We are HUGE fans of the movie Tangled.
But I have to be honest, the night we saw it in the theater, Rob and I both had a reaction to it. Not the giggly, happy one. No. It was a sadness, and I now know it was God preparing us for something important.
We are in the midst of celebrating four wonderful years with sweet Hannah. Last week we celebrated the day Hannah became formally, fully, no-looking-back, no worries, forever our family member. An extension of us, Hannah is here through the great providence of a God who knew this was where she belonged, and she was the child to grow our little family. Those first 6 months were not easy. They were rich with joy and blessedness, but they were not easy. Hannah struggled to accept an older sister who she perceived to threaten her. She rebuffed Emily’s advances for love and many times rejected her,leaving Emily confused and disappointed. In hindsight, I am able to see more clearly how this impacted our family and all of our relationships. The girls would need to grow into one another, and Rob and I would be left to navigate some pretty bumpy terrain to ensure we honored both of our children and validated the deep well of emotions stirring about our home.
Needless to say, our growing pains were just that, opportunities for growth…for ALL of us. God answered so many questions during that time and honored ME, the mommy, the imperfect, undeserving mommy of these two amazing children with a heart able to love to depths I did not know existed. Our ability to love unconditionally was paramount to successfully nurturing these precious little people into familial health that might not otherwise have been. Rob and I stood united, despite the years of waiting and preparing, our true journey began the day our family expanded. Even the hard days, when tears outnumbered smiles and impatience gave way to loads of imperfect responses, God showed up, assuring us that the answers to our questions would always be enveloped in His Word and His promises. He has always been near, guiding and marking our steps, that in our obedience, fruit would be seen in our family unit.
More times than not, I forget that Hannah was adopted into our family. Barring the occasional crooked glance or inappropriate grocery line question, we are a normal, loving family. I know each curve and crease of Hannah’s face just the same as I know her sister’s. I feel her pain deeper, stronger, more intensely than she would like me to. Her contagious, infectious laugh comes straight from her belly, welling up loudly; I would know her laugh anywhere. Her little thumbnails have ridges and her skin becomes ashy if we do not moisturize it. She is bold and courageous and sometimes, she is scared, abandoning the survival skills she has worked so hard to protect.
Tangled. Somewhere in the midst of knowing all these things about Hannah, there is a truth that cannot be changed. My children’s stories are different. Emily cringes at the real life answers that are shared with Hannah when she dares to ask the hard questions. Emily knows my knowledge of her differs from my knowledge of her sister. And so, when the movie came out on DVD, and two little people begged and pleaded to add it to their collection, I was torn. I liked the movie, but there was a reservation in my heart about exposing Hannah, yet again, to a storyline about a child being raised by anyone other than birthparents (Annie, Despicable Me, etc.). Yet, we have always trusted that Hannah is just part of our family, and we will handle the hard things as they come…I don’t want to plant seeds that accentuate the vast expanse of their differences. So, yes…Flinn and Rapunzel live with us now.
For our first viewing at home, we were munching snacks and dancing around the family room, when Hannah became very quiet, sat in my lap and hugged me as tight as her little body can muster. With just a glance, she whispered, “I don’t want to go back to China, ever.” At the tender age of 4, Hannah had connected the dots well enough to know Rapunzel went back to the parents who had birthed her. I knew God had instinctively given me a heart to prepare for this. Based on our initial feelings, we had prayed and readied for this. Though I thought it may come much later, I was rather shocked at her intuitiveness and quite honestly, it changes my prayer life regarding Hannah. Not all children deal the same, not all adoptions look the same, not a one of us will experience our situation in the same way. I share this here, in transparency and love, because there are truths in adoption that are real. But, joyfully God has prepared us for these moments. If we sustain our children in His truth, there is no subject matter too difficult for Him.
I am so thankful she does not view me as Mother Gothall. Quite the opposite, Hannah wants to know that this is forever. And so, I assure her, as long as there is breath in my body, she is my daughter. Even if the Lord would choose to take me home, she remains my daughter. I love her and cherish her in the way that God designed parents to love their children. Her daddy feels exactly the same way. We learned that unconditional spirit from the Master himself, and though we’d never profess perfection, we know His plan is perfect.
Our conversations may be tangled as we weave our way through difficult discussions, but they smooth out seamlessly when we commit our children to Him, remembering He trusted us. Ultimately, both of our children are HIS, loaned to us for such a short time. I pray that I serve BOTH of our children well in that all too short time.
Heather is a thirty-something wife and mom (okay forty-something) who loves that God has trusted her with two precious miracles (Emily, 9, bio and Hannah, 5, Jiangxi, China) and a wonderful husband to boot. They are a reminder that His plan is perfect and families are grown His way. A teacher, by trade, Heather loves working with children and especially has a passion for children who learn differently. When not working or tending to the affairs of her home, she has her head buried in a good book or is searching for inspiration to write. Heather blogs about her family and life on her personal blog and also at the collaborative blog effort at Titus 2 in Action.