As a rule I avoid articles from sites such as Huffington Post but one specific article written by a blogger named Wymsel has been bookmarked on my tablet for easy access for the past year as it really does sum up the adoption experience. It is called “Dear Friends of Waiting Adoptive Moms: Some Things to Know (Also, We’re Sorry).” If you haven’t come across this article yet, I highly recommend it. In this blog, she outlines twelve points that would be helpful for friends and family to understand, and one point, titled “Her Child has been Through Trauma” is the inspiration for today’s devotion.
Adoption comes from loss. Loss she will see in her child’s eyes and in their heart. Loss that as a mama, can make your soul curl up in a ball for an ugly cry. So, don’t tell her the kids are lucky. You wouldn’t tell a person who lost an arm that they’re lucky to have a prosthetic one, would you? I mean yeah, they are lucky to have that replacement. But you know what would be luckier? Not losing that arm in the first place.
So often we look to the day of placement with a forever family as a day of celebration, which it is, but so many parents who have gone through this experience describe it as a bittersweet moment torn between celebration and grief. I often find myself romanticizing over the moment I meet Desi. I picture myself running towards him, arms wide, a single cliché tear rolling down my cheek, and a smiling baby who let’s me lift him into my arms as he reaches to touch his new mommy’s face.
In reality, Desi will have absolutely no idea who this crazy white woman is, and will not be too keen on leaving his caretaker to come with me to a place he doesn’t recognize, to a family he doesn’t know, who speaks a language he doesn’t understand. The day of placement is in so many ways a traumatic experience for our little ones. Imagine, as a one or two year old, already knowing what it feels like to be abandoned by the person you are biologically designed to love. While the child may not remember the specifics of the last day with his or her birthmother, studies show that the baby’s brain development is dramatically shaped by the removal of the birthmother, so much so that the most developed part of the brain becomes the flight or fight instinct. As my social worker so wisely said, nothing in the baby’s life will ever be the same. Part of him will always be looking for his birthmother, even if he is content with his adoptive family, he will always be searching for the piece of him that was lost during his first stages of his life.
Part of our role as our children’s second parents, is to work as hard as we can to restore what our children lost. This is easy for our hearts to desire to do, but how exactly do we do that? We can become Mommy and Daddy, provide in every way we know how, and council our little ones through the many questions they will undoubtedly have about their past. We are in no way subpar, but for a time, we are very much like prosthesis. We can help them live the fullest lives possible and ensure they have every opportunity that a biological child would have. The reality, however, is that the early trauma is very much a part of our children’s stories, and we cannot ignore the reality that something was taken from our kids at a very young age. When I read the story of how Desi came to the orphanage, my heart shattered. As thrilled as I am to be given the gift of parenting him, I would never wish the circumstances he and his birthmother endured on anybody. As much as it grieves me to think of not being his mom, I love him enough to wish wholeheartedly that the conditions could have been different for him—that the scenario could have left him and his birthmother together. Because this is a fallen world and this proved not to be a possibility, I am here, and I am ready. But as willing as I may be, God has reminded me on many occasions that I cannot restore to Desi what was lost.
But He can.
Our God is in the business of restoration. Throughout the Bible, God takes the broken and the lost and restores them with His power to enable them to do great things for His glory. Moses, who was willing to enter Egypt and face the pharaoh himself had a stutter problem, so God gave him a speaker named Aaron. Job, who faced many trials and lost everything dear to him to prove He believed in God’s goodness, was returned everything he lost—with interest! Peter, a hot-headed fisherman was mentored by Jesus and renamed Cephas which means, “the rock” upon which God decided to build His church. While our children may have come into this world with a bad hand, they will enter the next world in full glory!
Romans 8:28 promises us that “God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.” While we may want so dearly to restore what our loved ones lost, our job is instead to point them constantly to the God who can not only restore the missing pieces, but will use what is missing to help them fulfill their specific purposes.
Long but Powerful Verses to Consider:
When the poor and needy search for water and there is none, and their tongues are parched from thirst, then I, the Lord, will answer them. I, the God of Israel, will never abandon them. I will open up rivers for them on the high plateaus. I will give them fountains of water in the valleys. I will fill the desert with pools of water. Rivers fed by springs will flow across the parched ground. I will plant trees in the barren desert…I am doing this so all who see this miracle will understand what it means—that it is the Lord who has done this, the Holy One of Israel who created it. –ISAIAH 41:17-20
“The time will come,” says the Lord, “when the grain and grapes will grow faster than they can be harvested. Then the terraced vineyards on the hills of Israel will drip with sweet wine! I will bring my exiled people of Israel back from distant lands, and they will rebuild their ruined cities and live in them again. They will plant vineyards and gardens; they will eat their crops and drink their wine. I will firmly plant them there in their own land. They will never again be uprooted from the land I have given them,” says the Lord your God. –AMOS 9:13-15
A Prayer for Your Day:
God, you are not content to see me walk through my day without having to rely on you. You love when I seek you out and ask you to fill the voids I have in my life. And time and time again, you have done so and I have grown stronger because of it. Help me to remember these moments in times when I see [child’s name] and wonder how I could ever give [him/her] what was so unfairly taken away. When I desire to fill the void myself, remind me that you are the only refuge for the oppressed and that you are the only stronghold who is incapable of failing [him/her] (Psalm 9:9). You did not remove [child’s name] from [his/her] birthmother for no reason. Your plan is perfect, and even if your plan brings pain and confusion, your word says that you heal us when we are brokenhearted (Psalm 147:3). God, I entrust [child’s name] to you today and ask that you would begin your plan for restoration on [his/her] life. I am willing to do whatever you call me to.
In Jesus’ name,