The words and this post have been stirring in my mind and lifted up in my prayers over the past several months. Somewhere back between Spring and Summer of this year, I couldn’t do the internet thing anymore. More I should say, I couldn’t do it without all sorts of painful and negative emotions swirling around. And so I stopped.
For nearly four years now, I’ve written about adoption and shared openly about our story. The shop, while also supporting other organizations, had been primarily a way to raise funds for the adoptions, and people supported us passionately. They got behind us and loved investing in our story.
We pressed forward, two years deep into the adoption journey, after our first loss in January 2015, then again after the second loss in July 2015. What we prayed would be a shorter season of waiting after July turned into months of rejection after rejection from more and more birth mothers. About 40 mamas that said “no” during our year in domestic adoption. We finally came to a place where we believed all the energy we put into this dream of adopting was stealing our life away; our kids had suffered, our family was broken. I am not the kind of mama that believes we are to shield our kids from all suffering, so I don’t say “they suffered” as an excuse. Not at all. Perhaps a better description is that the adoptions had consumed us. In many ways, I look back on those years and feel like I missed much with our kids. We fought it hard, not wanting to quit. Not wanting to believe it was over. For months we agonized about walking away. Finally, in March 2016, Adrian and I were unified and had peace to withdraw from our agency. We told the Lord then and continue to believe that we will always have a place in our home and in our family for a child, if He ever chooses to do that. He knows our hearts. Yet for whatever reason, His answer, for now or maybe forever, is no.
With this decision, I suddenly felt completely out of place in this online space. People were invested in a story that didn’t end the way we all wanted it to. Many “friends” I made real connections with through adoption communities completely dropped out of my life. The loss of those people that I believed cared for us beyond what our family looked like was and continues to be an incredibly painful piece of the story that I never anticipated. Besides this, a sting met me every time I opened up Instagram to a feed full of beautiful families for whom the crazy adoption process actually ended with children in their arms. I didn’t want to live with jealousy or resentment, yet I fought those emotions hard when I wound up online. So, perhaps I’m just weak, but during that season I knew the only way was step back from it all.
Not only did I step back from the internet, our family sought a physical new start. We sold our house, miraculously in ten days, without a realtor. We lived in a friend’s basement for a while then took a five week sabbatical (long overdue as Adrian was supposed to take it the summer prior). We eventually found a house that had been sitting on the market for over a year, so the sellers were eager to take any offer. We made the move, which put us in another town, but just minutes from church. Our kids switched schools. I started a new position at church. Our littlest started kindergarten. A remarkable number of factors in our family changed in that time. It all may seem extreme, and I don’t think any of those changes were necessary for us to move forward, but looking back I believe God was giving us space and time to heal.
I will be honest that in the midst of positive change, I struggled deeply with bitterness and rejection over the past months. Bitterness towards others for abandoning us, but mostly feelings of being abandoned by the Lord. Much healing and heart work was before me.
In essence, my identity had become so intimately entangled with adoption, that not only did I not know what to do myself, neither did others.
If the adoption community isn’t where I belong anymore, where do I go?
The simple answer, of course, is Christ.
Christ in me, the hope of glory.
Christ, in whom my worth fully resides.
Gently, tenderly, He continues to pursue me and love me back to Him, the only One that matters.
But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith. I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.
Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:7-14)
It’s been very, very slow, but today, in October 2016, after six months more or less removed from the internet, I can honestly say that I’m hopeful for what God has before me. I press forward because His plans for me are still good, regardless of whether they look anything like I wanted them to, or anything like others expected them to.
A beautiful piece of those plans include the Lord opening doors for me to be a part of incredible work not only caring for orphans, but helping to empower vulnerable mamas through job opportunities, in turn preventing more orphans. There’s much, much more ahead on this, but for now a portion of your Mercy Ink purchases will benefit the life-changing work of Restore Elikia.
Also, to be clear, I do believe in adoption and deeply love many dear friends who are adoptive parents. That will not change. I’m especially grateful for those friends who are adoptive parents that have walked us through the joy and the loss and the change in the story, and who welcomed us still, regardless of the direction of our family.
One last little line of business: I’m now just me on instagram. @mercy_ink is the shop. I know that seems silly and insignificant and most people probably could care less, but it was important to me in this whole identity thing. I am just me, living the story He has for me.
To those who believe walking away from adoption was a choice we made in error, I kindly say, you’re welcome to talk to the Lord on our behalf :) Ultimately, I believe deeply that He knows the posture of our hearts. He knows we are willing to go or do whatever He asks. And, most significantly, if we are surrendered to Him, than He is the one who gets to write our story. Our job, friends, is simply to obey.
When He shall come with trumpet sound,
Oh, may I then in Him be found;
Dressed in His righteousness alone,
Faultless stand before the throne.