God's Child, Our Joy

An adoptive family's journey in faith and life


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The time has come…

Happy New Year to you all! Once again it has been a while, but while it has been busy (as life always seems to be these days), it has been pretty uneventful. Unbelievably, Eva turned 5 right before Christmas! That’s right, we were blessed with this wonderful miracle 5 years ago already. Where has the time gone?

As she has grown, she has also started to ask more questions about her family and her beginning. People often ask us: Do the kids know they are adopted? Do they see or talk to their birth mother? How much do they understand about adoption? My replies often follow something like this: “We have regular contact with their birth mother. We speak of adoption and how they were in her tummy, but she was unable to care for them, so she asked us to be their mommy and daddy. However, I don’t know how much they actually understand.” Eva has said things in the past that makes us think she understands quite a bit, but we aren’t sure. She has also recently started talking more about her sisters and about missing them.

Well, tonight it happened and I wasn’t quite prepared. We were sitting and coloring…just the two of us…and she starts talking about her older sister, the one that lives with their birth mother. I’m not paying really close attention because this is not something unusual for her. Then I hear something about what it was like when she (Eva) lived with them. I calmly respond, “Oh honey, you didn’t ever live with them. You have only lived with us.” Eva, while still coloring, says, “She just gave us to you because she didn’t want us?” I look up from coloring and my heart breaks. This is the exact thing we are supposed to protect adopted children from thinking and feeling. They were not rejected! They were loved! They were so loved that their birth mother knew she wanted better for them! I look at her, with my heart pounding, thinking, I can’t screw this up. This is the moment. Why didn’t I prepare better for this? Once again, I calmly responded, “Of course she wanted you! She loved you so much, but she didn’t have a place to live and she didn’t have the things to take care of you. She wanted you to have a place to live forever where you would be loved and cared for the way she wanted you to be.” Eva continues to color and doesn’t say anything, so I ask, “Is it okay that you live with us?” She looks up briefly and says with a smile, “Yes! I just miss my other family…my old mommy, daddy, and sister.” With all sincerity, I say, “It’s okay to miss them and they will always be your mommy, daddy, and sister. We are just your mommy and daddy, too.”

That was it. The conversation was over. She began talking about the nutcracker she was coloring. The moment was gone. As I reflect back I wonder if I handled it right, if I made her feel secure and loved. I also know this is only the beginning. The strange thing in it all is that I meant every single word. It is okay for her to miss her birth family. They are her mommy and daddy, too. When we first started this process I thought I would be so jealous and insecure about my kids having another family, but now that I’m living it I know how important it is for their sense of identity and well being. And still, she is my daughter and he is my son. Every fiber of my body and mind respond as if they are my own flesh and blood. Five years later, I thank God for the opportunity to know this kind of love.

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When to open your heart

“When we long for life without difficulties, remind us that oaks grow strong in contrary winds and diamonds are made under pressure” – Peter Marshall

Love, like so many things in adoption, is more complicated. When did you love your child? When you first found out you were expecting? When you first saw them? When you held them? For us, loving this child will be the best part of the whole process. The best part of adoption can also be the worst part.

Let’s assume that we get a call about a baby at the hospital. Is this the point I love the baby as my own? When I see them at the hospital? What if I see them as a stranger? I know I will love the child as my own, I just don’t know when.

I have a suspicion of when it will be, based off stories from other adoptive parents. For most of them, it was right away, which will probably be us. Here in lies the problem. What happens when I open up my heart to this child and things don’t go the way we want and we lose that child? Did we just lose our child? Were we lying to ourselves?

There always exists the chance of reversing the adoption. There were some heart wrenching stories of children that were loved for many months only to be taken away and given to the biological parents. We heard many a story where they were constantly assured by birth mom that she wouldn’t change their mind, only to see every member of birth mom’s family at the hospital giving them the stink eye, then finding out that birth mom has changed her mind, and asking you to please leave (well, please if you’re lucky). These stories are devastating to hear.

In the end, there are two truths that helped them move on. First, no matter how small a time you’ve had a child, and loved them, that can never be taken away from that child. They are changed forever because of that time they spent with you. Second, this hardship will lead you on the path to the child you were intended to parent.

So, if we open our hearts, and lose a child, will it be hard to open up again? Yes, but am I really going to end up in a place where I tell my child latter in life “I’ve loved you ever since finalization”? I don’t think so.