This blog post has been fitfully started and stopped, written and erased. I have formed many sentences in my head and then discarded them as they don’t seem to capture the essence of my feelings. How do I sum up the last year in one blog post? It seems next to impossible.
One year ago, July 4, 2012, the adoption of our children was finalized in that airless courtroom in Ethiopia. The judge signed the paper that officially made us a family. The social worker placed a phone call and spoke the words we had been praying to hear for many long months.
One year ago, July 4, 2012, I wrote this blog post about the events of that momentous day.
I had absolutely no idea of the twists and turns, stumbles and falls, trials and triumphs that the following year was going to hold for our family.
Oh, we thought we knew. We thought we were prepared. We had read the books and taken the classes, we had asked our questions and heard all of the answers.
But, we really didn’t know.
How could we?
As we approach the one year anniversary of becoming a family, my emotions have been overwhelming at times. I am filled to the brim with thankfulness. I am in awe of the plans that God had marked out for my life. I am amazed at His goodness, how He has carried us through, and how He promises to be ALL that I need as I continue this journey. And I cry tears of both pain and joy as I remember the last year of my life.
You know, God gives each of us exactly what we need for the specific circumstances of our lives. So many people have commented to me that they could not do this. That they could not adopt 4 children from a different culture, from a painful background, from a broken family and then re-arrange their lives and their family to look like something maybe they had never imagined it to be.
Yes, you could do it.
If God asked it of you, you could do it. Because if God asks it of you, He will provide ALL that you need. This past year has not been about me or what I have done. It has been about God and what He has done. It has been about relying on Him, trusting in Him, collapsing at His feet and knowing that He has it all under control.
For the last year, I have written much about the struggles that Leah has faced as she finds her place in our family. She has been very open with her feelings. She has expressed her anger, her hurt, her pain in many ways. She has told us over and over again that she does not believe that we really love her. When we remind her that we wanted her in our family, she says, “You want to adopt someone, not me. If you know it was me, you would not have chosen me. You would not have adopted me.”
I won’t go into all of the reasons she feels this way, but obviously she struggles with feeling any sort of self-worth. How could we love her, how could we choose her, when her own mother did not? The answer, she feels, is that she must be un-loveable.
I read a letter that was written by a young woman who was adopted from China as an infant. She details her feelings about straddling two worlds and two identities. And she says, “We need your love, not because we were unloved, but because we are loveable.”
Last week, on a rainy Tuesday, sitting inside our minivan after she had completed horse therapy, Leah turned to me and asked, “Mom, do you REALLY love me? Really? Inside your heart?”
And I looked her in the eye and said, “Oh, Leah. I love you. I love you so much that my heart hurts. I pray that Jesus will help you to feel my love every single time that I hug you, or I kiss you, or I hold you as you cry. I pray that Jesus will help you to know that I am telling the truth every single time that I say I love you.”
And she sat there inside that minivan, as the rain fell down around us, for the first time she said, “I believe you, Mom. I think you really do love me.”
One year. It took my sweet daughter one year to let the hope of the love of a mother penetrate her heart.
I look at the sister relationship that is developing between Naomi and Hannah. And I rejoice. My sister is one of my dearest friends. She shared my bedroom, she shared my secrets, she shared laughter and tears, she shared life with me from the time I was 18 months old. A sister relationship is something special.
One year ago, I could not let my girls spend time alone together in their bedroom. There was constant friction, fighting, tears, anger, manipulation. Do you remember the matching underwear? (or lack, thereof?) Read about it here. I had to be a constant mediator. And, let me tell you, that got tiring for all of us.
This week Naomi braided Hannah’s hair. Hannah offered to do one of Naomi’s chores for her. They played with their baby dolls. They giggled. They whispered in their beds after they were supposed to be asleep. And they quarreled over a board game. Sounds just like sisters, doesn’t it?
One year ago, Micah’s arms and legs were as thin as broomsticks.
This week, he played baseball for the first time. (And, just so you all know, he absolutely killed it!)
And this guy…..
He is in a category all his own. Levi – absolutely overflowing with life and energy and enthusiasm. One year ago, he was wearing a size 3T. Yesterday I bought him size 5. His mischievous personality is so endearing that I love him even when he exhausts me. Here is a sampling on his questions (from the last 2 days only)….
When airplane fall from sky, does it burn up?
Which one stronger – superman or shark?
Why I have to eat meat? I no like meat. Can I eat cake?
Why is the sky blue? Why God no make it red?
Why your hair in the bathtub? You like to put hair in the bathtub and make me clean?
Mom, why when you laugh you sound like a chicken?
I look back on the last year of my life – the mountains, the valleys, the tears, the joys – and I feel overwhelming gratitude. Gratitude that we made it through the biggest battles in the adjustment process. Gratitude to my friends and family who have prayed for us and supported us and loved us. Gratitude to my God who blesses us beyond what we could ever imagine. And gratitude to be a part of a family – THIS family.
One year ago, I had no idea what I was getting myself into as I stepped out in faith into uncharted waters. Did I ever imagine my life or my family looking like this? No. Absolutely not. But God had a better plan for our lives than we could ever dream up on our own. Even if we don’t understand that plan.
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways,” says the Lord. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:8-9
I have been reading Secrets to a Happy Life (which just happens to have been written by my pastor, Bill Giovannetti).
This quote jumped off the page and grabbed a hold of my heart. I will remember this…..
If you could see what God sees and feel what God feels, you would orchestrate your world exactly as God has orchestrated it, troubles included. Oh yes, you would.
You see, I have a choice to make.
My children, as they deal with the pain in their past, they have a choice to make.
You, as you wake up today and face a world that will inevitably hold sin and pain, you have a choice to make.
Are you going to trust in the God of the universe? Or are you going to let the fear of the unknown stop you from taking the first step in what might be the greatest journey of your life?
God doesn’t promise a pain-free existence. He doesn’t promise an easy road.
But He does promise that He will carry us. He does promise that it will be worth it.
Are we going to let our circumstances define us?
Or are we going to let our identity as a child of the King define us?
My children, they come to me with scars on their hearts. They have a past full of pain. Leah said to me this week, as we struggled through her conflicting feelings of missing the love of her biological mother and accepting the love of her adoptive mother, “I never pray to be adopted. I only pray to have my family.”
God answered her prayer, just not in the way that she had hoped or expected.
God always answers our prayer, but not always in the way that we hope or expect.
If you could see what God sees and feel what God feels, you would orchestrate your world exactly as God has orchestrated it, troubles included. Oh yes, you would. (Secrets of a Happy Life)
Thank you, God, that you orchestrate my life. Thank you for including these 6 children in it.