We received an email from the adoption agency informing us there was a woman who wanted to place her 18 month old son up for adoption. And the agency wanted to know if we would be open to having our profile shown.
*The details of “why” the mother wanted to place her child, although very important, are not of any consequence to this story and are not mine to share. I say this to draw attention to a very real and important thing to remember when conversing with families that include adoptees. The birth mother or first mother’s story is private and is a part of the adoptee’s history. It is therefore up to the adoptee to decide whether he/she will share that information. As an adoptive parent I will share that information with my child through the years as I see fit, I will not share that information with family, friends, etc. because it is not mine to share. Dean and I will gladly share our part of the adoption story, but please do not take it personally when we say “we can’t share that information”. We hope our child will embrace all parts of his/her story and family; and gladly share it with others, without shame or fear, but ultimately it is up to our child to decide what he/she discloses. Just some food for thought.*
Ok, back to my story:
So we receive this email and my first reaction was, “18 MONTHS?!?!?!?!” It was not what I was expecting. I was expecting a newborn. All my daydreams about that frantic, last minute trip to Target involved buying tiny onesies, formula, a baby carrier, booties, a crib and burp cloths. I didn’t for a second picture baby food, shoes, a high chair, a toddler car seat and a toddler bed with railings. I wanted to witness our child’s first crawl, first laugh, first gurgle, first step, first words.
My second thought was, “Nuh uh *shakes head* no way, I’m not ready, I can’t do this, why did I think I could raise a kid? Nope, I can’t do this. No, this isn’t the kid…nope, not ready.”
I sat in that last thought for a while, resolving that this simply wasn’t the child God had planned for us, because God’s plan should line up with my expectations…wait….uh oh. Damn. There it was again: my expectations derailing me. You see, I have this issue, it’s one of the reasons why I attend Celebrate Recovery, a 12 step Christ-centered Recovery group for life’s hurts, habits, and hang-ups. My issue is rooted in expectation.
It’s funny, there are tons of bible verses about expectation.
Philippians 1:20 “As it is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death.”
Romans 8:19 “For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God.”
Hebrews 4:16 “Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”
Psalm 62:5 “Let all that I am wait quietly before God, for my hope is in him.”
Luke 12:40 “You also must be ready all the time, for the Son of Man will come when least expected.”
But those expectations aren’t bad. Those are good expectations; hopeful expectations. My expectations aren’t always bad or unreasonable, but often over dramatic and a little romantic. Ok, ok, most of the time they are totally unrealistic. I have unrealistic expectations for myself, for my husband, for my family, for my church, and the list goes on. And when my unrealistic expectations aren’t met I become disappointed, angry, resentful, and in search of something or someone to blame. I know, I know, this girl’s got some issssssuuuuees.
Here’s an example:
Several years ago I went to Kenya on a mission trip. As the days of our trip came to an end, I started to picture my journey home. We would land in DC at 8pm and Dean would be waiting for me right outside of customs. He would run towards me out of pure joy, for he missed me dearly and couldn’t wait to hold me close. We would hug and kiss and he would lift me off my feet and spin me around. Then he would help me with my bags and we would walk, hand in hand, to the car which would have a delicious Frappuccino in the cup holder and large leafy salad waiting on my seat (the two foods I missed the most while away).
Do I even need to tell you that this didn’t happen? Let me tell you what did happen:
Our team’s flight out of Kenya was slightly delayed due to an explosion and a fire in the duty free section of the airport 12 days prior to our departure.
I had been severely sick for the duration of our stay in Kenya and was a whopping 10lbs. lighter after 12 days of barely eating and non-stop, extremely explosive, diarrhea. Needless to say, the plane ride was interesting, although, every time I needed a bathroom, one was open, praise the Lord! We arrived in Amsterdam but before we could prepare to rush off the plane to try and catch our flight to DC the stewardess informed us that our flight to DC was cancelled and they were splitting our team up onto different flights out of Amsterdam. I would not be meeting Dean at 8pm. I soon found out that my flight was the earliest to leave the next morning, but the last to arrive in DC, because I had a 6 hour layover in Detroit. Other members of our team would be having layovers in Rome and Paris.
Upon hearing this news I sank to the floor and managed to say the F word about seven times in succession, thereby causing our 80 year old pastor to stare at me in a dumb-founded-state I have NEVER witnessed him in before.
Now, I just want to remind you that I was still suffering from extremely explosive diarrhea. Our team waited 45 minutes for a shuttle to take us to our hotel. Shuttles came and went, but our team remained on the side of the road, waiting for a shuttle that could hold us all. Meanwhile, deep in my bowls an acidic, lava like substance was beginning to churn and bubble; I was going to erupt at any moment. We finally made it onto a shuttle just as the sweat began to
bead on pour from my forehead.
A giant claw with sharp talons gripped and twisted my insides and every bump on the road threatened an accidental erruption of the bowels that contained the sulfuric lava of Ass Volcano. I don’t think my teammates ever understood just how much danger they were in during the bus ride to the hotel. We are talking a near miss of a second Pompeii-like eruption. It was during this moment that the verse “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me (Philippians 4:13)” came into play. I was literally praying that I would not crap my pants.
This was not how my journey home was supposed to happen…
We made it to the hotel and I sprinted to a bathroom, taking out anyone who was in my way.
The bathroom was pretty full, due to the fact that all the other people on our flight were also sent to this hotel, but that didn’t last long. The bathroom cleared out within 20 seconds of my entrance. I was literally in the stall laughing out of joy that I had made it without crapping myself, crying because of the pain and embarrassment, and loudly crapping my brains out because I just didn’t have it in me to try and hide what was happening in my stall. And that sequence repeated itself for about 45 minutes.
There is no doubt in my mind that every woman in that bathroom was FREAKED OUT.
Well, we eventually made it home 19 hours later than our expected arrival, and although Dean didn’t run to me and spin me around, and we didn’t walk to the car hand in hand, he did pick me up right at the arrivals door with his car. We didn’t have to walk to get the car, thank God because I was exhausted. He did get out of the car and help me with my bags and hug me and give me a kiss. And although there wasn’t a Frappuccino and a leafy salad on my seat, there was a bottle of Gatorade and a sleeve of saltine crackers, and Lord knows that’s all my stomach could handle anyway.
So why the heck did I tell you this story? Well, for one, I just wanted an excuse to tell you about Ass Volcano because it happens to be one of my funniest memories. And, two, because expectations have a way of disappointing us. When I finally had a chance to look back at the experience without the expectation of a flawless and romantic homecoming, I realized there was a lot of cool stuff in there. I saw the “I Amsterdam” Sign. I thanked God for our shuttle driver, because he wasn’t even the shuttle driver for our hotel, he just saw us waiting out there and picked us up and drove us to our hotel, he literally saved my team from Ass Volcano. I realized God really cares about every little detail of my life, like provision of toilets and the strength to keep the flood gates closed until I was safely situated on a toilet. I realized that my husband is amazing and although he isn’t someone to show giant signs of affection, he shows his love in other ways, like saltines and Gatorade. I realized that even though my flight was the last to arrive home, we were the only flight that didn’t have lost luggage so we were the first to leave the airport in DC.
You see, when I let go of my expectations I am open to enjoying more, seeing more, experiencing more, etc. So, back to this 18 month old boy, Dean and I talked about it. He was ready to go, I was apprehensive, scared, and unsure. But the more we talked, the more I was ready. The more I expressed my fear, the better and more prepared I felt. And then it hit me, this little boy’s name, I can’t tell you his name, but I can tell you what it means: Brave.
Ten months ago I dreamt of a boy named Casey (you can read more about that here), our boy, our little Casey boy, and although this current boy’s name was not Casey, it meant the same thing: Brave. This was my time to be brave, to let go of expectations, and let God take control. This was my time to place my life in his hands and trust. This was my chance to let go of my expectations for myself as a mom (Liz, you WILL make mistakes); and start trusting that God will provide me with the grace and forgiveness when I severely mess up. This was my chance to stop fearing the fact that I have missed out on so many sacred moments: pregnancy, birth, naming, first words, first steps, etc. and start focusing on what I could provide for this child: love, a home, family, and a connection to Jesus.
I slipped back into fear and expectation when I thought about my $500 nonrefundable deposit for yoga teacher training that is supposed to start in January. “I was supposed to become certified before the kid came into our house, so I wouldn’t be super stressed out!” and “Oh crap, I can’t get that money back”. But I quickly renounced those thoughts and returned to Christ.
“I got this Elizabeth, trust me.”
Turns out He did have it all along. This little brave boy wasn’t meant to be ours, his mother decided to try to parent once more. I am glad and sad at the same time. I pray that she finds a support system to help her, but I would be lying if I didn’t tell you that this feels a lot like when I received a call from the fertility clinic telling me I’m not pregnant. I dared to dream and I am disappointed, and yet it has brought me peace. This brave boy was not what I expected, and although he is not MY brave boy, I felt like he could have been and that makes me happy. And this has given me and Dean the opportunity to let go of expectations and fear, and trust God.
Oh, and my dear Scout, wherever you are, I’m praying for you and your first mom, be brave you two, because you won’t have to do this by yourself for much longer.