Back in my college days, I took a class called “Counseling Children” as a part of the programming for my Psychology minor. To this day, it is one of my favorite classes I have ever taken. Near the end of the course, we spent an entire class period watching the Disney Pixar movie, “Inside Out.” If you’re not familiar with the film, “Inside Out” details the story of 11 year old, Riley, and the emotions that live inside her head. As big life changes throw Riley for a loop, her emotions (Joy, Sadness, Anger, Fear, and Disgust) are faced with new problems that challenge the way they’ve functioned in Riley’s mind up to that point. Ultimately, the movie is a GREAT way to explain complex emotions to kids as, in the end, the emotions (specifically Joy and Sadness) learn that they can, in fact, work together- resulting in a much more emotionally healthy Riley.
This movie, and the concept of complex emotions, has been at the forefront of my mind for many months now. So much so, that my attempts to write a single blog post about anything else have all failed. I had planned to simply recount our adoption story in chronological order so friends and family could hopefully learn more about the adoption process while also seeing God’s faithfulness in every moment that lead up to bringing Ebeny home. I still hope to detail the story, but I haven’t been able to “go back” in my mind to those days as I’ve been processing so much in the here and now. So while you wait for the official “story,” I hope this peek at our present still provides an opportunity for adoption education and the proclamation of God’s faithfulness.
If I were to summarize the adoption process and the reality of adoption in two words, I would currently choose the words “complex emotions.” There’s a “bothness” to adoption that I cognitively knew about as we were preparing for the process, but I had no idea the gravity it would have as we lived out the reality of adopting a child. Adoption is both heartbreaking and beautiful. It is traumatic and redemptive. To ignore either end of the “bothness” would be doing a great disservice to adoption and ultimately, to our daughter.
I’ve spent the last 3 months completely honored and in awe that I get to be Ebeny’s mom. Rocking her while she sleeps, watching her learn as she plays, and being on the receiving end of her amazing smiles is absolutely euphoric. At the same time, I’ve spent the last 3 months hyper aware of the fact that I am only able to experience the joy of being Ebeny’s mom because of a relationship severed upon the signing of adoption placement paperwork. Even though we keep up regularly with Ebeny’s birth mom through photos, texts, phone calls, etc., we recognize the hurt and heartbreak that came with the sacrifice when she made an adoption plan for her daughter. It was never God’s design or intention that biological families be broken apart. It is heartbreaking when biological ties are severed. And we ought to grieve that.
While the reality of adoption is heartbreaking, it is also beautiful. As we mourn the breaking of one family, we also see God’s redemptive nature on display as another family is built through adoption. The broken pieces were not discarded, but rather built into a new creation. Ebeny’s birth mom is a part of our family. We have become a part of her family. Our prayer is that, over the years, this mosaic family of ours will point Ebeny to Jesus as she sees how loved she is by her bio and adoptive family alike.
Adoption is beautiful. It is the means by which I am greeted by a sweet, smiling, beautiful baby girl each morning. Adoption is heartbreaking. It is the means by which Ebeny’s birth mom has experienced great sorrow as she misses the day-in, day-out presence of her daughter. Adoption is traumatic. It is the reality that our daughter has experienced an incredible loss she cannot even comprehend yet. Adoption is redemptive. It is the reality that our daughter has gained a patchwork of people who all love her and call her family, whether they share DNA or not.
It is in this “bothness” that I’ve been sitting for months. Saddened and overjoyed. Neither emotion negating the reality of the other. And while it’s tough to sit in the center of such big emotions, it is necessary to love my daughter as she deserves.
Ebeny deserves to have parents that are in tune with the trauma and sadness that will exist in her life because of the process of adoption. We are committed to being that for her.
Ebeny deserves to have parents that are completely enthralled by her and overjoyed that she is their daughter because of the process of adoption. We are committed to being that for her.
Complex? Yes. Emotional? Yes.
Worth it? Without a doubt.