by Courtney Laib, Story Hope
[photo by HM Photo, via etsy]
My husband and I have always talked about adopting. The conversation first began after we watched the movie ‘Blood Diamond’ with Leonardo DiCaprio. We thought maybe we would look into adopting from Sierra Leone. Africa had always (and still is) been a country that was close to my heart. I was thinking a baby, my husband, on the other hand, was thinking an eight year old who had had a limb amputated due to the war. I wasn’t sure I was up for that. At least not at that point.
We never adopted from Sierra Leone but as the conversation continued we looked into domestic adoption and then eventually felt our hearts being led to foster care. And that’s where we landed. We filled out all the paper work, got all the training under our belt, and then we waited. Waited for ‘the call’. And it came. On October 4th, 2012 we received a call for a four year old little boy who needed a home. For how long we weren’t sure. We had only a couple of hours to make a decision and then call the social worker back. We decided to say yes. And we were EXCITED. It felt like we were heading to the hospital to have a baby. It was sort of surreal. We drove to a nearby McDonald’s where we met Jacob. He was adorable and friendly and talkative and dressed in clothes that looked like they hadn’t been washed in weeks. He played on my iPhone while my husband and I took turns talking with the social worker who brought him, trying to gain as much information as we could. And then it was time to take him home. It all felt like a honeymoon of sorts. New beginnings for all of us. Although this was a harder transition for Jacob than it was for us, he was happy and seemed oblivious to what was going on.
And then a couple of days later reality set in. And reality was hard. I wasn’t connecting. I was frustrated. I was angry. I was having a hard time adjusting to the change. My husband told me to give it some time. And I did. But still, nothing changed. I spent most of my days angry. Really angry. As soon as my husband came home from work I would leave the house. I jumped at any opportunity to get out, to think, to breathe, to cry. To ask God why I was so bad at this. Why I couldn’t love him. Why this was so hard.
(To help this all make a little more sense, I should probably tell you that this particular season was already a hard one for our family. My husband had just resigned from his position at our church and it was not a pretty resignation. It was a sudden and shocking to many people kind of one. We also had two girls living with us, Niki, 22 and Jenn, 21 who both were important relationships to us and were given lots of investment of our time and energy. And my husband was working his butt off at a construction job just to pay the bills while we listened to God for what was next.)
Jacob ended up being with us for three months. It was taking too much of a toll on our family. And on me. Thankfully we were able to find Jacob another AMAZING foster home where he is still to this day and is thriving. I felt much relief after he was gone but it didn’t take long for the guilt and shame to pour in.
I was a failure. I was a quitter. I wasn’t cut out to be a foster mom. I was a cold-hearted person.
It took me months and months, an amazing husband and a gracious counselor to sift through these feelings to find what was true. And what wasn’t true. This experience caused me to ask some hard questions. Like… Why was I so angry? Why wasn’t I able to connect with Jacob? Why does nurture not come naturally to me? Did I screw up God’s plan for Jacob’s life? Was God ever going to give us a second chance at foster care?
Have you ever been in a place like this? Where you asked God the hard questions? The ones that really expose your heart? It’s not fun, but He can handle it.
Friends, this experience really rocked my identity as a mom. And it’s not something I talk about a ton because honestly, it’s still a little bit of an open wound. But as I sifted through all the thoughts of my heart I’ve come to this conclusion…
I don’t want my kids to think that I am perfect. I want them to think that I am in desperate need of Jesus.
We are going to fail our kids, whether they are bio, adopted, or fostered. We will either beat ourselves up for not being perfect or we will we run to Jesus.
I’m tired of being beaten, I want to start running.
Courtney is a mom, wife, friend, and Instagram addict. She lives in the Chicago area with her Pastor husband and three year old son. She is a fan of summer time, chai tea lattes, running, making new friends, traveling, and loving the ‘least of these’. She blogs at storyhope.com and you can usually find her talking about life, faith, and finding hope in brokenness.