We don’t do New Years Resolutions. Instead at the beginning of every year Andrew and I have our own tradition: we “choose words.” These words are an embodiment of how we want to live the year ahead. We have chosen words like “simplify” or “adventure.” Each month we re-visit the words, and set little goals together to live a life, that month, that reflects those words.
At the beginning of 2009, we could not quite find a word for the sentiment of the year ahead. We knew that we were stepping out into adoption together, so we brought back a word that we have returned to since we met in Venezuela, “adventure.” But there was something more than just a journey that we wanted to articulate. We were very clear that the year ahead would hold uncomfortable places for us, places where we would have to step out on to the road less traveled; places that would challenge us emotionally; places that would require more than we have financially; places that would call for us to be deeper, more grounded, and more prepared. We couldn’t quite find the word, so we made our own compound mantra, “faith-risk.” The year is almost half over, and it has been an adventure, and we have journeyed out in faith, and we have embraced the risk, and we are finding ourselves more prepared, more grounded, and going deeper.
The journey we have been on thus far, as a couple, has been a quiet one. One that we at various times take a deep breath and try to share with our friends and family, but this adventure is an internal one in many ways and sharing it feels almost unfair to our community. We are finding that as we share the ups and the downs, others don’t know what to say. But we agree that the sharing is important, that somehow opening ourselves up to others in the midst of the adventure is what holds us in authentic community, and so we open up our lives a bit to share with you the adventure, the faith risk, the journey of adoption . . . so far . . .
The Commitment Before the Excitement
One of the reasons this journey seems so hard to share is because it seems to be such a different path than the one most of our friends and family have traveled. We decided together that we were being called to adoption before we wanted children. Doesn’t that sound crazy? It has felt a bit crazy, and it can be lengthy to explain. But it is the way it has all come together for us. We felt called to a commitment to adopt and to parent, and for us, the commitment felt heavy and eternal. The joy is that as we waded into all of the paperwork and research we are finding that God has been building in us the desire and excitement over time. At first when we began telling people that we were going to adopt, they would congratulate us, and we would feel as if we would then have to explain what a process was ahead of us and how we were not really that excited for the disappointments and detours that were ahead. Instead we have been saying “thank you,” and finding that as the disappointments and detours become our journey, we can embrace the sentiments, and are looking forward to where the road is leading.
The Disappointments and Detours
Andrew and I have found that at most turns in our path there has been a disappointment or a detour. Even though we began the journey with the expectation of challenge, we never expected there to be as many areas of concern as we have had the opportunity to encounter.
When we began down this particular path with our birthmother, Darla, in March, we found ourselves overwhelmed. Concerned about so much, we got honest with each other about how many things were not as we had hoped . . . while we ate lunch at a lake in southern Massachusetts.
In April, with hearts reconciled about the many circumstantial issues concerning the birthmother, the baby, and the baby’s health, we faced the truth about the day-to-day challenges that Darla was experiencing and together chose to accept those circumstances as part of our story . . . as we sat overlooking the ocean and the Beverly shore.
May challenged us with a tremendous detour as the adoption was put on hold, more than once, a birthmother lost and then found, stories of difficulty, despair, and determination. . . . We ate ice cream as we inhaled the fresh air overlooking a cove in Manchester-by-the-Sea. And we continued forward honestly considering how to have healthy boundaries and clear expectations.
The beauty of this journey has been the view from the detours. In those places we have gone deeper as a couple. We have sat opposite one another and owned our expectations and disappointments; we have expressed our own frustrations, and found ourselves at an odd vantage point – gratitude.
Throughout the journey we both find ourselves more grateful than ever before. We find the life that we have is a really beautiful life, full to the brim with good things, beautiful people, and a wonderful marriage. Every detour is a reminder that the adventure is a beautiful faith-risk.
The Waiting Before the Beginning
On June first, the journey shifted. Darla was reunited with the father of her child and the two of them are planning on raising the baby boy together. We are hopeful for Darla, we always have been. We long for her path to be an easier one, more peaceful, one where she too can pause to enjoy the beauty of the journey.
Andrew and I went back out for ice cream and we celebrated the possibilities.
My friend Gwyn, who once was an adoption worker, said to us in January, “The truth is there will be a baby, you just don’t know when . . .”
We don’t know when that journey will begin. But for now it is all a faith-risk, and we, Andrew and I, we are enjoying the adventure. We would love it if you would join us.