Thanksgiving | A 6 Month Adoption Update

If anyone is willing to admit adoption is hard, it’s the two of us. Me and my adopted daughter.

I foolishly anticipated her adoption would have some kind of natural rhythm to it, the way welcoming her 5 month old sister from foster care did. But welcoming a stranger who is grieving the life and Mommy she left behind has proved anything but natural. There have been no motherly instincts to rely on because, sadly, my instincts tell me to protect my life from her. She came in looking more like her broken biological parents than she did an 8-year-old. Emotionally immature. But worldly-wise. Filling my younger daughters’ once innocent play with talks of death, hate, divorce, sexual awareness, and every form of dysfunction. She had a mouth full of lies and a heart to wound. Her choices fulfilled the adoption nightmares that keep people from adopting. In her own words, she tried her very hardest to be her very worst, hoping we would “send her back”.

Thanksgiving marked 6 months of adoption for us. I’d like to say my heart was full of thanksgiving for the healing, connection, and healthy ground we gained in this half-year together. But that wouldn’t be honest. Chaos, destruction, heartbreak, helplessness, and discouragement were still my daily companions. Moving from victory to victory wasn’t her tangible reality, yet. Jesus was the only reason we were all even trying. It was the irrevocable truth He declared over her life that we held up to our souls. And that those closest to us tied to us when we were weary.

Adoption is worth it. But we have had to repeat that like a spiritual mantra. Every Single Day. Because, if I am being raw, it hasn’t felt worth it. Until today. Today is my thanksgiving. Hallelujah.

It started with another breakdown two nights ago. But when that ended in real breakthrough, I wondered what Holy Spirit would seal in her heart as she slept. Would the truth finally set her free?! When she woke up different yesterday, I noticed. Still, I held my breath. I waited for the hard to hit. Something familiar. But it didn’t. By the end of the night, I found myself thanking her for being “so peaceful” all day. I laid in bed, marveling at this Red Sea miracle. Was it truly the only day like it in the last 6 months?

She woke up this morning with the same lightness. This time, I let myself feel it too. I held back a million billion trillion tears. Feeling freedom made me profoundly aware of the constant attack we have lived under. Our home has been a landmine of triggers and we have all been casualties of the war the enemy waged.

But resurrection is real. Jesus conquered His cross and every one of mine. That breath brought life back into me today. And I am ready to shout VICTORY. We will triumph by the blood of the Lamb and the word of our testimony, as Revelation 12:11 promises. Yes, after just one day, I now remember what I knew before adoption. LOVE WINS. JESUS CANNOT BE DEFEATED. AND HE WILL HAVE HIS WAY!

As someone who once saw adoption as immediate redemption, I want you to know it hasn’t been like that for us. It’s been much more like salvation. The lifelong commitment has been made. But the relationship that will lead to change is being built. If you are considering giving an orphan somewhere to belong, know your weakness will be put on display. And your family will hurt. (That’s the hardest part on a mama’s heart.) Look to Jesus as the author and finisher of your child’s redemption. And trust it will come.

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Thanksgiving | A 6 Month Adoption Update

Unity

My children are hurting my heart.

Before you think I am just another venting mama on social media, hear me out. I guard my children in conversation. I respect them with my words. I think about their hearts and how they would feel if I shared my frustrations with the public. So I don’t.

But with all honor, I am crying out to all who will listen. Every mama ear, far and wide. My children are hurting my heart. And they are teaching me, like nothing else ever has, how I hurt my Father God’s heart.

“I in them and you in me–so that they may be brought to complete unity.” John 17:23 Oneness is something God clearly longs for in His children. Scripture is relentless about this. But I am only beginning to understand why.

My four girl hearts are battling a spirit of competition. Who is first. Who is right. Who is greater. They are fighting for identity in the aftermath of adoption. And it makes me ache in a profound way. I want to gather them in my arms, into a healing group hug, and just say: We are one family. We all belong. We all have a place here, with one another. We are meant to be connected.

Oh, the weight of those words on my spirit these days. I hear God’s heart in them in a fresh way. He is pierced by our competition. By our disunity. By our arguments and our discord. By our constant conflict. We justify it, the same way my daughters do. But to a parent’s heart, nothing justifies division. We just want them to be one, in us. He just wants us to be one, in Him.

Holy Spirit, help me love my brothers and sisters in Christ deeper still.

Unity

It Doesn’t Take A Village

I want to take on the mantra “it takes a village”. Challenge it, toe to toe. Make sure we, as community chanters, aren’t putting the emphasis on the wrong syllable. It doesn’t take a village to raise a child. That implies we cannot take on the feat of mamahood God has called us to, without support. Or even worse, that we shouldn’t.

Tell that to the unwed teen who decides to keep her baby against her parent’s better judgement. Tell that to the single mom who decides not to get remarried until after her kids are grown. Tell that to the military wife with a husband overseas. Tell that to your neighbor without a babysitter or family close by.

There’s no denying we all get help along the way. And we should give honor where it is due. A village is an advantage, blessing, and lifeline. But mamahood, more than any other role in my life, has taught me how to stand alone – with God as my strength.

Mamahood forces us to find ourselves. To learn who we are and how to channel everything good in us into the lives of those God entrusted to us. Because we know there is simply no one else who will give our children what we will. No one who will sacrifice more. No one who will love deeper. No one who is quite as interested in their spirits and souls flourishing. That awareness causes us to plant our feet, solid. And so often, alone. So that they always, always, always have someone.

It Doesn’t Take A Village

Being A Sister Is Hard

My firstborn was born a sister. We were in the middle of an adoption journey that ultimately ended in her becoming an only child for a season. But I knew, when she caught her first cold at 2 weeks old from her older sister, she was custom made for sisterhood. For bearing burdens. For unconditional commitment. For thick and thin. For choosing love over convenience.

She doesn’t remember Lilli Love. She doesn’t remember sharing watermelon. Learning to scoot while being chased around by laughter. Or starting her mornings sweetly with a sister, the same way she does now. She doesn’t remember visiting Lilli Love’s family in living conditions that were so different from her everyday. Someday I will show her pictures and remind her. But even without memories, that time is a part of her. It’s her beginning. Her wiring. Her God design. His purpose declared over her life.

When her bio sister came into this world, she jumped into my birthing tub to be with her. She overlooked the messiness of the moment just to be closer than close. When her foster sister came into our lives, she chose her over me in a display of courage our social worker and I still talk about today. My mama’s girl heard her foster sister crying behind closed doors and took a stranger’s hand to go comfort her when I couldn’t. Yesterday I learned that our oldest, her newly adopted sister, was struck by that. It’s her first memory of meeting my firstborn.

This week my firstborn whispered these words to her Daddy at bedtime. Being a sister is hard. It’s something I’d never know observing her. She handled the transition of moving from oldest to middle with inspiring grace. She welcomed her older sister into her whole world. Sharing every toy. Her home. Her bed. Her family. Her wide open heart.

But this week I was reminded that’s not just her nature. It is her character. It’s a richness in her identity that cost her greatly. She has sacrificed to become and be known as the sister she is. It is more Jesus in her than anything else. And her Daddy and I praised what we so often take for granted.

Birdsong, thank you for honestly being the bestest sister there ever was. Thank you for choosing your three sisters over yourself, daily. I learn love from you, Sweets.

Being A Sister Is Hard

Sometimes

Sometimes I wish I could justify going a little blonder. Sit in a salon chair. Walk out feeling like a woman.

Sometimes I wish I wasn’t wearing her hand me downs. Style myself freely. Fully express who I am.

Sometimes I wish I was out with my camera during golden hour. Planning my next creative adventure. Pushing my skills beyond my known limits.

Sometimes I wish I knew what song was playing on the radio. The latest trend. Current culture.

Sometimes I wish I could meet a friend for coffee. Talk about a hobby. Linger for the ambiance.

But only sometimes. Because most times, I’m pretty caught up in living the life I asked Jesus for. I’m pretty awestruck being a mama. I’m pretty grateful it’s absolutely consuming. I’m pretty aware there’s nothing I want more than my reality.

Sometimes

Sustained

There is grace in the moment. And then it’s gone. And when’s it’s gone, our humanity questions how we even made it through. We are instantaneously aware that without God, our journey looks impossible. Even to us.

I woke up on adoption day with the grace for our season in foster care lifted. It was a noticeable spiritual shift. A marker of that season definitively ending. I was in a state of reverence before my God. It was sobering to recognize that holiness that we so often overlook. That God alone sustains us in prolonged seasons! I did not adjust to foster care. I was sustained. I would not dare foster for even one more day. The very idea seems as undoable as it does to those who have never done it.

That unexpected experience is my stepping stone into this next season. My firm footing. I have a God who equips me with every good thing to do His will. Hebrews 13:21 Whatever appears lacking in me as a mama of four is irrelevant because I don’t have to depend on myself. God has no expectation of me to be enough for them because He is more than enough for me. There is new grace for this new season. It came down like a dove and is resting on me as tangibly as the grace that flew far far away. Amen.

Sustained