began really decorating my home after living here for 2 ½ years. I think my heart has finally decided that it is home and that this is indeed the community where we need and want to live. Finally, we are putting down roots for our family, and it feels so, so good.
As you read this post today, I know some of you are celebrating with me. Your children are home, and you are rejoicing your new normal. Others are enduring a tremendously difficult time at home with your children, and you are fighting for their love, healing, protection, and security. Many of you are finding yourselves in the middle of the adoption process, aching to see your child’s face for the first time or desperately wanting them home. Some of you have lost your church homes and relationships with loved ones. Financial strains, marital challenges, and medical issues are consuming some of you. And I am certain that most, if not all, of you are aching for more families to open their homes to these precious children.
I often wonder if our family will adopt again. I firmly believe that if the Lord opens our hearts to another child, will we recognize His call because He was so clear the first two times. The thought of never adopting again makes me sad. To know that so many children wait without enough willing families makes me want to always keep an open mind and heart. To know there are children like my Tucker and my Tyson living apart from parents and siblings, without proper food, and in need of medical care, how could I ever close that door? For now, I am confident that I am supposed to encourage, enlist, and empower others to bring these children home. As for 2016 and beyond, my hands and feet are steady, willing, and in ready position if/when God calls on us.