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.