January 25, 2013

When A Heart Breaks

A few Friday nights ago, Kamron and I were driving home in the car, alone, coming from a fancy business dinner with a new hire.  It was a lovely night.  We don't get a lot of nights out.  It seems that every child that comes into our family makes those nights fewer and father between.  As we got in the car, my phone rang.  I almost didn't answer it since we were on a date- but something told me that I should pick up.

That call changed everything. 

On the other end of the line was a friend who wanted to connect me with a family who was dissolving their international adoption.  The child needed a new family and time was of the essence.  I talked to my friend the entire way home about the ins and outs that she knew while Kamron kept looking over at me with questioning eyes as I said things like, "How old is she?" and "How long has she been in the US?" and "What concerns are their about attachment and development?"

I hung up the phone and Kamron pulled the car over.  I spilled all the details fast and furiously at him and remarkably, my man who has every moment of his life written down on his five year plan, felt so at peace with the spur of the moment turn of events.  We picked up our kids, walked around in a daze for a few hours trying to wrap our brains around everything and then decided to sleep on it.

The next morning, the mother and I got connected and spent several hours on the phone together and made a plan for us to go and pick up this precious new 6 year old bundle of joy in just six short days.  They had talked to several people and all were in agreement that it would be best for this child to be in a different home.  The details of the story are not mine to tell.  But with each new piece of information, my heart swelled and swelled.  This child's story?  It was like I was built for just for it.

You see, when we adopted Miles almost three years ago, I was naive.  I didn't expect trauma.  Nothing about trauma was on my radar.  My expectations were high and my patience levels were low.  My hopes were through the roof but my new reality left me feeling somewhere in the gutter.  My support systems didn't exist and my pride kept me from reaching out when I needed to.  Now three years removed with an amazing child who is thriving- I often look back at those character building days and wish that I had a do over.  I would have pushed less.  I would have listened more.  I would have expected nothing and rejoiced when there was connection instead of expecting everything and setting everyone up to fail.  I know that if I had it to do over again, I could have been better.

And here... here was every scenario we've already been through over the last three years knocking on my door and asking to come in.  Disruption is hard.  Adoption is hard.  Sometimes matches aren't right, dynamics aren't what's best for everyone, and a new environment may be just what a child needs to gain some new footing.  We desperately wanted to be that new environment for this child.

For the last year, we've actively been waiting for foster children.  We've been waiting for older kids who each come with their own backgrounds and hurts and personalities and triumphs.  We've submitted our home study for COUNTLESS waiting children who have needs that we've questioned whether we could meet.  I feel so strongly in not choosing a child to meet the needs of our family but matching with a child who has needs we can meet.  Every scenario we've encountered over the last year was just a little bit off- we didn't have the right kinds of therapies in our area, or the ages of our kids wouldn't have been good for the child, or we didn't have an accessible home, or we just didn't have the right kind of parenting style, or or or.  But this girl that we got the call about?  Every need, we could meet. Every strength that my children have would have been just what would help her.  Every strength that we have as parents and our unique parenting style seemed to be what she needed.  She and Miles would share a heritage, she and Sadie would share a bedroom and she and Noah would share a classroom.

We contacted an attorney and started the paperwork for temporary guardianship so we could get her enrolled in school here while we figured the rest out.  We spent a lot of time talking and emailing with her family.  We spent even more time in prayer and counsel.  Within 2 days of getting that call, there were probably well over 100 people praying for this child and her family by name.  Praying for all of them as this transition occured.  Praying for our kids and the one who felt like our child even though we'd never met her.  Praying for peace because as our arms were feeling fuller and the dream for our family was coming to fruition, we recognized that another family's dream was dying.  That's a hard balance- tempering your excitement with anther family's heartbreak. It is the hardest part of adoption to wrap my heart around.  Loss and hurt mingled with hope and love- it's a combination that baffles me and breaks me down for how much heartache is involved. 

We weren't naive this time around.  We knew how hard this would be.  And yet- I reveled in it.  I wanted it.  I willingly wanted to take it on and it felt so incredibly right.  It was a decision that we had an unbelievable peace about. 

Our excitement and love grew for this child.  We stared at her gorgeous picture constantly.  I cried in the middle of Walmart while buying her little pajamas because I just couldn't believe how amazing it was that I was the one who would get to be a mom to this incredible gift.  We made plans.  Our friends brought over clothes for her and backpacks full of school supplies and sent care packages in the mail.  They filled our freezer with meals and my phone buzzed continuously with friends and family checking on us and offering to do whatever we needed.  Our kids bounced around for days and told all of their friends that they were getting a sister and those friends all made welcome home signs for the little girl they'd never met but loved just the same simply because she existed.  Our friends and family rallied around us in a way that a girl can only dream about.  This time?  This time we had a safety net of loving arms and hearts ready to wrap around us and help us heal this child in every way imaginable.  This time we were ready.

Over the course of that week, the family decided to put off everything for another week.  There was too much to work out legally to make things happen in 6 days.  So we got moved (talk about a busy week!) and tried to make the best of it by telling ourselves that at least this child didn't have to go through a move in her first week with us.  And then another call came that changed everything...

The family changed their minds and decided to keep the little girl.

My world stopped.  I sat on the other end of the phone and didn't quite know what to say.  Again, we were walking that balance of tempering excitement while another family's dream died.  Only this time, it was our dream that was dying.  I absolutely respect their right to change their minds.  It is, after all, their child and that is NOT an easy decision.  But I also respect my right to grieve the loss of a child that felt like she had always been mine.

I'm not sure how the body or the brain does it- but in the 10 days time that we thought this little girl would be our daughter, our hearts had become so engulfed with love for her.  We know that love in adoption isn't always ooey-gooey, but fierce and fighting and that fierce and claw for scraps love was aflame in us for her in a way that we couldn't explain. 

In every way, we were devastated.  Our children were devastated.  Our extended family was devastated.  It felt so much like a death- and yet so different.  This child was very much alive, yet alive in the arms of someone else.  That's a hard thing to make peace with.  It's one of those things that has you shake your fist at God and wonder what was the point at all.

We are now 10 days out from that second call that rocked us.  We are still breathing.  We still talk about her daily.  I still stare at her picture and pray for her.  I know that what her family is doing is not easy for them and I pray fervently that their family melds together in every way imaginable because I desperately love this child and want what's best for her- even if that's not me. 

I've tried to make sense of this.  I've tried to learn from it and figure out what this whole thing is supposed to open my eyes to.  I haven't figured it out.  The only thing I know is that humans are designed to want to push back from situtations that cause them pain.  But this time?  This time I'm leaning into it.  I'm reminding myself that sometimes a person comes along in life that is worth every ounce of heartbreak and pain and gut-wrenching sadness.  She's worth it.  She's worth it.  She's worth it.  Every bit of it.  I'm leaning in.

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