Join Me In The Garden

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I have welcomed all of you to share in the joys and struggles of our family since we began to think about adopting a couple years ago. I have chosen to share our family’s journey with you for one reason, that is to give God glory, and that you may see that God uses ordinary people to do extraordinary things if we let Him.

God called us to adopt two older girls from China, and we have been blessed beyond measure by our obedience to Him. The road has not been easy, yet it is a path I would choose to travel again.

If you take with you one thing from my willingness to be open to you, I pray that it would be that God moves mountains when we step out in faith to meet the needs of those less fortunate than ourselves. We can count on Him every time.

I am now in the midst of sharing the months that were so dark for me that I chose not to write on my blog. I now share with you those silent months, and how God has made soemthing beautiful of our brokenness.

You can begin the story at the beginning by clicking on The Silent Months on the top menu bar of my blog.

May God do the miraculous in your lives, and may our story inspire many to step out in faith to love a child who desperately needs what only you can give.

Blessings!

An Open Letter to my Niece

My dear niece will be getting married on Saturday to the young man who stole her heart.

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It seems like only yesterday when she walked into our lives, a tiny two year old with bright eyes and a precocious little mind. She was so tiny then.

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She made me an aunt, my parents grandparents, and my brother, a father. He was so proud of this precious child of his own. She came into his life through adoption, and I never saw a prouder, more enamored father than my brother was with his precious little tot with a twinkle in her eye.

Not very long after Kelcie came into our lives, we had Andrew. His bedding was Paddington Bear,

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that famous little bear from England with a tag attached to him.

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I remember standing by Andrew’s crib, the day I brought him home from the hospital, with my brother holding his precious little Kelcie in his arms, who was by then a preschooler. He reached his hands out and fingered the tag. Tears welled up in his eyes, and I knew it was because of his deep love for Kelcie. It was because he knew the pain and abandonment of adoption, and the blessing of it too. It was because of his awareness that Kelcie’s loss was his incredible gain.

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The years passed so quickly then. The babies came so fast. We gathered together for picnics and birthdays, and then somehow our lives grew so big that the parties slowed, and I don’t see my first niece so very often anymore.

My brother has quite a crew of his own.

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My sister has four.

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Now my parents have twenty one grandchildren.

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The circle continues, of growing and living and loving and parenting.

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Kelcie has grown into such a lovely young woman and now embarks on her own journey that will span a lifetime and likely begin a family of her own.

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I put my baby girl on the bus this morning crying, and somehow the emotion of my little girl growing up and watching her go, crying, stirred my heart with thoughts of Kelcie, the little girl she was, the woman she is, and all the things l’d like to tell her.

There probably aren’t enough words in the English language or space enough on this page to share all the feelings and emotions my heart holds for our dear Kelcie.

Yet I am compelled to try.

Dearest Kelcie, on Saturday you will pledge your life and love, by God’s grace to Jeremy. Your heart will be full of all the dreams and expectations of the life that lies ahead for you. And so many of those dreams will come true. I pray God will bless you with all the dreams your heart holds.

The future will hold pain and loss too. Let it draw you closer to each other. The feelings in your heart will come and go like the ebb and flow of the tides. But that doesn’t matter. It’s not the feelings that make a marriage, it’s the choice to love, no matter what, no matter if you feel wronged, no matter if the bills are too big and the problems seem insurmountable, and the kids need shoes, and the pipes are leaking. Marriage isn’t about the feelings. It’s the choice to love, every single day, an imperfect person. Someone who hurts you and falls short in so many ways. And you, precious Kelcie, will fall short too. Know that as you begin your lives together.

You’re marriage will need a lot of grace. You will need the Savior to help you love when the feelings fail. You will need to forgive and be forgiven.

Choose to love each other even on the days when you can’t think of one reason you married this man. And you will have days when you wonder why you did. Invite the Heavenly Father to fill your hearts and live in your home. Pray for His fruit to fill you and your husband and your children.

Galatians 5:22-23English Standard Version (ESV)

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.

Don’t be afraid to be the first to say you’re sorry when in your heart it feels like his wrong is worse than your own.

Never go to bed angry.

When you are out in public, kidding with your friends, never allow yourself to put your husband down, even jokingly.

Always choose to praise him, to speak of him with love and gentleness and grace.

In humility, always defer compliments to him, and thank him for his role in your success to others.

Praise him. Thank him. Love him.

Put God first, your husband second, your children, if they come, third, and yourself last. And God will bless you with an immeasurable joy, and a marriage that will go the distance, and be a reflection in the flesh of God’s perfect love for you.

God bless you, Jeremy and Kelcie. And know that I am always here loving you. There’s nothing that is too awful to share with me, no pain too deep, no secret too horrible. I will always be on your side. And I will be praying for you.

You have blessed our lives immeasurably, and I am privileged to be your Aunt.

I love you.

Aunt Diane

Blessings!

Not the End of the Story

A NOTE TO THE READER: This is one post in a series of posts that will share the story of how I came to know and grew to love my daughters who were adopted at fourteen years old, mere days before they aged out of the adoption system. It does not reflect my feelings now. If you are joining me in the midst of the series, you can access the whole story by clicking on The Silent Months on the top menu bar of my blog. I choose to share my story to address a topic that is taboo in the adoption community. I share it to normalize the feelings that so many feel and yet are too ashamed to share. I share it to provide support to those who feel alone because there’s a big white elephant in the room, and no one can talk about it. I share it in support of adoption, in support of every single precious child waiting for a family, every one of which deserves to be loved and is lovable, every single one. Why can’t we talk about it? The feelings are real. The process of attachment can be easy and it can be painful, and the more we support parents who experience the painful side of adoption, the more we help the children. There are far too many disruptions, especially of older children, and if we as a community can come to see the feelings and the process as normal, perhaps we can provide support to those families and in doing so, help the children. Adoption is rooted in pain and loss, and often the process is painful. AND it’s okay. Before you offer your criticism, please read, Eliza Today, A Preface, and God’s Heart and Workers for His Harvest Field .

I’d like to say that all was well and easy after we brought Eliza home.

But that wouldn’t be truth. It’s wasn’t the end of the story. Things were better, but healing took time. I was reminded that love is not a feeling, but a choice. Just as in a marriage, the feelings come and go, but the choice to keep on loving with our actions is what makes our marriages go the distance. It’s no different with loving our children.

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We do not have the same relationship with each one of our children, nor do we love them the same. We love each one deeply with an unconditional parental love, not one more than the other, yet the feelings aren’t the same, nor are they constant. Relationships are fluid and take work. All relationships are like that.

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I honestly believe, as much as it was hard on us and Eliza and Evangeline, to let the girls go for a while and take a break, it was healing to our family, to all of us, the girls included. With the girls out of the house, we realized how much our biological children had been called upon to give, how they’d been hurt by the ever pressing needs of Eliza and Evangeline, by my frequent absences while I was at the hospital, and the total shift in family dynamics by adding two children into the mix, out of biological order.

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It gave us a clarity, and narrowed our focus as parents about how we needed to more intentionally address each one of the children’s needs. And perhaps, gave us a clearer perspective for us as parents, that while we had halted everything and focussed on blending the girls into our family and addressing Evangeline’s medical needs, our bios had big needs too, and that Eliza and Evangeline were only two of the eleven who really needed us.

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During the first year, the girls were home, Victoria had to give up ballet, our oldest sons needed help being launched, and they waited through the many hospital stays for us to get to them.

There were hurts that we needed to address as parents, in the midst of the intense drama of attaching and blending Eliza and Evangeline into our family. The time that the girls were away, allowed us to see some of those needs and hurts and make a plan to address them.

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There was pain in the adoptions for every single member of our family, not merely Eliza and Evangeline. But there were even greater joys and blessings for our children in seeing us, as their parents, step out in faith and trust our children to God, and there is no doubt in my mind that we did the right thing for all of our children by obeying Gods’s call in adopting the girls.

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I think as parents, we want to give our children perfect childhoods. We want to protect them from all pain and hurt, but a childhood of ease and one that makes children more important than the family, or following God in our lives, is not a childhood that inspires spiritual growth in our children. It’s the pain and the hard that allows and encourages our children to realize their need for God.

I did worry about our how the adoptions would affect our biological children before we traveled. Yet I also knew then as I do now that we are called, as families, to care for the fatherless, to meet the needs and prepare to care for others, financially and with our very lives, and that we can trust God to work the hurts together for our children’s spiritual growth as we step out in faith to follow Him.

The past year has been a very intentional one for us as we have considered each child and what each one has needed most. We had a lot of work to do for our biological children and still more healing for Eliza and Evangeline, and of course, amidst all the ‘super focussed parenting,’ a majorly risky spinal fusion for Evangeline.

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Yet, we are all doing so well. If last September, anyone would have told me we would be at this place of healing, with a direction and a plan for each one of our children, I would have said we would have needed a miracle.

But we know the miracle worker.

And He has dwelt among us, joined us in our home and in our hearts, and has brought us through the valley to the mountaintop.

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We stand in awe of His ability to work all the details out in our lives. He got us to China in three months time to adopt the girls before they aged out of the adoption program. He accomplished what we could not with no stone left unturned. And He can and will do the same for all of us after we get home with our children.

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We can trust Him to work out every detail.

We are healed. The children are doing well.

Yet more are waiting.

We live in our homes, and we care for our own. We plan for our own. We go to church on Sunday, and we put our money in the offering plates. And I don’t mean to devalue any of that. We are called to care for our own. Yet we are called to more than that.

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Are we planning for the ones who are still waiting? Are we making room in our lives and in our families and our finances to care for the children who are not free? Are we asking God to show us what we can do to help those who wait?

We live in the wealthiest country in the world, in a nation that stands for liberty and justice for all.

Yet the children wait.

I ask you, if there is one child trapped in slavery or waiting alone in an orphanage for their family to come, are we ever really free?

First Day of School

Yes. I was an avid homeschooler for years. And in my heart, I still love homeschooling. Yet there came a day in January when I knew that the needs were too big for me alone, and that I needed help educating my children. I could no longer do it justice.

So, last January, in the midst of my very low point, I sent our elementary kids to school, and our eighth grader, Colin. They thrived, and it was an overwhelming relief to me.

This year, Eliza and Evangeline are going to school too.

They started yesterday.

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They had a great day!

So this year we have four in elementary, one in middle school, and two in high school. The buses come at 6:30, 7:40, and 8:30. And in the middle of that, Evan has to be driven to Votech for computers by 8:00. It’s quite a morning!

Colin will be going to boarding school with the Atlantic City Ballet. He starts 9th grade and leaves on Sunday. Victoria is finishing up her senior year at home and will be applying to colleges for the fall.

Andrew is working at a restaurant, and will be starting college in January.

God is good! And we are so proud of every single one of the kids. They are all doing so well.

Here are some pictures.

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God bless you all!

Happiness

Evangeline doesn’t have to wear her brace anymore, and she looks just lovely!

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And I’ll let you in on a secret. Her mommy has a thing for her lovely long hair. It tickles me. She’s so tiny. I call her my little sylph. I am completely enamored with her tiny size and lovely demeanor.

Anyway, in celebration of having made it through the enormous spinal fusion of her entire spine, and having now no worry of losing her to heart and lung failure because of her collapsing spine, and the risk of paralysis now being next to zero, we have planned a fall of amusement parks!

We started yesterday with Gillian’s Wonderland Pier in Ocean City.

Here are some pictures. We were all there except for Evan. He was sick. :(

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Blessings!

A Deeper Love

A NOTE TO THE READER: This is one post in a series of posts that will share the story of how I came to know and grew to love my daughters who were adopted at fourteen years old, mere days before they aged out of the adoption system. It does not reflect my feelings now. If you are joining me in the midst of the series, you can access the whole story by clicking on The Silent Months on the top menu bar of my blog. I choose to share my story to address a topic that is taboo in the adoption community. I share it to normalize the feelings that so many feel and yet are too ashamed to share. I share it to provide support to those who feel alone because there’s a big white elephant in the room, and no one can talk about it. I share it in support of adoption, in support of every single precious child waiting for a family, every one of which deserves to be loved and is lovable, every single one. Why can’t we talk about it? The feelings are real. The process of attachment can be easy and it can be painful, and the more we support parents who experience the painful side of adoption, the more we help the children. There are far too many disruptions, especially of older children, and if we as a community can come to see the feelings and the process as normal, perhaps we can provide support to those families and in doing so, help the children. Adoption is rooted in pain and loss, and often the process is painful. AND it’s okay. Before you offer your criticism, please read, Eliza Today, A Preface, and God’s Heart and Workers for His Harvest Field .

We pulled in the driveway and drove up to the house where Eliza was staying. Children were playing outside in the lovely September sunshine. We didn’t see Eliza so we walked to the front door. It felt like I was floating, unaware of the ground beneath my feet, yet I felt shaky and anxious too.

The woman whom Eliza had been staying with greeted us warmly at the door with a gentle, loving smile. There was no judgement in her eyes, just love and a hint of sadness for the child whom she had grown to love and was leaving her care. We walked up the steps to their living area, and I turned toward the door looking for Mark, almost reaching for him.

Then I saw her. She was standing in the doorway, smiling nervously at her Daddy. She looked lovely. Her long bangs were pinned plainly to the side, and her bright eyes searched me for answers. She looked at me, smiling, questioning. I walked over to her and hugged her, and she hugged me back. I stepped back from her, taking in her presence again after the long month she had been away. Mark was talking to the couple who had been taking care of her. They told us she was excited when she heard she was coming home to live with us again.

We talked about her visit, the farm the family had house sat for while Eliza was there, and the kitten they had given her which had died the day before we came. We had intended to bring the kitten home with her too.

The pain and loss this precious child had experienced again, in her life, and really so much of it at my hand, was staggering to me, and filled me with an intensity of feeling I hadn’t felt for a long time. It was sorrow and regret for the pain I’d caused, admiration that she had made it through. Eliza had survived, and I was amazed at how strong and grown up she seemed. She showed us her bedroom, and where she kept her things. We visited for a while and then we said goodbye.

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Eliza sat in the back seat, and I sat in the front seat with Mark. On the ride up, I had thought that I would ride in the back with her, but nerves overtook me, and I climbed in the front seat, selfishly craving to be near Mark. Somehow we had to address why we had told her we thought I couldn’t be her mother, and why we had come back. Words failed me.

Eliza talked and talked in the car about her stay, and asked so many questions about her brothers and sisters. Soon we pulled into the parking lot of Olive Garden, and we went into eat.

This time I sat next to her on the bench. We chose our food, and ordered our drinks, and then the questions came. Eliza’s face was serious, her eyes sad. “Why you say you not come back? Why you come back?”

There were no words to ease her pain, or to undo the hurt we had caused her in our biggest debacle of parenting ever, yet we answered honestly.

It was I who spoke first. “We came back because you’re our daughter, and we need you. We love you. I don’t really know why we told you we couldn’t be your parents. Somehow we thought someone else could be better for you, that you would be happier in another family. But then it hurt too much, we missed you too much, and we knew that we had to come and bring you home. We’re so sorry that we hurt you.”

Then Mark said, “Eliza we love you. The kids love you and miss you. Everyone can’t wait to see you.”

Her eyes were wide and understanding, accepting. She was quiet a moment and then looked up at us again. “You miss me?”

Tears filled my eyes, tears of pure love and respect for this child I had hurt, for my daughter who was happy that I had missed her. “Oh yes! We missed you. We’re so sorry Eliza. We should have come sooner for you. We should never have left you at all. We were so confused and wanted what was best for you, and we didn’t know what that was then, but we do now. No matter what happens ever again, you are our daughter, and we love you. Whatever happens in the future, we’re going to get through it together, forever, no matter what. We’re family. And we love you.”

I was in awe of her ability to accept our words, at her bravery and willingness to try again with us.

“I miss you. I miss my family.”

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Many times throughout the meal she asked if we really loved her. She asked us over and over again, as if with each confirmation, she could begin to trust the love a little more, as if each affirmation of our love thrilled her, and she couldn’t hear it enough. Joy began to radiate the tentative smile she had worn, and warmth and confidence began to spread across her face like the sun begins to fill the sky as it rises slowly over the mountains.

We finished our meal and went to the ladies room together. It felt good to be together again, mother and daughter, doing simple mother and daughter things.

When we got in the car this time, I sat in the back with her. She sat in the middle, and I sat on the side. Within a few minutes, she was in my arms resting her head on my shoulder. I brushed her hair back from her face and kissed her forehead. I noticed the dry skin on her legs. I had cream in my pocket book, and she let me rub it on her legs as we drove home.

We sat like that the whole way home, Eliza in her mother’s arms, and I, holding my daughter and feeling the love that I’d longed to feel for far too long.

Somehow amidst the pain of almost letting her go, my need to be forgiven by Eliza, and her amazing ability to give me that forgiveness, a deep and special love began to grow in my heart and an acceptance of this precious young lady God had given me. An aching longing to mother her filled me once again, and a deep bond began to blossom within both of us because we had come through the winter together and had made it to the spring.

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“Of course I’ll hurt you. Of course you’ll hurt me. Of course we will hurt each other. But this is the very condition of existence. To become spring, means accepting the risk of winter. To become presence, means accepting the risk of absence.”

― Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince

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I had my daughter back with me, and it felt so very right.

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. ~ Jeremiah 29:11

Blessings!

The Day We Brought Her Home

A NOTE TO THE READER: This is one post in a series of posts that will share the story of how I came to know and grew to love my daughters who were adopted at fourteen years old, mere days before they aged out of the adoption system. It does not reflect my feelings now. If you are joining me in the midst of the series, you can access the whole story by clicking on The Silent Months on the top menu bar of my blog. I choose to share my story to address a topic that is taboo in the adoption community. I share it to normalize the feelings that so many feel and yet are too ashamed to share. I share it to provide support to those who feel alone because there’s a big white elephant in the room, and no one can talk about it. I share it in support of adoption, in support of every single precious child waiting for a family, every one of which deserves to be loved and is lovable, every single one. Why can’t we talk about it? The feelings are real. The process of attachment can be easy and it can be painful, and the more we support parents who experience the painful side of adoption, the more we help the children. There are far too many disruptions, especially of older children, and if we as a community can come to see the feelings and the process as normal, perhaps we can provide support to those families and in doing so, help the children. Adoption is rooted in pain and loss, and often the process is painful. AND it’s okay. Before you offer your criticism, please read, Eliza Today, A Preface, and God’s Heart and Workers for His Harvest Field .

The ride up to get Eliza was about four hours north of us. We decided to leave the children home because we knew we needed to spend some time alone with Eliza. There were so many to things to say, and we wanted to give Eliza a chance to share her experiences with us too, not to mention address the pain we had caused her.

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We rode up to get her on a Sunday morning. I was filled with such a dichotomy of feelings. I longed for our family to be whole again. I knew it was right to bring her home. I knew she needed to be home with us too.

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Yet I still felt the weight of the difficulty I had relating to her. I could still feel how it felt to be with her, the way she pushed me away even in her desire for me, the way I felt so exhausted and unravelled by her constant need to interrupt me, her constant yelling back at me in her angry, obstinate manner because she misunderstood what I was trying to explain to her gently and in love, her constant calling me when I walked out of the room and even when I was in the same room with her, her perpetual need to shift my focus from my thoughts to herself, the way she followed me to the bathroom and as soon as I sat down on the seat, the way she hollered, “‘Mommy, you done?” It was her constant need and desire to demand my attention with such rapacity that crippled me and haunted my thoughts on the drive up. I did feel a dread in the pit of my stomach about how I would handle it all, and I couldn’t see how anything would be any different now only a month later.

I think her inability to play, to occupy herself without me on any level, had just worn me out to the point that my confidence as a mother, the very thing that I had given my whole life to, was shaken so deeply that in my core I had no idea how I was going to make it better or how it would feel any different now than it had when we had decided we needed a break.

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Mark was overwhelmingly convinced that it was right to go and get her. He was confident that we could parent her, and that God would somehow make the way clear to to us. I rested in his confidence and in the knowledge that God promises to make “all things work together for good to those who love God and are called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28)

I had had a rest, but in my mind nothing had changed other than the realization that I was still called to be her mother. I was strictly going to bring her home on faith that day, faith in God and faith in Mark’s deep conviction that we could do this together.

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I wasn’t healed. The pain was still fresh, and I still felt so very broken.

As I look back on that day, I think of the verse that I kept in my mind every moment as we trusted God to bring the girls home.

for we walk by faith, not by sight. ~ 2 Corinthians 5:7

I realize now I was broken then too. I was just deeply convicted that I had to go and get the girls, but there were still days I would wake overwhelmed by the needs of our nine children, and wonder how I’d do two more. There were moments when I doubted, when my flesh was weak. Mark And I didn’t bring the girls home in our own strength. God brought them home and He used us, broken earthen vessels, to be His hands and feet.

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I had rested in Him then. I had trusted Him. I had known that God would not abandon those girls for whom I’d prayed. He wouldn’t have so clearly called us only to leave them there.

The truth was I was in no different position that day as we rode up to get Eliza, then I had been before we’d travelled. I had flown to China trusting God that whatever we faced, we would face together, and that I could do none of it in my own strength. I wasn’t even on that plane in my own strength.

God hadn’t called me to do anything on my own. He’d called me to trust Him, to step out in faith and follow Him. He was calling me now to trust His ability to blend our family together as only He can, and to heal the hurt we had caused Eliza.

I’m so thankful that I trusted Him.

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I think if we as the body of Christ could fully grasp this concept of resting in God, and allowing Him to move the mountains that lie before us in our lives, then the the sky would be the limit of what God could and would do through us, and in us, on behalf of His precious children.

Tonight, as I revel in all of our blessings God has filled our home with, I’m dreaming big dreams, limitless dreams for Him.

May you be inspired to dream big dreams for God too. He isn’t limited by this tangible world of time and space. Erase the limits in your mind, and imagine what God could do through you, if You, through faith, allowed Him to remove the circumstances.

Dream with me! And let’s bring the children home!

Blessings!

Another Aside

I want to thank all of you for the overwhelming outpouring of support for my willingness to be honest and vulnerable to you. I have read each and every comment, and every single one speaks to my soul and blesses me. To those of you who have privately shared your pain with me, I want to especially thank you for your willingness to be vulnerable too, as we walk this road of ministry so filled with blessing and, far too often, wrought with pain.

It is my desire as I share to somehow lesson the pain by normalizing it, and encouraging others to know that they are not alone, and that they too can move beyond the difficult days into a new normal and into a place of healing.

It is also my prayer to share the beauty and redemption of older child adoption, to unveil the vast unknown of adopting an older child, and, ultimately encourage others to step out in faith to adopt an older child. And once they do, to provide a community of support where the unique issues of older child adoption can be expressed and shared and healed.

There is a blessing in adopting a child who has lived a life apart from our own. They bring a richness and diversity to each family that is beautiful and refreshing, and humbling. The lives these children live before they come to us would stagger the strongest among us. As their attachment and language develops, the stories these children share are unthinkable, and encourage a spiritual growth in the entire family that is something beautiful to see.

As much as I care for each one of you, and pray for every single person who reads my blog. I am writing for God and for His glory. The negative comments have been few by comparison, yet they do come in, and I consider each one.

I think the biggest issue that those who disagree with what I’m doing is the privacy issue of our children. Some have suggested I should have written this anonymously. To those of you who have expressed that concern, I’d like to say that I get it. I understand and have thought long and hard about that very issue before I started sharing the truth on my blog.

There are a few reasons I chose not to be anonymous. First of all. I chose to be open on my blog because I already had a platform of people who knew me and who had walked this journey with us. I believed it was, and believe it is, important for those people who followed our journey from the beginning to see the process in its entirety. I was open about the fact that we were called to adopt these girls, I was open about the fact that we didn’t have the money to do it. I was open about losing all that we had given our old agency merely four months before we travelled to also adopt Evangeline and about how God provided every penny. I’ve been open about the condition of how frail and sick we found Evangeline when we arrived to get her, and I’ve been open about Eliza’s special needs that we did not know about, but God did.

It somehow felt wrong not to be honest and open about my feelings and the difficulties too. And if I chose to be anonymous, that would ultimately further perpetuate the shame. Why should I cover our faces because we struggled? That’s the problem. There are so many who are struggling, but the pain is only expressed in hushed circles, and private groups. Why? Why can’t we be honest and real to each other? Is it our pride that holds us back? Is it the shame that makes us feel our feelings are too awful to share? If I can’t put my name behind what I write, then I believe my words lose validity, and I do nothing to disarm the shame and silence that pervades the older child adoption community.

It’s my desire to show the process of older child adoption as slow and sometimes painful, but intensely beautiful and worthwhile. I believe in older child adoption. I would go back again. Yes, there has been pain. But the beauty and rewards have been overflowing too.

No matter how hard it has been, there are two precious girls whose lives have been redeemed, who have a family now that they never would have had if we weren’t willing to walk the slow and lonely path. And Mark and I have two precious new daughters who have enriched our lives beyond words.

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I have decided to disable the comments on my blog until I finish the story. As much as they have primarily blessed me, I want to be sure that I am writing as God calls me to, that I am being faithful to Him, and not flying off on tangents because I care too much about each one of you and what you have to say.

I need to be faithful to God. At the end of the day, I answer to Him. I am human and far too vulnerable to failure and going astray. I also believe that once God has done something miraculous in our lives and begins to use us in a big way for His glory, we are ripe for an attack from the enemy. Satan hates adoption. He hates life. He hates healing. and he hates God.

So, it is in that spirit that I have decided to disable the comments on my blog and press on with our story in openness and honesty.

God bless you all.

Tears

A NOTE TO THE READER: This is one post in a series of posts that will share the story of how I came to know and grew to love my daughters who were adopted at fourteen years old, mere days before they aged out of the adoption system. It does not reflect my feelings now. If you are joining me in the midst of the series, you can access the whole story by clicking on The Silent Months on the top menu bar of my blog. I choose to share my story to address a topic that is taboo in the adoption community. I share it to normalize the feelings that so many feel and yet are too ashamed to share. I share it to provide support to those who feel alone because there’s a big white elephant in the room, and no one can talk about it. I share it in support of adoption, in support of every single precious child waiting for a family, every one of which deserves to be loved and is lovable, every single one. Why can’t we talk about it? The feelings are real. The process of attachment can be easy and it can be painful, and the more we support parents who experience the painful side of adoption, the more we help the children. There are far too many disruptions, especially of older children, and if we as a community can come to see the feelings and the process as normal, perhaps we can provide support to those families and in doing so, help the children. Adoption is rooted in pain and loss, and often the process is painful. AND it’s okay. Before you offer your criticism, please read, Eliza Today, A Preface, and God’s Heart and Workers for His Harvest Field .

The next days were filled with appointments and the busy schedule of a large family. We had to go on. We were still parenting ten children. There was an awareness that it was easier without Eliza. I felt more comfortable leaving my room. I even felt like I had my family back again. The children lingered longer around the table and in the family rooms.

There was no denying I felt more able to parent the ten children that were still under our roof than I did the eleventh that wasn’t. Yet amidst the relief and rest Eliza’s absence provided, and I’d be dishonest not to admit that I did feel a relief, a deep sadness pervaded our home. We were constantly aware of a sense of the inequity of it all, a feeling of loss, and even though frequent reports from our friends and the respite family told us how well Eliza was doing, we never had peace that we had done the right thing, and it never really felt okay that she was gone.

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Andrew expressed his feelings daily of how wrong it was that we were going on with our lives without her. Evangeline was hurt by our decision to leave Eliza. I couldn’t help but wonder what our leaving Eliza behind said to her?

It felt like our actions were implying to her that if we can’t make it good with you, we’ll leave you too. And what could I say to that? How could I make my words speak louder than my actions had? Steven missed Eliza terribly, and every single day, I had moments when I wanted to undo it all and go back and get her.

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Some of the other children felt the relief and rest from her absence that I felt. I was not doing well. My stomach was tied in knots, and I did not understand Eliza. She needed me with a voracity that I just could not handle. Mark and I would come to the decision each night in bed that we needed to go back and get her. Yet as soon as we followed that path through in our minds, my stomach would begin to churn, and I felt nauseas at the reality of what having her back with us looked like for me. So we would clasp our hands together and pray for wisdom and grace, and for peace for sweet Eliza, and then go to sleep and leave her in the loving hands of our Heavenly Father.

I had no confidence that I could be her mother.

There were a few times I discussed the possibility of going back to get Eliza with the family she was staying with and with everyone involved, and still all who were supporting us told us we couldn’t go back, that the damage we had done was irreparable, and we had no choice but to move forward, that moving forward was best for Eliza. And move forward we did,

for two long weeks.

Towards the end of the two weeks, the pain became too great. The thought of looking for another family for our daughter, our rose, felt undeniably wrong. We made the decision to go and get her the very next day.

But as soon as word got out to our friends, one of the friends who had given so much and who had been a such a huge support to us called me, and pleaded with me to change my mind. She told me how well Eliza was doing, how well homeschooling was going with the family she was with, how the respite family had gotten Eliza a kitten, how they loved her, and how happy she was. She asked me directly if I really felt I could give Eliza what she needed and all that they could.

Truth be told. I had no confidence that I could be anything to Eliza. I didn’t even know if I’d be able to eat if she came home. So, in my weakness, I retreated, and said okay and that we’d leave her there.

That night Mark and I talked. Mark was convinced we had to go back and get Eliza, and, even though I had no confidence in my ability to be her mother, I felt a deep awareness that I was her mother, sick or well, healthy or broken. I was her mother, and she was our daughter. We needed to get through this together. Eliza needed to come home, and we needed to bring her home.

I also knew, deep within my heart, that God would be with us, and that He would finish the work He had begun in our hearts and in our lives so long ago. Somehow I felt that on the very day Eliza’s biological mother had abandoned her, God knew that He was sending me to go and get her and to be her mother, and all the days in between He was somehow leading us to each other. The fact that I was broken suddenly held no importance at all.

Sometimes moms are broken.

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Up until this point, shame had kept me from calling the social worker from our agency. We had worked with other social workers, but we had not called our agency. The social worker we were working with strongly urged us to call our agency.

Finally, we did. The love and grace we received from our agency blessed us in ways I don’t even know how to express. Suddenly so many things felt okay again. Perhaps just the confirmation that our feelings were okay from the social worker that we had loved so much as we worked to bring the girls home, changed everything for us. We expressed our desire to go and get Eliza and our concern that we had hurt her too deeply, and our fear that we could never repair the damage we had done.

I can still hear the social worker’s precious words to us. “There is no hurt that is too big for God to heal. She’s your daughter. If you want to go get her, then go get her!”

On Sunday, the very next day, Mark and I left all the kids and drove all the way to get Eliza, the one we had left behind. We had no idea exactly how it would all work out, we only knew deep in our hearts that we were called to be Eliza’s parents.

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Sometimes it’s in the darkness that we find our way. And it was that way for us. Somewhere amidst the pain and loss, the truth and the way were made clear to us. It seemed as if God were saying, “This is the way. Walk in it.” Isaiah 30:21

Below is a video of a beautiful song a friend sang in church on Sunday. It’s words spoke to my heart because so many times in my life, the blessings have come through rain drops, my healing through tears, and a thousand sleepless nights have taught me that He’s near.

I encourage you to listen to it. I share it with you here, and have copied the lyrics below for you to read.

We pray for blessings, we pray for peace
Comfort for family, protection while we sleep
We pray for healing, for prosperity
We pray for Your mighty hand to ease our suffering
And all the while, You hear each spoken need
Yet love us way too much to give us lesser things

‘Cause what if your blessings come through rain drops
What if Your healing comes through tears
What if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know You’re near
What if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise

We pray for wisdom, Your voice to hear
We cry in anger when we cannot feel You near
We doubt your goodness, we doubt your love
As if every promise from Your word is not enough
And all the while, You hear each desperate plea
And long that we’d have faith to believe

‘Cause what if your blessings come through rain drops
What if Your healing comes through tears
What if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know You’re near
What if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise

When friends betray us
When darkness seems to win
We know that pain reminds this heart
That this is not,
This is not our home
It’s not our home

‘Cause what if your blessings come through rain drops
What if Your healing comes through tears
What if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know You’re near

What if my greatest disappointments or the aching of this life
Is the revealing of a greater thirst this world can’t satisfy
What if trials of this life
The rain, the storms, the hardest nights
Are your mercies in disguise

It’s in the valley that we come to know God and realize our great need for Him. Once we’ve come to Him amidst the darkness, we can see Him everywhere. The Mountains declare His handiwork. (Psalms 19:1)

We can see Him in the glory of nature and recognize the great care with which He created each creature on the earth, the trees, the forests, and the gardens. We can celebrate Him on the mountain tops, but it’s not on the mountains that we come to know Him. It’s the awareness of our soul’s thirst for something more that causes us to search for Him, to long to know Him as He is.

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I’ll close with one of my favorite CS Lewis quotes.

“If I have discoverd within myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy; the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.”

Dear Reader, there is an eternal world that is far more real than this tangible temporary one in which we spend our days. If you are in the midst of a dark place attaching to your child, or in any area of your life, pray.

For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Ephesians 6:12

The battle to love and heal these precious orphaned children is not won here in this natural temporal world. It’s not won in our own strength, by working harder or expecting more of ourselves. It’s won through prayer, and by resting in the confidence of what God will do if we trust Him. We cannot do this on our own. We can’t even make our own hearts beat. How can we expect to change the life for one precious child without the hand of our loving God picking up the pieces as we drop them?

The battle is won in the world just beyond the natural that is carrying on ever so surely, just beside us. It’s won in the spiritual world of which we all must be a part.

Blessings!

An Aside

I have decided to take a break from the story I have been sharing to address some of the concerns expressed on my blog and on Facebook over the last days. This is my blog. I have allowed your comments because it is not my intention to sensor your speech. They do not really have an effect on me other than to perhaps narrow my vision and further clarify my purpose. Having said that, please do not accuse me. That’s not how healthy adults express their differences. And do not assume to know my heart, because you do not. Only I know that, and God.

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I do ask that you be respectful and that you understand that all of this I am sharing now happened a year ago. We have moved beyond those painful days. And, perhaps even more importantly, we have moved beyond those days together.

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Can you possibly think for a moment that anything I’ve written would surprise Eliza and Evangeline? We are open about our feelings in our home. It’s okay to express our feelings, and that freedom has allowed an amazing healing to come to our family. Eliza knows she didn’t like me at first. She knows I didn’t understand her and felt pushed away by her actions. She knows I wore down and struggled to adjust and find our new normal in our family. AND, she knows it’s okay, that it takes time to build the feelings of love and attachment. Just yesterday Eliza said to me, “Mommy, take my picture and show everyone how happy I am.”

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Furthermore, I am telling a glimpse of Eliza’s story from my perspective. I am sharing a story of how one family, our family, went through the process of attaching to our daughters, adopted at nearly fourteen years old.

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To those of you who asked if we sought help during our lowest moments. Of course we did. Yet we felt a guilt and a shame that kept us from being really open about how we felt. My point here is that the process of becoming parents to an older child isn’t complete on gotcha day. The children and their families are not necessarily giggling and attached in two weeks as a much younger child can be. AND IT IS OKAY. THERE IS NO NEED TO FEEL SHAME.

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And of course we were educated about older child adoption. But I don’t think anyone can anticipate the feelings and the change in family dynamics that may occur in the process of attachment. The adoptions affected each one of our children differently. Some even felt displaced. A lot of healing came when we were able to identify each one of the children’s roles in the family, and celebrate those roles and strengths. We are, in some ways, all still working on that.

There are far too many disruptions of older children in the adoption community, and far too many children waiting for families. Do you know that once a child turns five years old, they have less than a five percent chance of ever being adopted? And even after they have been adopted, far too many of those adoptions fail. The pain those children and families go through is real, and we as a community need to recognize the process as normal and support those families through the process. There is no room for criticism or shame, and I expect those who comment here to respect that as well. I will not approve comments that do not honor that, or that continue to belabor a point someone has already had the opportunity to express. I will not allow fighting on my blog.

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The subjects I have broached here on my blog, and the raw and blatant feelings I have shared are not frequently openly expressed. They are taboo in the adoption community because we love the collective orphan. God loves orphans. How is it then appropriate to share the hard side?

We live in a broken, fallen world. People abandon their children, children are abused and human trafficked, and the parents who step out in faith to love them are human too. God uses broken people to love these children. Indeed He calls us to.

We are all called.

And, perhaps I am the most broken of all.

Yet God chose me to love these two. And I am so very thankful that He did.

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I will continue to share our story. I answer to God, not to you. To make such comments as, “she has been told by many fellow adoptive parents that this is wildly inappropriate, but it doesn’t phase her, ” on my blog is rude and shows an unawareness of the fact that I do not answer to “fellow adoptive parents.” I answer to God. And you are correct, I will continue to be faithful to Him, and only Him, in my writings and share this story as He calls me to. You are expressing an opinion, your opinion, and I have no responsibility to ‘obey’ you, or to do as you say. If we choose to have a public presence, that is our right as parents, just as it is your right to choose not to. You have no right to tell me what I can write on my blog. Obviously, some of us have different opinions of what should be shared on the internet. Yet we live in this technical age, and God uses the cyber world in many ways too, not the least of which is to draw the adoption community together and to support each other. Primarily, you have been my support. Perhaps I am blazing a trail. If it helps one family to press on through the first few years of attaching to an older child, then it will be worth every criticism I have received.

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Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth. ~ 1 john 3:18

So have no fear of them, for nothing is covered that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. 27 What I tell you in the dark, say in the light, and what you hear whispered, proclaim on the housetops. ~ Matthew 10; 26-27

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Older children wait. The lives that wait for them when they age out of the adoption system also lie in wait like a thief in the night. The terrors that lie ahead are unthinkable, and even orphanage life is no place for a child. We must not fear adopting an older child. They are blessings and have so much love to give. AND we MUST see the long and slow and sometimes painful process of attachment as normal.

We must go and get the children.

Blessings!

The Day I Let Her Go

A NOTE TO THE READER: This is one post in a series of posts that will share the story of how I came to know and grew to love my daughters who were adopted at fourteen years old, mere days before they aged out of the adoption system. It does not reflect my feelings now. If you are joining me in the midst of the series, you can access the whole story by clicking on The Silent Months on the top menu bar of my blog. I choose to share my story to address a topic that is taboo in the adoption community. I share it to normalize the feelings that so many feel and yet are too ashamed to share. I share it to provide support to those who feel alone because there’s a big white elephant in the room, and no one can talk about it. I share it in support of adoption, in support of every single precious child waiting for a family, every one of which deserves to be loved and is lovable, every single one. Why can’t we talk about it? The feelings are real. The process of attachment can be easy and it can be painful, and the more we support parents who experience the painful side of adoption, the more we help the children. There are far too many disruptions, especially of older children, and if we as a community can come to see the feelings and the process as normal, perhaps we can provide support to those families and in doing so, help the children. Adoption is rooted in pain and loss, and often the process is painful. AND it’s okay. Before you offer your criticism, please read, Eliza Today, A Preface, and God’s Heart and Workers for His Harvest Field .

I woke up Sunday morning feeling a dread in the pit of my stomach that rose up into my throat and nearly completely closed off my airway. This was the day I was to go and tell Eliza I couldn’t be her mother.

Deep inside I had lost sight of God’s best for our lives. I had forgotten God’s promise to finish what He starts and the deep calling we had to be Eliza’s parents. Yet I was looking at the circumstances and not at God. I couldn’t see any way to be better than I was. And right then, I didn’t feel I could be very good for anyone.

I kept hearing reports about how well Eliza was doing with the family who had been taking care of the girls, and as much as I was thankful, I also saw it as confirmation that I couldn’t parent her as well as someone else could.

I had completely lost my confidence in my ability to be Eliza’s mother.

People have forgotten this truth,” the fox said. “But you mustn’t forget it. You become responsible forever for what you’ve tamed. You’re responsible for your rose.
Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince

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This is my journal entry from that morning.

8/18/13, 6:01am
Today at 11am. I am supposed to tell Eliza that I cannot be her mother.
Last night late when I prayed with Steven, I encouraged him to talk about Eliza and his feelings.
He sobbed. He misses her. He wants her to come home.
And now Mark has changed his mind again. He thinks we need to try to do it.
Sometimes I feel that way too.
I wish we had more time before we had to make this decision.
I hear what everyone says, yet I still wonder if I’m right to even consider disrupting as an option. How can pushing a child away ever be the right decision?
I keep thinking of so many Bible verses.
“I can do all things through Jesus Christ who strengthens me.”
“Whatever you ask in my name, believe that you have recieved it, and it will be yours.”
And I have asked God to help me love her. Yet, I can’t.
Why? Is it the depravity of my heart? Have I not believed enough? Have I failed to look at Him and focus on His love.
Why can’t I love her?
Why was I so compelled to go to China for this child, only to have it end like this?
Jesus willingly laid down his life for us. We are called to offer our bodies as a living sacrifice to Him. And yet the thought of laying down my life for Eliza nearly paralyzes me.
And that is what it would take for me to bring her home.
I cannot be her mother.
She drives me absolutely crazy. When I think of her standing outside my bedroom door, sitting at our table, hanging on me, reaching for my hand every thirty seconds, endlessly needing me so beyond what I can give, I feel as though my mind will explode.
I have rocked her every single day, yet the thought makes me bristle. I do not enjoy holding her. I long for the time to pass.
And how can I be so heartless?
The Bible teaches that all children are blessings in a family. And I have so lived my life trusting God’s view of children. I haven’t turned away one of His blessings.
Until now.
The Bible says, “Care for the orphans.”
And I can’t care for Eliza.
I have empathy for her, deep affection, compassion, but love?
I’m not so sure, but certainly not the warm fuzzy feeling of love.
And yet so many mothers and father’s struggle to love their biological children, and they don’t put them out of their families.
How can this option possibly be the right one? How can taking her away from the only family she has ever known be the right one?
How can I even consider it?
I don’t know what to do.
But it seems since I am so torn and don’t have peace over this, that I should not do it.
It feels like I am being asked to make a choice between two really awful options, and I feel like I can’t do it. I just can’t break her heart today.
And as much as it hurts, and even if it costs me my life, I think I have to break mine before I choose to break hers.

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I called my best friend. She was afraid for me. She could see how I’d deteriorated and grown so much weaker. Her words were kind and gentle. She encouraged me to rest in knowing God would care for Eliza when I couldn’t, and that I needed to trust Him. Perhaps I had done what I was supposed to do. Perhaps now it was time to let someone else love her.

I don’t know how I got in the car that day, or how I rode all the way to meet the girls, or what part of me took over and did what I felt I couldn’t, but somehow I did. Somehow the drive ended far too soon, and we arrived at the agreed upon meeting place. Both the girls came out to see us as we drove in. Evangeline hugged me and I went over to Eliza and hugged her too. She knew she wasn’t coming home with us because I wasn’t well enough and Evangeline had appointments.

Of course she suspected something. None of it made sense. Eliza was always a help to me in our home. It was my feelings and her voracious need for me, along with all the other needs that kept me from feeling like I could handle bringing her home. But how does one explain that to the daughter who has never had a mother?

Dear Reader, I did the unthinkable.

Below is the journal entry I wrote the morning after we left her with the respite family.

It feels so quiet here this morning.
It’s dark.
The sun’s rising later now, and somehow the darkness seems so very fitting.
Cappuccino’s lying across my arms as I type this with a knowing look of sadness in her eyes.
I’m sitting downstairs in the back room instead of hiding out in my bedroom, which all by itself, is telling of the enormity of the stress that’s been lifted off of me.
And yet it feels like there’s been a death, and I’m the one who caused it.
The blood is on my hands.
Everywhere I look I see her.
I see her playing with Cappuccino, helping me clip her nails, standing beside me in the kitchen, folding the clothes with me. I see her eyes and her sweet smile looking up at me and hear her saying the words, “I love you Mommy.”
I see her running in the yard with the children, chasing the geese into the road with the recklessness and innocence of a much younger child.
I think of her tiny body that I rubbed cream on every single day.
I feel the weight of her on my lap as I so faithfully rocked her.
I see the insecurity and frailty reflected in her eyes and feel her sadness.
Her bed sits there empty across the room from Victoria’s, void of the child who loved it, the child it cradled every night as she drifted off to sleep. It stands there like a monument to this child I couldn’t love, this child who needed me to be something I could not be no matter how badly I wanted to.
I see the lovely black and white decor of the room contrasted by the turquoise walls that we painted so specifically for her while she waited for us in China, and longed for the mother she thought I would be.
And I hate what I have done to her. I hate that no matter how hard I tried to love her, I couldn’t. I hate the way I felt when I saw her in the morning, when she called me, when she reached out for me and the best that I could offer was a forced, “I’m here, Eliza.”
I hate the way I hurt her.
I see the fear in her eyes as she sat yesterday across from me, waiting to hear the words the only mommy and daddy she ever knew had to tell her.
But she spoke first. “Mommy, I cry.”
And, “I miss Sophia.”
I wanted so desperately to comfort her, to tell her she would see Sophia soon, that it would all be okay again, and that I could love her like I should have, like she needed me to, like I wanted to.
But I didn’t.
Instead, I did the unthinkable.
I told her that I had to tell her something, that I couldn’t be her mother, that I tried so very hard and thought I could but that I can’t, and that I’m so very very sorry.
She looked startled and shocked as she tried to process the horrible words I spoke.
Then. I took the pearls I had bought for her in China out of my pocketbook and placed them in her hands. I wrapped her fingers around them and said, “Honey, I want you to have these. I bought them for you when we were in China.”
I told her I loved her.
And I walked out.
She reached for me and ran for the door, but her respite mother grabbed her. Eliza fell to the floor, and then I was gone.
She cried, a horrible, agonizing, moaning, primal cry.
We went outside and put her things in the car for her to take back to her new home, and I could still hear crying inside.
Then we left. We drove away from her. We left her there, crying, longing for us, in another mother’s arms.
And I can still hear her crying.
And it hurts so terribly.
I wish I could make it better.
I wish I could undo it all.
And the power to undo it all lies within my hands.
But the power to love her the way she needs to be loved eludes me, and I don’t understand that. I know the God of love. I know the One who loves perfectly, the giver of all love, and I’ve asked Him over and over again to fill my heart with His love for her.
And yet it seems He has sent another woman to love her now in my stead.
I’m so very thankful and broken all at the same time, and I pray that He will hold her and love her and protect her precious heart now even as I can’t and never could.

“Of course I’ll hurt you. Of course you’ll hurt me. Of course we will hurt each other. But this is the very condition of existence. To become spring, means accepting the risk of winter. To become presence, means accepting the risk of absence.”

― Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince

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People where you live,” the little prince said, “grow five thousand roses in one garden… yet they don’t find what they’re looking for…

They don’t find it,” I answered.

And yet what they’re looking for could be found in a single rose, or a little water…”

Of course,” I answered.

And the little prince added, “But eyes are blind. You have to look with the heart.

I was hurting, and I did hurt Eliza, but praise God the story did not end there. Somehow amidst the hurting and the pain and the vulnerability, amidst all the brokenness, a spark of pure love began to grow in my heart for my precious daughter that, in time, blossomed into something too beautiful for words. I found what I’d been looking for all along, but had somehow missed, in a single rose, my rose, a little water, and so many tears.

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Blessings!

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