This is my adoption story. I am not a spokesperson for or against adoption and nothing I share should be taken as a generalization about adopting. Every story is unique and has its own qualities that make it what it is. It is time for me to share mine. It is difficult, emotional, and some parts are hard to admit. I know it is a piece of my own healing process no matter what else comes of it.
We adopted our son when he was almost 13 years old. We had never talked about adopting and had not prepared ourselves for it but we felt strongly that God spoke to us to adopt this particular child. And we did. He became our oldest child by 2 1/2 years, which we never heard anyone recommend. The “experts” say that you should take a child younger than your birth children, but we felt God was bigger than expert opinions no matter how hard it might be. We did not have anyone really who thought it was a fantastic idea because it would clearly come with a cost to me, my husband, and our 3 children. We also did not know a single person who had taken this on before. No one. But we went forward because it was what we were called to do.
The next 5 1/2 years were very demanding- the adjustment, the sacrifices made by the 5 of us, and the mere exhaustion of 4 boys in our family. We only had those 5 years to train our son up for the world- we had missed his first 13 and there was so much for him to learn. Lessons came at a cost, discipline was constant, and the push back from him was ever present. But we stuck it out. No matter what. That is what we signed up for when we became his parents.
I have probably had a hundred people say to me, “I bet he is so thankful he got you!” I would smile politely, without a response. There is no response to that statement because he did not know how to be thankful. He came to us with so much hurt, disappointment, and anger that there was no way he would let down his guard and think about what he had. It would leave him vulnerable and he had been through too much to open himself up to that.
His therapist said to him, “When are you going to stop pushing your parents away?” The answer- up until this point…..never. The pain of those first few years made him into a survivor- a child who can make himself exist in any situation and not be bonded. Bonding is too much. Too personal. Too deep.
So we were left with knowing that we would not get from him what he had hoped for. A parent/child relationship. One that involves the give and take of love and acceptance. We were a means to an end for him and after he turned 18 he just left. Took off for somewhere he thought was better. No real explanation or reasoning. Leaving just because he could. Not really leaving much behind because he is a survivor and he can make life work wherever he is. It was the most crushing experience of my life. Watching my son walk out and not look back.
My son graduated from basic training in the U.S. Army and we were able to celebrate the graduation with him. We were so proud and so excited for his future. We were overwhelmed with his courage and strength to work so hard for something so honorable. We got back from his graduation two days ago and I was beaming with pride. He had become a respectable, honest, young man with credibility and integrity. But I still did not have a son who wants me to be his mom. That crushes me deep to the core. It burns from the inside out.
But here is where my journey has led me. The picture of this angel is called the “angel of freedom.” I found it today and it spoke volumes to me. In order to be free, I have to let him go and stop trying to find something in him that he does not have to give away. It is not fair to him and it only hurts me. I pry and almost beg for answers I want to hear from him. I wait for the gratitude, love, and acceptance. And then I am devastated when it is not there.
I pray God will give me freedom from my expectations. Freedom from the constant disappointment that I don’t have with him what I have with my birth children. We cannot give away what we do not have.
I have prayed for 6 years now that it would be “well with my soul.” It is not yet but I am hoping that as I grow I will find the peace that passes understanding. That will be a time of amazing freedom.