Archive of ‘Adoption’ category

Dear Congo Mama

Dear Congo Mama,

I can’t get you off my mind these days.  Perhaps it’s just that Mother’s Day is peeking around the corner, taunting all of the joyful and hurting alike with the displays of greeting cards and overpriced flowers.  Or maybe it’s that remarkable, mind-blowing thing that happens in childhood.  Namely, that crazy thing called GROWING UP.  And, Congo Mama, that sweet girl of yours- that sweet girl of ours– she’s growing up so beautifully.  So smart.  So strong.  So. Brave.  It’s like I’m watching this miracle unfold before my eyes in technicolor.

Actually, it’s exactly like that.

As I write this letter, I stare at my favorite photograph of you.  You’re wearing yellow- the exact shade of yellowish-gold that always looks so stunning on Elizabeth (and, incidentally, the exact shade of yellow that I can never, ever pull off)- and you’re holding a baby.  Your firstborn.  And you look tired.  I can recognize The Look a mile away.  Probably because I am well-acquainted with that exact expression- wholly-content + mind-numbingly-tired.  Apparently life with a newborn is the same across every culture and every land.  EXHAUSTING.  I just feel this nagging urge to step through the photo, offer up a fist bump, and tell you that you’re doing a SOLID JOB at this mom thing.

Elizabeth would come years later, and you wouldn’t have the privilege of holding her, rocking her, singing sweet Swahili lullabies over her as she drifted off each night.  She would never be strapped to your back as you made your daily trek through the village for water.  She would never know your voice. She’d never hear your stories.  She’d never stand next to the fire- next to you- as you stirred and stirred and stirred the evening’s fufu.  She would never know what it’s like to grow up in a Congolese home.   In a Congolese family.

No.  Because you happened to be born where you were born and lived where you lived, your access to healthcare was woefully limited.  And your days were cut short.  This truth haunts me and motivates me nearly every day of my life.

But you know what Elizabeth does know, Congo Mama?  She knows love.  She knows the love of not one family but two.  She knows that you loved her.  That you loved your husband and you loved your children and you loved your community so well.  We talk about it.  We talk about you, Congo Mama.  Oh my word, do we talk about you.

Hey Congo Mama, as I stare at your picture and at your face that so resembles our sweet Elizabeth, I want you to know something.  I want you to know that I’m doing the very best I can.  I want you to know that I do not take this great privilege lightly.  I want you to know that I’m far from perfect.  That there are days I lose my cool and roll my eyes and rushrushrush through bedtime prayers and kisses, without giving a second thought to the notion that we’re not promised another breath.  Another kiss goodnight.  But I love this girl of ours with every ounce of love I know to give.  Thank you, thank you, thank you for giving her life.  I will always reject the notion that Elizabeth “grew in our hearts” because, sweet Congo Mama, she was yours first.

She’ll always be yours.

Ours.

Till we meet in person, Congo Mama.  With our redeemed bodies and our precious daughter and voices lifted up to the one true Giver of Life.

Happy Mother’s Day, Congo Mama.  We honor you, and we love you so much.

Catherine

Lord, be with this child.

 

Last weekend, our sweet Elizabeth Francine was baptized.  For the second time.  We weren’t there for the first.

I am told that Elizabeth was first baptized as an infant in the local church near her orphanage.  The denomination of churches to which we belong doesn’t do infant baptisms, and yet, I have always been jealous that I missed out on this.  I picture her sweet little frame held close as the life of baby “Francine” was dedicated to God.  I imagine fervent prayers being offered up to God by the body of believers in that remote eastern Congolese village.  “Lord, be with this child.”

Meanwhile, back in the States, an equally fervent body of believers was praying.  Praying as our adoption process stalled and halted and picked back up again.  Prayed as we learned of a little girl who needed a family.  Prayed, “Lord, be with this child.”

And He was.  And He is.  Several months ago, Elizabeth began talking seriously about following Jesus.  We prayed and talked and prayed some more.  “Baby girl,” we said.  “The decision to follow Jesus is not always easy.  It’s going to be an adventure- the greatest and sometimes hardest adventure you’ll ever go on.  But our God goes with us.”

Lord, be with this child.

So, Saturday night, Matt looked into Elizabeth’s eyes as they stood in front of our church.  “Elizabeth, do you believe Jesus has done everything necessary to save you?  And do you promise to do whatever He tells you to do, and go wherever He tells you to go?”

And as she went down into the water, the tears came.  Because the Lord has indeed been with this child of ours.  This child of theirs.  This child of HIS.

I wasn’t there for Elizabeth’s first baptism, but you better believe I was front row and center this go ’round.  And I’m not sure I’ve seen a more technicolor picture of our God’s faithfulness. Ever.

So, to that little church in eastern Congo, I say, “Thank you.  The Lord has heard your cries.”

And to her unbelievably strong and deeply resilient Congo family who, since Elizabeth’s birth, has begged the Lord for her salvation, I say, “Thank you, the Lord has heard your cries.”

And to our village here in the States who has come alongside our girl and our family to speak truth and love over her life, I say, “Thank you, the Lord has heard your cries.”

And to our faithful God to whom salvation belongs, I say, “Thank you.  Thank you.  Thank you so much.”

Adoption is hard. And you don’t got this.

Last night, I had the opportunity to speak for a few minutes at an orphan care meeting at church.  Over 100 people had gathered together to talk about foster care, adoption, and orphan prevention.  There were veteran adoptive parents who still shudder at the mention of the five little letters USCIS.  There were foster parents who could rattle off the names of dozens of placements who have been in and out of their homes.  There were wide-eyed couples completely overwhelmed at the whole shebang.

I have a crystal clear memory of sitting in a similar meeting at church years ago.  We were in the very early stages of adopting, were convinced we knew exactly what we were doing, and were still rocking our rose-colored glasses.  Because all we needed was love, baby!

My, how things change.

Instead.  Last night, as we were just about to pull up to church, I said to Matt, “Man, I don’t know about this.  This topic, it just feels really heavy and raw to me.”

Here’s the thing- adoption is beautiful and redemptive and is, hands down, one of the best decisions Matt and I have ever made.  But it can also be crazy hard.  And that was precisely the premise of my talk: Adoption is hard.  Adoption is messy.  And you need help.

In the short time I had last night, I threw out terms like poverty orphan.  Family reunification.  Orphan prevention.  I discussed how we, as adoptive and foster parents, need a village and how that village better include a really stellar therapist.

Rainbows and unicorns, be gone.  Catherine is in the house.

In all seriousness, I get that this message is weighty.  Tossing ideas like this out to a room full of potential adoptive and foster parents may seem a bit unconventional.  However, it’s so. very. necessary.  Because, at the end of the day, orphan care is not about us.  It’s not about us “getting a kid” or how we can be little orphan-saviors.

When we’re busy making these big decisions about agencies and countries and fundraising, you know what’s going on behind the scenes?

Loss and trauma.

Adoption is inherently rooted in this reality, and MAN have I seen it at play.

Last night, I shared that I had been chatting with Elizabeth and had asked her what she’d want people to know about adoption.  Her response?

“It’s kinda hard sometimes.  I don’t get to see my Congo family, and that’s hard.  And I know my Congo family misses me, and that’s hard too.  But it’s also kind of awesome.  Because now I get two families that love me.”

You guys, she’s five.  And yet she’s already acutely aware the intersection of loss and redemption.  She gets that it’s messy.

But as I hear Elizabeth’s little voice pray for her Congo family, and as we email pictures and videos and cute-kid-anecdotes halfway across the world to her biggest Swahili-speaking fans, we see redemption and beauty creeping in.

As I try desperately hard to shed light on the dignity and respect these first families deserve.

As we all continue to learn dependence- dependence on the village God has given us and dependence on the Giver Himself.

As I’m able to share some of our story and our mistakes, wins, and experiences with others- as I’m able to point to God’s faithfulness and goodness in it all.

Tragedy meets redemption.  Loss meets beauty.  And we find ourselves in the middle of a big, tangled, beautiful mess.

Is adoption hard?  Heck to the yes.  Is there beauty in the mess?  Absolutely.

So, potential adoptive parent, don’t let the stars in your eyes cloud your judgement and your ability to make sound, ethical decisions.  For the love, don’t assume that “all you need is love” to make a hurting child whole again.  Only God can fill that role.  And good counseling can sure help a ton.

Similarly, don’t be paralyzed by the prospect of hard.  Because the reality is that there are kids who desperately need families.  And we, as the church, have been explicitly commanded to take care of orphans.

And widows.

And teenage moms who have made the brave decision to parent.  Who are struggling to make ends meet.

And first families who have made the equally-brave decision to place their child for adoption.  And who just want to know that their little girl is okay.

Y’all, as I’ve said many times before, we can do hard things.  We just can’t do them alone.

So, open your eyes.  Wide.  Wider still.  Ask hard questions.  Find your village.  And practice these words:

“We don’t got this.  We. Need. Help.”

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Friday Favs

Oh hi, Friday Favorites bandwagon!  I’m hopping onboard.  Because books!  Music!  More books!  All good things that I’m loving!  And things that maybe you should love too.

So, here we go.  An unsolicited list of five of my favorite things that you should totally know about.

1.This week’s Archibald Project podcast with Jamie Ivey.  If you are considering adoption, you should listen.  If you have adopted and you’re feeling a bit like “uhhh what have we gotten ourselves into because this is kinda really HARD,” then you should listen.  If you have adopted and things are going along just swimmingly, you should listen.  I love Jamie’s transparency and wisdom here.

2. Speaking of adoption, I just read Jillian Lauren’s Everything You Ever Wanted this past month and LOVED. IT.  It’s a beautifully written memoir that’s centered around the adoption of her son from Ethiopia.  I highly recommend it… particularly for any adoptive parent who’s feeling alone in the world of trauma and attachment issues.  Read this, and you’ll find yourself nodding, “amen”ing, and tearing up.  Because finally!  Someone gets it!

3. Dear fellow book nerds, gather close as I fill you in on one of the best-kept book-lover secrets of our time.  I’m not talking Amazon, people.  Or Kindles.  (Oh my gosh, I don’t even know how you Kindle people do it.  Give me PAPER.  All paper all day.)  Y’all, these are the words you must learn to know and love: INTERLIBRARY LOANS.  See if your library does this.  Wake County does.  And it’s magical.  You see, our libraries here are great, but there are always books I want that they don’t have.  I’m just greedy, I guess.  And since I have real people to feed, I can’t buy every book that makes its way onto my wishlist.  But here’s where it gets crazy: my library can borrow these books from other libraries all over our great nation!  I just have to hop onto a website, click a few buttons, tell them my every bookish hope and desire, and boom.  They ship them to my local library.  For free.  For me.  Life-changing, people.  (Also, if this is old news to you, you deserve a pat on the back.  And maybe a punch in the arm for not filling me in on the secret earlier.)

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4. THIS.

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Neglecting important things like cooking and homework and clothes for better things like popsicles and bathing suits.  The kids have thirtysomething days left of school which is just crazy-town.  I’m looking forward to slowing down.  Can’t wait for more laze and less hustle.  Every year, I think I love summer more.  Check back in with me in August though.  We’ll reassess then.

5. Pat McGee Band.  Y’all.  It may be sixteen years old, but this album is the ultimate soundtrack to my spring.  Every year.  Only to be listened to on the sunniest of days.  Windows down.  Minivan overflowing with kids and crumbs.  Oh wait.  But really.  It’s Friday.  And it’s spring.  Listen to this and be very happy.  Oh, and while you’re at it, this, too, goes well with spring.  Because, Dave Matthews Band.  That’s all.

Happy Friday!

they call us family

I sent another video to Africa yesterday.

A video of sweet Elizabeth, proudly showing off her newest- her favoritest- shirt.  Chatting about dress-up clothes and birthday parties, stopping mid-sentence to ask, “Hey mom, can you send this to my Congo family?”  And, without waiting for my answer, she launched into singing.

“Jesus loves me, this I know…”

When we started the international adoption process six years ago, I never would have dreamed that we’d have an open adoption.  Never in a million years.  I had a lot of assumptions going into adoption.  I studied up.  Read tons.  Listened hard.  And still, I never even had a category for this whole open international adoption concept.  I didn’t even know this was a thing.  And if it was, it was just too scary to consider.

I didn’t know a lot of things back then.  Still don’t.

And yet, God works all things for good, even the prayers I never prayed.  He can make beauty out of my ignorance.

He can weave the lives of two families- families on opposite ends of the globe, with contexts and experiences so dissimilar it’s laughable- together into one.

We call them her “first family”.  Her “Congo family”.  They just call us family.  They call me mother.  

Few things in my life have been more humbling than to feel the undeserved love of a family I’ve never met.  The love of a family who is watching in from afar as we raise our Elizabeth- and their Elizabeth.  While we get the hugs and the “I love you”s, they watch in the still frames I email.  While we are active participants in the jam-packed days, they catch tiny glimpses in the choppy videos I send.  And as I silently wonder, “Am I enough?  Do I have what it takes to raise this precious child well?”, another email comes through: “God bless you.  We are praying.”  As if God Himself knew.

Of course He does.  He knows.  He sees.  And he continues to wind this thread.  A thread from one family in suburban North Carolina to another family in remote eastern Congo, all the while gently tugging us all back to Himself.  Reminding us of His grace that abounds in even the most unexpected of situations.

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Thinking about adoption? Here’s some unsolicited advice.

IMG_0084Three years ago, after manyMANY hours flying halfway across the world, Elizabeth landed on U.S. soil.  We had waited years for that moment, and it was indeed glorious.  Parasite-poop, intense jet-lag, and all.

As any parent can attest, all of the pre-kid preparation in the world cannot fully prepare you for the journey of parenthood.  There are some moments for which books just can’t do justice.  Adoption is no different.  Prior to Elizabeth’s arrival home, Matt and I read and we talked and we did training after training, and still, it didn’t take long to realize how much we didn’t know.

I’m often asked by families considering adoption what they can do to prepare as they wait to bring their child home. I always warn them that I am still a work in progress and still have so far to go, but I offer up what I have learned thus far into the journey.  Here we go…

Dearest Potential Adoptive Parent,

1. I know you may be starry-eyed and sweetly idealistic.  You’ve always dreamed of adopting, and now’s your time!  I get it, believe me.  But, hear me out.  As you get started, I can’t urge you strongly enough: OPEN YOUR EYES.  Widely.  Especially if you’re planning on adopting internationally.  Ask hard questions of your agency.  If there are red flags, RUN.  Fast.  Because let me just tell you: it gets infinitely harder to flee after you have seen the darling face of a waiting child.  After you “fall in love” with that face and you start seeing that waiting child as your child.

The good news is that there are some excellent agencies out there doing good, reputable work for children who truly need families.  And that there are some countries whose governments are well-poised to handle international adoptions.  The bad news is that some countries, quite honestly, have no business processing adoptions.  They just don’t.  And some agencies are doing really shady, completely unethical things.  They operate under the guise that they’re for the children when, in reality, they’re All About the Benjamins.  There’s so much more that can be said about this, but suffice it to say- do your research and proceed with caution.

2. Read!  Need a few books to get you started?  Glad you asked:

The Connected Child by Karyn Purvis.  A must-read for every adoptive parent.  Cannot recommend highly enough.

The Whole-Brain Child by Daniel Siegel

No-Drama Discipline, also by Daniel Siegel

Parenting the Hurt Child, by Gregory Keck and Regina Kupecky

These are just a few that have been hugely helpful in our own experience.  While you’re adding these to your Amazon cart, go ahead and pull up Karyn Purvis’ website and marvel at the treasure trove of free videos.  So much goodness and wisdom, right there at your disposal.  For free.  Overwhelmed by all of this right now?  Bookmark her website.  The day will come when you’ll ask yourself WWKPD (What Would Karyn Purvis Do?), and the answer likely lies within her site.

3. Get thyself in community with other adoptive parents.  I don’t care if it’s In Real Life friends or On Facebook friends, you need others who get you.  Who understand the struggles with attachment.  Who nod in solidarity when you say, “my kid just said for the tenth time today that they don’t want to be in our family anymore and that they’re packing their bags to move back to China/Haiti/Congo.”  Because, guess what, THEY’VE BEEN THERE TOO.

4. Ask for help.  Help from friends when you just. need. a. break.  Help from professionals when you feel stuck and like you’ve exhausted all your options.  Help from schools when you feel like your child isn’t being well-served.  This isn’t the time or place to act like you’ve got it all together.  Parents who are drowning aren’t going to be much help to kids from hard places.  Go ahead and identify people and resources within your community that can serve as your lifeboats.  Write them down.  And use them when you need them.

5. Adopting transracially?  Alright people, this is important.  I see and hear so much naivety here that it makes me shudder.  (P.S. do you know how I can sniff out this aforementioned naivety so quickly?  Because I have been there.  I have certainly not “arrived” and am no expert, but I’m learning.)

Anyway.  Allow me to pose a few questions.  Do you think we should “all just be colorblind” and that we live in a “post-racial America”?  That raising a little black boy or girl is no different than raising a child of your own race?  Do you balk at the notion of “white privilege”?  Well.  I’m gonna need you to take a step back and start listening.  Intently.  To voices within the black community and to adult adoptees.

Get yourself in diverse environments.  Seek out friendships with people of other races.  If we, as white adoptive parents, are raising black children in completely homogenous environments, I believe we are doing them a huge disservice.  Race matters.  It matters a lot.

6. Have realistic expectations.  We should not project expectations onto our adopted children that are unreasonable.  There will be times when we’ll need to pull back.  Times in which we’ll need to parent our kids from hard places in ways that stand in contrast to how we parent our biological kids.  Times when attachment seems shaky and we have to go back into “cocoon mode.”  Again.

There have been many times I’ve had to pull out old pictures of Elizabeth in the orphanage where she first lived.  I’ve done so to remind myself of her history.  Because, quite frankly, there have been moments I’ve thrown my hands up in frustration.  Hot tears stinging my eyes, I’ve wondered, “What am I doing wrong?  Why all these issues?  Why the epic tantrums every. single. time. I leave her?  I thought we nipped this in the bud a long time ago!”  And then.  The pictures never cease to bring me back to reality.  To remind me that it all makes sense.  Without fail, I am always the one who needs an attitude adjustment and a realignment of my expectations.  The fault lies within me, not my hurting child.

7. Receive grace.  As adoptive parents, we’re going to mess up.  There are going to be some really imperfect days.  We’re going to make racially insensitive comments.  We’re going to yell when we should be connecting.  Some of us may look back on our adoption process and agency and wonder if we may have contributed to corruption.

But grace.  There’s enough to go around.  Accept it and move on, learning along the way with a moldable, humble heart.

I’ve only been at this adoptive parent thing for a few years, and it’s been a wild ride.  It has been, hands down, the most sanctifying experience of my life.  At times, really hard.  Painful.  Because, as I’ve said many times before, all adoption begins with tragedy and loss.

But the beauty is that our God is a redemptive God.  He restores broken hearts and can redeem messy situations.  In the lives of our adopted kids.  And in our own.

Potential adoptive parent, I’m rooting for you.  As my sweet Elizabeth repeats on a daily basis, “We can do hard things.”

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what I would have said…

Today marks two years since this unbelievable day.  The day in which we, at long last, met our sweet Elizabeth will forever be etched in my mind.  The anticipation.  The sounds.  The muggy Kinshasa air.

As the months and the years pass, I reflect on this day often.  And the more I come to know our daughter, her story, and the beautiful mess that is adoption, the more weight this day carries in my mind.  There is so much I wish I could have communicated to Elizabeth that day.  Like this.  This is what I would have said…

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Sweet girl,

We love you.  Oh man do we love you.  We don’t love you for some dream fulfilled in our lives or because you somehow make us whole or because of any of your own merits.  No, baby girl, we love you because you are ours.  You’re our daughter.  And while you have no idea what this means right now, let me just give it to you straight.  I know we may have just met each other, but our love for you?  It’s fierce.  And it’s forever.  Nothing can change that.

That said, we are so sorry.  I know this day is beyond scary and overwhelming for you, and our exuberance in finally meeting you, holding you, kissing your sweet face stands in sharp contrast to what you’re feeling.  We’re disrupting the entire world you’ve known for so long, and your little heart has already had to cope with more than I can fathom.  Because, sweetheart, I don’t care what anyone tries to say, this is not the way things were meant to be.  In a perfect world, first moms and dads would be able to raise their babies.  Poverty, disease, war, and death in childbirth would be no more.

But this world we live in?  It’s broken.

You didn’t “grow in our hearts” as some will say.  No, Elizabeth, God grew you and developed you in your Congo mama’s belly.  Your mama who felt your every move and kick and who delivered you into this beautiful, messy world.  And while I love you madly and am over-the-moon-happy to call you “daughter”, I am well aware that I can never replace her.  And that’s okay.  I know there will surely come a day in which you’ll question and mourn her absence, and, darling, I’m so sorry.  My promise to you is that we’ll be there for you.  With you.  In whatever you’re feeling.  And your first family?  They will never be forgotten.  Ever.

Adoption inherently begins with tragedy and loss.  Loss that no child- no family- should ever have to endure.  But our God specializes in redemption.  And we are so unbelievably grateful to be part of that story.  Humbled that you call us mommy and daddy.  We are so undeserving.

Yes, my girl, it’s true.  It won’t take long for you to realize that we’re not perfect  We’re not going to get this all right.  We’ll fumble at this whole adoption and race and general parenting thing.  There’s this thing we talk about a lot in our house, though.  It’s called grace.  Also, love.  We have a lot of that, too.

You know, some people subscribe to the flawed notion that kids who have been adopted are damaged goods, just lucky to be saved.  To be rescued by their adoptive families.  Don’t listen to them.  You see, we’re all broken, and there’s only one Rescuer.  You’re precious and resilient and strong.  Baby girl, you must understand that we- these two imperfect people you call mommy and daddy- we are the lucky ones.

Elizabeth, you are loved.  Forever.

from eastern Congo to Raleigh, NC… reunited at last!

Once upon a time, in a small orphanage nestled in a remote village of eastern Congo, the lives of two sweet Congolese babies intersected.  Not only were they orphanage buddies, but they made the trek to Kinshasa together where they were subsequently fostered by the same family.  At that point in their lives, they were each others’ only constant.

IMG_0329Meanwhile, half across the world, the lives of two families- one in Texas, the other in North Carolina- would also intersect as we navigated the ups and downs of the adoption process together.  We flew together, met our babies together, cried together, hit US soil together.  And then we parted ways.

IMG_0383Until this weekend!!  Isaya and Elizabeth were, at long last, reunited!  His family has recently relocated and now lives just a few hours down the road, and we couldn’t be more thrilled.  Because two words: arranged marriage.

IMG_9388Isaya is quite the lady’s man.  However, Elizabeth?  She played the “hard to get” role well.  (atta girl.)

IMG_9403But girlfriend wasn’t hard to get for long.

IMG_9395It was almost too much for me to take in.  So many tears were shed over these children.  So many desperate prayers answered.

IMG_9398Sometimes all you can do is stand in awe of God’s grace and goodness.

IMG_9408So when these two fall in love one day, as they obviously MUST, they’ll have quite the story to tell.  Destination wedding in DRC anyone?

why us, what now, and the greatest privilege

The cupcakes have been ordered, the Doc McStuffins plates have been purchased, and one elusive Disney Frozen costume has been tracked down.  (For the love, Disney.  I love you, but it’s about time to kick it up a notch on the production of Elsa costumes.  Seriously.)

Elizabeth’s birthday is less than a week away, and we’re stoked.  But as I prep for her big day, I can’t shake that heavy feeling that accompanies all of these big holidays.  Birthdays, Mother’s Day, Christmas- they’re all stark reminders of Elizabeth’s story.  Of the fact that she has not one, but two, families who dearly love her.  And though we are the lucky ones who have the privilege of watching her blow out her candles and unwrap gifts, we will never forget those who are thinking of her, praying for her, half a world away.

My heart has been on quite a journey over the past few months.  Without going into much detail, we have recently had the unbelievable privilege of searching for, finding, and communicating with part of Elizabeth’s first family.  In short, it’s been amazing.  Beautiful and sacred.  One child, loved by two families.  Two families, separated by language and culture and thousands of miles, and yet united in a beauty-from-ashes sort of way through adoption.  Through love.  Love of a child and love of our God.

Recently, I’ve found it difficult to even speak about adoption.  Attempts to put all of my emotions into coherent words sound jumbled at best.  It’s odd, really, because these are the thoughts and feelings and questions that comprise so much of my internal dialogue.  The “why us?” questions- why do we get to be the ones so blessed to be raising Elizabeth?  And the “what now?” questions- how can we do this well?  This whole transracial international adoption thing.  How can we celebrate her birth country and honor her first family in authentic ways?

Sure, I can serve Congolese cuisine.  We can have dance parties to Congolese music.  I could learn to do the most beautiful cornrows in the world.  And we will absolutely continue to pray daily for Elizabeth’s Congolese family.  But all of that even seems to fall short.  Because, when it comes down to it, it’s all just too humbling for me to wrap my mind around.  And so much bigger than us.  That God would allow us to call Elizabeth our child.

I guess the answer to so much of this is Jesus.  Which, at face value, may totally sound like a cop-out “Sunday school” answer.  But I’m for real.  Because we can listen to every expert out there.  Consult all of the books.  We can try and try and try, and still we’ll screw up.  Just like, ya know, everything in life.  We’ll never be perfect parents to Elizabeth, nor will we be to Carson and Mary Grace.  Thankfully, Jesus came to be perfect in my place.  So that, as we parent each of our children [imperfectly], we are able to point them to Jesus rather than all of the awesome things we’ve done.

To be able to say to our kids, “Hey, look.  We’ve done the best we know how, but we’re far from perfect.  But thank God that He didn’t place us in your lives to be perfect parents but to point you guys to the One who was perfection.  Who embodied love and grace.  God in flesh.  Savior.”
Now, that’s the greatest privilege yet.

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mother’s day

Let me give it to you straight.  Our child’s birthmother will die.  We have a lot to catch you up on, and I do indeed plan to do that soon.  But it’s a somber fact that has haunted me all of this “mother’s day week” that by the time we will adopt our African child, he will have already experienced the death of his birthmother.  The woman who felt his squirming and kicks in utero and who cried out in anguish with each painful contraction will never have the chance to see her precious baby grow up.  Some days, I just can’t seem to shake the thought of the tragedy and loss that will forever be part of our adopted child’s story.  Today is one of those days.

 

Truth be told, my heart is more than a little heavy this mother’s day.  Don’t get me wrong.  I love my mom and celebrate her today.  But I also know that this holiday is opening some still-raw wounds for so many around us.  In the past year alone, I can name far too many of you who have dealt with

Infertility

Death

Failed adoptions

Broken relationships with their mothers

 

We live in a fallen world in which all of these things are real and painful and can so quickly disrupt the happy little Hallmark holiday that we are told to celebrate today.

 

To those of you who are aching or bitter or just straight-up numb today, I am so sorry.  May you find comfort and hope in knowing that there is a God who redeems and restores and makes beauty from ashes.  Because, in the midst of the hugs and kisses and cards and mother’s day wishes lavished upon me by my two kids, this is the truth that I myself am clinging to today.

 

Happy mother’s day, y’all.

 

 

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