Can I write this?
A friend on facebook caught the error that I titled yesterday's post about apple picking with the year '2014'. That pretty much sums up how I feel about 2013; I'm ready to see its backside. It's been a year of some pretty tough stuff. I won't lie, nearly all of it has all been trauma/adoption related. It hasn't been easy. There have been some times when I wonder if we had made a mistake. There have been times when I wonder if I can still advocate for families to pursue adoption knowing what I know. There have been times when I want to just get a giant redo and pretend this whole crazy adventure never happened. It has been that hard. The hardest thing I've ever done.
This morning when I saw that No Greater Joy Mom was having a link-up about the blessings of adoption, I wondered if I was at a point where I could say that adoption is a blessing. Sometimes in the midst of struggles it is difficult to see clearly what is really happening. Hind site brings a certain clarity that one often doesn't have in the midst of difficulties. And as I sat and thought about it, I do believe that I can write that adoption is a blessing.
But in order to say this, I think we really need to define what blessing is. Far too often, I think we see the idea of blessing as being something nice and pleasant. We tend to see blessings as being what we knew we wanted and what makes our life easier and more pleasant. Blessings, defined in this benign way never require something from us except to sit back and enjoy them. Far too often we see being blessed as being sort of like having a Christmas morning where you received everything on your list all the time. I will admit to having this facile idea of blessing for a long time. It always made the beatitudes in Matthew 5 a little difficult to wrap my head around. For those of you who may not know this passage,
"Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of God.
Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you." (Matthew 5: 3-12, ESV)
It really doesn't look as though being blessed is all rainbows and happy trees all the time, does it? What it does look like is that life is hard, but better things await those who follow God. Doing what is right can be hard.
So, where am I going with all this rambling? Well this is all to say that I really do believe that adoption is a blessing. It is a blessing to be part of God's redemption of the world. It is a blessing to offer His love to a hurting person in a sacrificial way. It is a blessing to know with every ounce of your being that you are doing Kingdom work every single day. It is a blessing to know that no matter how deep your despair that you always find God there waiting to catch you. It is a blessing to know that sin is real and it is ugly and it has far reaching ramifications, because the more you know about its ugliness, the more you want to run from it.
Adoption experience, like any parenting experience, runs on a spectrum. One experience is no more valid than another. Some have experiences where the child adapts wonderfully and is not affected by past experiences. We have had that experience with K. While he does have some physical effects from his time in the orphanage and because of clefting, but in the great scheme of things its pretty negligible. Some have more middle ground experiences. There are some issues with functioning due to past experiences, but while they can be troublesome sometimes, they are not something that consumes the family. Our experience with H. would fall in this area on the spectrum. Her physical needs are greater than K.'s and require more doctors and specialists and surgeries. She also has some post-trauma behaviors that we are still working through. Her passivity and tendency to check-out (disassociate) at the drop of a hat do impede her daily functioning and are something we are constantly having to work on. This is more frustrating than anything and doesn't really affect the family as a whole in a major way. And then you have the other end of the spectrum where past trauma affects every single aspect of a child's life... everything he does, says, thinks. It impedes his daily functioning and relationships. It affects us as his parents. It affects the family as a whole. Someone who has not experienced the chaos one traumatized child can bring to a family cannot imagine what it is like to live with it on a daily basis. When you are not in a crisis, you are wondering when the next crisis will come and what it will look like. I not-so-jokingly say that I have become as hyper-vigilant as my son.
Everyone wants to hear about the happy end of the spectrum, but not so many people want to hear about the other end. We who speak about it often receive several common responses. The first is to dismiss it. Surely life can't be as rocky as we make out. Because this type of life hasn't been experienced, it is difficult to imagine. But I would venture to say the opposite is true. Whatever someone is willing to share publicly is the sanitized version. You can be sure what it is really like is far worse. The second is to blame the parent. If the parent did a better job at, well, just about anything, the child would be healthier and easier to live with. Because these children often do a very good job of seeming emotional healthy in public (though this is not always the case), it is difficult to imagine the sweet, engaging child as a raging and out-of-control one. The third is to silence us. We are not helping children who need families by stating the truth. We will scare people away. No one wants to hear it and besides it's just a small group of children anyway. Let's just not talk about it. All this does is sweep a real issue under the carpet and instead of preparing parents they are blind-sided by it all when it does come their way. These are the adoptions which are disrupted or worse. How does this serve the child? Combined all together, these responses cause people to keep silent and make those who do experience this feel isolated and alone. Speaking the truth can never hurt.
Right now I bet you're wondering how I can still say adoption is a blessing (and I'm pretty sure that this is not the type of post that was being looked for). I love my son and am privileged to be his mother. I have grown and seen God in ways I could never have had I taken an easier road. Adoption is a blessing. It is a blessing to the child who has a family. Being in a family is the child's only hope of finding health and healing. It is a blessing to see God working. It is a blessing.