The definition of love

That catchy phrase: “all you need is love” is not true.

I have heard adoption representatives saying that parents need to be ready to offer abundant love. If there is lots of love it will all be alright. I disagree. Because there is a human limitation to this love proclaimed. So I guess we first need to make sure our definition of love has common ground. Maybe therein lies the problem. 

Adopted children have special emotional needs. An invisible wound, a specific one, but a wound nonetheless. Adults like to control the pain, and most adoptive parents think that if they adopt the child as early as possible, they (as a team) will dodge the trauma. As it turns out, children who have been separated from their birth mother right after birth carry with them deep wounds of separation. And every child expresses that separation trauma differently. 

If by love you mean sacrifice, service, patience, creativity, adaptability, warmth, kindness, forgiveness, faith… and so much more. Then yeah, all you need is love, expressed in all these forms. Guided by the Holly Spirit. 

I realized too that as an adoptive mom, I had to enhance my intuition and wisdom in relation to my children. Be present and engaging and fun and normal… but have my radar always on for signals and filter reactions and change gears accordingly, given the knowledge that my children have special adoption needs, including the regular conversations brought on by unexpected questions related to their adoption story and identity.  

Another epiphany I just had is related to the way I see the human brokenness in general. We all carry wounds. It’s what makes us beautiful works of art. It is what makes us realize our desperate need for a Savior. For God, our redeemer and healer and bringer of life. 

As an 18 year old my life was pretty plain. I adapted to my family and thrived. I have transformed the little hardships of childhood and adolescence into steppingstones. My self-awareness and peacemaking and courage and faith… they were mild attributes of my still boat cruising down a wide calm river. I was eager to launch into the world. Hoping I am ready to grow, to expand my worldview, to challenge myself. It is a dangerous thing to throw yourself in the biggest storm of life, before you are ready. I was somewhat cautious, I admit. I had no real heartbreak to talk of, no major discomfort in life. In college though I have expanded a great deal. Heartbreak came. Disappointment came. Betrayal ensued. I was devastated. I was lonely. I was out of my familiar comfort zone. I clung onto God desperately. Human betrayal didn’t make me push away from God, it made me draw near to Him. Soon I took a further step in faith. Flying alone to California. First time abroad… and so far abroad. I have completely transformed. And I had fun the way I never had fun before. Safe, genuine, joyous fun. Flying, climbing, water-skiing, embracing a new culture, allowing myself to be pampered and seen and loved. I emerged like from a cocoon. I think no matter how comfortable and safe our life as-we-know-it is, at some point we need to emerge and progress and reinvent ourselves. 

I was fully aware that my pain and my brokenness was my launching pad into joy. 

People who have experienced deep pain and overcame it, have a serenity to them. And they are attractive in many ways. Maybe it’s humility and love. 

As someone said, people would prefer to be drawn to you than to be impressed by you. Our brokenness draws people in. 

As we set off to adopt, I knew we are embarking on a lifetime of morphing pain, a pain that will be exposed, near the surface, because adoption starts from a point of brokenness. But, because my strong belief that we all need to be aware of our human brokenness, our wounds, our need for a Savior, I wasn’t afraid or in denial about the baggage adoption would bring with it. Sure, it is my children that have to mostly process their pain and brokenness and disappointment, and become personally aware of their need for a Savior despite the pain inflicted on them by others along the way, my job is to kindly lead the way, be vulnerable myself, accept the fact that I don’t know and will never fully understand their personal pain, but it is not about me and eventually it is not even about the pain. These wounds are the mechanism, the process through which the heart is tenderized to draw near to God. And my bottom line for my children is for them to know God personally and love Him. But more specifically, accept His holy and perfect Love. 

I’m flying by the seat of my pants, though I study and ponder and pray. It is never enough. I will never arrive at the complete knowledge destination, except when we get to Heaven. Until then, we embrace the humble state of not knowing fully, not understanding completely, but loving wholeheartedly while remaining connected to the Vine. To love well. 

The Primal Wound stories