There were moments I wanted to hold tight to what I thought was right; but only out of fear and not true selfless love, and in those times God was gracious through slow moving delays and often painfully frustrating court process to NOT give us the answers we wanted. And for the most part we did not know why and were not allowed to know much. Unpredictable and completely out of our control- this invites me to lay down my idol of control. Embrace devastation. Embrace suffering- as I walk in my own (even as it pales in comparison to many) I have a greater allowance and more space for the sufferings of others.
And I am grateful because arriving where we are now was worth the wait. It was worth the reassurance and deep conviction God has given us that we are family.
There is no instruction manual for walking through this and both hoping for reunification AND allowing your heart to be moved to love a once stranger as your very own child, for holding BOTH of those things in tension. There is fear of loving deeply and wildly and being crushed with disappointment- but that is what love requires in all relationships. There is no promise of tomorrow with any of our dear ones. Contending for family & love is a risk but as once strangers are transformed to relatives we all experience more belonging. This story of ours is teaching us that we can find this belonging we all long for in hidden and unexpected places. True belonging is a daily choice that can welcome in healing for us all because it reminds us we are dearly loved simply because we are created by a God who loves us and calls us sons and daughters.
So many tell us “we could never do this” foster parenting gig but friends, if God is calling you to live in this in between place holding everything yet grasping nothing I promise you YOU CAN. Ours is not a story of exceptionalism. Please do not believe that lie. Between the first yes to becoming foster parents until the final yes in the family courtroom that will declare her our daughter forever there have been so many rough, vulnerable, weak moments of “I’m not so sure” and “I just can’t do this anymore.” But I firmly believe I would rather fail trying than fail sitting on the sidelines watching. Perhaps to some that seems hard fought and thus less ‘happily ever after’ but for me it makes the YES more sweet, more formed through fire, more costly, closer to the kind of love I want to follow after. You don’t have to be a super parent or super brave- you just have to be brave enough for that day and humble enough to apologize & be wrong. A lot. That being said it is not for everyone either and that is ok because there are plenty of dark corners that need light- the light that can be shined through weak people surrendering and believing themselves to be wholly loved by God and declaring that everyone else is too! I will not convince you OR dissuade you. I WILL take you out for coffee though and I will ask tough questions, those that others loved me enough to ask me and that have helped me through this. I will surround myself with people and resources that will allow me to continue to ask those questions and will tolerate the space when the answers are not clear. I am not going to tell you “He will make it easy” because in my experience that. is. a. lie. It should not be easy because it is painful stuff.
This was a choice to walk this unknown path trusting and choosing love over fear. We were and still feel weak a lot of the time. This journey may not be what you are called to but I want to encourage you to risk, to step out into what feels scary but what stirs your soul. Do the scary thing – whatever that means for you. Because I declare you can do this, not because you are exceptional but because God delights in healing AND it will most likely break you AND that is probably the best thing for you. DO the thing that you are afraid of friends. Do the risky thing because your fears might be true- but past fear there is hope that only comes from facing those fears. In the struggle and the rebuilding you will be remade stronger IN that weakness. That is the beauty of the God we serve. You will be devastated- probably multiple times. But the beauty is that; for us, it has changed from a selfish self righteous fear of being devastated to a sorrow for all her first family has lost and a hope for what the future can be for us all. And choosing to embrace LOVING in the unknown will continue to be risky. Courage can be contagious so surround yourself with people that will push you & ask you what breaks your heart and more importantly “what are you going to do about it?” You cannot do it all- but you have gifts that are meant to be given away. They will atrophy if you wait to use them until you have perfected them (um, also because that will never happen). Push back against what you see dividing the world and fail, alongside others, in working to make it right. And then keep trying knowing God cares about this more than you ever will & He is working to remake the world. Remind each other often who God says you are and who God says they are because you may forget. This world needs more beautifully broken people loving each other imperfectly but wholly.
We will finalize our adoption of our daughter hopefully this summer, although; as I have learned in the system, I do not believe anything until we experience it. On a Mama daughter date this week she told me the best part of her life right now is waiting for the adoption, maybe this is because there will be a throw down party in which our people will show up; just as they have over and over again for the past 3 years, but as I probed further I think it is because while there is still much loss there is expectancy and joy in knowing a little part of the future that has felt in limbo for so long. We move forward pursuing and wanting a relationship with her first family & asking God to give us all hope for that, for they are family now. We know too much to naively declare that this means some sort of ‘happily ever after’ and I admit often I still really have no clue what I am doing but we are committed to each other and we will walk in joy & love because we know God has a plan. He has been faithful to expand our vision for just how dearly loved and held by God we & everyone else is. This truth allows us to risk more because there is always Hope. We have seen and pray we continue to see hope and healing. This family of ours was born out of brokenness and that is beautiful and messy and it is our continuing story.
*last 3 images from the talented Jennifer Mock Photography