When I moved to Lafayette, IN in 2010 I was in a very dark place. In the worst moments of your life you remember the people who were there for you. You remember the ones who intentionally stepped into your mess, into your chaos, into your dark storm. For me, I had created the mess with terrible, self-destructive decisions, which sometimes makes it even harder for others to walk alongside you. But Lydia was someone who walked into my mess and showed me the character of Christ. I will never forget her as one of the women whose kindness changed my life.
Lydia's (along with her husband's) heart of compassion and absence of apathy has created a stir within our community for positive change. I am so honored and thrilled that Lydia was willing to write for the Alexandra Amnesty blog. Lydia is a writer about her journey through fostering and adoption, raising awareness of need but also pointing readers to trusting the Lord as they witness and care for little ones who suffer. You can read more from Lydia at her blog, Because of His Goodness.
“Are you sure this is what you want? This will change your lives forever.”
The question startled us. Caught us off guard. But we answered without hesitation,
We were about to enter a courtroom. The appointment was a termination hearing. The Department of Child Services would be detailing to the judge why they believed it to be in the best interest of the children in our care to never return to their biological parents. Why it was best for these little girls to be legally orphaned and then adopted. Adopted by their foster family. Adopted by us.
My stomach was a jumble of nerves and excitement. This was all so new to us. We were 13 months into our very first foster case and traveling the road to adoption far faster than we ever dreamed we would. We truly had no idea what was awaiting us on the other side of those heavy wooden doors.
But we were confident. The case was clear. The best decision glaringly apparent.
We were thrilled to be presented that day as the future adoptive parents of the sweet daughters we had come to love. We were excited to close the case and put an end to the roller coaster of the foster care journey. We were delighted to begin the path to adoption. Family. Forever.
The man who had voiced the question stood in front of us. A gifted lawyer. A man who fought well for the children he represented. He faced us with a furrow between his brows.
“Are you sure this is what you want?”
I was honestly a little bit annoyed that he would even ask.
Didn’t he know that children were a blessing?
Didn’t he know that these girls would be far better off with us?
Wasn’t he deeply familiar with the case he was about to present?
Were we sure? Of course!
Sitting here, six years later, I can still remember so many exact details about that moment. Most notable is the self-righteous indignation that bubbled up inside me in response to his question.
I looked up into his eyes and tilted my chin upwards in a stubborn affirmation.
Oh, how I wish I would’ve known...
This case would end in adoption. My husband and I in counseling. And a "yes" to another placement immediately following. And that would just be the beginning.
We were so new. Although 13 months felt like a lifetime of experience, we were only drawing in on the end of our very first case. Our foster journey would continue. Our family would grow quickly. We would say ‘yes’ to placement after placement. We would say ‘no’ to countless others. We would say hello. Goodbye. Our hearts would break. Those precious little faces would haunt my thoughts and my dreams. The weeks, the months, the years would pile on and we would feel old. So old and tired.
We needed to embrace a new kind of parenting path. The hard seasons of childhood like potty-training, sleeping through the night, separation anxiety, and basic hygiene would last much longer than is typical and would often recur over and over. Some children would be hard to love. Like, really hard to love. I would feel emotions I never anticipated. I would want to give up or walk away. Love would have to be a proactive decision again and again. We would come to places along this path where extreme choices would need to be made. Crushing ultimatums. No winning solution in sight. ‘This isn’t how it is supposed to be!’ would become a constant refrain. Sometimes a cry of pain, sometimes the loss of a future dream, sometimes a call for justice.
We thought we were nearing the end of a traumatic journey with our children, but in reality, it was only just beginning. Adoption doesn’t ease the trauma. Adoption itself is a trauma. And the deeper shadows of the words like ‘family,’ ‘forever,’ and ‘mom’ would surface with a sorrow too deep to comprehend. The walls of our home would become a safe haven for anger and pain, sorrow and hopelessness, defiance and disclosures, shame and hostility. A silent, confidential space. Stories too costly to share. Ours to hold and heal.
We would come to know pain so intimately. We would be brought to our knees over and over again. Breathless with the sorrow surrounding our family. Some days we would wonder if we had done irreparable damage to our marriage and family. Some days it would all feel so normal that we would wonder if we were becoming completely jaded. Some days we would just hold tightly to the fragmented shards and beg God to restore and rebuild.
We wouldn’t get any better. In some ways, there are skills to develop in this crazy life. But in other ways, the reality is just that no two cases are the same. The financial pressures, social pressures, and relationship pressures would increase and multiply with every additional case. We would meet the parents. Of all our children. And my bitterness and anger would be challenged and shattered by every one of their own stories. No easy answers would appear. Each case uniquely devastating and hopeless.
There would come a day when I truly believed it would be best to quit. To make the phone call. To disrupt children from our home.
I would feel too exhausted to carry on.
Too hurt to feel more pain.
Too hopeless to try a moment longer.
I wish I would’ve known all of this.
I wish the weight would’ve been heavy on my shoulders.
I wish the weariness would’ve been present on my face.
I wish I could’ve met his gaze with an understanding of his own journey and awareness.
I would be a different person than I was that day.
I would know the awful weight of his question.
I would understand the brokenness he was seeking to communicate.
But I would also know – truly know and understand – even more than all of that.
I would know that not a single one of God’s promises to us would be broken. Through Christ, they would all be held true in our lives. (2 Corinthians 1:20)
I would know that we would walk through the water. Through the fire. And we would make it. God’s hand would uphold us. Even when we mourned deep losses and endured searing pain. Even then. (Isaiah 43:2)
I would know the terrifying reality of being utterly helpless. Completely alone. Crying out in isolation, with my voice the only one to be heard, for the safety of children to be preserved. I would understand in the deepest depths of my soul that His hand was holding. His host protecting. Even if that protection was outside my own physical reach. (Psalm 139:5, Psalm 34)
I would know that prayer would become a gift we would treasure far above physical parenting. We would know the ability to continue to advocate for those we love even when their care is beyond our reach. Their healing beyond our power. The Spirit Himself giving the words we don’t have. (Romans 8:26)
I would know the fellowship of God’s people. People who willingly entered our pain and sorrow. Walking alongside us in grief and trial. Comforting us, encouraging us, strengthening us. (2 Corinthians 1:3-4)
I would know the grief of sorrow that lasts through seasons of night. And I would know that joy does come in the morning. Every time. Over and over again. (Psalm 30:5)
I would know the depth of pain so deep that I would cry out like Job’s wife that it would be better to curse God, turn away from Him, die. And I would know that even in that depth, His hand would stay steady. Holding me. Lifting me. Giving me courage to continue to live for Him. (Romans 8:35)
I would know the faithful wounds of God. How He delivers the perfect amount of trouble, pain, and sorrow. I would know His healing touch. All carefully designed to turn my gaze more fully to Him. Illuminating His true character in ways I would never have known without it. (Job 5:18)
I would know that God can transform a person who wanted to hide. Living a life encased in fear. That I, myself, would discover that through all the crippling fears and exposures, I could look to Him. And He would give His radiance to me. He looks at me with the favor He shows His Son. He gives that to me. And I can turn and direct others to that same light. (Psalm 34:5)
I would know that God brought us all these children. All their parents. All the workers. Therapists. Teachers. Doctors. Strangers. And countless others. All of them were brought. And all of them heard. We don’t know the end of all the stories. But we know that God has expanded our circle. Opened wide our horizons to share His name. That faith in Him comes from hearing His Word. (Romans 10:17, 1 Chronicles 4:10)
I would know that our hope is truly outside this broken world. All will be made right. All sorrow washed away. All tears erased. (Revelation 21:4)
I would know that Jesus’ death would make it possible for us to love those who horrifically hurt our children, our family, and others we love. We would be set free to forgive. As we have been forgiven. (1 John 3:16)
I would know that Jesus lived so I could do the same. He walked this broken earth in perfect love. His steps are islands of peace in a world groaning to be made new. His righteous life covering the futility of my own. Given to me so that I can live, here, on this imprisoned earth in His freedom. (Romans 8)
I wish I had known.
I wish I could see him again.
I would let him know that the concern he felt for us was absolutely valid. That our answer remained the same, but deeper.
“Are you sure this is what you want?”
Yes. In Christ, because of Christ, through Christ. Absolutely.
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