For the past three months, I've put my head in the sand and deftly avoided any questions, mild or probing, regarding adoption. "Hear anything yet?" "Anything new coming on the horizon?" Didn't I hear you were adopting again?" or "Hey, how's it going with that new child?" I've been giving the cold shoulder to anyone who asks, not because I want to ignore what happened or pretend it didn't occur, but because I needed time to recuperate, to readjust, to recover, and to heal. And then this morning (I wrote this on Sunday night and only find courage now, on Thursday, to post) in church a group of teenagers sang a song that I've heard, most likely, a hundred times before, "If I should speak, then let it be of the grace that is greater than all my sin...of the kindness of Jesus that draws me in. To tell you my story is to tell of Him." And I knew it was time to write.
In very early spring this year, we were matched with a child I'll call E. As any parents who are expecting, we kept the news tightly to ourselves for months. We grew to know E through video chats, texts, emails, and phone calls, we fell in love as we hoped and prayed and waited. We fell head over heels for the smile on the other end of the computer.
As days grew into weeks into months, we battled red tape, squirreled away funds made plans for a 1200 mile visit, had our home and our lives scrutinized (again) for updated home studies and paperwork. And we fought for our second child.
And then came the anxiously excited moment when we shared the news of our growing family with our parents, our siblings, our closest friends. They were ecstatic for us, gave lavish presents and gifts to welcome this child into our home, and even went as far as to remodel our spare room into a personalized bedroom made specifically for E. He was given new clothes, new toys, new furniture--it was like having a baby shower all over again.
After what seemed like a lifetime, the day finally came when we would all meet face to face. We drove non-stop almost the entire length of the country to visit, and it was wonderful. There is no other work to describe our time together. It was everything we had hoped and imagined it would be, and after a week of visits, we came home and spent the next few weeks making final preparations for E's arrival.
It is not an exaggeration to say that from our first encounter at the airport to meet E, the stay was disastrous. I won't go into details except to say that deep seeded issues arose once placed with a new family, and we were advised immediately to send E back. We begged for more time, praying E's initial behavior would assuage once surroundings and people became familiar. They did not. In fact, they escalated so profoundly in a span of eight days that we, and all involved, were afraid for our daughter's safety. Being in a home in a family environment unearthed demons lurking from E's past that presented themselves in new surroundings. And the placement failed.
Kory and I wept together, feeling as though we had failed E.
I cried alone for E, because this was the third broken placement; for our daughter, who was scared and confused because of the experience and interaction; and selfishly, for me because I want our family to grow, and I wanted E to be a part of that.
I'm not sure that even now we've recovered from this because while we mourn the loss for ourselves, we also ache for E and the family lost to him. Kory asked me one night if I thought this is what it feels like to lose a child. We prepared and planned, just as anyone expecting a child. And now that child is no longer here to love and cradle and cherish.
I'm still not quite sure why I'm writing this. Maybe it's to explain why we haven't written in a while. Maybe it's to ask for your forgiveness if you've been one that has asked and I've shrugged, and perhaps rudely, changed the subject or walked away. Maybe it's to explain why, if you've reached out, I haven't reached back, afraid to expose this part of our story and open up fresh wounds. I know it's to remind myself to pray for E. Maybe it's to ask if you'd pray for E, too.
I told Kory I didn't know how to end this. He told me to be honest and to tell the truth. Adoption isn't always roses and confetti and big parties of celebration. We've known that side. I give that side of adoption a kiss every night and tell her she's mommy's present from Jesus. That part of our story "rejoices with those who rejoice." But there is another side, too. The side that "weeps with those who weep"--with those who have lost a child, who left the hospital empty-handed, who once had a family of four, and now again, they are a family of three. We now know that pain, too.
But God is so good. He loves us through these situations and circumstances. E is now properly placed in a situation that will provide intensive therapy in a loving environment. And while we now know that we were not the best fit for E or E for us, there are so many children awaiting a family, perhaps even our family. And so we prayerfully begin the process again.