Real love.

May is foster care awareness month. Last year I did a wonderful daily post showing all sides of everything. I had the intention to do that this year, but as with everything, COVID. LOL. I keep thinking there will be a day in the future we laugh about this whole experience, but right now it’s just so much to process and live with. I have been lacking on my foster care awareness, but I have felt the tug to blog about adoption all month. I have avoided, because that’s a hard subject for me to write on- that’s not all MY story, and it’s foster care month, adoption awareness month is in November. But in typical God fashion, when He lays something on my heart, I am constantly reminded that what He wants me to do rarely ever goes along with what my plans to do are.

Saturday mornings are typically my favorite. I am an early bird, I don’t like to talk, or interact, mostly to just sit in silence. Read a blog, or book, do some bible time, just be quiet with no hustle and bustle. Since COVID, these quiet moments are even more sacred to me. This morning I was scrolling Instagram and saw an odd post from one of my favorite adoption blogs. She is a wonderful mother that has been blessed with children through adoption and has found an unwavering relationship with the Father through that process. Her post was about her youngest son’s birthday and it talked about the last five days being so awful, I immediately scrolled down to her last post, and learned their oldest son had died last week due to an accident….he was 10. She has been his mom through foster care and adoption for three years.

This was my confirmation that I had something to say and now was the time to say it. I don’t know who this is for. I don’t know why I feel led to say it. But here goes.

Adoption is the scariest thing I have ever done in my entire life. I leaned on God like I have never ever ever leaned on Him before. What I have learned is that adoption is a beautiful picture of the gospel. Just like the cross it is all wrapped in thorns, in scars, in love and in sacrifice, on so many sides. I don’t want to share our story. I just want to share a few things I feel should be said out loud.

One of the many things said to us when they find out we do foster care and have adopted is: which ones are really yours? THEY ALL ARE. It is so hard, especially with my personality – not to give the a rude answer. Most of the time they get the three words and an eye roll. But I want to try and explain this here. And I pray that it reaches a heart that is unsure, or maybe a wondering heart, one that has considered adoption but is fearful. So for the mom who never had a baby in her womb. Or a mom who is feeling led to open her heart and home but is unsure she has enough to give. I want to give you some truth, and brutal honesty that I pray my children don’t hate me for later.

Of all my children, I love Dillon in a way I have never loved a child. I love ALL of my girls. They are all precious, irreplaceable gifts from God. I can distinctly remember times for each one of them that I clearly saw His face, and His grace poured out on me in them. For Dillon, every single moment, I feel and see that face and grace.

I never wanted more kids. I felt very clearly led to do foster care to help heal broken families. I believe with all of my heart that breaking the cycles of addiction, prejudices, abuse and trauma are how we help heal the world. I believe that none of those can be broken and forgotten without the love of Jesus, and I felt that call, to be a part of that for a long time.

I also have made the statement to Matthew that I just wasn’t sure how you could love a child as your own and not play favorites if they weren’t really yours, that you didn’t make and carry them. Hindsight 20/20, I usually eat words like that, the ones that only Matthew knows me well enough to hear and not judge…this time is no exception.

When I picked up Dillon, in all of her 4lb self up for the first time and put her on my chest, my world was never the same. I think maybe I took my babies for granted. For my entire life, I knew, planned, pretended and prayed, that I would marry the man of my dreams and we would have babies. I didn’t do everything in that order, but I did it nonetheless. So even though there were glimpses of Him in my journey, everything I had was expected. It was part of my journey. People get married, people have babies. Circle of life. With Dillon, I had to give every single ounce of my trust and hope to Jesus. I had no way of knowing what her future held. No way of knowing what our future was with, or without her. In that process, I have found that I don’t take a second of her for granted.

Last Friday night she had a particularly rough night sleeping and woke up ill as a hornet at 630am Saturday, which meant no blissful silent time for me and a early Saturday wake time for her daddy. I said out loud to Matthew, imagine what our life would be like at this point in parenting if we didn’t adopt, and we laughed for a second, our oldest has moved out. Our two middles are in the stage where they only come out of their caves to eat or ask to go to a friends’ house. They would prove to be no different that day, coming downstairs at 1130am. We giggled and immediately said we would be so lonely and bored. Dillon can drive us up a wall most days. She has womb trauma that will haunt her for some years, so she has needs and quirks that require more than your typical kid. But she fills each day with joy, with challenges, with silly words and endless mommmyyyy and dadddyyyyy calling. I hashtag a lot of her pics with “we could have missed this” and I truly feel those words in her darkest times and her brightest times. She is all I never knew I couldn’t live without.

To get to some insight for all this rambling… I want to say this.

For the mom that has never carried a baby in her belly, but has walked through the fire to gain one through adoption. I want to say to you, that you didn’t miss anything. And I don’t mean that disrespectful or like I am dismissing an empty womb, I don’t know what not having that feeling is like. BUT what I KNOW, is that you LOVE your child just as much as if you carried them. Honestly, if I am 100% truthful, I think you love them more than you would if you carried them. You gave all of yourself, with reckless abandon to know the joys of holding them in your arms. You gave that without any guarantee of the future, with all the knowns thrown out the window. You, momma, are the very best of moms. You are aware of how perfect your stories lined up to give you the opportunity to be mother and child. You couldn’t love them more, I pinky swear.

For the ones that ask us crazy questions about the difference and who is who, and how we “got” our kids. We love them all. They are all ours. We feel no different about any of them.

I am going to take this a step further.

For the step parent: I can remember very vividly when Matthew fell madly in love with Kinnley, and when she found a trust in him that she had never found before. I watched them in awe, but in the hard times, I always remember thinking, he could never love her like me. She was mine in a way she would never be his. We had a few of those conversations and I remember one was an argument, in which he said, if anything ever happens to you or to us, I will walk through fire, hell itself if I have to, to stay her daddy, no one will keep me from her. I never understood that until I held Dillon. He was right, there is nothing that would stop me from being her parent. And there is nothing that would stop him from being either Kinnley or Dillon’s daddy.

For the birth mom. You may have sacrificially made the decision to give your baby up. You may have had to have your baby taken because you couldn’t break the cycles and chains that are your life. You momma, also have a love that is incomprehensible. Lots of folks would argue me to my grave on that one. But I stand firm in this. You chose life. You chose to carry a baby that you weren’t prepared to have. In your darkest moments, their little faces are there, and you love them. This momma will always remind her girl of that.

To my blogger friend, who has just buried one of the greatest treasures she held on earth, I pray you feel God’s arms wrapping around you tight. I pray you know that the love you shared, and more importantly, the Jesus you showed, means that your boy is being held up close in tight in a place that is so much more than what we have here.

Adoption is beautiful, making a family of what wasn’t, finding redemption in situations that weren’t ideal. In all the beauty, there is brokenness. There is a family that wasn’t, that couldn’t, a family that was and that could, and in all of that there are two sides that love.

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