You stepped up boldly in faith to adopt, so I am going to venture to say that you are strong. Probably brave too, though you might not feel it. You most likely hold it all together for a whole band of people.
But, I also know that adoption is a long haul. A journey that often finds you with your fists clinched and your teeth gritting. You’ve either always preferred that life work out according to plan, or you’ve dreamed of having a grand adventure. Unfortunately, adoption doesn’t seem to play out either of those ways.
It is its own, unique, messy, wondrous thing.
First, it takes some gumption just to say yes to exploring adoption. You pray and discuss endlessly, then courageously download the application. Saying yes to such an immense unknown is hard business. That brave decision sends you immediately into the marathon dossier process. You don’t even have a picture yet, but you fall in love anyway. Then you are matched with a child, and being separated feels intolerable. Your parenting instincts are on high alert wondering how well they are being cared for.
When the time finally comes for your life altering moment, the emotions are too much to bear, but you put on your brave pants and hop on the plane. It’s a mangle of red tape, culture shock and feelings, even before you feel the weight of your new child in your arms. All along, you thought meeting your child was it, the “end” of the adoption process. But with the weight of this new life in yours, you realize that the real “haul” has just begun.
A long haul, indeed. It’s a most profound gift, but it often includes moments when it all feels unendurable.
You didn’t tip toe outside your comfort zone, you pole vaulted up and over into the unknown. You are immensely grateful for what you know is for your family’s best. But it sure isn’t easy. You are a parent of a child with a world of needs, and you are an in-process human being with fleshy emotion.
My dear friend and I sat shoulder to shoulder one Saturday night during a retreat for adoption and foster moms. She was hurting and sad over a little one that she’d met and was desperately longing to adopt. I was exhausted and shell shocked from a month long trip to China for a dual adoption, followed by hospital stays and surgery for our medically fragile daughter. There was solidarity in the shedding of tears and tissue sharing.
Our cries were the ugly, healing kind. Mercifully, tears spilled over into giggles. What else could our humbled selves do, but laugh at our runny noses and splotchy faces? In His kindness, God was allowing our hurt to spill over into a tear soaked splash of joy.
A couple days later, I found a Voxer message she’d left, reading this scripture passage from The Message translation:
We pray that you’ll have the strength to stick it out over the long haul — not the grim strength of gritting your teeth but the glory-strength God gives. It is strength that endures the unendurable and spills over into joy, thanking the Father who makes us strong enough to take part in everything bright and beautiful that he has for us. – Colossians 1:10-12
Having this scripture read over me was a gift, a shot of grit, a spark of hope, and reminder of what God offers when we surrender with our needs.
“Glory-strength?” Why yes. That sounds far better than the gumption I’m trying to muster up on my own. And “strength that spills over into joy”. Oh my.
I don’t know what you battle, but my guess is that you are facing something that will require a big handful of glory strength. This journey is simply too big, too beyond us, isn’t it?
Is it a wait that seems endless?
Uncertainty about special needs?
Fear about what you’ve said yes to?
Stress of being in China?
Your child’s difficulty attaching?
Your difficulty attaching?
Missing the life you lived before?
Your child’s unanswerable questions?
Considering a birth parent search?
Whatever it is, glory strength is yours for the taking. You can un-grit your teeth, drop to your knees, and say, “Yes. Gratefully, yes.” Your strength doesn’t have to be the super hero, grim kind.
Gift yourself with the truth of Colossians 1:10-12. Read it aloud. Share it with a friend who needs to hear it. Consider this post to be me reading those words into your heart where you need to feel it, and into your mind where you need to know it.
Adoption is intensely hard, but it is bright and beautiful work that our Father invites us into.
Today, may you be strengthened by Glory in such a way that the hard parts of your “long haul” spill over into joy.