I’m Not The Hero

Did I really just say that?

The words leave my lips and I wish there was a string on the end that I could grab and pull them back in. But out they go, like a balloon floating up to the sky and I can’t take them back.

Just over a year ago, our daughter Ady came to be in our home forever. In those first moments and weeks I never could imagine that I would find myself a year later saying something I would regret. Or feeling frustrated and confused as I have many times.

Over the months that have followed since our little chickadee (my nickname for her) or cutie-pa-todie (daddy’s nickname for her) came to our family, we have learned the depth of her pain and loss in ways we never expected or planned. Hitting, spitting, kicking, screaming, manipulating, destroying, crying, inconsolable crying. The pain and hurt done to her has left her literally terrified to receive love. She is like a tornado of hurt, fear and deep pain.

Foster and Adoptive parents, I see you.
You heard an adoption story and your heart was touched.
You saw the pictures of children waiting in foster care.
You thought, we have so much.
We have more love to give, and it will be enough.
So you jumped in, laying so much down.
But over time you’ve learned love alone isn’t enough.
It takes time.
The daily grind is hard.
Maybe if you were to be honest, you’d admit that you’ve had moments of doubt.
What did we do?
Can I really do this?
You’ve thought of giving up…
Put that picture up on social media, not so pretty right?

I remember reminding God that rubber bands do snap. And as He always does, with love He reminded me I wasn’t going to snap. That I woke up today, put my feet on the floor again today, ready to love.

You know, when people first learn that you are adopting (or fostering), they think you are a hero. And yeah, when you spend years fighting for a child, you can even start to think you are bit heroic.

But I am not her hero.
Her Hero came over 2000 years ago.
He took on every sin and atrocity that was done to her.
He was her Father when she had none.
He was her comfort when she cried alone.
He is the one who rescues and redeems.
Her Hero can see through all the stains of her past.
He knows who she is, all her beautiful potential.
He is who will heal her, despite our shortcoming and mistakes along the way.

What a freeing idea. And what a privilege to be a part of her journey to get to see the miracles in her life that will come. Knowing that I don’t have to be the hero gives me so much hope.

So adoptive/foster parents, don’t give up. Breath deep in the freedom that you don’t have to be their hero, the Hero has got that covered. You just have to be there, pointing them to Him. Wake up another day, and tell that little one that they are loved. Even when their behaviors are unloveable. Pour your second cup of coffee and remind yourself that you too are loved, mistakes and all.

What a beautiful, messy, redemptive journey we get to be on.

Letters to Ady

Sweet Girl,

There’s so much to say. I’ve been putting it off because there’s so much that has happened, some is so painful, and some so glorious. But today’s your birthday and what better day than to start to share the story of how you became my daughter and I became your mom.

They say the best love is one that has been tested and yet endures. Our love is one that has been and continues to be tested.

Since I first met you four years ago, the journey has been one filled with joy and sadness. With plenty of hellos, and too many goodbyes.

When we first met, we had already begun the adoption process through Ethiopia. We told our adoption agency that we were looking to adopt a girl, under 5. Sierra Leone wasn’t an option, as adoption was pretty much impossible there. When I met you, to be honest, I protected a part of my heart from getting too close. I shut out any idea of you coming to live with our family.

On that first trip and meeting you, I was so drawn to you. Obviously because we sponsored you, but more so your spirit. So small, yet so smart and witty, so strong and determined. I dare not let my mind go to wondering what hell you had been through to make you that way. Instead, I admired your strength and courage. One of our first interactions was you sitting on my lap. Behind me was a room where we put all the fun things our team had brought to play with you and all the kids in the home. You told me to let you go in there. I said, “no, not yet” and you slapped me across the face. LOL, literally. I put you down, which you didn’t like and you proceeded to have a tantrum, I stepped over you and said “you’ll have to do better than that.” Time would show that as you struggled to break free from the hurts, you would do better than that to show me the depth of your pain.

We spent a lot of time together on that trip. For some reason on the last day I even let you draw with sharpie all over my arm. It made you happy, so I really didn’t care. You cried the day we said goodbye, and I tried to not let you into my heart for fear it would hurt too much. But you already made your place.

When I came home, we put your photo up on our fridge as our sponsored child for us to remember to pray for you. Your brothers and sister (especially your sister) insisted that you were the child we were adopting. I told them over and over again that they could call you their sister, but you were never coming to live in our home, that it just wasn’t possible. (“But with God, all things are possible.”) Somehow they just knew. I guess that is the childlike faith that Jesus spoke of.

It would take nearly 2 years, but God did do the impossible. In the months and years to come, I will write our story, the God story that brought us together. My hope is that it will help you to know that we loved you, but more importantly that your Father loves you so much. There is no other way to explain how you got here than Him. He worked miracle after miracle for you, His precious girl. My hope is that this story will encourage others to step out in faith and to be instruments of His healing to a broken world.

Today is a special day. Your first birthday here in our family. I will look at you with joy and awe of Him who has made you an orphan no more.

Happy 6th Birthday beautiful daughter,