Medical needs adoption is one you have to walk into with your eyes wide open. Though prospective parents may have a medical history presented to them before saying the biggest “yes” of their lives, you have to know this: there are unknowns.
There will always be unknowns.
We knew about the unknowns before saying our “yes”. We knew that the words we read about our daughter could never hope to encompass her history. We looked at charts and pictures and test results. We read updates and saw videos. We were prepared for the knowns. We knew that words on a paper were not who our daughter was; hard as they might try to describe her, our hearts were settled. Even the words that might give cause for fear were words we felt in the deepest part of us were not words we should fear. The unknowns? Yeah, we knew there would be some. We also knew we’d face them head-on, doing whatever it was we needed to do to help our daughter thrive.
The knowns were predictable. Our daughter has a genetic skin disorder called Epidermolysis Bullosa. Her care has been all that we thought it might be. Daily wound care, bandaging, dermatology. We even see the occasional specialist as needed for EB-related complications.
These things? All known. Though the type and severity of her condition was fairly unknown before travel, we knew that all of these things were possible, so we haven’t been fazed by them.
The unknowns? Always unpredictable, and unpredictable isn’t really my favorite. I’ve also found they can be quite a sucker punch to the gut when they happen. EB? No worries. We’ve got that covered. When new things present themselves, things that weren’t in the file my heart sinks. When there are things that could be related to prenatal events, or birth trauma, or early infancy infections… these things… they have the power to crush me if I let them. In a desperate need to understand, Dr. Google becomes my evil friend, warning me of all of the potential problems we could be facing, reminding me of the pain and loss involved in adoption, letting me know I will never know enough, and even if I did know it all, it wouldn’t be enough.
Words on a screen. They used to have no power over me, and yet now they seem to be hypnotic – I’m unable to stop processing the “what-ifs”. It was almost as if I were seeing the unknown parts of our daughter’s history like they were flaws; a coat of tarnish on an otherwise shiny and bright attachment and bonding process.
Unknowns make me want to back away, build walls, self-protect.
A while back, a friend painted a piece of original art for me. She did this as a part of a prayer ministry – while I was praying and hearing from the Lord, she was in another room painting what the Lord put on her heart. And wow. It was perfect. As He had been speaking to me about who He made me to be, she painted a picture of the words He spoke. I am perfectly perfect the way I am, though I struggled with it for a long time. My quirks, my need for order, the way I process the world around me… they are all reflections of Him.
To love God means to love the way He created me; I’m a woman, daughter, wife, mother, sister, friend… all the way He intended for me to be. Are there “flaws”? Yeah, maybe my strong dislike of the unknown? He knows everything about me. Even the things I wish weren’t a part of who I am, He uses them all for His glory when I allow Him to work through me despite my apparent flaws. He sees my flaws as opportunities. My instincts to back away, build walls and self-protect are all things that can bring Him glory when I choose to let Him draw me closer, allow Him to break down walls I’m not able to face, allow Him to be my Shield when I need protection.
Here’s the thing. The unknowns are there with our daughter. I knew they were there all along. Words on paper didn’t have the power to scare us away at the start, and I’m sure not going to let them have that power now. In the words of a wise friend… so what? So what if there are potentially more issues involved with our daughter than we first realized? She’s ours.
So what if the painting that represents who SHE is looks nothing like what I had anticipated it looking like? She’s ours. She is a work of art, made by a perfect and loving Artist, and in His infinite wisdom, He designed her picture to have us in it.
I often have to remind myself that there is nothing unknown to the Lord. I throw those words around, but they are only in reference to my own understanding. He knows all! He knows me, you, our children, our families. He knows our histories, every last detail, and more than that, He knows what our future holds. “Unknown medical history”? Not to Him. He knows. He knew. And He still put us together. I wonder… is it possible that the unknowns… the “flaws” we see are what make our picture even more beautiful?
Knowns. Unknowns. We still have a choice to make every day, whether to let them affect us or not. I’m not saying we can’t grieve when something hits, grieving is a part of loving well. It’s right for us to grieve with our children, on behalf of our children, for their losses, for the answers we know we’ll never have. This big fat busted up mess of life that makes us want to throw our hands up in the air and just scream sometimes? That’s your new chance to choose well… to choose being known… to choose knowing the One who knows it all, crazy life and all.
I am fully aware that choosing well isn’t easy, but trust this: You were made for this. You were designed to do this. Choosing well means walking hard, but you are able, because He is able. He knows you and He is using you to bring glory to Himself. Yeah, even those parts of you that are flawed. Those flawed places bring Him the greatest glory when we let Him step into them.
Our unknowns, they are beautiful, and He’s using them to paint a really great picture. Can you see it? Look around you. You’re living it.