When I was little, I never knew that I would struggle to conceive children. I wanted a lot of children so it hit me like a ton of bricks when we were referred to the "specialist!" I longed for many years to be a mommy and through many miscarriages and daunting/expensive infertility treatments, God led us to adoption. I remember not wanting to adopt in the US after two failed domestic adoptions and quite honestly, I wasn’t willing to let my heart break once more. We were led to Ukraine and an adoption story, like you have never heard, began to unfold. It was one of the most difficult yet most beautiful journeys. I was finally a mom. My empty lap was full.
Then in 2008, God blessed us with another adoption of a beautiful baby girl. It wasn't something we were looking for and in fact, we were certain we would head back to Ukraine to adopt. God literally dropped a baby in our laps. We would go on to adopt two more but due to circumstances beyond our control, those two are no longer part of our home. Our lives are certainly different and I’ve been able to minister to so many families since then, but we didn’t escape that time free from pain and trauma. My kids have been scarred and some wounds may take years to heal. But, we have learned a lot and how to respond to that pain. We still talk about the “what ifs” in life but know that God will take what was meant for evil and turn it into good, we trust Him.
One of the things my husband and I were adamant about was NOT doing foster care. Many people have asked us over the years but we just never felt led to do so. We’ve taken the classes, even became certified but then never felt like God was telling us to jump right in. After our experiences with children in and out of our home, we didn’t feel it was be good for our adopted children that already struggled with abandonment issues. Why would we do that to them, once again? Then a call came that changed our thinking and our lives. We knew him. We loved him. We knew he needed a home. We were willing.
He was just 8 years old when he came to our house last year. He was scared, afraid, timid and guarded. This is going to take some work and at times, that work is hard, very hard. I’ll always be competing with “the other woman” in the lives of my children. I’ll always be that “second mom” and I have to be okay with that. If you are going to be an adoptive mama, you have to always remember that they were not yours first. Sure, God picked them from the beginning of time to be your child but they grew in the belly of someone else. There will always be some sort of an attachment to a person, that your child may have never met. And if they have met them, that attachment is much stronger. Its harder, as an adoptive mama, to fight against that bond. So, you don’t. If you continue fighting, you begin to feel like a failure. You feel rejected. And at times, you want to give up.
It can be painful to see breastfeeding mamas come across your screen because you’ll never get to experience that type of bonding. It can be painful to watch complaining pregnant women because you’ll never get to experience the feeling of a baby kicking or the birth of a child. All of these, coupled with your child’s lack of attachment, could send you in a spiraling mess. Trust me, I’ve been there…a LOT!
But, I have come to realize that my story is different from the many women that can bear children. My children’s stories are different from the stories of their friends. I get to be a part of something really big. I get a front row seat into true stories of redemption. Once these kids were abandoned, rejected, but now have been redeemed and God chose ME to be their mommy, whether I am the first, the second or just temporary. Though we don’t talk to two of our adopted children, we were in their lives for a season and we can trust in the God who brought them here, that He has a plan for their lives. We were able to provide a safe place for them during a time when they needed it most, just like foster parents. We have to trust Him that He has them in the palm of His hand and we have had to let go. Its hard and trust me, we’ve been condemned for it but its not anyone else’s story but ours.
For the children I have in my home now, God has them here for a season, too. They will grow up, they will move on and we can pray that the job that God has given us to do was completed. That we leaned on Him, gained strength from Him, did our best and did it for His Glory, because He brought us here. There are going to be days that the affectionate hugs and words are not reciprocated. There are going to be days that they are guarded and don’t have the trust to tell you what they are really feeling. There are going to be days when they long for their biological mamas. There are going to be days when they are going to say “You are not my real mom.” There are going to be days of rejection, defiance, lies, and lots of tears.
But, every day is worth it because there will be good days and there will be great days. There will be days you get sweet little notes on your car steering wheel from your teenager as you leave on a trip. There will be days you get little Post-it notes with “I love you” on your night stand. There will be days when you get heart pictures shoved under your locked bedroom door with hearts and “xoxoxox” because you are hiding in your room with tears streaming down your face. There will be days when you watch your kids on stage or play a sport and ugly cry thinking about where they would be if they weren’t with you. There will be days when your child with a severe learning disability due to utero drug exposure reads for the first time and you get to experience the sheer joy. There will be days when you get to take care of them after broken arms, cuts, bruises, and a chronic illness and are thankful that you are their caregiver and that they aren’t in an orphanage or a home being neglected and ignored.
So, yeah, today is hard. This week has been hard. I’m struggling with a child that has very little attachment to me. It hurts. Its painful and there have been many tears. But, if I look back over the years and all our adoptions, I know and I am certain that this too shall pass. There will come a day when he calls me “mom.” There will come a day when he will know that he can trust us with every ounce of his being, because we wanted him, we chose him. There will be days when she hugs me back. There will be a day when she doesn’t long for her birth mom. There will be a day when they all realize that I am their real mommy who loves them with every ounce of my heart. In the meantime, I make sure to notice the baby steps taking place. I will recognize the beauty in these ashes and that “all things work together for good to those that love God and are called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28). This is not a sprint, its a marathon. Adoption is a marathon, actually more like an Iron Man. But, its worth it, its very worth it and I’m blessed that God would choose me to walk down this road. The journey is hard but beautiful.