This coming Saturday marks the two-year anniversary of Lindsey’s adoption finalization. Two years since she became our daughter. It seem like so long ago — and yet, it seems so recent.
I’ve written about this journey all through the past two years, and even before our adoption. I’ve spoken in radio interviews, in front of thousands at my church, in foster parent training sessions, and more. All along, it’s been my passion speaking, rather than my experience. Certainly not expertise. Now, however, I can safely say we’re beyond what they call the “honeymoon” period, which means I’m finally far enough into this journey to have some valuable insight to share. Every day seems to bring some small victory, some new challenge, or a new realization.
A few weeks ago, I watched Lindsey tie her shoes. I’d never paid attention before, but I noticed this time because she was putting on her NROTC dress shoes after Ken had shown her how to shine them. We were joking with her because she skips the first step of shoelace-tying, the part where you cross your laces over each other and do the first part of the tie before making the bunny ears. She said she’d always tied them that way because she’d taught herself to do it. Because she knew the little bunny hole thing, at some point someone must’ve shown her how to tie them, but then she practiced by herself until she could do it — and forgot to practice that very first step. Even though she didn’t do it “right,” she made it work.
As I thought about this later, I realized how many things that applies to in her life. Without parents involved deeply enough in her life to teach her things like how to tie her shoes, she has grown up learning how to do things good-enough. This has carried over into her schoolwork, chores, apologizing, being a friend, and more. On the one hand, it makes all of that much more understandable — but on the other hand, I realize how much harder it’s going to be to figure out how to help her want to do her best.
The things I feared might be the biggest challenges, weren’t. All those books I read and all those classes I took prepared me for all sorts of possibilities that never came, but left me unprepared for the things that would be challenges. For instance, facebook and the cellphone she came here with proved to be strong ties to her old life and her old friends. Keeping a few genuine friends would have been fine and we would’ve encouraged it, but breaking free from the destructive ways of thinking that permeated her old life has proved extremely difficult because of all those extra ties. She had already lost so much that we had a hard time figuring out how much to nix, and how to handle it all. Such a delicate balance. Those old ways of thinking still resurface — often. So much of her so-called knowledge of the world came from other kids, and from old wives’ tales; I can’t even count how many untruths we’ve had to explain in the past two years.
I’ve felt like a complete parenting failure countless times in the past two years. I have been on my knees, in tears, telling God how unfit I am for this job as Lindsey’s mother. But just when I’m SO close to my breaking point, we have a breakthrough, even if only a small one, and things are better than they were before.
Has this been easy? No. I’ll say again: NO, not in any way, shape, or form.
But has it been worthwhile? Absolutely. We have seen Lindsey grow in so many ways, and we have come to realize how much difference it really does make for a child to have a permanent family to love and guide them.
Would we do it again? Yes. If given the choice, we would choose to do it all over again with Lindsey. And right now, our paperwork is currently in process of being approved so we can start the process of adoption for another child.
I know there are some who have followed our journey out of curiosity, and that’s okay; in fact, I welcome questions and emails. There are also many of you who have followed along in prayer, and I thank you from the bottom of my heart. I ask that you keep on praying for us, and for other adoptive parents and children, too.