On the way to the hospital for the delivery of Little Miss T, Jon and I were laughing how, though our fourth child, we were totally new to the labor and delivery game. We haven’t had the same process for our kids and we did discuss how it would be nice to do a process and then feel competent in it and do it again.
Many times, the way the above question is phrased is something like this, “How does it feel to have your own?” I smile as I can answer this question, “This is my fourth.” or “I already have three of my own.” My response isn’t meant to be snarky but in complete thankfulness of how God grows families. Just as Jon and I are not blood relatives but God has knit us together as family, the same applies to our kids. I know growing up as an adopted child, I was never made to feel less a part of any family because we didn’t share bloodlines.
Regardless, we rejoice how God has grown our family through international adoption, domestic US adoption and, most recently, biological childbirth. Here’s my disclaimer before I go further, this is only from my experience and we haven’t had “difficult” adoption experiences in that our wait times have not been long, we have not had placements that were changed, birthmothers who changed their mind, court dates that continually bump back, etc.
All the processes are beautiful and hard and each one, God ordained.
Adoption is worth it. It is a challenge. Adoption can feel like fighting the universe to have a child who is not birthed from your body to join your family. But how God can use that time, when, through stacks of paperwork, training, interviews, background checks, home studies and continually trying to prove you will be a competent parent, it sometimes feels like two steps forward, three steps back. Your marriage, childrearing, finances and upbringing are all under scrutiny.
And then, there's the wait. This is different depending on type of adoption and how God writes the story but as we waited, overdue with Little Miss T, the emotional agony was so much less as she was already with us, hanging out in the womb, and when she was born, she was, without question, ours in the eyes of every court, every social worker. When we waited in adoption, part of our hearts were alive across the ocean and we could do nothing in their care until we were invited and passed court. With domestic, we met Little Tiger, fell in love with his birthmother and walked deep roads of uncertainty as we spent days, rejoicing and grieving with her. Until those papers were signed, he wasn’t ours and though fully ours in heart, our agency reminded us that we still had many hoops to jump through until we could finalize, more proving ourselves. When Little Miss T was born, we filled out one paper and that was enough to get a birth certificate. Jon looked at me and said, “That’s it?” And it was, no lawyers, just check a box and she gets a social security number. No long lines at multiple offices, trying to prove we are parents through multiple documents, all needing to be certified. Then, they just sent the sweet little girl home with us. No questions, no triple checks on our abilities to parent, just a small wheelchair ride out to our van and she was allowed to go with us.
Now, let’s talk about the hormones that come with childbirth. This has been, hands down, the most difficult and unanticipated part for me. OH, THE HORMONES. Ahh! How did I miss this?!, I had heard from enough women that the hormones makes you a bit crazy, I couldn’t understand until I am walking it and fighting not to be held hostage by them. (Don’t worry about me, I am keeping close tabs on my emotional health. :)) I know there are many benefits to them as well and God’s plans are perfect, even in the hormones. While adoption is an emotional wearying process, once the child is in our arms, the next parts of the journey seem to be with less drama because my hormones were not a rollercoaster. There is also an incredible blessing in carrying a child and receiving her into our arms immediately.
And each time we hold a new child in our arms, we feel the weight and magnitude of God entrusting us with another life and it’s a miracle.