“Would you do it again?” she asked, curious to know my answer as she watched the tears fall down my face. I knew what she was really wanting to know–was all the pain worth it?
I think it is easy to romanticize adoption, to paint this fairytale story where there are heros and villains, dramatic turns and plot twists that eventually lead to happy endings for the people involved. I used to see the ads play on TV tugging at the viewers emotions with pictures of beautiful children in need of homes, sweet smiling families embracing them and words like “changing lives” echoing in the background, alluding to sweet promises of the power you hold to change everything. I used to watch them and bite my tongue, physically forcing myself to stop the words I wanted to yell at the TV screen. I understood the point of the ads, I understood the need, I just wished it was more accurate. Real life is not a fairy tale. But would people still say yes if they knew what was coming? That thought makes my heart sink, we are a culture who idolizes the easy, the fun, the “guarantees” that something will feel good and runs from the hard out of abject fear…or maybe that is just me?
I can still hear my dear friends words, spoken in love all those years ago, while we were fighting to adopt our first three girls through foster care, she knew well what the road ahead could hold if we insisted on saying yes, she had already been dwelling years in those trenches, “You don’t HAVE TO adopt them you know?” I did know.
I lost track of the number of people who questioned why in our twenties we would agree to adopt two teens from foster care, or the number of social workers and therapists who would try and dissuade us as well. At the time I was irritated with them all for trying to change our minds about doing this wonderful thing, I thought kids in foster care NEEDED families after all? Looking back, I can now see that many were genuinely just trying to help us understand what they in all likelihood already knew…the road would be anything but a fairytale and the odds of us saving anyone were statistically impossible. Could they smell our naviate? Sometimes in the heartache I can still hear their words, echoing, always echoing in rhythm to the pound of my heartbeat through the stillness of my tears.
In the midst of our adoption dreams we really didn’t leave room for the messy, the broken, or just how limited we would be in this story. We also never really considered how it would be for our families who would also go along on the ride, not because they choose this but because we did. But more then anything we didn’t want to consider that when we signed up to say yes, when we signed on the legal line choosing them forever that would in NO way guarantee they would ever choose US. The beauty of us doing this in our 20’s was that we were gloriously hopeful for the future, our rose colored glasses shined up and polished to such a fine degree that the glare of their reflection could blind you. Sure, there would be hard BUT it would all be great in the end, right?
That was before the effects on our girls surfaced, like well hidden emotional bruises, from all the days before us. They would explode in their consequences and sobering reality into our lives like a set of well placed land mines–eventually leaving us sitting in a crater that looked a lot like the explosion of what once was our dreams of what life would look like. Us, hair scorched, wounds visible, smelling like fire ravaged us, sometimes in shock, we sat.
I have lost track of how many times I have questioned God in the mess, how often I have expressed my inability to navigate this road, certain I was not the right fit. If God is collecting tears, on this issue alone, I feel certain its volume could easily fill a corner of the ocean. I still have more questions than I have answers, even more than a decade later. Our girls, now parents themselves, are now both older than I was when we began our story, a fact that I often find incredible and sobering.
And so, through tears, I answered her, my sight clearer and words more certain now then the day we finalized our forevers, even knowing the hard–
“I have learned so much. I have learned that God is not looking for the perfect but for the willing. He is not asking us to change others but for us to trust Him while he changes us. He doesn’t expect us to do it alone but instead he promises he will give us himself. And most sweetly he promises that none of it, whether we see it or not, will ever be wasted. None of it.
So, I can say without hesitation that yes, I would do it all over again. While we can control so very little in the story, we can keep choosing love, we can keep saying yes, we can keep pressing on because the two things I now know are certain are that God is changing me, and that our girls will always be worth it.”