Recently, I had a candid chat with a friend of mine who is parenting former orphans. It was Mother’s Day, which is one of those slightly awkward holidays when you aren’t the only mommy your child has ever had. She has also faced infertility, making it an even harder day. She was overwhelmed by the loss and brokenness that accompanies adoption. Hurting for her children, but also herself, at the years of life she didn’t get to see.
The hard thing about loving someone so much it hurts is that, well, it hurts. When you think about their loss and pain, you just ache and wish you could take it on yourself.
Sometimes the brokenness is overwhelming.
Sometimes it’s maddening to think about all you’ve missed.
Sometimes you just want to tell your child, “YOU are remarkable. Your life has been harder than just about anyone I know and yet you have somehow come through it all with a tender heart.”
Sometimes you actually do tell your child that.
So, what do you do with all of the grief and loss and brokenness?
Gloss over it and pretend it didn’t happen? Sometimes that’s a good option, frankly. It’s sort of hard for kids to heal if they’re reminded all the time of their wounds. But, obviously, that’s slapping a bandaid on a big, big hurt.
Where I’ve noticed the greatest moments of redemption are in the firsts. Which are (ironically) usually the most painful reminders of all that’s been lost. I didn’t get to see my child’s first step. I don’t know how much be weighed at birth. Or when he got his first tooth or said his first word. I grieve all of that, but I cannot focus on it. That wouldn’t help anyone.
So we manufacture firsts. We choose to celebrate the firsts that might seem insignificant to others.
The first unsolicited hug.
The first time he had ice cream and winced at the cold with every bite.
The first time he pushed away a plate of food without pleading for more.
The first time he saw the ocean.
The first “I love you.”
The first time he went to a movie.
The first time he fell asleep without clinging to me for dear life.
The first time he celebrated his birthday.
We make a big, big deal out of these things.
We see the brokenness for what it is, which allows us to stand in awe of the wholeness that comes out of it.
This healing – it doesn’t come from a family, although that certainly helps. It doesn’t come from a book or counselor or therapy method.
It is God Himself who takes these little lives and makes them whole again. He redeems all the lost firsts and shows us that sometimes the manufactured firsts are even better, because they remind us of His goodness.
Lara is a Jesus-loving, book-reading, coffee-drinking, kid-chasing farmer’s wife of 5 years. She and her beloved farmer, Jon, have three kids: Cade, Ambrose, and Ellie. They brought their most recent addition home from Uganda in October 2011. Follow along on their journey at The Farmer’s Wife Tells All.