Adoption lessons

It is absolutely crazy to think, but it has been a year since we walked off that plane with Bridget and became a family of six (You can see our journey to bring Bridget home here)  What crazy, wild year it has been!

Here are the first pictures we ever got of Bridget - we never got a picture of her smiling, she always looked sad and angry.
                               

Now this girl is known by her big smile and is the most joyful girl ever!




         

It has not been an easy year, but looking back I am amazed by what God has done in our family.  Bringing Bridget home was no easy task. The road to get her was long and hard - not knowing if we'd raise the money, get the referral, when we would travel... Then once home it was crazy transition.  Kids crying, parents crying, growing pains like we have never felt before!  But now, a year later, we can't imagine life without this little girl.  She brings life and energy to this family.  She is a best friend to her sisters, a friend to everyone she meets and a ball of joy and laughter wherever she goes.

Through this past year, God has shown me a lot about adoption, and some of the misconceptions or opinions people have about it too - so I thought I'd share some of those learned things with you - sort of my "Top 3" list.



The "Happily Ever After" Myth:

A lot of people assume that once you get home, the hard stuff is over.  You are all madly in love with one another, birds are singing and your are wrapped in a rainbow blanket of happiness and love.  WRONG!!!
Look at his picture:

See how it is sort of blurry and how two of our kids are scowling?  This picture was a foreshadowing of the next few months.  Our lives were a blurry mess and someone was always on the verge of crying.  Kids were hiding in their bedrooms refusing to come out and socialize.  I was jet lagged, extremely sick, overwhelmed and my ability to take a shower before 1pm was gone.  Bridget wandered around her new world intrigued yet unaware of how anything worked.  She had no concept of personal space and would sit practically on top of anyone near her.  The girls would get frustrated that Bridget would stand, uninterested, in front of their movie and then cry, fuss, whine that she was in the way.  Toys and books were getting broken everyday because Bridget had never had these things and hadn't learned to be careful so most everyday was spent fixing toys, wiping tears of sisters who had their toy broken and teaching Bridget how to play/use things correctly.   Dinners were flung across tables and breakfast was picked at like raw badger meat.  "NEDDA!!" was the only word the girls seemed to speak to Bridget, and I was no better, feeling as if every word out of my mouth was "no".

  It was brutal.  I felt as if we had ruined everyone's life with this decision.  Our once happy, easy going life was now turned upside down. This sweet child from Africa was now unhappy once again  with new boundaries and rules again (Hadn't we just done that in Uganda?) I felt I couldn't say much to anyone because "we had chosen this" and honestly, most everyone we saw was saying "aren't you so happy?!?!?" "It's all so wonderful!"  "You are all together" as if we were now living in the "happily ever after" but truth was, it felt like we were drowning!  I knew we would all figure it out eventually and I kept telling the girls "by Christmas we will be ok" but I'm not going to lie to you - those were some of the darkest, hardest months of my life.  There didn't seem to be much "happily ever after" it was just hard.  We had to have a lot of tough conversations with our kids.  We had to pray a lot for ourselves and our patience.  We cried a good amount of tears.  And by the grace of God, things were better by Christmas, but there is still a long way to go.  The journey doesn't end at the airport - it keeps going!

The "pedestal" award:
When you adopt, you somehow become some sort of saint.  "How great that you adopted!"  "That's such an amazing thing you did!"  "Wow, you are like Oprah, but instead of giving away free cars, you adopt children"  It's crazy!  This phenomenon is so, so humbling.  Especially since, as you just read, those first few months of transition were so brutal.  People would come up to me and say how wonderful we were to adopt and I would just look at them and plaster on that fake smile and say "thank you", but on the inside I was crushed, thinking about how just moments before I had lost it yelling that a cup of milk was spilled, again, or a book was torn, again, or how kids would walk out of the room if Bridget walked in, how I had just how an hour long conversation about how we needed to love out of obedience to a six year old girl who didn't like how much things had changed in her once easy life.  People were showering us with compliments when all I could see was my multiple failing each and everyday.  We didn't adopt because we are super awesome, amazing people (although, obviously, we are).  We adopted because that is what God called us to do.  I don't think we are doing anything above or beyond what God has asked from all Christians which is to care for the orphans and defend the fatherless.  Some people do that by mentoring, financially supporting ministries, sponsoring a child, doing foster care etc.  God simply asked us to adopt, and we simply said yes.  No pedestal needed.  

The "You rescued them" opinion:
This one I hear a lot, that we have "rescued" our children from a horrible life in Africa. How without us, their lives would have been miserable. How great it is that we are able to offer them a better life.  This couldn't be further from the truth.  We rescued no one.  Are there children that are horribly abused, mistreated, neglected, exploited and in need of help?  ABSOLUTELY!  But there are also a great number of children that are orphans due to poverty and disease.  They had loving and nurturing families that could no longer care from them, or died due to illnesses.  Also, to compare America to Africa is sorta like comparing apples to boom boxes.  there is no comparison.  None.  When a lot of people hear that our daughter came from a rural part of Uganda with no electricity and she lived in a mud hut with a thatched roof they think "poverty".  Granted, if you put her village in an American city, I might agree with you, but again, you can't compare America and Africa.  Our daughter had a home.  She had access to good food, (fertile farmland and a lake full of fish).  She had access to a village school.  She was loved and cared for, but the family member that was taking care of her had HIV and knew eventually she wouldn't be able to care for Bridget at all.  There was no great rescue here, just a girl who was so well loved that her caretaker wanted to see that love continued by a family.  
Will our adopted children have a better life in America?  I guess they will have more access to "things".  There is easier access to healthcare and education.  They'll get to see movies, go on roller coasters and eat ice cream, but that doesn't necessarily make it 'better" (especially since a lot of that stuff is stuff they would have never even known they were missing had they stayed in Africa).  They could have survived and thrived in Africa.  It wouldn't look the same as it would in America, but Africa isn't America.  
I am crazy thankful that we get to bring these children into our homes.  I am so blessed that these kiddos, despite losing and leaving so much, call me mama.  If anything, adoption has helped rescue me.  Adoption has rooted out sin in my heart like nothing else - that desire to choose the easy path has long gone.  The road to easy, we passed it a few years ago.  Clean house?  never again.  Savings account?  HA!  I didn't rescue my kids - the only rescuer is Christ, and through him we have all been adopted, rescued and redeemed.

It has been an incredible year and we eagerly await the return of my husband and our son (who are still in Uganda finalizing that part of the adoption).  I know we have another huge wave of transition ready to sweep us away from what we now call normal, but I trust by Christmas we will have dried off and found our footing in being a family of 7.






Comments

  1. This is so beautiful and honest!!! You're such a great writer. More, please!

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