The Lebert family just passed our three year anniversary of being a family together. I've spent a little time recently reflecting on how I, as a parent, am different than I was when I started this journey. Here's what I've learned:
1. I am not a hero. I think adoption can fool you into thinking you are doing something "good" when you adopt kids. Adoption quickly teaches you, you are not a hero. In reality, you are a sad, broken person trying to figure out how to relate to and parent other sad and broken people. It might not be quick, but someday you learn that the real heroes are your kids. You figure out that even at their worst, they are fighters and warriors - they fight every day, they never give up.
2. Every day happens. There is no break from parenting. There will not be a day when I don't have to worry about my kids. It is not coming and I can stop looking for it. There is actual relief in that. And for my kids, every day happens. Every day is a day to struggle and battle and figure out, once again, how to face the day's challenges.
I had a miscarriage 5 years ago. It's still hard for me to write that. I had to teach myself to not cry when I said it out loud. It took me at least a year before I stopped thinking about it everyday. My kids have been through unspeakable trauma. Why do I think they would stop thinking about it on a daily basis because they were adopted? They think about it every day. Every single day they have a thousand things to process through - abandonment, loss, grief, terror, hunger, anger, sadness - and they're kids. And they go to school and try to function as family members and humans. See why they're the heroes? Because the amazing thing is they do it. They actually handle all of this and fight for the joy they deserve.
3. Love is better. This change has come recently. I've been learning to think through these first two things on a daily basis and to let it change me. I'm learning to stop punishing, to stop being angry and instead love these kids and give them grace. It's totally changed me. My parenting, my attitude, my relationship with God. We talk through things, I listen, we figure out how to do it better next time and I remind them they are loved, they are doing a good job, and that they are loved.
I once heard someone say that the great thing about adoption was that, "you knew what you were getting". That made me so angry and I felt like it was untrue. But, it is true, you do know what you're getting with adoption. You are guaranteed to get hurt, broken children that are sinners. And we, as hurt, broken, sinners get to relate to them. We get to heal each other. We remind each other we are hurt and we need each other.
So, why adopt? We don't adopt because we are good and want to do good things. We adopt because God calls us to hard things and as people who know hurt we can help others who are hurt.