Monday, November 23, 2009

"It Wasn't That Hard"

Joe and I just returned from a wonderful night away. You know, that really is all it takes to be refreshed and re-charged, one night. On the train ride home, we both were melancholy and couldn't wait to get back to our big family! We had a great time...I will write more about that later...but now, I want to share a conversation we had with Eleanor last night.

At the dinner table, I was sharing with Joe an email I had read earlier that day about a friend who adopted two girls the same time we were adopting George. This woman and I cried together on the plane ride home, both questioning what we had done. But, she seemed so positive...she kept saying, "Oh, it will be fine." I held on to her words and I used her positive attitude to challenge me. What were people thinking of me as they looked over and saw me fretting and crying? Because of this friend, I determined to "buck-up" and get through it.

We have followed each other's journey since that day. And while I have had joyous reports lately, my friend has not. The sixth month mark has not found things to be easier in her house. She has daughters who want to continue to communicate with their birth mother and they want to keep their Ethiopian language. George, on the other hand, has stopped talking about his life in Ethiopia and even yesterday sat in the kitchen with me and said, "No more Africa Daddy. I love my Daddy here." I don't know which is better or worse?

Joe and I never want to cause or encourage George to forget his amazing culture. We look forward to the day when we will take him back to Ethiopia to explore his native land! But for now, he is bonding with us, he is believing that we are his family and he is turning his back on Africa. For our family, that is working.

So, I was sharing with Joe how my friend is struggling and I brought up that her bio kids are also having a hard time. Joe asked, "Why?" and I looked at Eleanor and said, "I am sure you could tell us why they might be having a hard time."

Eleanor kind of shrugged and said, "I can't imagine still struggling. Mom, it really wasn't that hard...ever."

I couldn't believe my ears! Does she not remember the times George pulled down his pants and screamed at the top of his lungs in our front yard? Did she forget all of us taking refuge in the basement when he was in his room tearing it apart? I realized that she probably had forgotten those moments. Praise God!

It is amazing how that relationship has evolved. George truly looks to Eleanor as his big sister. When it is time to go outside to catch the bus, he wants Eleanor to be with him. He knows Harry and Isabel are older, but he doesn't feel totally safe until Eleanor is with him. George also now shows Eleanor pictures he has colored or letters he has written, wanting to get some praise from her. It is truly special moments like those that Eleanor focuses on now.

Children have an amazing capacity to forget...don't they? They remember the fun times, the joy filled days, the moments of belly laughter. And thankfully, they tend to forget - and let go of - hard times and bad days. I am convinced that is a gift from God and that is how He wants us all to live. We let the enemy in when we force ourselves to hold on to pain and anger and an unforgiving heart. Eleanor taught me a huge lesson in that one statement. It really wasn't that hard, so get over it!

I read a friend's blog who quoted another friend (the wonderful world of blogging) that totally smacked me in the face. Adopting an older child gives our children the capacity to learn how to love!! If we had not adopted George, my children would not have had the opportunity to learn how to truly love. Love in our bio family was easy and pretty clean. Loving George in those early months was hard and messy. But, bottom line, we taught our children that love is a choice...and they watched us chose to love George. They have never had to see that choice being made before...now it was staring them in the face every day. Are my parents going to stick with him? Are they going to continue to serve and forgive and sacrifice? Imagine the eternal lessons they learned in those first few months. My children will never be the same after this....and now they want more siblings! They say, "Why not?"

They are all learning what is important in life and it isn't Gameboys, remote control cars, or Ugg boots. It is family and love. When we got home from our trip away, the seven of us lounged around on the couches for hours - just talking and laughing - just being together. And Joe looked over at me and said, "This is what life is all about." I agreed.

We (Joe and I) were created to be parents. That doesn't mean we don't make mistakes. Goodness, I made mistakes with them already this morning! It just means that we are all at our best when we are doing what God created us to be.

Adoption can be hard. Adoption can be draining. But, adoption is so worth it!! We ALL know a little more what it means to love the way Christ loves. We ALL know a little more what it means to chose to love. We ALL know a little more how innocent children need a good home to grow in and that it is not their fault when they are scared and angry. We have seen what a few months of love and stability can do for a child - it truly is amazing!

I long for the next generation, our children, to wipe out the need for orphanages or foster care. I long for the next generation to give up the idea of success means a big house with "great rooms" and gourmet kitchens, and instead embrace the idea of crowded houses full of love and laughter. I long for the next generation to realize it IS their problem that there are orphans out there.

God says 47 times in the Bible to care for the fatherless....do you think He means it? In the words of my 12 year old, "It really wasn't that hard....and I think we could do it again."

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