Six months or so ago, Tyler and I were driving and he was sharing about his coworkers and their experience adopting an 8 year old girl who has suffered many traumas in her short life. Understandably, she has many emotional and behavioral struggles that stem from broken promises, extorted trust, and constant changes of her environment and her caregivers. He talked about her story and some of the struggles they are having even now to break through her walls and show her that their love is unconditional and unchanging. That she is valued and cared for and all the tumultuous shifting and abuse she experienced before is now behind her. She is safe. She can heal.
But it’s not simple. For families adopting older children or fostering children with a “complicated” (to put it slightly) past, they are faced with a huge risk: To love without restraint, knowing full-well their hearts may be broken in the process — whether from a child who is distant and rebellious or from the state reunifying their foster child with neglectful or abusive parents.
Yet as Tyler told me this story, I could hear the emotion in his voice. Not emotion like my voice shows emotion. Good grief, I get choked up watching Top Chef. It was deep compassion and… conviction? I let his words sink in for a minute.
“Tyler, are you… are you feeling like someday you might want to foster? Or adopt from foster care?”
He sighed a heavy sigh. He’s the kind of person that wants his words to be sincere – not spoken out of fleeting emotion. I could tell this wasn’t the first time he had thought about it.
“Maybe? I don’t know… not right now, Elise is too young. But maybe someday, a ways on down the road.”
Tears (see what I mean?) welled up in my eyes. That God would lay this on his heart, even before mine was stunning to me. I am the emotional one. I am the one to announce my wild aspirations to him. I am the one that wants more than the standard 2.5 children. It was an emotion and a conviction that could only come from the Father.
Fast forward to 4 weeks ago. I was subbing in the church nursery and ended up working with a woman who is a foster care-giver. Her story is heartbreaking… and hope-filling at the same time. To love a child as they deserve to be loved — knowing full-well that you cannot dictate their future– that is a vulnerable thing to do. But she told me this week that this vulnerability is a glimpse of the Father’s love. God loves us… knowing His heart will be broken.
That struck me. All my insecurities and anxieties about our adoption… they are nothing when compared to the anguish God has experienced.
Our vulnerability right now is small compared to what it could be if we foster someday. But even with domestic adoption, there is still always a chance for a birthmom to have a “change of heart.” I am learning that when God calls us to walk through heartache, He offers us a deeper relationship with Him. Not because our wounds have earned it for us. Because He wants to use our pain to understand the pain He feels and the love that outweighs every heartache and makes every vulnerability worthwhile.
Talking about God’s love is one thing. We are quickly desensitized to repetitive anecdotes and Christian cliches.
Experiencing God’s love is quite another. To walk with someone that understands your grief is invaluable. And no matter the grief… God has felt it too. He is more than a support system. He is the Source of All Comfort and the Father of love.
We don’t know what is in store for our future. Maybe our family will grow as a seamless unit with no pain or loss or trauma. But regardless of God’s plans, He will open our hearts to love without caution, and will carry us through to heal whatever brokenness we may face.