Adoption is HARD but BEAUTIFUL
My earliest memory of knowing I would one day adopt was when I was in middle school. I remember meeting a family that had adopted a little girl from China. I was so captivated by the beauty found in this family that didn't all look the same. I remember thinking, "one day I want to adopt a child that doesn't look like me." There is tremendous beauty in families that adopt children who DO look like them as well! One is certainly not more important than the other! But God stirred my heart towards one day having a multi-racial family (This topic will be for another blog post).
I don't remember talking a whole lot about adoption with Luke in our early years of marriage. I told him that I had a desire to adopt, a desire he didn't share at the time. But as years passed and Luke studied the Bible in seminary, he saw that God has a tremendous heart for orphans. James 1:27 says, "Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world." Luke's perspective shifted and he found himself drawn towards adoption.
So after having Jael & Jada we decided that adoption would be the route to grow our family further. That is, until we were blessed with a huge surprise! Mya! She was certainly not in our plan but boy oh boy has she been such a joy and blessing to our family!
Having 3 children was a lot but didn't change our longing to add to our family through adoption. In 2015, after watching the amazing (and difficult) journey our friends went through to adopt from Uganda, we chose the same path. Our logic was this: The Bolen's adoption took about 2 years from start to finish. If we start this process now, in 2 years Mya will be starting Kindergarten and all three girls will be in school. This would free me up to give special attention to our adopted child.
Our logic didn't match God's plan! We learned that there was a tremendous need for people to adopt boys from Uganda. After having 3 girls Luke was ready to add some testosterone to the mix so of course we wanted a boy! The more we prayed, read, and asked questions, the more we felt led to adopt 2 boys. I thought, "Ok....in 2 years I will have enough time to give special attention to our 2 adopted children!"
We started the process and it became clear that our process was going WAY faster than we expected. There were 2 little boys in an orphanage 9 months apart in age who were ready for adoption and with the country threatening to close international adoptions, the agency was working overtime to get adoptions through. So from the time we began the process of our adoption to when the boys were home with us was only 6 MONTHS! Half of that time was spent in Uganda!
Suddenly I found myself with 5 children ages 8, 6, 3, 2, and 1. All of them were home for the summer and only 2 would go to school in the Fall! And it was HARD. Jael and Jada were smitten with the boys but Mya saw them as competition. She became far more needy but so were the boys. They were adjusting to a whole new existence. Our 3 months in country certainly helped bond us but now they were in a completely different environment. They were experiencing new food, new smells, new people, and new temperatures! They needed the stability of mom and dad.
I can't count the amount of days I cried feeling like I simply couldn't give all of these children what they needed that first year. Was I hugging them all the same? Giving them all the amount of kisses they needed? Was I reading enough to them or playing enough games with them? Did they sense my frustration and feelings of being in way over my head? There were days I regretted our decision to adopt. Life would have been so much simpler if we hadn't gone down this path.
While I loved the boys, I didn't feel bonded in the same way as the girls and for that I felt tremendous guilt. How was I ever going to be the mom they needed me to be if I can't establish the same connection?
The realities of having 5 children and 2 that desperately needed to bond with me restricted my ability to do things I would normally do. I stopped going to the gym because putting them in childcare wasn't good for them. Some friendships suffered because my availability was limited and lets face it, hanging with me meant hanging with chaos. There were so many days I was simply drowning!
BUT THEN....Jai would take his first steps and call me mama for the first time. Trey would seek me for comfort and reassurance. Mya would spend time playing and giggling with her new brothers. The 5 kids would snuggle up on the couch to watch a movie. I would rock Trey back to sleep after a night terror and he would find refuge in my arms. Jai would laugh hysterically at any goofy attempt I made to make him smile. Day by day we were becoming a family.
Day by day God was reminding me, "My Grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in your weakness." (2 Corinthians 12:9) He reminded me that when I fall short, He is enough. It's precisely when I cannot give the boys or any of my kids what they fully need because of my humanness that his divine intervention fills in all the gaps. God's overwhelming love for my children is so much greater than I can even comprehend and in this I can find rest!
Furthermore, God is, "A Father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in His holy dwelling. God sets the lonely in families..." (Psalm 68:5) It was God's idea to put Trey and Jai in our family. He knew my shortcomings and failures and still chose me to be their mom! It was never a matter of having things all together or finding the perfect timing to adopt. It was about being obedient to the call on my heart and taking the next step forward. God handled the rest!
God tore down my pride and I had to ask for help! "Carry each other's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ." Galations 6:2. A sweet friend who the boys adore offered to spend an entire day each week with the boys to give me a much needed break. I began trusting that the bond we were establishing would be enough when Luke and I left them for date night. I had to release my savior mentality and let the community God put around me be the community for the boys as well!
Before you wonder where Luke was in all of this...he was right by my side! Carrying this burden with me, offering support, and loving on our 5 babies like the rock star dad he is. But he still had to work to provide for our family, which left the day to day to me. A role that I had always wanted and still feel privileged to do.
Not much about our adoption was easy. Our time in Uganda and away from our girls was long and difficult. Traveling to Uganda on a broken ankle was insane! Sickness came, corruption twisted, fear entangled, BUT GOD PREVAILED. And 3 years later, He is still working!
Trey and Jai are as much a part of our family as any of us. Life wouldn't be the same without them! Mya arguably likes the boys more than her sisters! LOL!
They are growing and thriving. There is no evidence of any kind of developmental delay. In fact, both boys are above average in all areas thus far. The boys and I have a unique bond unlike that of their sisters but equally as beautiful!
Life isn't perfect. There are plenty of difficult days. But as I reflect 3 years later, I can look at our crazy family of 7 and say, "The Lord has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes." (Psalm 118:23)
I'm just sayin...