Monday, January 10, 2011

Honoring the Sorrow

The first time I heard someone use the phrase "The rightness and wrongness of adoption," I didn't get it. I thought I did - I thought I understood the depth and meaning of that phrase - but looking back now, I know that I didn't fully understand.

I thought that right and wrong were opposites, that they were separate from one another, and that the "right" covered and erased all the "wrong."

But now - after seeing the face of my sweet son, after hearing his story and learning about his mother - NOW I get it.

The day we got our referral, we excitedly made our way to the homes of each of our family members to share the good news and proudly show off our ador.a.ble little guy. Later that night, my sister-in-law asked my 10-year-old nephew what he thought of his new cousin. And my intuitive, thoughtful, sweet, sweet nephew started crying.

Why are you crying, Caden?

Because that baby will never know his mommy.

As my sister-in-law recounted this story to me, I was reminded that in our joy, there is deep, deep sorrow.

We are over-the-moon excited about enfolding this little boy into our family, but it is only because of brokenness, injustice, pain, and poverty that we have this privilege. We are gaining a child, but only because another woman is losing him. In our rejoicing we cannot forget her grief.

It's a tricky thing to talk about this grief because I feel the joy just as intensely. I am both happy and sad. I feel joy and pain at the same time. It's not one emotion or another - and the emotions are not opposites. The sorrow and the excitement are complimentary and intertwined and cannot - must not - be separated.

Every time I dream about his future as my child, I mourn the future that he doesn't have as her child. Each time I get excited about connecting him to my family's traditions I feel the pain of severing his connections with his Ethiopian heritage. Similarly, I truly believe that one day this little boy will love me as he misses his birth mother.

And when that time comes, I want him to know that I understand. That I love her too and that it's okay to grieve over the poverty and brokenness that brought him to us.

There have been many times during the past 20 months that I have wondered, "If I stop pursuing adoption right now, will God allow the child he has chosen for me to stay with his mother?" I've considered it. I really have. I'll stop right now if this child can stay with his mom.

But I know it doesn't work that way. Each time I've questioned, I've known that God wants me to press on. Beyond a shadow of a doubt, I know that God has a sovereign plan and that all of this - the loss, the pain, the grief, the joy, the excitement, and the rejoicing - is a part of it.

The rightness and wrongness of adoption. The both/and of this miraculous adoption process. I understand now that the joy does not erase the sorrow but that one emotion only intensifies the other. The beauty of enfolding a child into a family does not undo the fact that another family had to give him up. The "rightness" of pursing an orphaned child does not make right the "wrongness" that caused him to be orphaned in the first place.

We love this little guy, and we are humbly grateful that God is placing him in our lives, and us in his. And we will laugh with him and cry with him and continue to long for the day when God heals all of the world's brokenness once and for all.

And I'm so, so thankful for my nephew. I hope he never forgets the sorrow that he felt. One day, I pray that he can share those thoughts with my son and that my little guy will know that his cousin "gets it" too.


Beth said...

Beautiful writing, Becky!

Missy @ It's Almost Naptime said...

So beautiful.

Several months ago I realized that our future baby's birthmother was probably just about then learning she was pregnant. I can only imagine the fear and anxiety that she was experiencing, or I thought of the tragedy that she may only have months to live. I was a wreck.

My prayer has been for her to have a supernatural peace that God somehow make it known to her that her child will be cared for and loved desperately. And I pray that she know our Savior, that we may ALL spend eternity together.

Joan said...

Thank you for revealing this to us. It's very true and undeniably something that most of us have not really stopped to consider. I love you, dear daughter! You are going to be an awesome Mom!

Sarah and Ben said...

Becky, I consider this thought often. It makes me think that nothing, not even loving a child, can be perfectly pure and that we must truly embrace the situation of humanity in order to take such leaps of faith. I am so excited for you and Mark and I think you will be able to comfort your son through his own sorrow. Thank you for sharing your heart and you adoption journey, I think that when we choose to adopt I will often reflect on your writing.

Misa said...

Hi Becky,

I came across your blog by randomly clicking on Blogger's browse function, but your post on adoption really caught my attention. And tugged at my heartstrings.

My mum used to foster children when I was a teen, to get them used to a family unit again before adoption. And I regularly saw the joy mingled with pain that you talked about.

I am so touched that I have an award for you, here. Please accept it and my good wishes as you raise that precious little boy.