Several years ago one of my dear friends from college, Denise Grogan, aka ‘Groag” called me long distance at a difficult time in my life and in the course of the conversation said a phrase that has stuck with me- instead of just saying “I’m praying for you friend”, she said “I’m carrying you to the Father”. Wow. What a image that evoked in my mind. At a time when I was weak, weary, and didn’t even know how to pray, my friend was ‘carrying me to the Father’.
Lately, there have been so many times when I have felt my shoulders ache as I have ‘carried’ folks to the Father. I have had such a heavy heart about so many situations. I am intimately involved with parents who desperately want to adopt, and children who desperately want to be adopted as well as families who are struggling with the challenges of a family built through adoption. My heart aches for the unexpected losses and I grieve for the children who are never chosen. Sometimes I just have to shut my mind off to keep from replaying a certain situation over and over in my head. Foster care and adoption are just hard- and even when the ending of the story seems so sweet, there is loss.
For adoptive parents, there is such joy in a new beginning, in welcoming a child into your home and your heart, but that is not all of the story. It’s not all of your child’s story. Even if your child was a newborn when they came home, there is more to their story.
My heart and my head have known this for years, but recently it’s become much more personal as Serenity and I have had several discussions (that she instigated) about what she has lost through adoption. Her situation was not good.at.all. And her birth mother did not do the right things.at.all. But Serenity lost her family and she is trying to understand it. She loves us and never questions that she is loved SO MUCH, but we are naive if we think our adopted kids don’t want to know, don’t deserve to know and don’t have a right to know that we value where they came from. We don’t have to accept what happened to them, to go into detail about what happened, or to even like their birth parents, but what we do have to do is to listen, to put ourselves in their place, to seek out the information that we can and allow them at age appropriate times to know that information. Of course there is truth that must be told in its time, but we should never downplay the importance of their birth families, talk about them in negative, cutting and critical ways, or refuse to listen to our children talk about them. Unless we were adopted ourselves, there is no way to truly understand. I ache for my daughter and with all I am, I wish I could know how she feels. I want her to know that she is important, valued, treasured and loved in a deep unconditional way and yet I want her to know that I value who she really is; not just the fact that she’s an Erwin now, but ALL of who she is. It’s part of the healing process; a process that may last a lifetime, a process that requires me to be intentional and purposeful, a process the pushes me outside myself and gets my feelings off my sleeve. How I pray that I will become the parent I just described. My daughter deserves it. All adopted children deserve it.