Carrying an Aching Heart

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The moment Caleb and I began the adoption process, my heart began to grow. It feels just like it did when I was pregnant, although without the nausea. My heart feels as if it’s making room. Every day, my love for Luca grows, my love for Caleb grows but nothing can enter or fill the space in my heart that is meant for our new child. It’s just there. Waiting. It’s filled with light and soft pillows and the scent of baking. It’s home. Home for our little one who is miles and miles and miles away.

How do you miss someone you’ve never even met? I remember feeling this way when I was pregnant. I felt so close to my baby yet so far. All I wanted was to hold him. I could hardly wait! This is no different, except there is an ocean both literally and figuratively, between us. I don’t have the comfort of my child being “with” me but honestly I still felt scared and uncertain when my child was growing inside of me. There was the constant, “Is this normal?”… “Is this ok?”…. “What if something goes wrong?” There are no guarantees in life.

I’m not meaning to compare my current heartache to that of the anxious pregnant mother. There are similarities and there are differences. I had somewhat of a difficult pregnancy and postpartum recovery so I have my biases. I think that the endless paperwork and ridiculous waiting period may be just as difficult as when I had a biological child. But let’s talk about the heartache that comes with adoption.

You see, at some point, I fell in love with a person. Before I fell in love with this person, before my heart began it’s renovation, I was in love with an idea. I have always wanted to adopt a child, truly, as long as I can remember I have had a heart for orphans. It must be in my blood because my sister is the same way. We rescued countless animals to my parents’ dismay. That was just practice though. Now, I’m ready to adopt an actual child! What an adventure this will be!

And what an adventure it is. I anticipated the frustrating paperwork, the difficult waiting period once we were matched and the excitement of traveling to a foreign country. I couldn’t wait to learn more about Chinese culture! I just didn’t realize how hard this part of the process would be emotionally. We haven’t been matched yet, I shouldn’t be sad, right?

I guess the only thing I can relate this to is pregnancy again. I loved my baby before I knew if we were having a boy or a girl. I didn’t care. I just knew that I was going to be a mama and a little baby was going to be mine to love. My heart grew to make room for this precious one that would enter our lives. This feels the same. I haven’t seen a photo yet, but I know our child is out there.

This is heartbreaking. Every day it feels like there is a little part of my heart is aching. Maybe a better word is empty. Or longing. It is longing to be filled. Not only because we’re not together, but because our child could be living in dire circumstances. I just don’t know. I choose to believe that he/she is in a happy, loving foster home. I PRAY that this is the case.

I mean, think about it, this child is going to be a part of our family FOREVER and most likely we will miss the first two years of their life.  That’s right, we have no say over those delicate first 2 years. If you have a child, think of all the joy, the pain, the lessons, the bonding, the adventure that you have had in those first 2 years. If you don’t have children, imagine the last two years without a significant other in your life. Think of all the memories you have shared. Two years seem like quite a long time to me right now.

The classes we have taken have informed us that our child will always have to reconcile the fact that they were abandoned. Their past cannot be erased. That is so hard for me to hear because all I want to do is protect my children. I just wish I could go over there right now! There’s a little child within me that is throwing quite an elaborate tantrum over this. Feet are stomping, I assure you.

But…we can’t change the past.  But we will change his/her future. That is what I’m trying to focus on. I have to focus on the good. Yet, again, it’s just like pregnancy. I would try my best to stay positive and then out would someone come with a blurted-out horror story of birth or pregnancy and hence my worries would return. The same is true of adoption. I need to stay focused on the success stories but inevitably I collide with stories of children who “still only give stiff hugs after being home for two years.” Attachment issues, sensory issues,  developmental delays… these things are all very real in the adoption world. They are more common than not. We need to be prepared for them and we will be. We just have to find that delicate balance between being prepared for reality and becoming hopeless. We must stay positive.

I read a sermon a few days ago by John Piper. His words brought me hope and encouragement. Jesus promises that His grace is sufficient for us. In tough times, the times such as this I am reminded: when I am weak, He. is. strong.

I have become more dependent upon God because He is my advocate. He can bring comfort and love and protection to my child while I cannot. I implore Him daily to do this. I beg. My humanity makes my abilities limited, I am powerless over this situation. I am weak but He is strong. In my weakness I am finding His strength within me. It’s beautiful. Free. Light.

“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”

2 Corinthians 12:9

This adoption process, like marriage, pregnancy, parenthood… is just another tool for the sanctification process. It is an opportunity to worship when I feel like screaming. To release to God instead of anxiously trying to control that which I cannot. I am humbled. I am fostering patience. I am shedding pride. My trust in Him is growing astronomically and He’s gently revealing when I don’t trust Him. I am feeling more connected to Him than I have in so long. For this I am grateful.

If your heart is aching from something that has happened or is happening to you, how do you mend it? 

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