Make fun of me all you want, but I addressed the last of my Christmas cards and sent them out the day after Thanksgiving. We missed sending them out last year in the midst of the last minute paper push. We had LID December 1, and were in the midst of sorting through files and advocacy sites, and I had no bandwidth left to give Christmas cards.
But this year we have a new addition to show off. To experience firsts with. The things my heart longed and ached for last year are now a reality.
Two years ago our lives looked completely different. We were at a different church, with different friends, and serving in different ways. The people who we hung out with were different, and our Christmas card list was different. As I sat sifting through the addresses, I was amazed at how adoption has changed the trajectory of our relationships.
When we started adoption, I guess I was somewhat naive. I didn’t expect it to have the impact it would. We were mostly content with our relationships. Being transplants living far away from family, our friends became like family to us. At least, that’s what we wanted from our relationships.
When we announced our adoption, we were kind of surprised by the people who showed genuine excitement for us, and who acted as if it was nothing or, even more challenging to deal with, said nothing.
Our process was anything but easy. Filled with country changes, appeals, lots of money lost, and a change in agencies… there were challenges at every turn. It was one of the most challenging periods we have faced as a family. I produced two dossiers in nine months which left me with not much left to give.
As we started to face these hurdles it became quickly apparent we were going to need community like never before. The problem was, the one we thought we had, seemed to not be there when we needed them.
Through lots of prayer and processing we decided to make some big moves.
We dropped out of just about everything we had been serving in, or attending. We changed churches. Mostly through natural drift we changed most of our friendships, although some ended in a giant chasm.
This was one of the biggest heartaches of adoption. I lost friends I thought I would have forever. My kids lost friends they’d had since birth. Who we spent Halloween and Fourth of July with changed. One of my best friends since college dropped me like yesterday’s news. I didn’t understand it at the time, and almost felt like God had betrayed me.
I prayed for real, deep, authentic community in our lives.
Now, just over two years after starting the process, I see so much grace.
My Christmas card list includes families we were lucky to train with and travel with. Families we hope to keep in touch with for years to come. It’s a joy to watch their kids thrive and grow in the love of a family.
There was a handful of people that walked through the fire with us and stayed by our side, turning acquaintances into deep abiding friends, which were some of the first cards addressed this year.
There was a small group of women that I gathered for dinner with monthly during the long adoption process that helped carry me through… their cards include long overdue thank you notes.
And cards sent to people that were strangers two years ago, but turned out to be our biggest supporters and cheerleaders, truly being the hands and feet of Jesus to us.
Our new church has brought us some of the most real and authentic, genuine relationships I’ve had since college.
For the first time in a long time I have people around me that inspire me and challenge me. If I put out a call for help, I know I’ve got people that have my back. Just about every Sunday I thank God for bringing us to the house we call our church home.
As I busily collected addresses from these new additions, each one was a sweet reminder of God’s grace.
In the trials, when we felt so alone and like no one was there… God was. That when we thought we could go on no more, He brought someone to help us keep going. As the old friend abandoned, or the car broke down, or the oven broke, help and hope was just around the corner.
As we prayed for the kind of relationships we so desperately longed for, He brought them, even if it meant we had to go through the painful process of loss first.
Our cards look different this year, with our newest addition, but the real difference I see is in the list of recipients. Our daughter was hard fought for, but so was the place of grace and love we find ourselves in this holiday season.
– guest post by Kate