From Grief To Gratitude

There are a handful of half-finished posts waiting in my draft box for me to finish. Free time is rare these days, and I seem to find myself continually stuck between the best of intentions and the ability to carry them out. I tend to be a perfectionist, so I cannot simply type a post and publish it…I have to chew on it, edit it approximately 17 times, start over, edit some more, ponder my ability as a writer, ponder my reasons for blogging, ponder life as we know it, and then finally publish. This is actually fairly self-defeating when one considers that blogs were primarily invented to allow organic, free, uninhibited, creative flow of ideas to be dispersed into the world wide web with minimal planning and forethought, but alas, my perfectionist side tends to win.

Not so today, however. Sometimes the emotions of a situation, of a day, of a lifetime all come crashing down and my only instinct is to react and project them into the blogosphere, waiting for some kind of relief or vindication or at the very least, some empathy. The truth is that I know many people would share my disappointment, anger, frustration, hurt, confusion, yearning, and a number of other emotions that are all a byproduct of this extended waiting for our children. I know that within this whole process, we have been wronged, and more importantly, our children have been wronged. Injustice has become a theme in both our country and within our own personal process, and I could point fingers and present my case and “win” my argument as to where the guilt should fall. The temptation to spew all of my emotional reaction onto this page, free of edits, free of cautious inhibitions is great…but even as I write this, saner heads prevail. The foundational layer of truth deep down in my heart reminds me that none of that would change or fix anything. The fact remains that our children are still not placed with us. The fact remains that casting blame as to whose fault that is will not bring them here. The fact remains that God is sovereign, and nothing happens on this planet without His permission. In the end, blaming resolves nothing, produces no fruit, provides no relief. Venting, ranting, expelling the negative emotions through words on a blog page…will not diffuse these emotions, but will likely only pour gasoline on the embers.

So instead, I will choose to be grateful. It may sound trite, but I have found that when my heart is unsettled, dissatisfied, and lacking contentment, often the only relief comes when I practice intentional gratitude. I would like to share with you a number of things that I am grateful for regarding our children and this adoption process. Perhaps this will not completely “cure” me of the negative emotions swirling around in my head and heart, but it’s a step in the right direction.

I am thankful for:

  • A match with an amazing sibling group
  • A husband who is as passionate about adoption as I am
  • A son who adores me
  • A daughter who is full of life and vigor and spunk
  • An amazing foster mom who loves and provides for our children so well
  • An agency who advocates for us
  • A new house that has plenty of room for all of us
  • Two fur babies that cuddle with me when I’m lonely for my other babies
  • How quickly the kids have bonded with us
  • Cheap flights to Florida
  • A church family that surrounds us with unbelievable emotional, spiritual, and even financial support
  • Our extended families who have welcomed our kids with open arms and loving hearts
  • Medical insurance that allows our baby girl to receive all the services she needs
  • The fact that two people call me Mommy
  • Skype and Facetime, which make the distance less painful
  • The fact that our son is super interested and curious about Jesus, the Bible, and church
  • The fact that our daughter has gone from an all-pureed diet to about 15 different solid foods in less than a year
  • The fact that our daughter is building her vocabulary and becoming more verbal
  • The fact that our son chooses to see past his sister’s disabilities
  • The sweet bond our kids have with each other
  • The way our son loves to pray to Jesus
  • The way our daughter loves to sing to Jesus
  • Hillsong DVDs and CDs that bring the Gospel to our kids every day without them even realizing it
  • Little Caesar’s being so close to our house to accommodate baby girl’s constant pizza demands
  • How friendly our son is to everyone he meets
  • The fact that our son writes the Bible verses we have taught him on his homework
  • The way our daughter lights up around her Daddy
  • Other families that have adopted before us and become resources
  • The truth that there is more than one way to build a family
  • My own adoption into the family of God that allows me to love the way He loves

Husband and I covet your prayers as we continue to wait and trust the Lord’s timing in all of this. Pray that we will not become caught up in bitterness, or the pain of injustice, or the drudgery and disappointment of prolonged waiting. Pray that we can continue to practice intentional gratitude. After all, we have so much to be thankful for.

When the Waiting Hurts

I should be cleaning my house right now. To say it looks like a tornado went through it would be putting it mildly. It is my first day without kids in three weeks, and I go back to work tomorrow. I really should be cleaning. But I’m not. I’m in bed. Sick. Perhaps one day, all the nights of caring for a sick child will turn my immune system into a strong fortress, but this early on in motherhood, my body just wasn’t ready to fight all the new germs. So I’m in bed at 2pm on a Tuesday. I really should could get up, but my computer was on the floor right next to me, and after going through the list of all the things I could do besides getting more sleep, writing was the only thing that sounded even minutely appealing. At least at the end of the post, I can fool myself into feeling a small sense of accomplishment. But I will likely go back to sleep after that. I will tell myself that my body needs rest and recuperation, not only from this illness, but from 21 days that were jam-packed with fighting illness, holiday traditions, fun activities, LOTS of traveling, and figuring out how to be parents to two children that are still getting to know and trust us.

I do need rest. But the real truth of why I’m still in bed is summed up in this text I just sent my husband:

I just can’t face the thought of getting back to life without them. I can’t stomach up the courage to unpack their stuff or go in their rooms. So it feels better to hide in here, where I can avoid my grief.

Sounds healthy, huh? Maybe not, but there it is, raw and real. It’s hard to understand this sadness and longing, even for me. As the flood of tears continues to fall, I keep telling myself, Stop it! Quit being a baby! They are away from you, but they are not dead. Grow up! This is not something to cry over. What would people think of you crying like this?…  But then I have to kick that bossy, ugly, society-influenced voice out of my head and remind myself of the one thing I learned most from my miscarriage: nobody else gets to decide how you grieve, OR what you grieve for. And right now, I’m grieving. After my husband picked me up from the airport yesterday, he went to let our dogs out and came back to find me curled up in our daughter’s room, my face smothered in her blankie, bawling like a baby. I know this is only temporary, and that in a few months, they will be back here for good. But right now, their absence hovers all over this house, loud and aching and painful. When I go into the bathroom, their little bath toys are all over the floor, and the pink Hello Kitty and orange Angry Birds toothbrushes are in the jar next to mine, and I cry. When I make my way to the living room, there are two little hot pink sweater boots that were kicked off on the couch (she hates wearing shoes), and a half eaten sucker stuck to the coffee table, and I cry. In the kitchen are sippy cups on the drying rack, prune juice and pizza in the fridge, and scribbled crayon drawings taped everywhere, and I cry some more. Don’t get me started on their bedrooms. As a teenage girl would say, I can’t even.

The only room that feels safe is my little bedroom, where I can hide under the covers, away from the lingering reminders of the two skinny little goobers that have stolen my heart forever. I can hide, and I can sleep. But even here I’m not safe. Because I don’t need all the visible reminders to make me think of them. Who am I kidding? They are all I think about. They are in every thought, their names are breathed out in every prayer, and they somehow find their way into even my dreams. There is no escaping them. And even as I cry and grieve and ache to hold them again, I wouldn’t avoid the pain if I could. Because this pain reminds me that the deepest longings of my heart for so very long are finally coming into fruition: I am a mother. My babies are not with me. One is with Jesus; two are in Florida. But physical location doesn’t change familial position. I am their mother; they are my children.

And as I tearfully ponder these things, I feel I am finally beginning to understand, in a smaller way, the implications of what it means to be adopted as sons of God. I am convicted, as I realize how rarely I long for heaven the way I long for these children to be back in my arms. Do I long to be in the arms of my Father the way I ache to hold my son and daughter?

This time of separation from my children is so temporary. I already know the ending. The ending is that we will all be together, one family. In adoption, we often use the term Forever Family. This is because these children need a reassurance that they can have a sense of permanence, a feeling of rootedness, a deep trust that no one is going to abandon them ever again. “Forever” is a word that we use to help them understand that.

But there is really only one true forever, and it’s not here on earth. The hard truth is that I will leave my children one day. My body will stay, and my spirit will go to be with the One that my heart was created to long for. I pray every day that my son and daughter one day join me in this forever family. I am so thankful for adoption, not simply because it means that my empty arms will be filled, but for the greater reason that goes well beyond ourselves and our own little family. The beauty of adoption is that my sweet son and daughter will grow up hearing about Jesus. They will be fed with the Word, they will gather with the body of believers, and they will be prayed for daily. What a precious gift. Remembering this makes the waiting more bearable, and the truth of God’s Word provides great comfort:

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience. (Romans 8:18-25)

So I will patiently wait…not only now, to be reunited with my children, but for that wondrous day of redemption, when we are with our gracious Father and our forever family at last.

I will wait, and I will cry. And that’s okay.
Because one day, there will be no more tears.