Today I had the privilege to visit with a friend who just came home a week ago with her newest BABY boy. This child was a doll. I held him, tickled him, played peek-a-boo, and snuggled for a glorious couple of hours. Oh, and I can't forget the part where I got to sing Jesus Loves me while rocking this sweet boy to sleep. Precious.
It was so amazing to sit and listen to the story of my friend. The grueling process of adoption never ceases to amaze me. It just shouldn't be THAT hard. But I love hearing how God shows up every.single.time to perform the miraculous. Her story was, in my opinion, as Norman Rockwell as it can get in the world of adoptions. The process was long, fraught with pain and hardship and trial, and ended with this chubby faced baby boy that you kinda just want to eat. (Who invented that phrase? It's kinda weird to think about eating a child because they are cute.....or at all....) Her story was .... in a nutshell....beautiful.
She proceeded to show me a couple of pictures of this darling girl who lived in the same home as her now son. Did I mention this baby girl is only 4 months old?? Um....HELLO!!! Call the social worker!!! As I left, the feelings of longing that I had for that baby girl, and even the feelings that were evoked in cuddling with HER baby (don't worry K, I'm not gonna steal your kid) left me a bit of a hot mess.
Two years into our "new normal", and our canvas feels anything but beautiful. Certainly not one that good ol' Norman would approve of. It's hard, messy, painful, and at times maybe feels a bit scarring even (for everyone), with threads of joy woven in between. Aaron and I were just talking last night about the differences in adopting babies vs. older children. And actually, the reality that some parents deal with even with bio kids. Parenting is just hard, no matter what cards you are dealt. But I can't help but find myself longing for it to not be THIS hard. Maybe it's because we never cuddled as a baby, maybe it's because she shouldn't have to get used to a new mom, maybe it's because we just haven't figured each other out yet, maybe it's because I'm not who she needs, or maybe it's just because this is OUR story.....but whatever the reason, I found myself longing to love and mother this little 4 month old girl across the sea more than I've longed to love and mother my own child most days lately. What a not beautiful feeling.
In this moment, God - as usual - met me where I was at. He brought home to my heart the end of me and Aaron's conversation last night - the remembrance that parenting isn't about our children loving us, or even liking us. Love isn't about a feeling of cuddles and roses - it's an action, one that requires choosing time and time again. Instead of longing for my friends beautiful story (which I somehow envisioned as mine were I to run off and adopt that squishy faced doll), God reminded me that even in the hard - our story is still beautiful. The pretty pictures that we paint in our mind of what family should look like is NOT where the beauty lies. It's in the story that God has for us and faithfully living that out. Every beautiful, hard step along the way.
Our adoption stories once felt beautiful to me. Life got in the way. Which means sin got in the way. So as a parent (adoptive or not), I'm reminded of my need to repent for my needy, emotional based parenting and limp my way back to the feet of Jesus where he sustains me in real life.
All our stories are beautiful. It's what we do with them that turns them ugly. Time to add to the beauty again.....