Friday, April 15, 2016
The normalness of my spring day kept me clicking along. Work-out, check. Shower, check. Self-indulgent pedicure, check. Time to get lunch for the kiddos and head to pick them up. They would be hungry and waiting, as usual. There would be hugs and kisses and whining for food, as usual - a normal Thursday.
Until it wasn't. Until I saw her.
Let's back up about four years to when we started our adoption process. I wanted to do an international adoption for a million reasons. While my motives for this were mixed as motives tend to be, selfishly, I did not want to have to deal with birth family drama. I wanted to be able to hold that complicating pain and tragedy at arm's length - ocean's length, really. In my naive mind, it felt like that separation would be simpler and easier for our family. No one holding any claim to my children would be on the continent.
I didn't realize that those claims are written on their hearts no matter where their biological family lives. I didn't understand that I would be forever and inextricably linked with their full stories regardless of where the story originated. Until going through our adoption process and realizing the utter joy, miracle and majesty that comes on our side, I didn't and couldn't grasp the pain, hardship and inequity found on the other side.
Why didn't I know that I would have to hold both in my heart?
Adoption is truly heart-rending in the best and worst of ways, and even as I write, tears cascade down my cheeks, dripping to my chin and hovering there, wondering if they can even make it off my face. I guess I should wipe them now, but I'm glad they are there. The tears do something to lessen the visceral pain inside that goes right along with the beauty.
I saw our birth mom yesterday for the first time in person. She didn't see me, and she wouldn't know me if she did, because we've never met. She couldn't know how my heart dropped. She couldn't know how my heart ached. She doesn't know what we share - her children, my children. I've been the one to kiss them and feed them and tuck them in at night, while she's never met them. It's not fair.
I choked down all of the words that have never been said between us. There was no "thank you" or "I'm sorry" or even, "I hope you are having a nice day." I didn't get to tell her that our children are doing so well and developing into amazing little people with full-blown personalities and likes and dislikes and words of their own. It all went unsaid.
What I wanted to have safely tucked around the world is actually walking around in my city. While we have an excellent and treasured relationship with much of the birth family, unfortunately, she is not included in that. I wish that things could be different for us all, but those are not my choices to make.
After a fair bit of sobbing in the car and talking to John and another friend, I pulled myself together. I went and hugged the children that she and I share. I fed them lunch with friends. When they got "owies," I cuddled and coddled them. I rejoiced in the simple joy that it is to know and love them as my own.
Then I sat down to write this, because it matters, and I need to face our reality and hold us all in prayer. I need strength and wisdom and grace to raise each of my children, biological and adopted. She and I need God's grace and healing in our lives in ways that I probably can't even imagine. Facing the true inequity in the world forces me to look to God and ask hard questions and know that there are no firm answers this side of heaven. I will never understand the whys, but I want to be fully surrendered to the one who does. God knows, and while it breaks my heart, I will trust him. None of this is by accident. We are all put together for his purposes, and I know it is for our good and his glory - even when it's hard.
Especially when it's hard like yesterday was.