OK, so be forewarned...this post isn't going to be exactly "warm and fuzzy". I feel myself getting angry just thinking about all of the well intentioned people telling me what a wonderful thing we are doing, how lucky our girls are, and what a wonderful, "normal" family we have. None of these things could be farther from the truth.
You see adoption was not God's plan for children. God's original plan for children was to live in a family comprised of a mom, a dad, and their children. It is only because of sin and brokenness that we have orphans, who now require the care of other adults when their birth parents can't or won't take care of them any longer. Each orphan comes with a story....the reason why he or she isn't with the birth parents.
Each of my girls have a story. A story that would break your heart. As I sat in the orphanage on Monday hearing Raimonda's "story" I felt myself tearing up at what this child had been through at such a young age. I will not share it, or any of my girl's stories, as they are personal. They are their stories to share, if and when, they feel led to do so. They are each very personal and heart wrenching; a piece of them...their history, their past, their tragedy that led them to become orphans. It is a part of them forever and when they reach a certain age they will each have to deal with what that story means to them. They will experience pain. Pain at the loss of their birth family. Pain at the loss of a culture. Pain as they process the questions of why they were abandoned. This is a painful process for all orphans and it causes GRIEF!
Bill and I have our own story. One that includes the pain of infertility because all we wanted was to be a mom and dad, because that is how God designed us. Every month for 6 long years we grieved the child that would never be. Finally, we had to come to terms with our own loss; the loss of never giving birth to a baby who would carry our DNA, our looks, our moods, our little idiosyncrasies that make us who we are. GRIEF
Our own story became saturated in more grief when we had to bury Grace. The worst kind of pain I have ever experienced in my life and one that I would never wish upon anyone else EVER! More GRIEF!
The addition of Hannah and Anita to our family 22 months ago was a wonderful thing, but it was a difficult transition as our little family of 4, who had worked very hard to redefine ourselves after Grace's death, experienced more growing pains. We again experienced the pain and agony of loss...the loss of our intimate circle that had comforted all of us after the death of a sister and daughter. We had become very close and I cannot describe adequately the intimacy that we shared. Losing someone close like that forces you to share a bond that nobody else can enter into. Yes, they can walk beside you in your pain, but they can NEVER fully enter into it with you. Even more GRIEF!
So, here we are again. Entering into the adoption mode. I guess I had never fully understood what happens every time we add a child to our family through adoption. I am slowly beginning to understand what a painful process it is. (OK, I'm a slow learner. It took me 3 times to figure it out!) Looking back at the first 2 times I can now see that it is a slow transition to add a child to your family in this way. There is nothing natural about it. We are not "normal" in any sense of the word.
The process itself is a slow and painful process. Anyone who has gone through it or walked through it with us knows the amount of paperwork, hassles, running around, waiting, more paperwork, and waiting involved to even get to this point. There is a reason for all of the mundane work that you have to go through to adopt. They want to make sure that you are serious about wanting to go through with it. Even though we have "stuck it out" through this process three times now I don't think we are ever fully prepared for the addition of a new child into our family.
Now, here we are adding a 5 year old child who has only called an institution her "home" and has never known what a family looks like (other than a 5 week hosting period last winter) into our family. This is difficult! We know that a family is so much better for her than what her future held in an orphanage but she doesn't know that and won't know it for a long time. She doesn't know what a loving touch is. She has never received them on a regular basis, so she doesn't know how to receive them or how to give them. She doesn't know appropriate boundaries for play, volume of her voice, who she can trust, who is a stranger, how to allow others to love her and care for her. She has only ever known herself and the coping mechanisms that she has developed to meet those inner needs that she may never even recognize. This all leads to much frustration. For her. For us. We want to lavish her with the love that we know she needs, but she's so resistant to it because of fear. Although the orphanage is no home for a child it provided her with the comfort of consistency and that is now gone. GRIEF!
Our home has been disrupted. Our routines, our ability to come and go as we please, the ability to reserve one hotel suite instead of 2 separate rooms, our ability to have one of the girls bring a friend with them in the van....all disrupted. GRIEF! I know that some of these things seem like simple things, but when you compile them on top of all of the other layers then it causes deep, deep pain. Pain for all of us. GRIEF
So, when you look at our family from the outside, you may see a happy, "normal" family, but please remember that we are anything but "normal" and although we are happy to have had the privilege of adding 6 daughters to our family it is not without a cost. For all of us, but most importantly for each of our girls. So, please don't ask them about their stories. They will share them if they want, in their time. We all have a lot to process and each time we bring a new member into the family it opens up sores for each of us in different ways.