November is Awareness Month. Adoption is something that is near and dear to my heart and although our family hasn't adopted a child, we are always looking for ways to support and encourage families who do adopt! Over the next several weeks I have invited ladies from around the blogosphere to write about the profound impact adoption has had in their lives. You are going to be meeting some beautiful, beautiful women and reading some incredible stories! Without further ado, I'd like to introduce you to Jennifer from HeavenNotHarvard.com as she tells the story of adopting her daughter. Enjoy! ~AlinaJoy
Holding my daughter's tiny hand for the first time was so surreal. 24 hours earlier, I had been teaching high school English class, no idea that I was already a mother. An extremely early arrival and emergency c-section meant that we weren't notified of her birth until after she had already arrived.
Instead of the months of preparation most parents get, we barely had 6 weeks to prepare from the time we were matched with her birth mom. It was a whirlwind of announcements, phone calls, and shopping sprees. Those precious days were overwhelming and exciting.
Then we saw her in the NICU crib, and all of a sudden, we were parents.
But I was 38, not 18 with no idea of what motherhood was going to look like. I had babysat and raised stepchildren. I'd read books and knew what to expect, right? Because my journey to motherhood literally had taken more than a decade, I had placed huge expectations on myself.
I set my hopes on this child and didn't want to fail her, ever. From choosing the right formula to getting the bedtime routine just right, I didn't want to make a single parenting mistake. I made sure every product I purchased was carefully reviewed. I read every safety recall in magazines. I expected I was going to fail; I just didn't want to. I thought if I did enough research and planned meticulously, I could somehow eliminate error.
I literally didn't leave myself room to be human, or room for God to be God.
Psalm 39:7 KJV “And now, Lord, what wait I for? my hope is in thee.'
My hope was supposed to be in God, not who I thought being a mother would make me.
For those women who wait to mother under any circumstance, the hole in our hearts can become a gaping wound. We continue to feed that hole believing that motherhood will solve all our problems, that we will feel complete once we have a child.
As a Christian, motherhood isn't what is supposed to complete me. The more I made mistakes, the more parenthood wasn't perfect, the harder I was on myself. Then one day I saw my daughter completely disregarding me. I watched her trying to climb on her swing set in the yard. She kept falling down. I told her how to do it, tried to pick her up, and she fought me, saying, “I do it ‘self.”
God whispered into my heart that I look just as silly when I am trying to do things all by myself. I realized then that submitting my life to God meant even my parenting and my daughter really belonged to Him. Children don't enter any of our lives on accident, no matter how they get here.
God had a plan for my life that included my adoption as well as hers.
Ephesians 1:5 KJV “Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ himself, according to the good pleasure of his will,”
Trying to live up to my own unreasonable expectations was really my *fear*, fear of doing something wrong, ruining this one precious chance to parent.
Romans 8:15 KJV “For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.”
The best gift I can give my daughter is to stop being afraid, stop trying to be perfect and just point her to Jesus. Some days, as she is melting down because the peanut butter isn't her favorite kind (because they changed the label) and I'm struggling to handle her tantrum just right, I remember that I can only use the tools and knowledge I have for today. I must have the humility to know I'm going to make mistakes, and that God is powerful enough to use even my worst moments for His glory if I can give everything truly over to Him.
When you adopt, you can't know what to expect, and guess what, even if you have a decade to plan, you can't plan parenthood. Every second a new challenge arises with different dynamics and no time to craft the perfect response. All I can do is let God's grace wash over me and my precious child and embrace this imperfect life because that is what makes it so beautiful.
Jennifer DeFrates is a 17 year veteran high school teacher. She is currently a domestic engineer, aka mom, happily raising a beautiful adopted daughter. As a committed Christian, Jennifer writes for Heaven Not Harvard about parenting, faith, and marriage to encourage others and share the wisdom that God has put on her heart.