Several months ago, in a soul-baring talk with a trusted friend, I confessed,
“I just didn’t know you could have peace about something and it still be So. Damn. Hard.”
From the beginning of starting this adoption process, ‘Stache and I have known a lot of things.
We knew we wanted to adopt internationally.
We knew we wanted to adopt though Bethany.
We knew we wanted to adopt a child from Hong Kong.
We knew we wanted to adopt a child with special needs.
So much knowing, so much peace right there. We felt God specifically calling us to these things, and we were in agreement on all four, which felt like such a confirmation. We were a little nervous but still confident. For me, there was a sense of exhaling, like the breath you let out that you didn’t know you were holding. When you’ve been wandering a bit, and then find the path through the forest. You weren’t really worried when you were just wandering, but still – it feels good to be on a path. To know you’re walking in the right direction. We had peace, and it was good.
These are some of the things I didn’t know.
I didn’t know peace could hurt. Or rather, that peace and hurt could exist right beside each other, taking up the same space. I had only ever known peace as a happy, restful feeling. This – was not that. I had a bone-deep surety that this was what we were supposed to be doing, but it also felt like I had a ragged spike piercing my stomach. I was opening my heart up to care about a whole world of motherless children, opening it up to hurt. And it really hurts. Sometimes every day.
I didn’t know how guilty I would feel for saying “no,” even passively. When you’re adopting, you have to say no to so many children. We believed that we should adopt a child the same age or younger than our oldest child, who is 3. Which means we were saying “no” to every child aged 4 and up. We had to go through a list of special needs and check yes, no or willing to discuss. Which meant we were saying “no” every time we decided a medical need or situation was more than we could handle. The weight of millions of orphans’ worth of “no” is soul-crushing. And, I ultimately realized, not a burden that God was putting on me. It is not possible for a human mother to adopt millions of orphans at once. I needed to be faithful to the burdens He was asking me to carry, and to let God be God.
I didn’t realize how deeply loss is intertwined with adoption. Someday, I am going to meet my child for the first time, and that is going to be a wonderful day. But the only way that day is possible is because his mother said good bye to him one day for the last time. Probably the last time of their whole lives. That is an excruciatingly painful reality.
I didn’t know how I would grieve. So much brokenness. So many children from broken homes, so many children with broken bodies. I would be reading a mother’s blog, rejoicing over her beautiful daughter’s new leg prosthesis, grateful that there are organizations like Shriners to help her, inspired by her daughter’s passion for life and can-do attitude. But at the same time I would be grieving, almost angry, feeling this is not the way it is supposed to be. Life is not supposed to be like this, yet it is.
This is not meant to be a bitter, disillusioned post. Truly.
These are hard things, terrible things, but God is still bigger than all our hard things. He has carried me when the grief loomed, when the pain of it all seemed to much to lift. He has given me the strength to accept things I would have run from on my own strength. We have been walking down, stumbling down, crawling down this path for only ten months. Ten months of a lifetime. It has been an eon and also just the blink of an eye. And God has done amazing things. He has opened doors we didn’t even know were there. He has changed our hearts. He has made the path clear.
And none of that has really been easy. It’s been really hard sometimes. But God doesn’t promise us that it won’t be hard. He promises that he will be there.