Adoption Thoughts (From a Recovering Perfectionist)

Yet another late night had us sulking home far past bedtime. From the front seat I barraged myself in silent mantras that tend to scream loudest when darkness shrouds my view and stress and chaos abound. Mantras that call into question the measure of my motherhood. Interrupting my harsh thoughts, a sweet voice called for me from the back seat. “What baby girl?” I asked. She rambled on in her precious way before speaking the words that rooted their way into my heart with divine purpose:

“Tonight, I’m just going to believe God and go to sleep.”

“I’m just going to believe God…” Why can’t I do that? For weeks I have fretted over how I could add to the conversation surrounding National Adoption Month. My brain has started and deleted a hundred different articles to share here without even typing a word. Those I did type faced the same outcome:
Delete.
Delete.
Delete.

See somehow this notion that my words will change someone’s heart was a message I received and accepted as reality. For so long I’ve unconsciously believed there is a perfect way to spill these words onto paper and a way that isn’t. Under the false pretense that if I can write compelling messages with just the right balance of humor and grit the world will benefit, I have written, deleted, grown frustrated and been unproductive. The light of truth buried somewhere deep beneath the mess of these lies is that I will never change someone’s heart, only God will. Oh I’m assured He can and will use these measly word offerings, but it will never be my words that change a person’s heart.

“… And go to sleep.” Isn’t that the antiphony of peace? Just resting. Not fretting over a to-do list or what someone said about me or what they might say about me. Sleep. Rest.

If I’m honest, I waste far too much time wrestling with perfection. Often I don’t even realize the anxiety creeping into my spirit to make it all come together just so. I manipulate words and sentences and craft whole new drafts in endless strife to reach a target that mists away when the arrow is released. There’s space for striving for excellence, but it should never be more important than the message. It should never impede on my belief in God’s power. This plague of perfectionism stretches far beyond just my storytelling in written form and into the stories I want to see written on the pages of life. Adoption in particular has pulled taut those strings until they’ve reached strand-snapping capacity. And beyond.

Today, the season is a reminder to my ever-striving-for-perfection heart that faith and peace are gifts available now. Thanksgiving is when we pause with intent to give voice to our thanks. And today, I’m thankful for the loss.

Every heartbreak and letdown, every rejection, every tear along this journey has pointed me deeper into connection with my Savior. And someday, it will point into deeper relationship with my child. Though please hear me: I will not compare these temporary losses with the daily reality my child will endure. Adoption starts with loss. Always. And I’m just so thankful the Lord has been gracious enough to provide us opportunity to experience a taste of what it is to live with a broken and confused heart.

As we move forward into the Christmas season, we wait in hopeful expectation the celebration of the Savior’s coming.

Down to the millisecond, God’s timing was, in fact, perfect. Every minute detail was planned and executed in perfect order. Regardless of the imperfections of the human heart, God remains sovereign.

So today, as the harsh realities of this continual wait stare me in the face, I’m going to foster a heart of gratitude. Today, I’m just going to believe God and let sleep the voices that long to steal my joy; the mantra of my own ruthless critic that threatens to erode away the beauty of this perfectly imperfect story with my own twisted ideals of perfection. Instead, I’ll listen for that still small voice to whisper sweet tendrils of His sovereign plan into the depths of my heart. With my face to the sky, the wind on my tear-streaked cheek and a spirit stirred up by thankfulness, hope and peace, I say, “What next Lord Jesus? What next?”

Quick Update: One mama still has our profile book. All others have chosen other families. We appreciate your prayers and love!

Even as the Tears Fall…

Jesus met me in my kitchen today. I stood in front of a sink piled high with drying dishes, horses grazing in the neighbor’s field and kids dancing in the living room. It didn’t matter that I was in the middle of lunch preparations or that my son asked me for the location of a bookmark. When Jesus shows up, everything else can wait.

A friend asked me the other day how I was doing. I told her in all honesty how filled I have been with hope. This past week has served as confirmation that what I have in faith proclaimed, God is indeed doing. Today, however, hope feels waned.

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The Details Write the Story

Most of the time, stories are told in hindsight. They may not exactly be finished (And they lived happily ever after) but they certainly have closed a chapter, completed that trek, finished out that portion of the tale. We see it on television shows and movies. It stares us down in books and podcasts and even real-life accounts. If it’s being shared, it’s finished at least in some degree.

 

Sometimes, I chastise myself for not being farther along in this story of ours. I want to be the one telling the story from the other side. I want to be the one who has crossed over that proverbial line and have landed in the territory I’ve dreamed of arriving.

 

 

Whether or not it is actually the case, I feel left behind in some way. I mean, obviously the grass on the storyteller side of the line is greener, right? It just has to be more lush to the touch with the bare spots of this side eliminated with no trace of their existence.  Yet, here I’m left wandering in this land of the story-in-the-making.

 

Not too long ago, I picked up a book at the library, A Treasury of Adoption Miracles by Karen Kingsbury. Every chapter a new, real-life adoption story is told. The themes of redemption, beauty from ashes and Divine set-up ring through every tale. I finish each one with tears in my eyes as the Holy Spirit nurtures this heart longing for the “end” of the story.

 

Often times I hesitate to post here. I frantically worry that each new post of “still waiting” will bore you, our tribe, and lessen the hype we feel in welcoming a new member of our family. Instead, I sit by the crib now set up in our bedroom and inwardly bear the weight of threadbare hope. I muster the courage each new day to say, “This could be it! But…probably not.” I fight through the longing to give in to the despair by counting my blessings; reminding myself these days of the Reads being a party of four will only be a few days more. Then I feel guilty for ever doubting…

 

Yet, lately, one theme has broken through this shroud I’ve built to try and protect my aching heart: God is the details – and the details write the story. No, this story isn’t over yet. It is still in-the-making. I don’t have the details of when and how and where and who…but I know my Jesus. He didn’t come only to surrender his life for you and I. He came to bring the fullness of the Kingdom of God to us mere mortals every day his feet touched this dust-riddled earth. We didn’t know the whole story, couldn’t see the proverbial line to be stepped across, yet He continued proclaiming it even while it was being written.

 

So I too, no matter how many posts have to be tagged with the theme “still waiting”, have determined to share even as the story unfolds. First because we aren’t the only ones waiting for something. We aren’t alone in the land of “wandering” as the story is still in-the-making. Even those who seem to have crossed over that proverbial line into greener pastures still end each chapter with an “and” as the story marches on. The new chapter immediately taking root, no time to glory in the “finality” of one portion because, if I’m honest, their story is still in-the-making too.

 

Second because God is the details, I want to keep a record of His faithfulness. I don’t want to forget a single one. The days I have sat next to an expectant crib in the same chair I nursed my babies into the wee hours of the morning with a book in my hand as the Holy Spirit soothed my worried heart need to be marked. They need recorded as I note His faithful attention. People – even you – may tire of this “still-in-the-writing” phase of such an elaborate plan. I don’t blame you. It’s hard to keep momentum when it seems no movement is occurring. But my Jesus, He sits with me here. He stokes the hair from my teary face confronting every concern with a promise: He is good at the details – even the ones that are hard to bear – and more than I can see are taking place.

 

So, no, this story isn’t finished. It isn’t tied with a bow and offered as a complete tale. This isn’t even an update of forward progress, per say. It’s yet again, another still-in-the-making, hold-onto-hope heart-to-heart. But the hope I have is rooted not in our agency, not in the words of others and certainly not in a broken system. It is solely rooted in my God who’s been faithful before, is faithful now and will be faithful again. It is grounded in the fact He’s good at the details. And the details write the story.

 

Not Okay…

Singing was my passion. Growing up I loved to share my gift. However, that didn’t make it easy.  On stage at our little country church, my heart would pound within me as the nerves sent trembling waves through my chicken legs. I would avoid all eye contact but a few safe choices in the crowd. The honesty and genuine appreciation of my song of praise resounded through every smile of their shining eyes.

 

It bolstered my confidence to sing the next note.
And the next.
And the next.

At an early age, I had decided singing would be my career; my calling. I would sing everywhere I went hoping to be discovered by some big-wig passing through our little town of Ashtabula. Looking back, it feels like a silly dream. Less silly even so, however, than why it died: One negative criticism had a lasting effect.

It held me back from even pursuing any aspect of my passion for singing. I settled for the “easier” choir to get into in college. Fear held my vocal chords in knots at the one audition I pursued and at the declined result, I never tried again.

And that pattern has only continued.
It has held me back time and time again.
In far more ways than singing.

It’s this fear of stepping out onto the stage of life where the watching eyes form assumptions and conclusions based on one three minute segment. Where I’m judged by what I do or don’t do, say or don’t say, act or don’t act. Will she succeed or will she fail; rise to the top or fall flat? 

Sure, writing it here sounds ridiculous, but I’m convinced I’m not the only one. I mean there’s a reason Wayne Gretzky’s quote is so popular, right?

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Adoption…

 

Adoption is scary. Plain and simple. Everyone has an opinion on it – ones they are often not afraid to share. Some are great! Some are harsh. Some come from personal experience; others come from simple-minded assumptions.

 

It feels as if I have stepped onto this proverbial stage; one far greater than any I’ve previously known. I made the leap. Took the chance. I thought I’d set aside the fear to get here. Yet here it’s chased me down once more. The longer I stand here, the more intimidated I feel. The old patterns creep up my neck and threaten to strangle the progress the Lord has made in this heart.

 

The expression says, “No news is good news.” Usually meaning that no news from a friend often means things are good for them. However, as I dwell in this uncertain time of waiting, no news is hard to endure. It’s hard to continue answering the question of progress with, “Still waiting.” (Though the more I’m asked, the more I appreciate how we are thought of and our situation is cared for by so many.) I will also say, however, after three “rejections” – where a couple other than us was chosen to parent the child given by his/her mother/parents – I’m not sure my heart could handle such continual news anyway.

 

And so here we are still waiting.
The longing still present.
The desire still prevalent.

 

Yet all of it curbed in the fear it will never come to fruition.

 

I tend to tie up each of my posts here with an “it’s-all-good” feeling. Why, you ask? Because I need to believe it. The dialogue in my head fills the gamut between “This waiting is only for a season” to “It’ll never happen.”

 

And so I tie up every loose end with hope; hope my heart is desperately clinging to day-in and day-out. Hope this process won’t be for not. Hope that the God who calls, not only equips but is faithful in the details.

 

If I’m honest though, I’m not okay.
I’m weary.

 

My heart is pounding in my chest. I can feel the trembling waves course through my veins as the song continues to beg for my input. So I’m looking for those eyes in the audience. The eyes that will continue to believe in me and for me; in us and for us. Who will gaze this direction with the warmth of their smiling eyes; who will exude confidence and bolster our own to go on to the next note…
And the next…
And the next…

 

 

 

Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the LORD delivers him out of them all.

Psalm 34:19