Tuesday, March 8, 2011
Adoption is hard, but God is enough
It doesn't take much time in the adoption arena to realize that this is very far from truth. Though we may feel that by signing up for adoption, we should be exempt from most of the difficulties in life, it just doesn't happen that way. We experienced this in a very real way on our first trip to Ethiopia last week.
There are many common things that we all face when we travel internationally on adoption trips, such as long flights (sitting way too close to "interesting" people), jet lag, different foods, different hotels, strange language, pollution that would rank "red" on the US pollution scale everyday, etc. But there are other things that we might face that add even more difficulty to the trip. For us, we faced sickness which completely drained two of our four family members and we faced a little girl that was scared, shy, reserved, and emotionally shut down for several days.
We had read much about attachment and bonding. We knew that she came from a "hard place" and that it would be reasonable to expect her to be distant. Having lost much, or actually everything, Hannah's Hope had become over the last three months the only thing she knew. Her identity as a Gambellan child from the far western region of Ethiopia was gone. Her home, family, culture, food, language, friends were all gone. Who would blame this girl from shutting down when four very white people begin to surround her and speak to her in a different language? We knew all of this was possible, and likely, but it was still difficult to process when it is happening right in front of you to the girl that will become your daughter forever. It's OK for attachment problems to be discussed in a book, just not right in front of me with my Peaches. Isn't there a way to just fix this?
To say I overreacted quickly and way too early is obvious. I think the lack of sleep, jet lag, and traveling made it more difficult to process, it made me want to be able to just find the answer to the problem. But it was clear early on that adoption is not about the fairy tale story of a perfect child being matched with a perfect family. Our family is far from perfect. We fail to love each other as Christ would every day. We fail to serve each other in a God-honoring way every day. We fall far, far short of living as we should. We also found that our Peaches is not perfect. She has many, many emotional scars that will take a lot of time and a lot of love to heal. They are scars that only the far-reaching hand of God can touch. They are scars that we as a family will work through together.
It became clear to us through our exhaustion, physically and emotionally, that adoption is hard. It is filled with waiting and let-downs and pain and work. In addition, other areas of life don't take a rest when you step forward to adopt. Life continues to bring its challenges and difficulties. And so we wonder why does it have to be this way?
It is because we do not find our ultimate satisfaction in any of these things. Not in our family, not in ourselves, not in our lives as a whole, and not in adoption. No, our ultimate satisfaction comes from God. He is enough to satisfy us. He is enough when life is hard. He is enough during the wait of adoption. He is enough when the eyes of your adoptive daughter are empty and distant. He is enough when everything around you seems to be relentlessly closing in on you. He is our satisfaction. He is our joy.
Please understand that there were many, many beautiful moments with our girl. There were many times when we laughed and giggled and played and had wonderful interaction. There were many times when she looked at us with eyes full of life, full of love. Times when she shared a smile that made you wonder how so much joy could come from a child who has been through so much. Those times were good. Those times were great.
But during the other times we remembered, adoption is hard, life is hard, but God is enough.