Posted by MissyHall | Posted in Adopting Mommy | Posted on 04-04-2012
Tags: adoption, family, grace, Missy Hall, risk
Family: People with issues, who live life together, and continuously extend grace.
Yes, I have spent the week with my family…parents, brothers, sisters-in-law, and nieces…but this definition has been swimming around in my head as we work through our issues in our own happy (issue-filled) home!
Issues: Let me be clear: we all have quirks, habits, hangups and things we do that are at best just annoying and at worst can be downright destructive. When we are in close relationship with people those issues that were once endearing–ie: my messy car (but, hey, I always have an extra sweater or a snack) become mostly irritating (“why do i have to move a whole pile of **** just to find the seat?”) Let me pick another example, most parents will understand. If a certain child (4 years and blonde hair) has the issue of bed wetting, it effects those who care for her (tired mommy) who has to wake up to clean sheets and clothes at 3:08 am. If a certain wife (tired mommy) has the issue of losing her keys, it effects the handsome hardworking husband (who never seems to lose a thing) because he has to leave work to come rescue her and her car full of groceries. Honestly, I could give a million examples of this. It’s the old relationship of cause and effect.
We enter into marriage fully expecting there to be issues. We know full well that our spouse is not perfect, but we vow to love “for better or for worse…”. One of the best lines of advice went something like this: Enter into marriage with eyes wide open, then leave them half shut thereafter. Because it is true, we each have our tendencies to do things that drive the other person crazy!
We enter into parenting, knowing that our child will not be perfect (hence, the many books on my shelf all about the “strong-willed” child), but we still move ahead to have a family. When our child throws that first tantrum, we act surprised, but by the 40th one (in one week…who’s been there?!) there is no shock that our child is upset at something that seems so trivial…there is just the need to work through it. When a woman gets pregnant, there is a certain level of risk, but she chooses to push on (haha, like my pun?) becuase the benefit of being a family outweigh those risks. Even if our mind is filled with the “what if’s”, we choose to take things one step at a time and cross that bridge when it comes.
With adoption it is a little different. The potential foster child’s issues are all laid out in black and white. A full report of where this child has been, experienced, and all that he/she is (or is not). There are a number of risks and it truly is strange that as potential parents we have the responsibility to access what information we know and to make a choice to move forward or not. This has been one of the hardest parts of the process as we were doing all our class homework before our homestudy. We had to honestly look at what we “could handle” and clearly let our agency know what our level of comfort is with healthy concerns, etc. We have to go into this with both of us on the same page and with a self-knowledge about our limitations and of our own issues. One question we were asked at our homestudy stopped us in our tracks: “What is the level of risk you are willing to take?” We really had to think through this, and we came to this answer: Any type of parenting involves risk. There are no guarantees of our childrens’ health or success or morality- whether adopted by us or birthed by me. And, I do believe that the benefits of adopting far outweigh the risks.
- My brother probably can give you a list of my many issues!
Together: Families all look a little different. Who has read “Its okay to be different” to their kids? You should. Some of us have children by birth, some of us adopt. Some of us have cousins living with us, or an aunt, or an aging grandparent. We live in different cities, some in houses, some in apartments, some sharing a room at a relatives home. The point of family is that we walk the path together. And, this means there will be conflict, challenges and the constant need to extend unconditional love and forgiveness (sometimes on a daily basis.) Why? Becuase our family may not communicate the way we want them to. They may be downright selfish. We may be downright selfish, too. So, the way I see it we can either build up walls of bitterness or we can take the risk to love and extend grace because (again) the benefits of having a relationship far outweighs the risks.
Grace: By definition, you are giving to someone that which he/she has not earned or deserved. If this doesn’t describe family, what does. Spouses, we give to one another (hopefully) out of love and mutual respect and we try and serve the other person because that is what the commitment is all about. Parents, we give all. day. long. to our children, not because they have done something to morally right and need to be rewarded, but because we are family. With adopted children, it is the same. Grace has to be extended again and again. Let me just throw out the best piece of advice that I came across (I have no idea where!) Don’t evaluate your adoption for the first six months. This is one piece of advice I’m holding on to, because i know that the temptation will be for me to overthink instead of just building a relationship day by day with grace at the center of it.
I hope our future child will be willing to forgive my “issues”, to lean into a these new family “relationships” and to extend me “grace”. Idon’t know much, but I know that i need this most from those I call my family.