Joy and Pain

(Warning: This is super l-o-n-g!  This is from a Christian worldview and perspective that may seem downright crazy to many of you.  This is me.)

The last update on our adoption process was that our timeline was growing longer than we had thought because we were told not to expect a referral until the Spring of this year.  Imagine our total surprise when we got an actual referral on Wednesday, January 4th!  We were not expecting it AT ALL.  I was overwhelmed with emotions.  It was so strange, exciting, everything!  I called both sets of parents and my brother/sister-in-law right away and emailed our Italy family.  When my mother-in-law asked how old she was, I told her that I hadn’t even looked at it yet!  Not sure what I was waiting for, but later that day I did slowly open up all the attachments and read, looked, experienced so many different emotions, and of course, felt the process become more real finally.  I forwarded the medical records to our trusty awesome doctor and my doting brother who both replied back what we had already thought in terms of her overall good health.  There was no firm reason I could find not to accept her in that sense!

Mike wanted to wait until after his business trip to Europe to give our final answer on the referral.  I was fine with that since the social worker did say to take our time going through everything, but not too long obviously.  Post-trip would be over 2 weeks time though.  I would slip in a comment here and there to Mike about how she looked good on paper, can’t see any reason we wouldn’t take her, etc.  On Tuesday, January 10th, our social worker checked in on us about our decision-making since it had been almost a week.  Mike asked how long we could have to decide and alluded to his current health problems.  He happened to be home that morning because of another GI test so we both were able to talk to her on the phone right away when she asked us to call.  She said she would talk with her supervisor and get back to us.  Mike made more clear what I think I knew in my head but refused to think in my heart that we might not be able to accept this precious little girl.  At this point, Mike just did not feel right moving forward in the process and accepting her when he was having unresolved health issues that only seemed to be developing more strange symptoms instead of improving and having a clear course of management.  I realized then that I did not want to selfishly hold on to her indefinitely when she could be placed quickly with another family.  It was not in her best interest which is what I vowed in my heart to do.

After talking with the supervisor the next day, we said that we would give our final decision on Friday, January 13th.  I was pretty much on auto-pilot and denial.  Mike repeated what I stated before, and I knew the wisdom in being safe rather than sorry.  He is experiencing symptoms every day, his condition is inconsistent, he has new unrelated symptoms, and the last thing he wanted was to regret saying yes were his health to continue to decline or worse, leaving me in an extremely difficult situation.  But I just continued to take the kids to school, make dinner, go about my day, and pretend that my heart was not crushing into teeny tiny dust.  My loving husband tried at different times to talk to me about it and ask how I was doing.  Auto-pilot was silent and stone-faced.  I managed to say that it is not his fault, and I totally understand the inevitable direction we were going.  It wasn’t until Thursday night when we were saying bedtime prayers with the kids that the heart-crushing started to surface.  The last part of our bedtime routine with the boys is to sit in a circle, hold hands and take turns praying.  Mike starts usually, then Ethan, then Connor and then I close.  I couldn’t close that night.  I just cried and cried.  In his typical inquisitive fashion, Ethan asked a million questions, “Why isn’t Mommy praying?  Why is Mommy crying?”  Connor just looked at me and said, “Mommy’s sad.”  After falsely keeping it together, the last thing I had wanted was to lose it in front of my boys but prayer time (even at the preschool-kindergarten level) does that…breaks down the pretending.

D-Day (appropriately Friday the 13th) came, and we made it official that we were declining the referral and therefore putting our whole adoption process on hold.  If we can’t take her, we can’t take any “hers” and have to step out of line for referrals.  We have up to a year to get back in line before we’d have to restart the entire process all over again (PLEASE DEAR GOD NO).  The very understanding and supportive agency is simply waiting for us to connect with them again once our issues have been resolved, and we are fully ready to be back in the queue.

Friday was not my best day.  We have friends who are going through an extremely challenging time.  I have had the privilege of witnessing them face this storm with such grace, faith, and beautiful strength because it is so evident that they are relying on God and trusting themselves completely in His hands.  Please read and pray for them; you can do so via their blog.  My pain seems so miniscule in comparison and yet my initial reactions were so ungracious, unfaithful and ugly.  WHY?!  ARE YOU FREAKING KIDDING ME?!  WHY GIVE US WHAT SEEMED LIKE A GREAT THING (earlier than expected referral) WHEN IT ONLY MADE US HAVE TO PUT THIS WHOLE LONG ARDUOUS PROCESS ON HOLD?!  WHY IS MIKE HAVING THESE HEALTH ISSUES STILL AND WHY NOW?  WHAT THE HECK!?  It brought back the painful memories of our miscarriage almost 2 years ago exactly.  At that time we weren’t planning on getting pregnant, did so anyways, freaked out, accepted, rejoiced, and then had to mourn and grieve when there was no heartbeat 2 weeks later.  Despite getting through that and realizing that He is sovereign and we are not in control, I wasn’t sure I could take a repeat of that lesson.  It just felt cruel.  And I felt like the big brat of a daughter I am to Him.  I hate when my kids whine.  Does He hate when His do, too?  Unlike me, He can take it.

That day this bratty girl remembered that I was scheduled to greet at church on Sunday and did not want to go at all let alone have to smile and welcome people for 30 minutes.  Mike as always was understanding and told me to stay home that day.  I also did not want to have to answer any questions on our adoption especially from those who knew we had received the referral.  Unlike my soft-hearted brother, I am the hard-hearted sibling who does not cry in public (tears for others yes, but tears for myself hell no since I’d rather have someone yank all my fingernails off).  If questions led to crying, I would NOT be happy about that.  But I thought of how Grace led the greeters the day after Kevin died and cried buckets, and it was ok.  I thought of how the world is not ending and I needed to (as my mob boss friend says) get over myself.

Good Friday led to resurrection Sunday.  Over the weekend I realized that as disappointing as it is to see the big brat that I am and always am, it serves to remind me that any time the brat is beaten it is all because of grace.  I can never take credit for “handling” things the way I should.  I only can handle things period because He gives me what I need.  So I went to church.  I greeted and smiled and even answered questions about our adoption process.  I sat through the sermon and when Pastor Peter said, “Do you really trust God?” I in all earnestness could say without hesitation, “YES, I do trust Him completely and wholeheartedly!”  I do not understand and do not always like, but I do trust His plan because I know who He is and His nature is not cruel.  And that ability to trust is all again, a gift of grace that I believe came from the prayers of the handful of you that knew about our heartbreaking Friday.  So thank you, family and friends.  And I did shed tears, and I will continue to grieve and mourn.  But by a power not from me, I can say that this whole adoption endeavor is totally relinquished into however it is meant to be.  Whatever the Creator of the universe thinks good, I’m on board.  Just give me a few days to go from bratty to behind the plan.  Perspective is a wonderful thing.  I am overwhelmed by the many ways He has kept my feet from swelling (Deut. 8 reference; thanks, PP!).  Thank you for reading and being my friend even if you think I’m crazy.  And please keep praying for Mike’s health!

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5 Responses to Joy and Pain

  1. Jan Keatley says:

    Leslie, this blog brought back so many thoughts…….the funny stories of how you and your own mother reacted, or acted with the getting ready for school… you know the tears. Me telling your mother what a wonderful daughter you must be, and the look I got. You are like a daughter to me and I love you very much. Be a brat, you and only you know how. God has a master plan, you and your family are a part of that plan, we find God through trust and faith. Yours has always been so strong, fight the good fight, you might lose a battle, but you will win the war, with God’s help and blessings.
    I love you BIG!

  2. Michael says:

    Thanks for writing this, Leslie.

  3. Angela says:

    Leslie this is such a beautiful and honest post… Praying for you mike and your family…

  4. ask says:

    reading this — “I do not understand and do not always like, but I do trust His plan because I know who He is and His nature is not cruel.”– brought tears to my eyes. it’s gives me hope for this life. thanks for encouraging through your sharing!

  5. Andrea Kaiser says:

    my heart aches with you in the loss of your baby two years ago, the loss of Mike’s health, the loss of your beloved daughter across the ocean, and the loss of feeling confident about where the future is going…i am feeling this so much right now in my own life and cried reading your honest words to God and to yourself. daring to relentlessly trust in our God along with you…”For the word of the Lord holds true, and everything he does is worthy of our trust.” Psalm 33:4

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