Our adoption story is full of trials, tribulation, triumphs and tears. It's a story of two people with no idea of what the future held taking on two people whose future had previously held nothing but heartache; and then watching, waiting, and working to see how God redefines the future for them all. More personally, our adoption story is an incredible tale of God's redeeming power and love. He has stretched us further than any human could be stretched without relying on His strength, and has demanded change when we've been content to simply be. Yet because of this, we've seen God work miracles in our own home.
Our adoption story, in its entirety, also takes the space of three or four chapters. Entirely too long for a blog. Here is the abbreviated version:
We didn't adopt because we couldn't have children biologically or because we didn't want to have children biologically; we adopted because God told us to. Very obviously. We were called to be missionaries in our own home. We began the process of adopting our two children, we'll call them Mr. J and Miss M, when our first biological child, Miss J, was only a few weeks old. They came to live with us in a pre-adopt situation when Miss J was 11 months old, and Mr. J and Miss M were 7 and 4 years old, respectively. Our adoption was finalized in December of 2007, when I was seven months pregnant with our second biological child, Mr. C, and God has since blessed us with a fifth baby, another son, baby K. We are a big and lively family!
Mr. J and Miss M had been removed from an unstable home with drug addicted parents. They had been exposed to drug use, neglect, hunger, pornography, horror movies, and had been taught to steal. They had lived in more than a dozen places in the year prior to being removed from the home, including a tent. The kids were crawling with lice. I believe their birth parents loved them in thought and feeling, but because they were addicted to drugs, were in and out of jail, and had not been raised well themselves, they were completely unable to love them in action.
We knew going into the adoption that this would be a difficult venture. The kids had been foster children in my sister and brother-in-law's home, and we were aware that Miss M, in particular, had major behavior problems. She spent significant time each day throwing tantrums, and did not seem to care about anything besides getting her own way. I figured she was just strong-willed and naively thought that a permanent, stable, structured home was all she needed, along with a mother's love. Turns out, there's a lot more wrong with Miss M than being strong-willed or stubborn. She has Reactive Attachment Disorder, and so does her brother. And it turned out that my husband and I had no idea what we were getting into.
We've since decided that it was God's plan to keep us in the dark about what the future held, because if we had known, we probably wouldn't have committed to it. For the first two years or so, all Miss M did (for us, not other people) was scream. For two or three hours per tantrum, and sometimes two or three tantrums in a day, she spewed hatred and anger into our home. She kicked, she spat, she bit, she pulled hair, she broke our things. She refused to obey even the simplest of requests. She monopolized our family, our conversation, our marriage, and at times our relationship with the Lord. I honestly don't think anyone on earth would have signed up knowingly to be her parents.
And yet, almost six years since she first darkened our door, most days, I can finally say that I'm glad we did. She's still an incredibly difficult child, she still takes up more energy than most of our other kids combined, but we're beginning to see the little girl that has been hidden inside the monster. I'm so thankful that God has given Miss M this chance to become what He created her to be, and deep down, I'm even okay with the constant tribulation He's allowed in our lives...believing that someday we will see the fruits of our labor.
Now six years after the kids came to live with us, our current life-altering challenge is Mr. J, who has become increasingly violent as he's reaching puberty. He's spent many years pretending to be perfect and compliant (with huge lapses into rage every six months or so), but can no longer hold in the anger for even a few days. Recently, Mr. J spent nearly a month hospitalized in a mental institution, has had numerous run-ins with the police resulting in trips to the emergency room by ambulance, and finally, he was arrested. He's currently housed in Juvenile Detention awaiting adjudication and a placement for residential treatment, as he's threatening to kill us. We're waiting to see how God is going to work in this situation.
So that's our story in a nutshell, although it's ongoing, ever-changing. We still don't know what the future holds. Happiness? Surely. Heartache? Undoubtedly. But we do know that God will show up wherever we are. I don't expect it will be easy. But then again, the things worth doing rarely are.