It is National Adoption Month and I have all the feelings about it.  Feelings that defy summation in their complexity and messiness. I am on a journey; one that has broken me many times and will continue to do so because IT SHOULD.  Our journey has most certainly been more heartbreaking and more wonderful than I ever imagined.  I say “our” because it is a family journey- but that being said I acknowledge and recognize it is not AT ALL about me. The voices of adoptees must be listened to and truly heard if those who adopt can truly be present and be brave to face our feelings in service to wholeness for all. I pray that I am brave enough to always listen and learn from those voices.  
I don’t have many polished thoughts to share but I think the in process messy voice has value because I so often experience community, challenge, and grace there. It’s National Adoption Month and it has taken me all month to process and work up the courage to share some thoughts. I see the celebrations that focus solely on all the beauty of adoption and something in me wants to weep and yell “but wait there is so. much. more.” I see critical voices that cry out about the injustice that can sometimes be knit within adoptions. I acknowledge and know that is part of the story too.  And I also believe God desires for his dearly loved people to be loved in families and when the brokenness of the world is so weighty it robs a child of that safe place God can fashion family in love.   And sometimes that is through adoption.   I also am living within an adoption story that is messier than any of it.  I have very little I am certain of and yet I share to encourage others to give voice and lament to the parts you sense may require it.  This is all harder and more beautiful than I dared to envision when we took our first step as foster parents 5 years ago. Adoption always first means there has been a profound loss. Our daughter has lost something that is so dear and central to making sense of her place in the world.  For me to be her mama it means there was first a loss of family, of kin, of culture, of normalcy, of a birth right. The loss is real and visceral and must be given space and breath to process and heal.  There has to be room for grief. And while I know that creating the space for mourning and not rushing it or placing it in a tidy box on a shelf it what is required it has been so, so difficult. How can I help someone on a journey I have not walked? How can I lament and answer unanswerable questions? As a family we are together in this and I am learning that if I cannot walk through my own insecurities, judgement, and fear I cannot walk alongside her. It can be exhausting. And it is some of the best work I have done in my life because I see Jesus’s invitation to peace and wholeness more clearly through pain.  
I feel a deep sadness that she cannot be with her first mother and that in our adoption story is also woven a deep sense of rejection and the loss of so many things.
This journey has exposed my glaring failures, my weakest insecurities, as well as invitations for healing for us all. It is not about me yet I somehow find a way to make it about me. I am selfish and sometimes I want to just have uncomplicated feelings about days like Mother’s Day or birthdays. I want there to be a clear path forward in building a relationship with her first family instead of the nuanced and prayerful requirement that the journey demands.  I want to allow space for her to express all her feelings about the family that loved her and raised her for her first few formative years. I need to allow deep soul work and healing for myself to not feel rejection or sadness when she wishes things were different or when she asks lots of questions that do not have easy answers. I want to protect her from it all but I cannot because it is her story.  I cannot “fix” this because that implies her feelings are broken and they are not.  They reflect the gravity of all that has happened. 

At a recent conference an adult adoptee shared some of her experience and quoted this to us, “Adoption loss is the only trauma in the world where the victims are expected by the whole of society to be grateful.” by the Reverend Keith C. Griffith, MBE. Read that again. It has not left me. The BUT then “happily ever after” mythology is not honoring to all involved.  This is why when people say things like “she is better off” or “she is so lucky to have been adopted” I can no longer smile and nod because people “mean well.”  We need to challenge narratives that are more about making the adoptive family feel better about everything then to be brave enough to question what is actually true and best.   And as the great Karyn Purvis always said, “you cannot out love trauma.” Not matter how much I try I cannot nor should I try to love her feelings away about her loss. Rather I see my calling in this to love her through it all and be present to allow feelings that make me uncomfortable. We are building a story of love and loss and beauty through hard things.  I don’t believe that offering space for the lament of adoption means we cannot also celebrate.  Denying the hard parts of adoption do not uncomplicate our celebrations; they cheapen them.  We are trusting that God sees pain and does not erase parts of our story to make them more tidy but that He specializes in healing and meeting us in the deepest parts of our pain. God does not turn away from hard places- He is found especially deep within them. 
The world is indeed full of peril, and in it there are many dark places; but still there is much that is fair, and though in all lands love is now mingled with grief, it grows perhaps the greater.”J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring
 I am celebrating Adoption Month by being so exceedingly grateful for a journey I never understood before embarking on it and still struggle to make sense of.  I am marking this month by lamenting all that has been loss and recognizing all the healing and love that God offers to ALL of us touched by this story.  
Happy Adoption Month friends,


The You are Loved Video for a recent conference our family was a part of:

*Images by Tyler Core


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