It’s been over four months since we first met this tiny stranger we now call our son. Except, he’s not so tiny anymore, and he’s still not technically our son. But he sure has made a himself at home in our hearts. He is the sweetest, happiest baby– so quick to return your smile with a squinty-eyed, scrunched-nose, toothless, ear-to-ear grin.
Isaiah’s birthmom signed her parental rights over on February 9, so now it’s just a matter of waiting for the court to pick up the file and sign the paperwork to make us his legal parents. It’s annoying to still have this hanging, but there is really no chance he’s going anywhere. This chubby little man is here to stay.
I haven’t had much time to blog since he came along, but I’ve had so many thoughts mulling in my heart. While in the hospital with Isaiah, I witnessed an adoption-reversal happen right before my eyes. And in just the past 2 months I’ve had two friends lose their babies: one in a tragic car accident that took the lives of baby, mom, and grandma; another in surgery on his tiny little heart.
That baby was born on the same day as Isaiah.
Both babies spent a majority of their lives in the hospital with illness. Both mothers – whether they knew it or not – were a great encouragement to me while I was with Isaiah in the hospital for two weeks.
It just doesn’t seem right… how do you reconcile something like this?
For 10 weeks we loved Isaiah as our own, knowing full well he was not our own and could be taken from us at any moment.
He won’t be taken away from us now. But going through those 10 weeks and then witnessing these families’ losses… it’s stayed with me that we could just as unexpectedly lose either child at any point…
I suppose such a realization could cripple me with fear. And sometimes it starts to.
But besides making me a sappy basket-case, it’s challenged me to cherish every moment and show grace, even when I’m frustrated.
Ok, not every moment. I’m still human. And don’t forget we are on the undies-side of potty-training a toddler (which, trust me, is much worse than the pull-ups-side of potty training).
The words of another friend has added to my conviction.
Two months back, when we were waiting to get the call that Isaiah’s birthmom had signed off her rights, I was talking to another adoptive mom about how the call really would change nothing about how we felt about Isaiah. No paperwork or phone call could make us love him any more than we already did. She told me in essence that,
“What I’ve come to realize is that each child I have is an amazing gift from God. But I’m not promised any more days with my biological children than I am with my other children. I just need to love them all unconditionally for however long I have them.”
Whether you realize it or not going into it, parenthood requires reckless love. When you love a child, there are no guarantees against heartbreak.
My natural personality is to keep everything the same. I am happy to read books about risk-taking protagonists. But I myself would rather stay in the safety of what I know – the same job, the same community, the same morning routine.
Please don’t ask me to change my morning routine.
Can I get an “Amen”? Surely I’m not the only one.
Risks are not attractive to me. Change is never a welcome event. Hardship, even less so.
Remember the emotional basket-case thing? Yeah, that’s me. I cry even when the team I can’t stand gets eliminated on Amazing Race. I’m fairly confident that no one has ever said of me, “She’s so strong.”
In fact, I am so confident in my weakness that I’ve already decided to home-school both kids all the way through college. I’ve made Elise promise never to date because she’s not leaving home nor is she ever even riding in a car with a boy. And I’ve even designed the “Mom” tattoo that Isaiah will be permitted to get when he turns 16, just so the ladies know he is not available.
But my instinct to shelter them is really mostly about sheltering me.
Children are worth the risks. Worth the heart-ache. Worth the heartbreak.
So when the time comes that we can consider growing our family again, I inwardly tremble at the thought of fostering. So much about it hits at the very core of my fears. Getting attached, giving them back to a bad situation, having no control, the possible impact on my kids…
But ultimately, I also want my children to learn radical, reckless love themselves over cozy entitlement and constant leisure.
Growing up, my parents demonstrated this for me. They didn’t “foster” per-say… But for several years, we lived with my grandparents while my mom helped with their care. Then years later my uncle moved in with my family for 4-5 years until he passed in 2007. They’ve also opened their home up for months at a time to my paternal grandpa and an intern at my mom’s PT clinic.
Although I didn’t always love sharing my house, but I am so thankful that it gave me such a close relationship with these family members. I also witnessed such extreme compassion and hospitality and saw the impact it had. I honestly don’t know that my grandparents or my uncle would ever have come to know the Lord if it weren’t for my parents. That, in itself, is… huge.
And really, having long-term “guests” actually made the time we had as a nuclear family something we looked forward to. Not typical of families with teenagers.
Obviously these are just words right now. But it stands what I said earlier:
Children are worth the risks. Worth the heart-ache. Worth the heartbreak…
Whether that means unconditionally loving on your own children through potty-training, threenager-hood, junior-high, and some season of rebellion or despondency; or loving on another child that’s never known unconditional love.