I’m writing at both Extraordinary Mommy and Mercy Found Ministries this week. I’d love to have you read along!
When my oldest was two years old, my husband and I planned a road trip to see family. I packed the car full of all measure of educational toys, books, crayons and paper, and other fun activities for the road. A friend had given me a portable DVD player, which I packed, but I scoffed at the idea of letting my child wile the hours away watching Elmo.
“I grew up reading and sitting quietly in a car!” I boldly proclaimed. “I didn’t need to be entertained by a mini-TV, and neither will my children!”
About five hours into our exciting family road trip, I was completely and totally exhausted. As our little angel kicked his legs and cried in frustration, my husband looked at me with raised eyebrows.
“You know,” he said. “You don’t have to be a matyr for motherhood. Technology isgood.“
I sighed, popped Elmo into the DVD player, and watched in amazement as my son grew mesmerized by the sights and sounds, then fell asleep for the remainder of the trip.
We’ve since added two more children to our brood, which means that road trips are a necessity if we want to see our family who all live sixteen hours away. I’ve even made the long trek home on my own with the kids in tow, and I’ve picked up a few tricks and tips along the way.
Two years ago, I sat at a table in a hotel in Tanzania with a small group of bloggers. It was our final night before departing to head home, back to our homes, our country, our lives that would all now feel a little too comfortable.
We were there on behalf of Compassion International, a team of writers meant to help raise awareness of the great work that Compassion does worldwide for children and families living in extreme poverty.
Our leader, Shaun Groves, told us the story of Everett Swanson, founder of Compassion Interntaional. Upon seeing the desperate orphan crisis in Korea during the Korean war, a missionary friend of Swanson’s asked him the simple, but poignant question – “Now that you know about it, what will you do?”
Compassion International is the living, thriving testimony of a man who could not go on as he had before.
Adoption is a unique ministry. You will see statistics floating around from time to time informing us of the fact that if every family inside the church were to adopt one child, there would, effectively, be no more orphan crisis around the world.
While it’s a nice, utopian idea, the fact is this is a useless argument. There will always be an orphan crisis, because we live in a broken world, comprised of broken people. While adoption is a beautiful ministry, it is one that is birthed out of brokenness.
Add to that the very real fact that not every family is called to adopt and raise a child in their home. This does not, however, excuse us from the responsibility to care for the fatherless.
We were a rag tag group, a gaggle of teenagers, most of whom were leaving US soil for the very first time. It was 1995, and the dust was still settling from the fall of the Iron Curtain.
“Don’t get over there and be loud and obnoxious,” our leader advised us before we left. “Show them that American teenagers actually do have some self control.”
We tried to do this, and most of the time we succeeded. We avoided squealing and shouting over every new experience, although being tricked into eating cow tongue on our first night in Minsk, Belarus was just short of a cruel introduction into this strange new land.
The smells are what I remember the most. That and the cold. When we stepped off the plane onto a frigid tarmac, the sky around us was grey. For a brief moment, I felt as though we’d stepped into a black and white film as the grey pavement extended into the grey horizon in such a way that made all the land before us seem devoid of color.
Oddly enough, I felt right at home.
As we entered the concrete terminal, I listened closely to this foreign language. It was the first time I’d ever heard Russian, and the words sounded like poetry. At least that’s the way I remember it. At the time, I know I was a little shell shocked. Jet lag combined with an awe and fear of the unknown didn’t leave me much time to ponder the poetic nature of my current reality.
I just remember feeling like I knew that place.
For two weeks we toured the land, and as I remember those adventures, the landscape slowly fades into this technicolor memory. It lights up as I explore the moment that I first learned who Lenin was, and what he had done. It bleeds into the first moment I stepped into a Russian Orthodox church, and realized exactly what the word “history” means.
Suddenly 1776 no longer seemed that interesting to this All-American girl. Not when I was confronted with the stories of a land that dated back to 1067. I couldn’t even fathom the amount of story that the buildings I stepped into held.
The world changed for me on that trip. I stood in Red Square in Moscow, and I looked at St. Basils, and I had no idea how to process the world as a whole. When I walked through Lenin’s tomb, and viewed the body of a man both hated and revered depending on who you spoke with, I couldn’t wrap my mind around my smallness in this world.
All I knew was that I wanted to see and experience more of it.
Lee and I have been talking a lot, lately. Dreaming, really. We dream of exposing our children to more of the world, of opening their eyes to their smallness in this great, big land.
I’m so grateful to my parents for encouraging me to experience life to the fullest. I’m so thankful that they saw the importance of travel, and that they not only allowed me to explore this globe (usually without them), but they generally pushed it. Without their willingness to let me go and experience life through travel, I wouldn’t be who I am today.
Our kids are still young, and there are some boundaries within which we feel like we must operate as a family, but we have dreams. We dream of showing them the world, of giving them a taste of it now, while they’re young. Our biggest, most-unlikely-but-still-fun-to-discuss dream is to someday live overseas for a time. I don’t know if that will ever happen, but we do love to imagine the possibility.
This post is written to the parents who have walked the heartache of a terminated or disrupted adoption. It’s a unique situation to be in – a club no one wants to join. I want you to know today one very important thing:
Your grief is real, and it is valid.
Perhaps you’re right in the midst of this trial. Maybe it is something you experienced long ago. Either way, the loss of a child through a disrupted adoption leaves a lasting scar.
It’s a mark on the heart that heals, but never really leaves.
When our adoption was terminated, I struggled with exactly how to process it. I wondered if perhaps I was overreacting, if my emotions were displaced and over-dramatic. I feared that people saw me as whiny, and perhaps more emotional than necessary considering the fact that we had not even met the child we were hoping and praying to adopt.
For the most part, this inner strife was self-imposed. I didn’t have a string of insensitive remarks being flung my way to back these these feelings of inadequacy. This was my own struggle, and it gnawed at me for a long time.
Did I really deserve to be so sad over our failed adoption attempt?
I walked through those early days after it all fell apart in a fog. In fact, I can barely remember the month of January, 2013. It is very hazy. Grief does that – it clouds the mind, and shrouds the memory with a sense of heartache that you never really escape.
Every day, I was sure that the people around me rolled their eyes behind my back, ready for me to get over it and move on. I questioned God, trying to make some theological sense of our predicament.
Did we really lose a child, or was there never a child planned in the first place, since He is All-Knowing, and He knew from the beginning that we would not be able to complete the process?
My mind spun throughout the long, dark hours of the night, trying to break it all apart, to make some sense of it all. It was a “chicken or the egg” riddle without a clear-cut answer, and it made me crazy….
It’s been a busy week, and it’s only Wednesday! Sleep has eluded me for most of the week, which is why I think it’s felt longer than usual. Or maybe time is simply slowing down. It’s really hard to say for sure.
In any case, yesterday I had two posts up on different websites, and I wanted to share links to those posts here. Tomorrow I leave for Kansas City for a weekend away with dear friends, and this little getaway could not be coming at a better time.
I mentioned that I haven’t been sleeping, right?
My first post went live yesterday at Extraordinary Mommy. It came with a little bit of confusion when my bio did not originally post at the end of the article making it look like Danielle was announcing a surprise pregnancy, which made the morning slightly dramatic, and a little stressful in a totally humorous I MAY HAVE JUST STARTED A TERRIBLE RUMOR sort of way.
Thankfully we got it all sorted out, and we all had a hearty laugh afterward. Here’s an excerpt from the post:
It sounds terrible when I list out all the panic that has washed over us in the last six weeks as we’ve processed this new development in our lives. It’s not that we’re not excited, because we are – we’re just a little nervous. We were the young parents – the couple who would see their children all graduate and leave the nest before turning 50. Now I’ll be the “mature” mom at the Kindergarten round up, which in the grand scheme of life means nothing, I know, but it still feels a bit shocking.”
I also had a post up at Mercy Found Ministries discussing the struggle I feel when I see the crisis in Ukraine, and the knowledge that all adoptions that were in process in Crimea are now terminated. I feel the pain of those families affected deeply, and I wish there was more I could do. But my call right now is to simply be still and trust.
Trust is such an easy word to say. It rolls off the tongue so nicely, doesn’t it? It is a single, simple syllable, but the implications wrapped intrinsically throughout those letters are weighty and full. They swell with responsibility, with a depth of emotion and sacrifice that is more often than not difficult to grasp.