Two beaming parents and two grinning little boys snuggling on a couch, that’s the photo that appeared in my wife’s Facebook memories. It was from a time before things got hard. That photo struck a chord inside, especially after being asked twice this week, if we would do it all again.
The photo was from a 2013 trip to Gatlinburg. The boys were still experiencing foster care and it was a big deal to get permission to go away for a long weekend. It remains one of my favorite getaways. Since it was before the onset of severe challenges, we got to see the full energy and joy of two little boys who had never experienced a normal family vacation much less a theme park like Dollywood.
We couldn’t do that trip now. At least not with all of our children together. We couldn’t do anything that unstructured or so far from our support systems. We could go away for a few days with one and perhaps two, maybe. But not all of us on a vacation. That’s the reality when adoption becomes hard.
Before sharing her memory on Facebook, my wife didn’t know I had been asked the “would you” question twice already this week. Once by a friend, once by my psychiatrist. Her answer is perfect.
In October 2019, we put our “yes on the table“- on the very day I was let go from my last full-time job. On that day, I walked from the office to my car. I called my wife and I called my dad. I drove to the psychiatric crisis center where one of my boys was and I spent time with him there. From those two phone calls and that time with my child confirmed that our hard adoption reality was our path forward. If there had been anytime to throw in the towel, it would have been that night.
I won’t lie that the temptation to disrupt has been and continues to be real from time to time**. Throw it all away, go back to just us and try to reclaim time. I’ve fanaticized about what it would be like to have a more normal life. No therapists, no doctors, no new acronyms to learn. Pick up and go to Disney? Sounds great. Family game night every Saturday? Wonderful. Just having all the kids in the house at the same time without safety plans? Heavenly. Maybe one day.
But God. (Oh how reassuring a phrase.) But God has placed these children in our lives and us in theirs. He divinely appointed us to receive the phone call. He sparked the nearly instant reaction to say yes when the social worker called. He ordained us together as a family. He’s held us safely during the best times and held us tight and close when it was time to walk through high waters.
We are committed to being a family. It doesn’t matter if we ever all live in the same house at the same time. I believe it’s not ours to question the “Why”, but rather focus on embracing the “Who.”
The providence of God directs all our steps in every way in every day. If we say we love and trust God, it can’t always be just in easy times.
There are many things we are not called to. I am not a handyman. I am not a car guy. I am not an animal person nor can do anything musically. In other words. This is what we do. This is what God has gifted us for and chosen us for.
Please, and I mean please, don’t look at us on a pedestal. See us attempting to be faithful in our calling, just as you are faithfully following yours — whatever it may be. And if you want, come and jump in the trenches with us.
While we will naturally look back and sometimes even question or ponder “what if,” it really in the end doesn’t profit a thing. I struggle, but I try to looking forward leads to hope. I know God had held us and lead us this far. I’m really trying to look forward in 2022.
**Among the hardest decisions an adoptive parent has to make is that decision to disrupt an adoption. That is a painful, gut-wrenching choice that often comes when there is so severe a challenge, that was likely not disclosed pre-adoption, that the safety of the family is at risk. My comments are not in any way intended to bring any shame or judgement on parents who have made this awful, hard decision. I obviously don’t know the future and we very well could be in that situation one day. If you have disrupted, you are loved greatly and there is no judgement here.