I write this letter to a much older you. Perhaps you’re a husband now or even a dad. Maybe you’re even an adoptive dad like yours. I can’t know since as I write this you’re just eight-years-old and rocking the second grade like nobody’s business. If your current treatment of your brothers and sister are any future indication, you could very well be the best of the best at both husbandry and fatherhood. Although, who knows? The Lord may choose to order your life in a way that makes you the awesome sauce single uncle, too.
Regardless, we will be glad to have you any which way your life turns out. As it stands now, Caleb and Lydi thunder to the door with giggly excitement when you return from school. And then they proceed to follow you everywhere in anticipation of the delightful games and songs you will introduce to their toddler world. Last Sunday afternoon, you popped into the living room where I was typing on the computer to announce that you had taken it upon yourself to put Lydi down for a nap. “She asked for one,” you shrugged as if it were normal for an eight-year-old to care so much about his little sister’s needs. You then went on to get her a drink and her favorite blanket and spent at least a half hour lying on the floor next to her crib until she fell asleep.
You’re a marvel. And, you’re going to make A LOT of cash off mom and dad for babysitting when the time is right.
Here’s why I’m preserving this and other tidbits like it: you belong here with us. Let me say that again, another way, the way you’re used to me saying it: no one lives under our roof by accident. That includes you. People will always say things, rude things, insensitive things, but their words will never alter the truth that God, in His infinite mercy and wisdom, chose you for us and us for you.
Hold fast to that when people — adults and kids alike — ask, “So your real mom didn’t want you?”
Hold fast to that when you’re upset that you’re the only member of our household with brown eyes.
Hold fast to that when you feel rejected and lost and out of place.
Hold fast to that when bitterness invades your heart and threatens your outlook.
Hold fast to that when forgiveness is hard and friendship is harder.
God is holding fast to you, my dear. And so am I. It is all I can do as you unload your questions on me, who is wading into the same uncharted, increasingly complicated waters you are. I will confess that when your dad and I started OUR adoption journey, it never occurred to us that your journey would need to be just that –YOURS. We will certainly cover much of this ground together, but we understand more than we ever have that there are parts of being adopted that are only yours to claim, to come to terms with, to heal from, and even reject.
Isaiah, your dad and I are behind you all the way. Though it pains me deeply to hear you describe someone else as your “real mom”, it would pain me even more to know that you didn’t feel you could ask us what was truly on your mind. We want you to meet your birthmom. We want you to pursue your past and make inquiries into your roots. We will go to great lengths to help you do it.
In return I have one request for you, Grown-Up Isaiah. When you look back on these years, please give your dad and I grace and mercy. We are trying. We are failing. We are doing our absolute best for you. We know that love isn’t enough to cover the hurts that come with being adopted, but sometimes it’s all we have to give, and you’re welcome to every ounce of it we can muster.
It is my hope that by the time Grown Up Isaiah reads these words and truly understands them, he’s come out on the other side of this journey confident of a few things. There is no shame in adoption. Only opportunities to see Jesus at His best and most creative. There is no going back. Only moving forward into His will and His healing for all that’s broken in us. There is no one who can steal the magnificence of your story. Only people who need to hear firsthand what the Lord has done and is doing for you.
Isaiah, for better or worse, adoption is a part of who you are. I’ll be praying diligently that it’s for the better.
Mom (the real one, the fake one, or whatever one you want to call me :-))