There is a darkness in Adoption.
I must first say that, the silence on The Orphans Table has been long. Its true. The content of this post is the reason...at least one of them. There are four others which run, and talk, and sing, and poop, and make messes. The trouble with blogging is that you have to embrace the idea (if you are writing about your own life) that you might say something you regret...and then post it for anyone to see. I have always adopted the proverb "It is better to be silent and considered wise than to speak and be found a fool." So there has been some silence.
In the midst of all that has gone on in our family, all the beauty and binding together of lives, all the God sized miraculous provision, there has been a darkness we have avoided talking about. A darkness that, for a time, remained silent because we were ashamed. We are very blessed to have faithful friends who actively pursue us so we were forced at length to speak of it. As we spoke this great and ugly thing lost some of its power over us and we found that this darkness in our family seems to be a part of many (if not most) adoptive families lives. It has been mostly kept quiet by them also for a variety of reasons. There is a truth that is silent in the adoption community (especially the Christian adoption community)...there is darkness in Adoption. There is light also, I don't want to be misunderstood. Hopefully we have sufficiently told of the immense joy and beauty we have experienced in our children and in the knitting together of our family and all the variety of blessings God has given us. But it is true that as sure as there is light there is darkness.
It took four years, almost to the day, our adoption I mean. Four years of anticipation of loving of fundraising...of false starts and wrong turns and paperwork and the rest and finally the day had come. We were squeezing squishy baby Naomi and feeling the vise like bear hugs of Silas and there were no words to express our joy. And there was evening and there was morning the first day. The second day with his cries of "Mommy na Da Da" still ringing in my ears...even now it is hard for me to say...I looked at Silas and I saw a stranger, I heard Naomi crying and I was annoyed instead of moved. What was easy and manageable was gone. And what existed now before my eyes was...unexpected.
The secular world calls what we experienced post-pardem depression. It's the same they say, adoptive parents have it just like bio parents do...it's the let down the...blah, blah, blah...it's not the same. Post-pardem depression has a physiological cause, hormones and the rest...this was something else...something darker. I am not saying that depression has nothing to do with it...just not post-pardem depression. This depression is the kind you can't get off the hook for. This depression is only a symptom of the problem...not the cause.
We have heard the horror stories of adopted children who are terrors with legs, who kick and bite and spit and yell...uncontrollable. Our kids were really nothing like that. Naomi was the easiest baby I have ever come in contact with. Once early on she fell over (the propped up pillows were clearly not enough) and there folded in half like a little brown taco, instead of crying, she fell asleep. Silas was remarkably loud but he was jubilant with happiness early on; we had our issues but nothing like the stories we have heard. Later after coming home he was basically our most obedient child. It couldn't be blamed on the kids...no...it wasn't them, it isn't them. We were not ready for that.
You see we knew adoption was going to be hard, we knew in one sense that there was some darkness in adoption. But we thought the darkness was going to be in the kids. We thought their behavior was going to be the source of struggle. We never imagined that we would want out. We never thought that going back would seem better than facing tomorrow.
Jen likens our souls to a pot which we thought was strong and clean with thick walls, but when faced with our reality our pots cracked and what poured from the cracks was...poison. Black, thick, malignant and ugly. I have described it a little different like there was a small container filled with oil...the same black, ugly stuff down resting un-noticed just below my heart, similarly it was opened up and set to boil and it cooked me. The image is the same, the struggle is the same. Sin wants out. We often see sin as a thing that wants to get into an otherwise clean vessel (us). The truth is that the vessel is horrifying soiled and the sin is trying to get out.
Struggling with all this, the Holy Spirit began his healing work. An elder at my church said "meditate on Hebrews 12." I did. I read, "it is for discipline that you endure, God deals with you as sons." "He disciplines us for our good so that we may share in his holiness. All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it afterwords it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness. Therefore strengthen hands that are weak and knees that are feeble...so that the limb which is lame may not be put out of joint but healed."
What was even more shocking to me is that all this comes under the example of Christ, who "for the joy set before him endured the cross." What was Christ's joy...I think it was two fold he took profound joy in doing the will of his father, and he took profound joy in us. It was his death and Resurrection that was the cause of our reconciliation. Yes of our adoption. We are disciplined as sons because of his being crushed as an outsider. My struggle as an adoptive father and the sin which was bubbling into my soul made me acutely aware of my unworthiness before God. Ironically it is in this miserable state that hope is most apparent. My total inability became God's glory and healing has begun.
So what is the darkness in Adoption?
My friends the darkness in adoption is me.
To those of you who are currently struggling in a similar way do not be deceived. There is hope...but it does not lie in your strength or will power or parenting the hope lies in the only place it really can. Hope comes at the foot of the cross for that is where adoption really began. It is there that God made that glorious decision to chose you over his perfect son if you will repent.
Listen to the words of Jesus. "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls." Matt 11:28-29
There is darkness, but there is hope.