A friend of mine used those words to explain this part of adoption and I love the picture. Even now, in the waiting moments (curse you, waiting!) this adoption thing is dreadfully complicated, pitting so many of my emotions against each other that I am a mess. I want to be completely honest about this process because I think it is useful to the conversation.
Let me introduce her to you: Her name means Sunshine (so that is what I'll call her here). She lives in Lesotho, Africa. She will be four this summer.
I haven't yet seen a picture, but I can imagine her: dark skin, dark eyes, chubby cheeks, big smile. I'm already in love. A part of my heart is no longer in Michigan, but over 8,000 miles away.
There are some very real and unexpected emotions going through us right now. You should know.
First, Grief. I am so sad--for Sunshine and her birth mama. Abandonment is a universal truth in adoption. On paper, you know it's true. But seeing hand written words describing those circumstances, imagining how it hurt, it punches you in the gut and wants to rip your heart out. We grieve for Sunshine and her mama.
Anger. I am angry. I am angry at sin and a broken world and realities that make adoption necessary. I am angry at injustice and the fact that there are babies and toddlers and kids and teenagers who have grown up without a family. It is horribly ugly and unfair. It is the result of sin in the world and I lament.
Fear. There are two layers of this going on: One, hair. In American black culture, hair is a big deal. I can't even deal with my own girls' hair. Yeah, I know I shouldn't stress about this, but I do.
Second, I am scared to parent this little girl, to try to help her heal her hurts. Are we strong enough for the grieving of a young child? Because no matter how great an orphanage she comes from and how wonderful a family she enters into, there will be tremendous grief. I don't know if I am enough. I know I'm not enough. That's what Jesus is--but here on earth, I am his representative.
Excitement. Oh yeah. We are excited! We can't wait to meet her. We're talking about what dolls to buy and how to decorate rooms and what size clothes she'll wear. We're wondering what her personality will be like and how she'll fit into our family. We're thinking about traveling and meeting her and how to introduce her to this crazy crew. We are blessed, we are excited. If you ask, I'll probably talk your ear off.
Peace. This one is the weirdest to me and hard to explain. But Sunshine is being cared for at a fantastic orphanage. With people who truly love her. I go to bed at night in peace because I know she is being loved, fed, cared for. She has a strong attachment to her caregivers and they to her. While one would think this would make me anxious and jealous, I'm not. I feel incredible, soul-centering peace. In all my prayers for my child before I knew who she was, I prayed she was safe and loved, even if she was hungry. God answered that prayer in abundance putting her in the care of life-long friends. Just thinking about His goodness in this makes my eyes well up with tears.
Tired. I'm tired. These emotions are exhausting. Eric and I stay up late at night talking about Sunshine, our kids and us and what we know and how we feel. I fall asleep at night praying for her, dreaming about her, imagining her life now and what it will be. We still have a long journey ahead of us, lots of things to figure out and do, but the rest of life marches on with school and work and home.
It is interesting going through this dance, both the here and there, the now and the not yet.
So, there you have it. I told you it was complicated.
But it's a beautiful dance.