When I think back on the things that our little guy walked into our home with a year ago, the list was rather short. I assumed there would be a piece of luggage… maybe not the fancy kind that you see scattered throughout airports… but, I figured there would be something simple… something to transport his most valuable possessions and some underwear at least. That wasn’t the case though. He walked into our home with nothing.
However, it doesn’t take long at all to realize that children in the foster system carry around plenty of luggage… especially older children that have been yanked from their homes and moved across the state.
We’ve spent the last year unpacking bag after bag after giant airport-sized bag of brokenness with our son. The reality is… we’ll continue this process long after adoption… long after he has been calling us Mommy and Daddy… long after our home feels normal to him.
There seems to be the thought floating around the Christian sub-culture that adoption is this simple, clean, two-step process… fill out the paperwork… rescue a child from some horrible situation… give them their first hug and warm bed… then, Bam!, they’re yours forever and you can move on to the next thing in life. You’ve earned your little adoption badge to wear proudly around other Christians and you can take pride in getting a few extra stares when you walk around public with a child that looks different than you.
I gotta be honest… I think we really thought it was that easy… or at least I did.
But those blasted bags still pile up around our home waiting to be unpacked. When we walk around and keep stumping our toes on the luggage and dance around cursing their existence, our prideful little adoption badge does us very little good.
As I sit here over a year into this thing, I have to say that the thing about foster care and adoption that is so riveting and redemptive at the same time is this constant mingling we do with brokenness.
In our Christian sub-culture, we have managed to find a way to sweep and mop and polish away the dirt and brokenness of this world from our lives. We have shelves filled with books on theology and best practices for doing just about anything… We eat organic… We even buy organic toilet paper… We devote plenty of attention on making sure that with our kids, only good goes in and pray that crap doesn’t come out… We try our hardest to fight against materialism and avoid our consumer driven culture. I’m not knocking any of those things… heck, we do most of those things!
At the end of the day our formula works pretty well. Our kids don’t walk around cussing people out on a regular basis… Our bodies feel better and free from chemicals… We are able to know tons of things about God and share them with others. It’s a pretty good life… no doubt.
But, as much as we’ve tried to mop around those bags laying around our house or sprinkle homemade organic compost on top of them thinking that they’ll turn into something that’s healthy, they simply don’t.
Brokenness refuses to let us go on with our managed life.
We’re forced to throw our theology book against the wall in anger and tears and actually cry out to God and ask for answers that just aren’t written down in a book. We’re forced to realize that there are many things that we aren’t going to be able to control over the next 20 years of our life as parents.
Although my heart aches for our son and I would love nothing more than to scrub his heart down with a giant eraser so that he wouldn’t have to carry any more bags ever again… I know that God is doing something wonderful in our life as we mingle with brokenness. We are getting to see pieces of him that simply are invisible to us when we lead our managed lives.
A lot of times, stories of adoption are presented as a package with a nice bow on top… it’s labeled “redemption”, and hearts are left warmer because they simply see a sad story turned happy.
We know that God is still writing the redemption story happening in our home, but the beautiful thing at this point is that our family is getting to mingle with “broken”, and it’s the best thing that has happened to us.