When we prepared to bring Matthew home, I knew that we were in for a period adjustment with him. What I wasn’t prepared for was my OWN long and complicated adjustment.
The first thing I have to address is my guilt. The guilt that smacked into my chest like a freight train when I met Matthew in Korea is only now beginning to let go. The guilt from taking him away from Korea, from his foster family, from his language. When we got to Korea, I have to be honest and tell you, that suddenly, I didn’t know if this was the best thing for him anymore. It was terrifying. I was scared that I was ruining his life. I have finally had to make the choice to forgive myself for taking him away from his life. I still don’t know if it was the best thing. But that is what happened. I am happy that he is my son and that isn’t going to change, so I have to move on and make our lives the best that they can be. And as I see Matthew enjoying his life, that is easier to do.
Then there is my faith. During our adoption process, I would say that my faith was at its strongest. What other choice do you have when you are in such an uncertain time? But as rocky of a start as we had in the beginning of the process, once we identified Matthew, things starting going like clockwork, miracle after miracle falling into place. It felt so right, and I just knew God was laying the groundwork for this. Suddenly we came home and to be honest, everything felt so wrong. What happened? Everybody was crying all the time. I walked around asking myself what we had done over and over and over. I felt so far away from God. So far away and so low that I wasn’t even sure how to pray about it. I didn’t feel strong enough to reach for my Bible. I really felt forsaken and like I had just gotten everything wrong. It was a dark time for me, and it has been a slow crawl out of that.
I was reading in Hebrews 10 last night and it was about the old law under Moses when people had to sacrifice animals and how Christ changed that. It read “The sacrifices under that system were repeated again and again, year after year, but they were never able to provide perfect cleansing for those who came to worship.” That is kind of the way I have felt this past year. Like I was trying to do and say the right things. Trying to pray the right things. But I wasn’t feeling better, I wasn’t seeing improvements, I felt empty and lost.
I am beginning to realize and accept that we all just have dark times and rough patches. It doesn’t mean that we got ourselves into a huge mess that we never should have started. It doesn’t mean God turned his back on us. And frankly, it is actually a lot like the ubiquitous “Footprints” poem (it’s not a poem, though, is it?). During the really hard times we feel so very alone, but when we look back and see just one set of footprints we realize that God was actually carrying us. Darn it all, that “Footprints” thing is as overused as it can be, but it is true, and it makes me cry every time!
I think the other main thing I have had to realize is how darn hard parenting is. Isaac was such an easy baby, and still is a pretty easy kid. So well-mannered and agreeable. I pretty much thought I must be an awesome mom to be doing so good with him. What I realized is that most of that was luck. Don’t get me wrong, Matthew is a good kid too, but we had to feel each other out….for a LONG time. I guess I’m saying I’ve just learned to have a lot more grace with other mothers….and recently I am learning to have more grace with myself. I don’t know what goes on behind anyone else’s closed doors and I try to remind myself of that. A lot. And I don’t have to be supermom. I have the dust bunnies on my floor to prove it, and for the first time in my life I am learning to be okay with that.
It’s been a huge year in general for me. I’ve been stretched emotionally, spiritually, and some days I feel like even physically, but I can see that I have come out stronger on the other side of it. More loving. More patient. Slowly (and sometimes begrudgingly) being molded into the person I am meant to be.