I’ve realized why even getting started on our second adoption has been so hard: We know too much.
I was never one of those kids who accepted things easily, who didn’t question.
Even though my desire to be liked shaped my actions, there were plenty of times when I just couldn’t let something go. In grade school, when two of my friends turned on another girl in our group, refusing to speak to her and talking viciously behind her back, I just couldn’t get all the way there. I kept one foot in line with them, feeding their gossip once in a while. But I also talked with the outcast girl when I could get her alone, made sure she was doing OK, saying I was sorry in the only way I could figure out, by just asking her things, how is your sister, are you going to the basketball game, what’s your cat’s name again?
In high school, the rule of the popular never sat well with me. Maybe it was jealousy, maybe it was a desire to be loved, too, but I decided not to participate. I could tell I wouldn’t be completely accepted because I chose to stand apart from the system. I remember sitting in study hall, filling page after page in my journal about how I didn’t care about all of that, but how it felt harder this way. I stared at the back of the girl’s head in front of me and thought she has it so easy. She plays along and does just fine. (Knowing better now, I’m sure she was fighting her own battle, ignorant or not.)
And a couple years ago, we just couldn’t shake the feeling that traditional church didn’t make sense anymore. We felt dishonest when we attended, like we were keeping up appearances, like we were paying homage to a dying system that had lost its meaning for us. When we finally left, I’m sure many people thought we were taking the easy way out, giving up when it got tough, but it was the opposite. I was leaving behind a system built over my lifetime, a world in which I was brought up. I felt (and feel) guilty for what I might be taking away from my family. It was a year of struggle before leaving, and a year of angst and guilt and shame after, and I can see now we’re on a journey, but most days it just feels like I’m spinning my wheels. Maybe I’m waiting for healing? Maybe God needs to teach me something or a series of things? I don’t know, but figuring it out feels a hell of a lot harder than deciding to go back to weekly church again.
It can be excruciating to be so damn intentional about every decision, to run everything through a new filter, to be suspended in limbo for so long, groping in the dark in an unfamiliar landscape. I don’t know where we are or where we’re headed, but I do know God is leading us, and that has to be enough.
For nearly two months now, I’ve been researching options for our next adoption with no clear answer in sight. And once in a while, I yearn for the ease of ignorance. I want the blinders back on — the ones we wore during our first adoption.
Because then, I wouldn’t know how our request for a healthy infant didn’t really meet the world’s need. I wouldn’t realize that most orphans aren’t babies or even toddlers.
I wouldn’t know about the outright corruption in some countries’ programs and the dangerous twisting of ethics in others.
I’d be painlessly unaware how emotionally complicated adoption is, that it’s not black and white, that you can’t go in as a savior because your notions of salvation will be shot full of holes once you look down and realize that’s your sin-drenched heart at the center of it all.
I wouldn’t know that attachment can be as difficult for the mama as it is for the child getting used to the idea of family.
I wouldn’t know that adoption is broken, and that I’m part of the breaking. I cause some of the pain.
For a while, I think I was hoping an option, some unknown program, would pop up that would be at least mostly free of these concerns. But in the last couple of weeks, I’ve accepted that it’s just not possible. We will do everything we can to have a process free of ethical problems and corruption, transparent and meeting the needs of a child for a family while also considering what our family can handle.
But we also know it’s not going to be easy, and that it’ll never be completely clear or straightforward or simple or black and white.
We can’t unlearn the things we know. It might be harder, but something is telling me this is the necessary path, this is where we need to go, though each step is painful and hard-won. Eyes wide open, asking the questions, heart held out to be broken again and again.