Today my daughter had a visit with her half-brothers. They live on the other side of the continent and their last visit was when she was just 15 months old. These two boys… I watch them and they are so attentive to her needs and so gentle and patient.
Things could have turned out so very differently for my precious little girl – were it not for these two boys. From what I have been told, they were the ones who responded to her cries, held her and made sure she was fed for those first six months of life. She may not remember them, but they remember her and they have a deep love for their baby sister.
Today, I look at them with new eyes – my heart full of gratitude to them and at the same time, aching so deeply for their loss. For my daughter’s loss. She will know her brothers. I will make certain of that. But the three of them will miss having a shared childhood. They won’t have memories of playing in puddles together or celebrating birthdays or being gathered around the Christmas tree. They will have very different stories and individual paths that just cross once a year or so.
Adoption is so bittersweet. It is a new beginning – but you don’t necessarily want to wipe away the beginning of the story when you start writing the next chapter, do you? It is my daughter’s story. It is her brothers’ story. It is not my right to tear those pages out of their books. I cannot whitewash her history and I have no desire to.
This thing called “family” – it doesn’t have to be this perfect little tree with its branches all in order. It can be a wild vine; twisting and turning, growing here and growing there, ever expanding as it sends tender tendrils out and puts down new roots. Family is beautiful and messy and you cannot put it in a neat little box or prune it into a topiary. Because family is constantly changing and growing – even a family that looks alike.
I see some families who act as though love is some limited currency. They put up little walls to isolate themselves from others. They are completely insular and refuse to let others in. They behave as though they might not have enough love for each other if they open the door just a crack. And they certainly don’t have enough love for those outside of their bubble! Sadly, they don’t understand that love is not something that you run out of if you share too much. You can be generous with your love and like Jesus with the loaves and fishes, there will always be plenty love left over after every person has reached into the basket to take their fill.
Last weekend, we had the privilege of attending a Quinceanera (15th Birthday). The thing that made this event so very special is that it was for one of the sisters who were our very first foster care placement. It was so moving to watch this huge community of family and friends come out to celebrate this very special young lady. And even more incredible to me, was the welcome we received from her parents. People who were justified to have chosen to have nothing to do with us after their daughters were returned to them – after all, we are just a reminder of that time their children were taken into state custody! But no – not only did they include us in this momentous occasion, but they made certain that we were made to feel welcome (we were even seated with the younger daughter), had enough food, were included in professional photos with the Quince, were instructed to take favors off the table before other people grabbed them… (Quinceaneras are QUITE THE PARTY! LOL) They made us feel like we are a part of their extended family.
Jesus called us to love our neighbors as ourselves. As we love our own families! I am thankful that through foster care and adoption, God has grown and stretched my heart and my love, just as He has grown my family to include people I would never have had contact with otherwise – and stretched my family across five countries on four continents! God is good and I pray that we help shine His Love and Light into each life that we touch.
Keep pointing people to Jesus! He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life! His Love never fails and His Mercies are new every morning!