21. Abandoning What’s Imagined for What is Real

So my husband and I had the most bizarre experience yesterday! We heard of a documentary about two Korean adoptees living in Las Angeles and London who discovered each other on YouTube and found out they were identical twins separated at birth. I would highly recommend it if you are pursuing adoption from Korea, it’s amazing. (A bit of a disclaimer, however, there is some language at first so be prepared.) It’s called “Twinsters” and can be watched on Netflix.

Anyways, while we were watching the documentary, there was a scene where the twins decide to travel to Seoul for an adoptee convention and used the trip as an opportunity to return to the agencies they were adopted from. One of the twins was adopted from SWS which is the agency we are using, so you can imagine our surprise when the young women walked into the building and we were able to see, quite unexpectedly, a short tour of the facility where we will be staying when we travel to pick up Desi and meet his foster parents. That was a surprise in and of itself. The real surprise came when they glimpsed into a small yellow room with a strip of wallpaper hallway up the wall, a crib, several toys, and a giant stuffed teddy bear sitting in the corner. Our jaws dropped open.

The pictures we received of Desi were taken in that exact room! Almost each and every photo we have was taken in front of that giant bear. And there it was! On television!

We rewound this section over and over in an attempt to get a still shot of the room to send to our families. It was the most bizarre experience for multiple reasons. First of all, that giant bear was on Netflix, the last place we expected to see it. Secondly, it actually exists! Let me explain this one—so much of the waiting is spent imagining your child and filling in the unknowns with your own details that there are moments where it just seems so vague and hard to connect to that you forget this is actually real. And finally, perhaps the most staggering thing I realized was that I had created this imaginary life for Desi that was not entirely accurate. When I first received our referral, the photos brought me so much peace. The room was precious. There was a crib, toys scattered all over the place, and he looked so happy! I inherently thought this was his foster home, and that’s where I’ve imagined my little guy playing and growing these last few months, when in actuality, this room was used for conducting an interview with the foster family and was likely the room where his birthmother was evaluated the day she relinquished her son. What little reality I had was flipped upside down and my stomach tied itself in a knot which confused me almost as much as the video itself. Why would this experience of seeing where my son has been cause me anxiety instead of relief?

The answer, I believe, is something you may have experienced in your own journey as well. I remember reading the story of a mother who adopted a beautiful daughter from China. She admitted that when she received her daughter’s referral she had looked at the few photos she had received of her daughter and began evolving her from a human baby to an almost cherub existence who was always happy, and who would have little trouble adjusting to her life here in the states. It wasn’t until she had been home for a few weeks that she realized the daughter she had created in her mind was quite different from the daughter she brought home. It’s a coping mechanism on our part, a way to feel like we know something about our little ones during the long wait, but the expectations we inevitably place upon our children due to these imagined angels we see in our pictures becomes unfair to them and jarring to ourselves.

Since reading this story, I have worked hard to make sure I don’t make the same mistake with Desi. And I thought I was doing pretty well at it! Until I saw that bear on Netflix. And then I realized how much of Desi’s current life I had imagined and made up in my head. I made silly assumptions which made me feel like I had some kind of control over the unknowns. I had memorized every detail of the room so that when I imagine him taking his first steps, eating his first birthday cake, and celebrating his second Christmas that I felt that I could cope without being there myself. Even now, I am in shock of how jarred my reality feels. Where is he now? I have no idea. And that hurts.

So as one adoptive parent to another, we are fighting a tough battle, no doubt about it. We are working hard to ensure the future of our children is secure, hopeful, and bright, yet the only concrete information we receive is in a single report and a handful of pictures to carry us over until we meet our little ones face to face. This is our burden to bare, and it is a heavy one at times. So how do we cope with so many unknowns? How do we prepare for a child we know so little about? How do we think about or imagine our kids without developing unrealistic images and expectations of them?

A verse I will be calibrating my heart on today is 1 Corinthians 10:13 which says, “The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure.” What this means is that we are not experiencing anything that has not yet been experienced on this earth and that cannot be overcome. God has provided many ways to cope with the wait without falling into the temptation of fabricating the many unknowns of our children. He has provided us with the technology that allows us to connect with individuals who are in the exact same predicament we are in. This blog, for example, allowed me to connect with a woman who is adopting from the same agency in Korea as I am, lives here in the state of North Carolina, and is only one or two months behind in the process, so she provides encouragement in the temptations specific to Korean adoption. I’ve met others along the way who have adopted from other areas of the world who have been able to spur on and encourage me when needed. Even pregnant women in my friend group know a thing or two about waiting. Nine months might sound like a short wait to many of us, but it is certainly enough time to create an imagined life of a child.

So with that being said, it’s time to become vulnerable. It’s time that we start looking for the answers we know God has provided in our current predicament, and if that means pulling from the wisdom and experiences of others, then that’s our next step. Rather than creating idols of our children and falling apart every time we see a glimpse of reality like I did, we have to remove our precious little ones from the pedestals we’ve set them on. Instead, we must shift our grief over lack of control into anticipation of the many things we will learn when the time comes. God has not given us a temptation we cannot overcome if we look to him.

 

Verses to Consider:

Surely there is a future, and your hope will not be cut off. –PROVERBS 23:18

Know that wisdom is such to your soul; if you find it, there will be a future, and your hope will not be cut off. –PROVERBS 24:14

Let all that I am wait quietly before God, for my hope is in him. –PSALM 62:5

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. –PHILIPPIANS 4:6

And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work. -2 CORINTHIANS 9:8

Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known. –JEREMIAH 33:3

 

A Prayer for Your Day:

Lord, thank you for helping me to see that I have at times placed [child’s name] on a pedestal and have almost worshiped him like an idol. I have placed [him/her] above you and have taken the amazing reality of who my [son/daughter] is, which you created, and replaced it with my imaginary version. This is not healthy for me or for my child. God, I pray for the ability to see when I am writing the story of a person’s life which you have already written. Your hand made [him/her] just as it created everything on this earth (Isaiah 66:2). Replace my pride with humility and my impatience a healthy degree of anticipation. I know that my time apart from [child’s name] is for a grand purpose, to prepare us both for the life you’ve designed for us together. I ask that you help me to avoid taking cheap shortcuts and to instead give me eyes to see the people, resources, and answers you have provided me with in this wait.

Thank you for your constant grace and presence during this time.

In Jesus’s name,

Amen.

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