…there just aren’t the words.
This was adoption day.
I had gotten to the point where I never thought it would happen. 980 days and 537 days after entering foster care–nearly all of my daughters’ lives and far too much of my son’s, they’re mine. I still don’t believe it happened.
The feelings are unbelievably complicated. There is utter and perfect joy. There is this sneaking satisfaction that it is OVER. It’s sneaking because you can’t believe it. And then the realization flows over you and it is amazing. And then you forget only to remember again. It’s like realizing you’re done with college but a thousand, million times better.
These have been the hardest, most horrible, most devastating, most wonderful times of my life. There aren’t words for what it is like to be a foster parent. It is so damn horrible. And then you know you would do it again. Even if we are just talking about the first two I fostered and who left, (leaving me broken), I’d do it again. In a second. For them. Because I love them. It was worth the pain to see them and their mother get better. There just aren’t words. If you know a foster parent, you give them a hug. They are carrying burdens you can not possibly understand if you haven’t done it yourself.
But there are more feelings that just satisfaction after adoption. There is sorrow. Sorrow for their first mom–I can’t help but love her. She brought these beautiful children into the world, she loved them, and she had to let them go. She didn’t want to, and it’ll never stop being a tragedy for her. I am so sorry for that. I know it’s not my fault, but that doesn’t change my sorrow for her pain.
A friend of mine and I were talking recently. We’re both adoptive moms. And as such–we both experience a feeling that I call the “jackalness.” It’s the realization that your joy, your prayers, your happiness, your dreams, they all come at the expense of another person. We talked of the desire to have children the traditional way. Not, of course, because we would love that “biological” child any more. I honestly don’t think it’s possible to love any being more than I love my little ones. They’re such miracles. I don’t have the words.
But that’s beside the point. The point is that in having children the traditional way–you get a gift that you don’t even realize is yours. I have a few pregnant friends right now. I hope you can take a moment to recognize that you get something that adoptive moms don’t get. You get the chance to have unfettered joy. (It isn’t that it will happen that way every time. Lives and children and marriage and love and reproduction–it’s complicated. There are lots of feelings. And lots of circumstances.) But the right circumstances–the ones with unfettered joy–they always include a couple who loves each other and who are bringing into the world a child who is desired and adored.
Adopted children are desired and adored.
But…they are not desired and adored without the realization that someone else grieves. That is the fetter. It doesn’t matter if the birth mother decided before birth to give up the child for adoption, it doesn’t matter if the birth mother abandoned the baby. It doesn’t matter if child protective services stepped in and other things happened. They grieve. There might be other feelings. But I am absolutely certain there is grief.
And with this adoption, there is joy. JOY. There is this realization that my prayers were answered. They were answered. There is in this realization that in answering my prayers God showed me that He loves me. He loves Amanda. I don’t know why my prayers were the ones that were answered. I expect that part is complicated too. But as I look at my sweet babies, I am astounded at the level of blessing I have been given. I think back to my life pre-child and I wonder how I was ever happy when it was so empty. I work my butt off right now. I literally work from the moment I wake until I sleep. I am so tired. And I wouldn’t have it any other way. If you don’t have a child, you don’t know this feeling. When you become a parent, a good one, you’re like the grinch. Your heart grows in size and depth. The ability to love changes you. It changes the feel of your heart in your chest. I know that people who choose to be childless or who can not have children might be rolling their eyes at me. That’s okay. You either get this feeling or you don’t. But if you’re one of the ones who have had a child and had your heart change and grow and deepen and become a sun within your chest with love so hot and wonderful it sometimes hurts, then you get me.
I am so thankful. I can’t even believe how thankful I am. I feel like I could kneel every moment of every day in gratitude and it would never be enough. I am so, so, wordlessly grateful. I don’t have the words to express my gratitude to my Father in Heaven. I am glad that God knows all things for He knows them how grateful I am for the children and blessings I have been given.
So, it happened. I think I might always be astounded at what I have been given. I think I might always have this sneaking, shocking, wonder as I look at these children and recognize that I am just so blessed that I don’t even have the words.
*If you like our family photo and are in town, check out: www.novembersun.com She takes excellent photos and was kind enough to do our adoption day photos for free.