I think I’ve rewritten this blog 5 times now. It keeps changing with each turn of events. The blog titles have changed too. Since April, I’ve written “Finally!”; “How to Be Brave in Five (Not So) Easy Steps”; “Missing the Yeses”; “It’s Not My Party, but I’ll Cry if I Want to”; and now “Becoming More Than We Were”. I love coming up with blog titles to what I’m writing. It gives a nice tidy label to the life we’re living. (Total honesty: it’s not tidy, adoption is a messy business. But it gives me a way to cope with some of the crud we’ve experienced. I encourage you to try it sometime.)
We do not have kids yet. We’ve had some. They come and then they leave. Then new ones come and go. We’ve been doing respite while we wait for kids to be placed in our home. We work our tails off when they’re here then get to rest and recover when they leave. It’s like athlete interval training or wind sprints for parenting-gradual parenthood.
Five times we were picked to have our own kids. Some of the kids needed more help than we could give so with hearts breaking we had to say no. Sean and I both work full-time and with their physical, mental or emotional needs at least one parent needs to be able to stay at home to help with the many doctors’ visits, significant meltdowns and crises. We did have two sibling groups we thought were going to work out and they actually did all the pre-placement paperwork. The first time it was two sisters-6 mos. and 18 mos. old. Then, two brothers-same ages.
When we were first told about the two sisters back in April I just knew they were THE ANSWER to all our prayers. I was so confident in my communications with God that I stopped asking Him for His will to be done and marched forward praying my own plans. I even pre-wrote the blog “Finally!”. I don’t think I should have done that. Not before we got the girls. They did come and stay for three days to see how it would go. And it was slightly chaotic but wonderful; perfect. After that, obstacle upon obstacle came up preventing the placement. We lobbied for them and had many meetings to convince CPS and our agency that we were the best option for them. That’s when I wrote “How to be Brave in Five (Not So) Easy Steps”. Good advice and maybe I’ll share that post sometime. It included tips on bringing the tartar sauce…
In the end of May, we were finally approved to get the girls. We prepared the house, took the day off work, then, sat ready and waiting for CPS to drop them off at our home. The CPS case manager never showed. When we asked our agency about it they said that’s how it happens. If they end up going back to their parents somehow, CPS won’t call; you just won’t hear from them. Rotten, stinky communication, y’all. Rotten. This same exact thing happened again just two weeks ago with the two boys. I now have toddler and baby furniture, toys with Pinterest-worthy decorations for both boys and girls. I’m not getting rid of any of it. Still waiting to see how this all plays out.
Not getting the girls wrecked me. I could have sworn God and I were on the same page. I prayed. He listened. Things were happening. My mom and sister scheduled a flight to come down and help us learn to take care of tiny children. While they were here we had a delightful baby shower to celebrate them coming. That’s how utterly convinced I was (really, we all were) that God was saying yes. I faltered bigtime when He didn’t. I mean, barely get out of the bed type of faltering. Obviously, there was a breakdown in communication. I had missed a connection somewhere. This unfortunate transformation that happens when we pray our requests only and get laser focused on only what we want is like when you go out to eat and you order a hamburger and the waiter’s taking your order, nodding his head in agreement the whole time. He heads back to the kitchen with your ticket. Time passes. You imagine biting into the juicy hamburger. You see other diners getting their hamburgers. Finally, you see your waiter coming with a large tray. Your food is on it. But what’s this? He’s got the tuna for you. No hamburger. Just tuna. “Why, God?” “Why the fish?” (Something like this happened to my brother-in-law with the fish which is why I thought of this. But I think we’ve all had those moments when you look around at your life and wonder how you got here and what just happened. We’ve all be given the fish.)
I spent the last few months questioning God and when it happened again three weeks ago with the two boys I doubled-down on the “Why, God?” prayers. I tried writing a couple more blog posts but I felt like they were too heavy on the woe sharing. Honestly, it was like I could hear a jazz band singing the blues every time I wrote. This week, God finally answered my whys. Maybe in prayer terms hamburger somehow sounds like fish but I don’t think so. That’s not how God operates. God does want to meet our needs and is willing to give us the desires of our heart but He’s not a cosmic waiter waiting around to take our order when we want to put in a request. (I humbly apologize, Lord. Turns out I “pushy pray” a lot.) What I wanted was obviously different than what I needed. What comes to mind is this section of verse in Exodus when the Israelites were preparing to enter the Promised Land:
17 When Pharaoh finally let the people go, God did not lead them along the main road that runs through Philistine territory, even though that was the shortest route to the Promised Land. God said, “If the people are faced with a battle, they might change their minds and return to Egypt.” 18 So God led them in a roundabout way through the wilderness toward the Red Sea.
It took time to prepare them. It’s taken time to prepare us. All these months that I fretted and “pushy prayed” Sean was thanking God for gradual parenthood. Becoming an instant parent of tiny people was more than Sean could handle those first few days back in April–especially with the babies. They can be slightly overwhelming at first. (And every parent everywhere rolled their eyes. This is not news to them.) He’s gotten so much more comfortable and confident in his interactions with the kiddos. It’s so cute to see.
God’s making us better than we were before. Better parents. Better partners. Better prayers. God’s also doing something bigger than we can imagine. I am confident of this. Jesus never did any miracles with beef. No hamburgers were involved in the making of a miracle. Fish, though. That’s miracle food. More than once Jesus used fish to feed the multitudes. Thousands of people. What a way to use a lunch order. For us, there’s a reason we didn’t get those girls or the two brothers. God is doing something else. One good thing that’s already come out of the last few months is an association with Agape Ranch. It’s a non-profit here in Corpus Christi dedicated to helping foster kids and promoting adoption within the community. They work closely with churches, CPS and the child placing agencies in town. One of their goals is to reform adoption in Texas. Sean and I have been given the opportunity to share our story with the state legislators in Austin. We will also start a city-wide adoption support group in November. Very exciting. We would not have met the wonderful people at Agape Ranch if we’d already had the girls. We would probably not be given these amazing opportunities if God had placed our order for the hamburger. Only the fish gives us the chance to reach out to others. We’re not up to reaching thousands yet but maybe someday. Until then, we’ll have the fish, please.
**(Update: We got two little kiddos 3 weeks ago. A 3 and 4 year old brother and sister. We hope to adopt them some time next year. That very first day they came, we played tea party with a set I’ve had for years. When I opened the box-lo, and behold! for some reason there was a tiny plastic trout sitting in one of the tea cups. Both kids were delighted by the fish. They both took turns putting it on a plastic pink tea party plate and serving it to me. God works in mysterious and awesome ways.)**