Adoption is a thing because loss is a thing

Recently I heard someone tell about an adoption of a special needs child from another country. He explained some of the parents’ arduous and expensive, heartfelt process, and then said, “Imagine the joy…” as he described how the child must have felt about being adopted. The little boy would be loved unconditionally and taken care of his whole life. He would experience privileges in this country that he would never have had a chance for in his home country.


Though I completely understood his point, all I could think about was the child, who probably was not initially overjoyed with the transition. The kid couldn’t have known the joy his new parents were experiencing when they arrived at the place to pick up their chosen son. He couldn’t have known about the years of paperwork, preparation, and financial strain, or the longing that fueled the family’s commitment to welcome him into their home.


He probably didn’t even know he was in need of parents, or that unconditional love is a thing.


My guess is that he was far from joyful when he was removed from all he knew, when he was thrust into the arms of people who would take him to a world beyond his comprehension. He would have had no way to visualize the potential joy that awaited him in his new life, the pleasure, the blessing, the fierce love of a mother, the protection of a father.


I know that transitions are part of life; but even with my experience, age, and resources, I still fear the unknown. I buck change.


Children don’t know change is necessary and unavoidable. They don’t know when there is no reason to fear.


Dear friends of mine adopted an 18-month old child several years ago. On their first meeting, they were greeted with tears, some punching, mistrust, and outright rejection. Their long-awaited, fought-for daughter knew nothing of their love and the expanding, vibrant future that awaited her. All she knew was that she was being torn away from her people and her home.


Adoption, even in its most perfect scenario, is not how things should be. Adoption is only a thing because loss is a thing.


Adoption is necessary because of brokenness.


There is no restoration without destruction.


And so it goes.


I resist and cling to what I know because I’m afraid and distrustful. He knows He’s offering me a future full of abundant grace and goodness, but I don’t see what He sees.


God freely offers me unconditional love and acceptance, rejuvenation and life for my brittle, dry soul. I spit at Him, ridicule the idea of Him, doubt He’s capable. My deepest fears are manifested in all sorts of self-preservation tactics.


He holds on with no intention of ever letting go. His grasp is tight and firm as He graciously leads me to my future, which is unimaginable to my childish eyes and heart. All I comprehend is the pain in front of me and the certainty that I know better than God.


Thankfully, He knows more than I do and gently tolerates my tantrums. He waits. He holds on. He knows the restoration rising from the ashes will be so beautiful that His love and deep longing will have been worth it.

photo from Katie Chase

Expose your heart

She’s been begging me to teach her to sew for a while now. I’ve been known to sew arms and eyes back onto stuffed animals and replace the occasional missing button, but being creative with fabric, needle, and thread is not my thing.


Lucky for Emma, she was able to talk her grandma into sewing with her when they spent the day together last week. Grandma had unearthed a teddy bear craft kit, a thrift store find from years ago. Inside the clouded, brittle plastic bag with the 2.99 price tag were all the materials needed to assemble a new friend.


Emma’s original goal was to learn to use a sewing machine, but the felt bear, so runty and fragile, required hand stitching. Gingerly, she stitched on his black nose and mouth and then put his parts together with floss the color of sand.


Though he came with stuffing and thread, he was missing one important part of his anatomy, which Emma remedied when she cut out a tiny blue (the color of paper grandma had handy) heart to place inside his empty chest.


On the heart, Emma wrote her name, date, and “I love you.”


Once this vital organ was positioned, she finished filling in all his limbs, using a pencil to squish all the cottony polyester fiber into the small spaces. And then she fattened up his chest cavity and head and added the final sandy stitches to his oatmeal body.


Eugene is what she named him. He looks very Eugene-ish.


When she showed me the completed Eugene for the first time, for some reason I said that it was too bad no one would ever get to see his heart.


Her resigned reply: “I know.”


After thinking for a time, she said, “Maybe my grandkids will find it someday after I die.”


Because I’m so darn pragmatic and couldn’t leave it alone, I said, “You know, most people don’t see the inside of stuffed animals, even the ones that belonged to their grandmothers.”


She gave another long sigh, followed by, “It will remain hidden. Unless he is ripped open.”


That’s right, my Emma. That’s right.


My heart too. It’s there inside of me, with all the markings of my Maker.


No one sees it unless I’m opened up. When I’m hurt or exposed or vulnerable or honest or ripped apart, that’s when what’s inside is on display.


And only then will others see that Someone wrote “I love you” on my heart.


photo by Alex Blajan

%d bloggers like this: