Six months ago I poured my heart out to a friend via email:
Because you are also an adoptive Mama, I think you’ll understand that I find myself very much at a loss to remember why God called us to do this in the first place. I know the “right” answers: that He loves children. That we are adopted and so we do the same. That justice for the least of these is so crucial to the Kingdom. But truthfully, I can’t quite remember my own heart answers.
Why did I want to partner with God in adoption?
Did I really know what I was getting into?
Why doesn’t God heal all of JM’s body, instead of just in part?
I want very much to keep the idealistic mentality that God really does redeem the stories of kiddos like mine, but sometimes even down to my very core I am wrestling with the question, “Is God actually good toward my son? Toward our family?”
Of course, even having these questions at all feels like a terrible betrayal of the faith I’ve held all my life. That’s where much of the depression comes from. I have not yet found God’s continued delight in me even as I question whether or not He’s the God I thought He was. I don’t think He’s afraid of our rants and raves and questions and accusations. As I’ve been living and breathing the words of many of the Psalms I keep thinking, “God let David rail against him too and didn’t strike him dead for blasphemy…” But this is a life-altering journey for me just as much as it is for my little boy. I chuckle at my naivety all the time. I really didn’t know that God would use my son’s adoption to unravel me.
I just read a verse in Hosea this morning that I find is my question and prayer: “For He has torn, but He will heal us.”
Does He still heal our kids, dear friend? Does He still heal us too? Or is it possible to be failing so miserable at being an adoptive Mom that I’ve ruined the possibility of healing for my son and for me?
There is a playlist of songs on my iPod that I listened to frequently as we prepared to make JM a member of our family. I’d listen to it in the car as I drove, looking into the backseat and picturing my boy finally there, swinging his legs and singing along to the radio with me. I’d listen to it through headphones, facedown on the couch sobbing because every minute felt like an eternity before I could tell him, “Hi, I’m Mami.” I listened to it when I couldn’t sleep, as I prayed a mother’s prayer of protection over my boy as he woke up thousands of miles away from me in a different time zone.
These songs have weathered many storms in my journey toward motherhood.
I haven’t gone back to that playlist recently, although some of the songs filter through every now and again when we’re just listening to our music on shuffle. But this morning as I worked, I intentionally chose that list. Knowing the order of the songs, knowing what songs would come up. I picked it and prayed that God would show me something new in the familiar refrains.
He didn’t disappoint.
There is a song by Sara Groves called “It’s True.”
I listened to it, as I have hundreds of times, and felt a comforting thrill in my soul as I listened to the words,
“It’s true, a God who came down to find you.”
“It’s true, angels sing through the night ‘Hallelujah!’”
In one of my recent counseling sessions I explored how the word “grafted” – used often in the adoption world – has taken on new meaning for me through the journey of adopting our son. At first, it felt lovely and beautiful. “Grafting” a family meant creating something new like a flowering tree or a hybrid fruit, juicy and sweet. The idea of being grafted together made my heart leap with excitement.
“Grafted” means beautiful, yes. But it is a beauty forged in the fires of battle. It is a healed beauty. It is a beauty that first knew deep pain. I told my counselor that now I know we are “grafted,” but as burn patients understand grafting. To be grafted is to have a wound that requires deep cuts and stitches before it heals. A wound that will continue to burn and ooze agonizingly long after you want it to be healed. We lived in the proverbial “ICU” during our first year and a half at home. All three of us have the scars on our hearts to prove it. (We will likely find that our wound reopens at various stages of our life as an adoptive family.)
But we are healing into a grafted family. And it is beautiful. My heart does leap with excitement as we become.
I wrote this in my journal just last week:
This season feels like one of rest and fulfillment after a really hard climb, complete with falls, scrapes, and painful bruises. It feels as though we’ve reached a huge meadow after a tortuous hike and can rest here for a while in the beauty of flowers, sweet breezes, butterflies, a bubbling brook, a shade tree, and a picnic lunch. I am feeling full and alive and rested in a way I haven’t felt in a long time. A “before we started our adoption” kind of long time. Back in 2013 kind of long time.
As I listened to the words of these special songs, my heart breathed out a sigh I didn’t know I’d be holding. Oh, how we prayed for Him to find us in our hard days! Oh, how we prayed for songs of comfort in the night! Oh, how how we ached to believe that what we were fighting for was true!
He was answering all along.
And then I heard another song. A rejoicing song. A song we’ve played over and over and over. One of the first songs JM “sang” for us in the car one day last year.
“I am not who I once was,
defined by all the things I’ve done.
Afraid my shame would be exposed,
afraid of really being known.
But then you gave my heart a home!
So, I walked out of the darkness and into the light
from fear of shame into the hope of life.
Mercy called my name and made a way to fly
out of the darkness into the light.”
– Ellie Holcomb, Marvelous Light
Two notes into the song, JM came into the kitchen dancing, laughing. He was singing the words of the song to me, not knowing that his very life is the words of this song.
It was one of those moments when the world stands still, everything but him turning blurry in my vision. Watching my son, home, singing the words to a freedom song in my kitchen. Believing with me that the truth of what we fought together has brought us into the marvelous light of God’s healing in a way I used to only dream about.
So Mary trusted God more than what her eyes could see.
– The Jesus Storybook Bible
Now my eyes are seeing.
He does heal our kids. He does heal us.
For He has torn, but He will heal us. (Hosea 6:1)