Saturday, January 5, 2013

Adoption Perspectives: Rainbows and Roses?

There is this phrase I keep hearing (sometimes internally)... it goes something like this:

"Everything is NOT rainbows and roses... it is harder than I imagined... I didn't sign up for this!"

"Cupcakes and kittens..."

"Unicorns and fairy dust..."
"Fields and flowers..."

I "get it"... adoption IS hard. Very very hard at times. Honesty and genuineness are vital. I value and uphold transparency. But, when I hear these sentiments, I often think... 

"Who dropped a kid on your doorstep and made you the victim?"

Ok that is harsh... I admit. But, I have said it to myself... a time or two.
It was the perspective I needed at that time. I hope sharing my honest real story about what took place (and still takes place) in my heart will help other's dealing with similar feelings.

I think there is whole lot more at stake with adoption than the destruction of rainbow and roses.
Please keep reading... it gets better!

The Issue with Orphans

I was thinking about orphans recently (By the way, the word "orphan" is not my favorite, such a defining word for such an innocent group of people.)

But any how, I was thinking about "orphans." I was thinking how odd it is that in the beginning they tend to look like this… right?  
Snotty noses, dead eyes, ratty shirts, thin and gaunt... and that is only on the outside.

 I asked what Allan was feeling here and he said, "Allan felt afraid."
When we adopt, we most often don’t view our children as "orphans" any longer. That would be quite odd, in fact, if we did view them as such, because from our perspective they are no longer orphans. They are suppose to be "our" kids... cute, snugly, bright, happy, enjoyable, fill in the blank __________.  

However, sometimes, inside,  I think they still feel as if they are an orphan... long after they have come home. And, this may or may not change over time. I hate to write that just as much as you hate to read it! When we "sign up" for the rainbows and roses of adoption we also have to sign up for this fact... our kids will be for some time (or may always be) an orphan emotionally

Just because our children's location, name, and clothes are changed doesn’t mean their little heart or mind is any different! We dress them up and make them look externally like us, but internally they might just relate a bit more with the kid with the ratty clothes, snotty nose and sad look. It takes a much closer look to see who that child really is inside, and that is something that takes a lot of work and doesn't come easy to a parent expecting the kiddo below!

This was one of the hardest things for me to deal with in adoption... the stiff hugs, the empty eyes, the lack of trust, the fear, the past events that effect today, the almost surprise of your commitment/love/honesty... it hurts my heart when this happens. 

When we open the door to our children we, in turn, get the privilege of living in that same trauma, brokenness and pain that they live in. We either walk into it or we are dragged down by it. It isn't dewdrops and dandelions... it is a labor and a fight.

When I labored (physically) with my last baby, I literally fought with the labor for nearly 16 hours. Near the end I surrendered to it and participated in the pain, our daughter was born about 15 minutes later. We were all amazed at how quickly things progressed, when I surrendered and gave up and let labor do the work for me. I keep seeing a similar pattern with the labor of loving a hurt/ing child. We can fight against it and our child or we can surrender and work through it.

Rainbows and Roses and Adoptive Parent Pity Parties

About half way through this last year (of our first year home) I realized that I had NO idea what genuine, real compassion was... and I soon realized that was the issue with how I felt things were going with our adjustment as a family. I realized I was really horrible at loving others when it was hard. I surrendered to the labor of loving others as they need to be loved, not how I felt they ought to be loved.

Without a compassion based perspective...
We see ourselves as victims to other's pain and difficult life circumstances.
We think it is other's fault for not having prepared us for the circumstances of our own lives.
We feel cheated out of the happiness, peace, security we think we deserve. 
We feel like we are wasting our tremendous potential on less important things that are using up our vast amount of capabilities.
We feel like God has punished us with this struggle in life or is just "messing/toying with us".

But, God isn't like that.
Our God is a good Father. 
He knows we need to learn, grow and become healthy whole people... just as much as we know that needs to happen for our broken child. So, He walks along side us and teaches us some hard lessons.

"The LORD is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love." Psalm 145:8

“Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you!" Isaiah 49:15

"God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it." Hebrews 12:10,11

Struggles in adoption, and most issues in life, aren't about what others have done to me, failed to be genuine in, or prepared me for... it is about my ability/inability to love and extend grace and compassion to others in broken places.

Compassion is Hard

A few years ago I read Henri Nouwen's book on compassion... one of the things that he wrote stuck with me and came back while I was struggling to walk with my children (all of them) this last year... 

“Let us not underestimate how hard it is to be compassionate. Compassion is hard because it requires the inner disposition to go with others to place where they are weak, vulnerable, lonely, and broken. But this is not our spontaneous response to suffering. What we desire most is to do away with suffering by fleeing from it or finding a quick cure for it.” 

Compassion is hard because we have to "go with" our kids (usually alone) into places that are uncomfortable, that make us weak, lonely and broken. If we fail to go with them we are failing at bringing them through to the other side of healing. 

Jeremiah 33:6 says, "Nevertheless, I will bring health and healing to it; I will heal my people and will let them enjoy abundant peace and security." 

Abundant peace and security.
Isn't that what we want for our children... and ourselves?
Our compassion in walking by our children's sides as they forgive, repent, process and trust God, allows for healing, which produces peace and security.

I still don't have this thing "down" (probably never will).  But, for the love of all rainbows and roses, whiskers on kittens and warm woolen mittens... please consider that adoption isn't or ever was about having a rainbow and roses type of life. 

It is about becoming an orphan with your child... and helping them walk through difficulties to a place of sonship and healing. Consider taking off the rose colored glasses... exchange them for a pair that are much less flashy, a lot more bulky, and really not the trend right now. The prescription reads "compassion."

You are welcome to throw your stale cupcakes and wilted flowers now... I know I might have at some places on this journey too, but I still needed to hear it! 

Hugs to you, adoptive mommy or daddy... you aren't alone!

~ Henri Nouwen's book Compassion
Loving the Little Years by Rachel Jakovic

:::::: Things I am Contemplating @ Compassion :::::
Compassion is a holy act. 
Compassion is worship. 
Compassion is uncomfortable. 
Compassion is lonely. 
Compassion is real.
Compassion is joyful.
Compassion is life giving.
Compassion is an act of the Spirit.

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