and again. and again. and again.
on our way to school orville asked, “did we go to church when we lived in our birth parents’ home?” amelia and i both answered that we didn’t think so. “did we go to church when we lived in our foster home?” orville questioned. “yes, you did.” i replied, “absolutely!” amelia added, “was orville 1 when we lived there? because if he was, then yes, we went to church. i remember.”
i love that church was something they were familiar with. that makes my heart happy. and as soon as i recognize that happiness, here it comes. without warning. and the happiness of my heart drains and an ache sets in. orville had another question, “how did you get us?”
there are a million ways to ask that question. but truth be told, only one way to answer. and every time i’m torn. torn between the pain of their story and the beauty of their story.
“what do you mean how did we get you buddy?”
“i mean we couldn’t stay there, with our birth parents, because they couldn’t take care of us, right?”
“why couldn’t we stay at our foster home? why couldn’t our foster mom adopt us?”
“well, she didn’t feel called to adopt. she felt called to do what she’s done. when it’s not safe for children to stay in their birth home, they need to go someplace that is safe. usually, that is a foster home. and while they are there, people are working to see if it’s safe for the kids to go back to their birth home. your foster mom felt God called her to be there during that time, the time in between. and if it’s not safe for the kids to go back to their birth home, the best thing for them to be adopted into a home where they can be taken care of. where they can grow up safe and healthy.”
“why didn’t she want to adopt though?”
“she felt like she was a little too old. you know how daddy and i are in our 30’s? we can still play basketball and go for hikes and go for bike rides and play at the beach and in the ocean. your foster mom had a hard time doing those things.”
now we’re a block from school and we should pray before we get there and (this is the part i hate. hate.) i want to wrap this conversation up in a neat package with a pretty little bow, but i can’t. i simply can’t.
“well kids, we’re almost there and we’re going to pray. ‘thank You Jesus for adoption. thank You that God has adopted us to be His children. and thank You for allowing us to experience adoption in our family. and thank You for a great school for the kids and help them to have a great, fun day. and we pray that they’d be able to play outside some today. and thank You for loving us and always taking care of us. in Jesus name, amen.’ and kids, this was a good conversation and i’m sorry we can’t finish it now. but, if you want to, we can keep talking after school.”
as each takes their turn exiting the van, we exchange kisses and i love you’s. they enter their world of learning and fun. and i drive away with a broken heart. this story of separation and adoption is a story i’ll be telling for the rest of my earthly life. and there’s so much beauty in it. but there’s also so much pain.
i can’t imagine being a child and hearing ‘your parents couldn’t take care of you so you couldn’t stay with them’. and as i thank God for adoption, and even for being adopted myself, by Him, i can’t help but think that there are times that that doesn’t help. it doesn’t tidy up the story of the lives of my children. it doesn’t heal the wound of the separation. quite frankly, it doesn’t make sense and it’s not fair. and it’s a hard story to tell. it’s hard to digest. it’s hard to reconcile. but i have to tell it. as much as i don’t like it, i have to tell it.
and then i hear God telling His story. creation, sin, the fall, the curse. then the birth of His Son, their separation through Jesus’ death, then redemption, then adoption. in this story there is so much pain, and so much beauty. but yet, i love to tell this story.
“i love to tell the story. ’twill be my theme in glory, to tell the old, old story, of Jesus and His love”
Words:A. Katherine Hankey, 1866. Music:William G. Fischer, Joyful Songs, 1869