Last week Cody and Breanna finalized the adoption of their son, Judah. A courtroom full of friends and family witnessed as he became forever and always their son, and Judah's older sister even pounded the gavel and declared it to be so. The day before Breanna wrote these beautiful words and thoughts about their adoption. I love her honesty and transparency as she shares what adoption looked like when they first decided to grow their family, their changed perspective, and how it impacts their future.
Tomorrow we finalize our adoption with Judah.
Tomorrow. The day I thought would never come.
In some ways it feels like the end of the book we started November 2015 when we finally said out loud to each other and our family, "We want to adopt."
In other ways it feels like the next chapter, a very important chapter, of our life.
Whatever it is, this has been a week of reflection for me. I've reread several of the older blogs, mostly written before Judah joined our family last June. It brings back waves of emotions.
Happy. Sad. Terrified. Confused. Angry. Hopeful. Jaded. Ecstatic. Fearful. Worry. Joy.
I also reflect on where I was then to where I am now. This probably comes across over-dramatic, but I am a different person now than I was then. I see how God molded me using experiences and lessons and hurt and hope. The worries I had then seem silly in some ways. But sometimes time has a way of doing that.
THEN: A Changing Family
Will we have enough money?
What will the timing look like?
Can I love this child like my biological children?
How will our other two kids respond? How will our family respond?
Will we say yes to the right situation? Will we miss it?
Will I be strong enough emotionally to finish this journey?
I see now how God provided what we needed when we needed it in one form or another financially. The timing turned out crazy fast, but it is our story...I love it...and I wouldn't have it any other way. The love for Judah is beyond what I can explain here. Like each of my children, I wondered how I would be capable of more love, but then God brings a new level of love and you wonder why you ever doubted.
Judah's siblings adore him. Like LOVE him. They even share with him, which is a big deal. I just wish it didn't include germs.
Our family. It has been an emotion I didn't expect. The joy to watch our family love Judah. Adore Judah. He is so special. Of course we didn't miss saying yes to this sweet child!
And strong enough, no. With God...absolutely.
So all of that is where I "was," but how in the world am I going to put into words where God took me?
NOW: A Changed Perspective
Things I didn't expect to happen that did.
I did not plan for God to open my eyes to more than a need to find a baby a home. I mean that's all adoption is, right?
I wanted to ignore the hard of adoption. Or maybe not ignore, I think I just didn't know. I didn't understand the brokenness. I wanted the sappy made up movie in my mind. I wanted to make it light and fluffy and rainbows and happy endings. Cute pictures of babies and smiling families.
But God opened up a new side. A deeper understanding of this world. And now that I understand more, I can never go back.
I recently read a quote by Jody Landers that stopped me in my tracks, because it bridges these two concepts, of both the BEAUTY and TRAGEDY of adoption.
"A child born to another woman calls me mommy. The magnitude of that tragedy and depth of that privilege are not lost on me."
Would you do me a favor and read that quote one more time?
Gone are the concerns about if my finances would be enough, learning that for some birth mothers they are considering placing their child for adoption due to finances...all while I'm wondering what "sacrifices" I'll have to make to help pay for an adoption.
Gone are my concerns for timing of traveling to meet our child and how long I'd take off work and where our other two children would stay, when situations I read concerned timing of sentencing, homelessness, job loss and more that others were having to consider.
Gone are my thoughts of wondering if I can love an adopted child like my biological children, when a birth mother or birth family are considering if adoption is the best choice for their own flesh and blood.
Gone are my concerns on how it would affect my biological children replaced by thoughts of who is concerned for all those sweet children separated from siblings because of not enough homes willing to take an older child or sibling set. Or how many children in both foster care and orphans without families are without a family tonight, because another family is too concerned of the "what ifs" for their biological children.
Gone are my concerns for how my family will respond, when I see others hurting, birth parents hurting... because they did not experience the love I had from my family growing up. Instead they may have experienced abandonment, physical abuse, sexual abuse, verbal abuse, poverty, homelessness, institutions, and more. Yet I was so quick to judge before I knew. Before I understood. Who's to say I would be any different? Any better? And who made me the judge of better anyways. God forgive me.
Gone are my concerns for the "right situation." Can I just admit that if I knew everything at the beginning of our adoption, even the story of our sweet, precious baby boy and how he joined our family, that I might have run away? I am so thankful God chose to keep things from me and share them as the time became right for my heart. It was the right situation. It was the perfect time. And not because it was easy. Not because it was flawless. Not because it went as planned. But because this is a beautiful, difficult, story of God taking the hurt in this world and using people, broken people like me I might add, and turning tragedy into beauty.
And gone is the concern for MY ability to stay strong. 2 Corinthians 12:9 says, "He said to me "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me."
And so like all good lessons, we have to decide what we will do with new information.
NEXT: Changed Lives
Like a good Sunday sermon, do I leave with some half-hearted "that was a good sermon, but I don't really want to apply it to my life...hey...where are we eating for lunch?"
Or do I take my daughter Charlotte's approach? "Mom, I think that went well. We need to adopt another child. I want a sister. Maybe we should have ten kids in our family. Maybe we should buy a store instead of house so we can have more room for all the kids that need a family. I will share my room. I will share my toys."
Since bringing Judah home, I've had to spend a lot of time really asking what's next. How do I let this be more than a good book and let it penetrate my life forever?
For me, I have to acknowledge these deep issues. I have to accept the brokenness. I have to remind myself I'm not asked to "fix it." But that I can't ignore it either.
I have to recognize that along with a cute newborn baby, are birth parents that are often hurting. Birth parents who may not have had the same privileges and love I've experienced. And I have to love them too. We may not be best friends. We most likely won't make the same life decisions. But, I have to examine my own heart. And ask myself if I truly love like Jesus. Or just when it benefits me. And really, what kind of love is that anyway.
I have to acknowledge that there are many who would not place their child for adoption if they had the availability to provide for the child themselves. Will I care enough to do anything about it? For me, it looks as simple as selling Noonday jewelry which helps provide fair trade jobs. It looks like supporting a ministry in Kenya where they are taking the hard road, the long road, the impacting road, of teaching four ladies a trade of sewing over the next year and supporting these women and their children until they are able to do so on their own.
I want to partner with families called to foster. To love them. To care enough to ask and ask again on how to help. I want to see our amazing church family take even more steps in coming alongside those in the foster and adoption process. I want to meet needs on the care portal to keep families together. To give the mattress so that kids aren't sleeping on the floor. And help buy uniforms so kids go to school feeling worthy. To share with people that God sees their worth and I see their worth. To not just say "go in peace, be warmed and filled" without really giving to any tangible need.
My religion is not about works. But what is my faith with no action?
Matthew 25:35-40 says, "For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink?And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’"
It's about how God used something that started with such a simple idea, and revealed a new light on Jesus and His Word. There is something different in head knowledge and watching that something become heart knowledge.
I pray the molding will not stop here.
I pray in another year to read this blog and see how God continues to challenge my way of life.
I pray in another year, I look more like Jesus and less like my old self.
I pray that though God doesn't NEED me, that He would chose to USE me. Messed up, called out, prideful, judgemental, stressed out, WEAK...to show just how perfect, all knowing, humble, forgiving, patient and STRONG He is.