November is National Adoption Month.
A month that helps raise awareness for children awaiting adoption in the foster care system. Our adoption journey began 4 years ago this month. Our journey to bring Judson home was fairly easy compared to most until the day it wasn’t. After we brought him home the long days of waiting felt like a cake walk. I can say now that I needed the hard days because it was during those days that God began a much harder process of redeeming the broken that lingered in me. Toddler adoption became more than just helping our sweet boy adjust. His journey became the vehicle God would use to shift many areas of my heart and life that needed to be moved. This was a letter I wrote myself one year in to help me process all that had happened. When I wrote it, I never knew if I would ever share it. My prayer is that for anyone who is in the midst of struggle, this will bring hope. For anyone in the midst of waiting, that is will bring perpsective. For anyone in the midst of contemplating adoption, that it will bring truth. Please let me know what you think.
I wanted to write a letter to the you of one year ago.
I wanted to let you know that you were absolutely clueless. You had no idea of the depth of what would be required of you. You had read the books, knew all the lingo, counseled parents for three years about adoption, but you truly had no frame of reference with which to speak so casually. Sweet Kelly, hold on to these few moments of ease, because that is not anything you will experience over this next year.
I want you to know that the first time you bathe Judson, you will want to throw up. To physically see the life that he has endured in the sunken, infected flesh will give you your first glimpse of what is before you. When you enter a room, he will cry. When you leave a room, he will cry, too. More quickly than you can imagine, you will see your life look like a prison and you have no idea how quickly you will be released, or worse yet, will you ever have any freedom.
And then, naïve Kelly, you will feel tremendous guilt and uncertainty over the depth of fear and uncertainty you feel as a result of this precious child.
You will learn to live in two worlds.
The world inside your home of biting, kicking, hitting, screaming, disobedience, exhaustion, chaos and trauma and the world outside that you will walk, desiring to paint a picture that life is not as hard as it is, that adoption is all roses and sunshine and that with just a little time and love, all will be ok. You will quickly learn that toddler adoption is a whole different issue that few have knowledge or expertise in. You will see God begin to strip you of every thought but of getting through the next hour and today.
And Kelly, I know you don’t understand what I am about to say, fully, but you will grieve. You will grieve the loss of childhood that this precious child did not have. You will also mourn the loss of time with your other three children and feel on a daily basis like you have let them down. You have been quickly impatient and tried to negate the feelings of loss they have because, you know, GOD called us to this and this is HIS journey for us. The pep talk and reminders you are giving them, is the mantra you need to be reminded of over and over. You will feel anger on their behalf at the aggression inflicted on them, your precious children, at the hand of, your other precious child. These dual feelings of guilt and anger and intense commitment will rage a war in your mind and heart that you will not know how to process.
You are a trained counselor, an adoption case worker, have two Masters degrees, have written articles about building strong families and you have no clue what to do.
You will also be moved to tears when you look at your three biological children and see the depth of love and commitment they have for each other. You will weep and look in awe as they LOVE and ACCEPT and FORGIVE. They will RISE, Kelly, not because of anything you have done, but only because of what JESUS is doing through them. They are simply amazing.
Kelly, you will be slow to share the true depth of your emotion or lack there of. After all, this really isn’t what people want to hear and you really would never want to discourage anyone from adoption. But when you do share, you will have zero tolerance for anything that resembles a quick response to the depth of pain, anger and resentment that you are trying so hard to process and redeem. So Kelly, you will withdraw, keep the circle small, be quiet, and pray this is just a phase that you can quickly pass through.
You will also realize that some journeys are not meant to be shared casually, but are uniquely designed to be walked with your Savior.
You have a man who will prove, yet again, that he is the absolute biggest blessing, outside of Jesus, that you will ever receive. He will love you through the hardest of days, challenge you to rise above your emotion and focus on Truth, listen to you, encourage you, pray for you and just simply help you.
You are not in this alone.
Kelly, lest you think that there was no good seen, let me set you straight. You will also get to experience, life, personality, joy, language and love being reborn. You will be stunned at how far he will come.
He will go to sleep without screaming and thrashing around.
He will go into his preschool class with no hesitation after a hug and a kiss.
He will love routine and structure.
He will begin to obey and respect boundaries.
He will gain weight, be healthy and grow from the 20% to the 60%.
He will use words like “delicious” and “adorable” that will show how adorably delicious he is to behold.
He will make you smile and laugh and you will share funny stories about him with your Mom.
He will LOVE you.
He will NEED you….and Kelly….you will begin to surrender to this journey.
You will realize the depth of your need for JESUS, every moment of every day, as a result of this child’s great need for you.
You will fight that with every ounce of your being, but slowly begin to release yourself of any expectation, perception of reality that you have ever had and simply love him.
You will embrace the techniques that help bring order to what had been a wildly chaotic world for him. You will begin to feel a peace and calm that is not determined by your circumstances or how well your children behave, but from choosing to live according to TRUTH, believing the identity that Christ has given you.
You will be shocked that the very thing that has brought you to the pit of your life came as a result of the most beautiful, amazing, survivor, you have the privilege of calling your own.
Kelly, I know this sounds scary, and hard, and ugly, and you want to run away.
Let me tell you the two things that will get you through this next year….Jesus and your man. There will be times when you will literally drop to your knees and call out to Jesus, because you are at the end of yourself….that is a good thing.
You are not walking this alone. You are more aware of your Savior, His plan to prune away all areas of your life that are not of Him, and use your family to restore and redeem the life of one of His precious children. You are unable to walk this in your own strength for your flesh is so very weak.
But God, HE is strong and mighty and HE will not abandon you.
As I close this letter to you, let me remind you of a few things. Just because you are walking a hard road does not mean you are not right where the Lord wants you. It simply means that the Lord needs to narrow, refine and prune away that which does not bring Him glory. That is the definition of a Christ follower.
Next, is that you need to be real about the reality of adoption. The fact is you need to share about how hard it is and break down the walls between adoptive parents. There is space that exists between honoring the journey of your precious boy and offering hope and support for those in the trenches with you.
Kelly, this year will be a ride, twisty, long, exhilarating, joyful, scary, high and low, but it is your ride.
Enjoy it, learn from it and hang on. And never forget….it’s going to be worth it…
Your boy is worth it all.
Blessings on your journey,
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