The familiar adoption world 

“You love adoption, right mommy?” Asks ivy holding a bunch of pages she has drawn on. “I drew a book about adoption. Will you help me staple the pages?” 

She proceeds to walk me through the five beautiful drawings. She is 6 years old and she will be an architect. She practices every day.

She showed me the big A-frame house. Lots of rooms. Her room. Her sister’s room, daddy’s office. The entry way. The kitchen and even the car parked outside which looks like a mini bus with many seats. You could actually figure out everything from the drawing. She is that good. 

She embraces the talk about adoption. Chips in, asks questions and relishes in listening to anything i have to say on the matter. I am not an expert. But I am so eager to learn. The more I know the more I realize how little I do know. But for that I won’t stop to rest in ignorance. I must test at times. My kids need to rest from carrying the burden of adoption. We slide into sweet ignorance together and enjoy the beauty of childhood forgetting how we got here. Ignorance is bliss. Adoption is part of their identity but who wants to constantly be reminded of or talk about a topic, even if it was “gold plated”. Fame can be burdensome. Suffocating. Even Jesus retreated in the desert to rest his ears, his eyes, his soul. 

I spent the week with over a hundred people who love adoption. They have adopted, are adopted or their best best friend is adopted, so they are now volunteers in the movement: romania without orphans. 

We absolutely love our kids. Pain has brought out the best in them. It polished their character and strengthened their faith. But the road to this beautiful vista was arduous and filled with tears and doubt. 

We had meals with all kinds of adoptive parents. Romanians or foreigners. International adoptions or from faster care. High medical needs or just regular trauma. 

Each kid copes with pain and doubt differently. There is a wrestling of sorts, a fury against the unfairness of life, often directed at the person who least deserves it, the loving parents who rescued them. When they start wrestling with God, it’s a sight to behold. It is something we all aspire to do. 

Our kids’ souls are holy ground. We step lightly, but step in we must. We can’t shut the door hoping the dust will settle eventually and then we’ll muster the courage to go in and help them clean up. One corner at the time, we pull our sleeves up and start scrubbing. We open a curtain. We air out one room. Then we take a break and have pizza on the floor. It’s not a speed race. It’s a marathon. And remember. It’s their house. Not yours. Let them set the rhythm of dealing with stuff. Even after a room is cleaned, it might get dusty or in disarray again. Too soon. And yet, just like in our own house, we start anew each week. Eventually, decluttering, minimalist living, might help to maintain the airy feel. We do tend to hold on to old stuff. Cheap. Stuff we don’t need. The same goes for them. Old sounds, fears, pain… they hold onto it thinking it defines who they are. We need to remind them that their identity is not their past, their pain, their loss not even their adoption. Slowly we help them define who they are, so different than we or different than even they know or can anticipate just yet. There is room for faith, hope, belief. Room to create and discover the piece of art they are. 

We talked during meals in impromptu settings about medical issues, and how they continue to surface even years after they were adopted. Paralyzing fears, body malfunctions, mental disabilities, sensory sensitivity, self soothing, eating disorders, addiction… and yet, we see beyond all these. Not brushing under the rug, but accepting the challenges for what they are and talking about them with clarity and resilience. 

I used to pray that God would fix j’s scoliosis.  We do everything in our power: Kinetoterapie, wearing a corset, stretches … and it doesn’t go away. Jackie’s reliance on us to push forward in faith, to walk alongside her, to guide her and hold her hand at the doctors, paying for the corsets, believing for her… I have had my own journey of faith or lack there off, doubt and wrestling with God about it. And yet, here we are, not giving up. Hoping it won’t get worse. Doing the stretches with her every single day for over three years. 

As ivy asks, “you love adoption, right?” I love them! And I love the gift I received of becoming their mother. I am grateful for the pain that polishes all our hearts. It has strengthened my faith, my determination and my ability to love and live well. 

I am gathering my treasure in Heaven by serving my daughters, practicing letting go of my selfish desires. I feel free in Christ because of the pain I experience on this journey. The discomfort. The loss of the things that could have trapped me into believing that I live for this world. 

Surrounding myself with adoptive families I realize how much we are alike, how much we understand, without saying a word. 

Grateful beyond words that God opened this world to us, softening our hearts, opening our eyes, nudging us through.