Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Learning to love her

“In order for me to get what I want, someone else has to go through the hardest experience of their life.”

My wife said that to me tonight. We were on our way to the movie. With the new adoption situation, we figured we ought to get a date while we still can. So we took the boys to my parents’ house and went out to eat and to a movie.

While we were at the restaurant, Staci actually talked to the woman who very recently gave birth to the baby that will probably be our daughter.

See how weird that sounded? I promise I tried to find an easier way to say that so that it actually communicated the truth, but I just couldn’t.

People talk about adoption being hard. I suppose when they say that it’s “hard,” they’re talking about all of the crazy stuff that adoptive parents go through: the infertility, the “my kids don’t look like me,” the financial expense, the mountain of paperwork and formality and hoop-jumping, the various difficulties of bonding with a child that you didn’t give birth to, the numerous and weird conversations that are necessary. Etc.

All of it.

People sometimes say that it’s hard. But if you want to know that truth, it’s not really that hard. Losing a child to a tragic death is hard. Cancer (and cancer treatment) is hard. Being left by your spouse and then raising your kids by yourself is hard. Losing a limb. Living in the poorest, AIDS-stricken parts of Africa. Serving a prison sentence and knowing that, even after you get out, you’re still going to be an “ex-con” even though you feel like you’ve changed.

All that stuff sounds pretty hard.

But adoption? It’s not really that hard. I mean, it’s all relative, really.

The odd thing is that, for us, it’s actually kind of normal. We’ve gotten pretty good at knowing what to expect and how to process it all and how to find a balance between hoping/planning for a baby and guarding your heart in case it all falls through. We’re actually okay at all that. It’s not like it’s a walk in the park, but it’s not too bad.

Everybody has their “normal,” and that’s ours.

So when we got word, a little over a month ago, that a birth-mother had chosen us and that she’d be having a baby by the end of October (meaning we’d be having a baby by the end of October), Staci and I just sort of looked at each other with teary eyes and said “here we go again.”

So it’s with great confusion and sobriety that I say to you (many of you who have followed our adoption stories) that this time – this “here we go again” to hopefully adopt a baby – feels hard.

I know, I know. I just took several paragraphs to tell you that it’s not hard. I’m aware of the flip-floppiness.

Why go to all that trouble to tell you one thing, only to tell you the opposite thing immediately after?

I guess it’s because every adoption is different. I really don’t want to go into too many details, out of respect for the birth-mothers with whom we’ve interacted and known, but I can say that, each time we do this (we’ve actually done it 5 times, even though two of the times didn’t “produce” another member of the King family), I’ve grown in my love and understanding for what it takes to “give up” your baby.

Did you see Juno? If you haven’t, you really should. It’s a great movie on lots of levels, but as a study/story of adoption, it’s an absolute masterpiece. I don’t even think that’s an overstatement.

Anyway, there’s this heart-wrenching scene in the movie where Juno, a teenage girl planning to place her still-in-the-womb baby for adoption, realizes something that isn’t very pleasant about the adopting family, and she pulls her car to the side of the road and weeps. All the emotion of what she’s about to do – and the unexpectedly flawed folks she’s about to do it with –just slams into her and she’s simply unable to handle it all. So she cries. And if you’re watching the movie, you probably cry too.

The perspective that the scene reveals is, in a word, eye-opening. There’s a whole pile of blog posts that could be mined from the 90 seconds or so that I’m referring to. But mainly, for me, it just raised questions. Questions that, as I first saw the scene (I had already adopted 2 children and almost-but-not-quite adopted 2 others), I sort of couldn’t believe I had never truly, honestly, thoroughly asked:

Who is this being who can carry a child in her womb and then give it to someone else?
After doing all the heavy lifting, why in the world is she going to hand over the pay-off?
Can we possibly understand her?
And how can we ever love her?

Pretty good questions.

And the reason why this adoption – normal as it is – feels so hard is that I still don’t have the answers to those questions.

In the absence of the answers, I suppose it comes to down to this:

Somewhere tonight, not that far from where I sit, there is a sweet, precious baby girl. She was born yesterday. She has spent the last several hours in the arms of her mother. Her mother. Right now, I’m not her daddy. Right now, Staci is not her mommy. But if things go as we hope and plan, she will be our daughter very soon. And if that happens, we will look back on this night – this night when I sat on my couch and wrote about stuff that was nobody’s business – and we will say, “even then, we were her mommy and her daddy, and she was our daughter.”

(See, even when adoption isn’t all that hard, it’s still weird.)

And, somewhere tonight, a sweet, precious woman is holding a baby that is absolutely her daughter, and she is trying to prepare to let go. Maybe she’s trying not to glance at that picture of that couple that has offered to be the parents of the baby that was, then, still in her womb. That couple that met her a few weeks ago and, with expectant eyes and awkward words, told her that they loved her and loved her baby, even though they had no real reason to. Maybe she’s trying not to glance at that picture because right now, if only for a little while, this is her time; time that she’ll never get back and that she’ll never forget and that she’ll never regret.

It’s their time; mommy, worn out from the labor of labor, and baby, overwhelmed by the world all bright and noisy and new. And maybe mommy’s looking into the expectant little eyes of her baby and, with awkward words, trying to say – more for herself than for the baby, really – that this thing she has to do is the best thing. This way is the best way to show love to the tiny, fragile gift that God has been growing in her womb and is now in her arms.

And that’s hard. That’s actually hard.

“In order for me to get what I want, someone else has to go through the hardest experience of their life.”

If anyone could identify with this, I suppose it would be God.

So here we are, with teary eyes, looking to Him and saying “here we go again.” As always, He’s coming along.


Robert Conn said...

I'm speechless. Having not experienced anything remotely similar to your situation I read this with jaw dangling. You guys are some the coolest and most real people I know. Thanks for sharing this. It helps us know how we can pray.

Lauri Hahn said...
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Lauri Hahn said...

One big happy family!

Thanks for the tears, Ross & Staci! We can always count on you for real laughs and real tears. You nailed it, Ross... how God showed us His definition of love through Jesus. Selfless. Sacrificing. Adoption. Relating and grafting sooooo many through the blood of One. 

Genesis 22:17 
I will surely bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore.

Galatians 3:29 
And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.

I'll be praying for your new little star. 

Ya'll's demonstration of love is so Christ-like.

court garrison said...

Oh Ross. I know the feelings and am praying for your sweet family. You've captured the hard and preciousness of it all is all familiar to these ears and this heart and I cried reading your words. Just praying...for all of you.

Laurie M said...

Thanks for providing a window for us to peek into as you and Staci walk this out with the Lord. We were not aware of this wonderful development but are surely praying now! Love to the Kings, from Houston

ari said...

Teary eyes here too. We're praying for you guys and love you lots.