valentine's day 2017 was the day we attended the domestic infant adoption orientation at bethany christian services in madison heights, michigan, the first action step in starting the process of our adoption journey. a year later and we have been on the waiting families list for two months with eight potential profile showings, four of which were realized and none of which has yet resulted in a match or placement. i have to say, this process has gone nothing like what i expected. on the contrary, my expectations have been blown up at every turn. it has been a emotionally exhausting process, and i imagine it is much more so of an emotionally exhausting process for the birth mothers. the blowing up of my own expectations has been really painful for me, but also really good. it has forced a lot of growth.
from when we started this process last valentine's day through june 2017 when we finally were assigned a case worker, i was in generally good spirits about the process, albeit frustrated with how long it was taking. i thought it would go as fast as i could get my paperwork in, but that proved not to be the case. i thought that we would likely be placed over summer if the timeline was dependent on my own productivity in the process. the actual home study process went fairly quickly, but then the writing up of the home study took months longer than expected. originally anticipating approval as early as late august, we weren't approved until the end of november 2017. it was another two weeks after that that we were placed on the waiting families list. and here we are one year after our first step, waiting.
on monday this week i watched a friend's one year old boy for the day. we left our house at 7:15 to pick him up and his dad came to get him at 6:30ish. it was an interesting trial day for me, managing with two littles for the first time. i've really been enjoying bina lately, and i find her emotional intensity manageable when i'm caring for her alone. it's not often that i lose my patience with her. while she was adorable for the first hour with the baby, she tired of him messing with her things and playing with the gates in and out of the kitchen. there were lots of meltdowns regarding what he was doing. and i found myself losing my patience with her more in one day that i had in the previous month combined. it's easier to anticipate needs and be calm and comforting when there's just one little to manage. but when that one is losing her mind as the other is trying to nap, god help us all.
i'm thankful for that day because it showed me what to expect, more or less. obviously we won't be adopting a one year old who is on the move and getting into everything right off the bat. a newborn, while more demanding in other ways, doesn't go anywhere for awhile. i found myself praying for grace so many times throughout the day, mainly to cope with bina and her theatrics. it was interesting to see how different the two of them are. bina has always been... more demanding emotionally. but she was a great sleeper and napper (until november last year). she would give me three hours in nap a day, and generally slept through the night. the baby boy was such a chill little guy, hardly fussed at all. but has been challenging for his parents in the sleep department. he took only 1.5 hours worth of nap while here. another reason why i was about to lose it on bina multiple times. the poor baby doesn't nap much, please just be quiet when he does! it's best for everyone, including you! but there is no reasoning with an emotional 2.5 year old. bless her heart. and mine.
i was at the gym yesterday and on the way home i was thinking about how far i've come in the 2.5 months since i started working with a personal trainer once a week. i keep pictures of my workouts in notes on my phone so i can reference and repeat them on my own twice a week. i remember how hard each one seemed initially. and now that i go back and repeat them, i can do the exercises more quickly and with less effort. i am getting stronger over time and my trainer keeps making each new workout more and more difficult to keep up with my building strength. the first workout i did that had me so tired, i can now complete with ease.
i find this metaphor applicable to growing patience. i used to lack patience with bina more, but the more i have grown and learned how to anticipate and adapt, the more i am able to handle situations that would throw me for a loop in the past. now i feel that most days i don't lose my patience with bina and that i really enjoy being with her and doing life with her. in order to grow my patience more now, i need to find some resistance. a challenge. something like, taking care of TWO littles instead of just one. initially it will be really hard. i will tire easily and be discouraged by how difficult it is. i will want to go back to the easy days of caring for one child like i longed for easier workouts in the days after a hard one that left me sore and tired for days. but in time i will find that my patience muscles are growing, i am adapting, and i am getting stronger and more confident in my ability to manage with two littles. one day at a time, one challenge at a time. it wont be easy, but it will be good. i just have to stay surrendered to the process, humble, and quick to repent when i lose it.
last week was an emotional week with four potential profile showings. all unique, difficult situations. all that we ended up declining to have our profile shown. the last one we second guessed ourselves on, thinking: goodness, we went two weeks with NO potential showings, and then we have four difficult situations shared with us. maybe we should be prayerfully considering these more than we are? they were all outside our preferences that we had decided upon, which was why we were being asked if we wanted our family profile shared or not. the last one was a situation in which the agency was going down the list of waiting families asking if each family were willing to consider the situation. we are number 21 on the list. our hearts were breaking. our adoption specialist informed us that they had found a family who said yes to the situation after we initially declined, then wavered and contacted her to see about changing out minds. that information was a relief as i was scared to take on the situation and the uncertainty it involved. but the emotional toll had hit us regardless, me most acutely. so much brokenness, so much heartache. for these birth mamas, for these babies. god have mercy.
several people (those in the adoption community and those not, alike) have expressed the sentiment "god has the perfect baby for you." which, i understand is meant to be encouraging and comforting. one of the things i was concerned about when weighing the last situation we were approached with was: what if we say yes to this situation and it's not the right one for us? this is a dangerous train of thought, i think. and troubling for sure is the thought that if god has the perfect baby for me, that means he willed that a woman would be in a situation that would necessitate she place her child for adoption. while i believe god has led us to pursue adoption at this particular time, i do not believe that he has a "perfect" baby for us in mind. i do believe that we will be placed with a baby at some point. and i do believe that when we are placed, whether by a birth mama choosing our family to parent her child or the agency going down the list asking each family and we say yes, that baby becomes the baby for us and there is no looking back, no second guessing. it's not that god willed that that birth mama find herself in this broken place that necessitates placement of her baby with another family, but that our two paths crossed at this particular time in history. and god will provide her and us grace to navigate the situation together. it will be messy, because it's a broken situation that leads to the need for adoption. there is both grief and joy somehow. one does not negate the other; both coexist. and there can be beauty in the broken if we let god work in it. david and i are just two broken people ourselves, in just as much need of jesus as our savior as anyone else on this earth. we live by his grace, no merit of our own.
i view this connection, two separate families finding each other in the journey of adoption, as i do marriage. we have lofty ideas of finding the "perfect" mate. i've heard the sentiment that god has the "perfect" spouse in mind for you, you just have to wait to find them. i don't believe that is the case. it sure puts a lot of pressure on us to find the one perfect person on this earth full of 7.4 billion people. i believe that when one commits to their spouse in marriage, that person becomes their person. there is no "what if i didn't find the RIGHT person? what if this isn't god's PERFECT will for me?" no. there is no sense in this thinking. comparison is the thief of joy. making a commitment in marriage is what makes the person your right and perfect person.
when things get tough, it does no good to look for the way out (i am not speaking to cases of infidelity and/or abuse here). maybe i made the wrong choice. maybe i should have picked someone else. someone else is going to have problems too. they may be different problems, but they're still problems nonetheless. our lives cross paths with so many different people and we make connections based on where we are, the activities we participate in, the jobs we have, the places we frequent. i believe god can use all these connections for his glory, if we just open our eyes to see what is right in front of us. and i believe he gives us grace to face every challenge. our job is just to remain humble and quick to repent of our own wrongdoing, acknowledging our desperate need for god at every turn. not an easy task, of course.
so this valentine's day, we remember that it has been one year since we started our adoption journey. we are one year closer to growing our family, connecting with a birth mother as we happen to be on the waiting families list at the same time she is seeking adoptive parents for her child. the grief she is facing and will face, the grief her child will face at being separated from his or her mother at birth and raised by a family that did not birth him or her -- these are not small things to grieve. i don't believe god willed that this mother be placed in this situation for us to find the perfect baby. but i do believe that our paths will cross and though there is grief and pain and sadness, god can take the broken and make it into something beautiful. messy, broken, and beautiful. our god is a god of redemption. redemption doesn't mean no pain or sacrifice. jesus christ, god's only son, died on the cross to achieve redemption. and that pain and sacrifice brought forth the salvation of the world. the greatest gift of love. now that is something to celebrate.