I went into adoption absolutely certain that I could and would love children born to another woman.
I was right.
I knew long before I met my girls that my love could run as deep, steady and strong for a child I chose through adoption as a child I gave birth to.
But there was also a lot I didn’t understand until I gave birth to my son.
Before we adopted I naively thought that love for my daughters would come instantly and feel deeply maternal.
I was wrong.
While I did fall instantly in love with my daughters, it was a very different kind of love than the love I felt when I gave birth to my son a year and a half later.
It took day in, day out, month after month after long month of choosing to love my daughters before those feelings of natural, instinctive, maternal love came to me.
In theory I loved them fully and intimately, but realistically
we were strangers
and we needed to get to know each other.
I hadn’t spent nine months feeling the stirrings under my heart. I hadn’t held them for those first breaths and watched each tiny movement. I hadn’t witnessed the steady growth and development and learned what experiences formed in them their character and who they had become.
I have missed so much and I grieve that deeply.
When my son was born his innocence and purity took my breath away. He was…and still is…so unscarred by this world.
My daughters never had that experience. Even prenatally they struggled against circumstances beyond their control.
They fought for survival even before their first breaths.
I would give anything to give them the innocence my son got to experience, but I can’t and that is hard.
It is hard to look into my daughter’s eyes and see longing there as she says, “Mommy, I wish I grew in your tummy.”
Or to hold her shuddering little body as she cries tears of grief and loss for her birth mother…tears that she can’t even understand they are so complex and raw.
When my daughters came to me at 7 and 5 years old, they had personalities, character traits and a whole life that I knew very little about.
Sometimes that still gets in the way.
Sometimes I see fear, and I don’t know why it’s there.
Sometimes I see pain, and I don’t know what it’s about.
Sometimes there are vivid memories of people and places that I don’t know and I have no way of knowing if these memories are accurate and true or distorted by a child’s memory.
They’re looking to me for answers and I don’t know what to say.
Sometimes I see anger and resentment and I have no words to unravel the pain behind it all.
Sometimes I am the one battling the deep feelings of loss, of insecurity, of resentment and of exhaustion.
It is so tiring to constantly battle the layers upon layers of grief, fear, loss and trauma written on the hearts of children who have seen and heard and felt the unimaginable.
There is always always an unknown factor to consider.
Just because I chose this doesn’t mean it’s easy.
It’s not always fun.
Hurt makes people hurt.
Fear makes people push away.
Betrayal makes hearts break and the healing is slow and painful.
Sometimes I just want a normal family.
Yes, it’s true and I said that out loud.
Sometimes the guilt of that tears me apart.
But so many other times I see love, and I feel honoured to be their mother.
I see happiness and it overwhelms me with joy.
I see healing and it makes me fall to my knees in worship to the One who can bring redemption out of so much pain.
So many people see all the hurt and pain that often goes along with adoption and they decide they could never do it.
Too many risks.
And it’s true…after having experienced both adoption and natural birth, I will atest to the fact that giving birth is probably easier.
It’s the natural way to receive a child, the way our Creator first designed for families to be born.
But what about when the original design falls apart?
What about when pain and destruction and sin enter in?
Ripping, tearing, breaking;
leaving wounds upon both the innocent and the guilty?
Is there any hope of redemption?
A thousand times yes!
I cannot begin to pour enough passion into these words.
To let you see,
to let you feel
the incredible grace
that our Father pours upon those who choose to engage the pain.
How he takes the ashes and creates beauty from them.
How he takes the broken and uses the scars to proclaim His glory.
How he bathes us in grace upon grace.
How he heals and transforms and gifts.
How we see the gospel through this thing we call adoption.
It is probably true that nothing quite prepares you to face the pain of this.
But it is absolutely true that nothing will prepare you for the rewards you will experience and the victories you will be a part of.
Nothing will prepare you for the small things that will bring you joy,
the grace you will receive
and maybe most of all the love that will grow strong in your heart for these children you’ve chosen as yours.
It will become their identity.
It’s my favourite thing to say.
One of my favourite narratives in scripture is the account told in Hosea of God lavishly loving upon the people who had turned their backs on him.
Hosea 2:23 says,
“I will sow her for Myself in the land. I will also have compassion on her who had not obtained compassion, And I will say to those who were not My people, ‘You are My people!’ And they will say, ‘You are my God!'”
When I read these words, there is something that resounds within my heart.
I will say to those who were once not my own
“You are mine!”
I will choose, despite all odds, to
upon these people who were once strangers to me.
And in it all, the unthinkable will occur…
we will become one.
A testimony of grace and redemption.
So even though adoption can be hard and messy and complicated
it is so worth it and in it’s own way
it is so beautiful.
I’d do it all again in a heartbeat.