Nate and Sara completed the adoption of their two children, Eden and Caleb, from Ethiopia in 2009. Sara skillfully and beautifully documents their adoption journey in her blog, Every Bitter Thing Is Sweet. Visit her blog and you will be blessed, encouraged, and will be able to relate to the honest feelings behind each post. This post was written by Sara and posted with her permission.
So much of what's communicated about the world of adoption can feel so fatalistic.
Both the outside observer and the mom who is in the thick of it can share the same bleak perspective. One perceives trouble and the other lives it, daily. Anecdotes about the neighbor's son who, post-adoption, traumatized his siblings, share equal weight with a mother's desperate prayer requests for her child, whose countenance has iced-over since they brought her home.
Rewind ten years and any sort of bump in the pathway to the "normal" life intimidated me.
My secret goal was to maintain an equilibrium in every way. A good marriage, steady friendships, growing impact on the world, faithful-but-not-interrupted walk with God. None of these, in and of themselves, are wrong, of course. But they couldn't exist alongside my prayers for a unique intimacy with God.
He let me share, however little, in His sufferings.
Little did I know that what was in front of me would prepare me to administer healing to my daughter, and walk alongside my son in his grief. My hiccups found me a Father, and they are teaching me to be a mother.
Though I met with Jesus in the back-alley of life and found true safety outside of my "normal" life, I still carried those same expectations for normalcy over my children, who came to me through an anything-but-normal means. Residual fear of straying from the norm carried through to our first months and even year of absorbing Eden and Caleb into our fold.
"Happy children" was my goal.
The problem, unfortunately, being that I also prayed even before the first time I laid eyes on them, that they would know Him as Daddy. I've asked, almost daily, that they would know in their innermost being how high, wide, deep and long is His love.
While happy is surely the fruit of a child who knows their Father loves them, there are years where that truth may have been called into question, for my little former-orphans. And they can not be erased.
And grief has surfaced in our home.
The pain behind her eyes is unavoidable at times. Her grasps for the promise of security exposed behind weak attempts to disguise them. Is our love as temporal as the one she first knew? If the womb's bond was broken by poverty, who can she trust?
The foundational fissures of a child, once abandoned, can not be easily caulked. Even the early years are subject to a forever imprint.
Yes, but God.
The same words I heard years ago about all those areas of "normal" being stretched thin, are the words I hear now. I found a flicker of light in the night, then, that set my whole heart on a different course. One breath of His changed everything.
I was not made to simply endure, forever living by the scars I'd incurred along the way. I was made to conquer. To win. And the prize was the internal shifting of my heart that would never be taken away from me. I would never be the same again.
My walk through the valley of the shadow of death marked my twenties and early thirties. My daughter found it at three and four.
But her scars will be her testimony. And the imprint, a remainder mark of the sweet kiss of Jesus.
I feel the ripples of loss in my home. When fear fills her eyes and insecurity leaks out, I inhale the abandonment too. She clasps her hands around my neck with a hold that craves promise, while expecting that one day this, too, will end. Her joy and zeal, overshadowed as of late, by tentativeness.
By itself, it is bleak. It is fatalistic. There is reason to accept our children will be forever broken.
"But God" echoes from my insides. I want to shout it in my home and let the hope of those words linger like a candle's fragrance in winter over our responses to this vessel not-yet-fully-healed.
She gets to find Him. Early. The darkness ignored by many but undeniable to her, begs a light. My little girl will see the goodness of God in the land of the living.
And because I'd faulted in my marriage, my friendships, my impact, my ambitions, her road to Him is actually exciting for me. I know not just what is on the other side, but the Man she gets to meet along the way.
And His grip around her tiny fingers offers her early admittance to safety.