Monday, June 15, 2015

Dear Waiting and New Parents By Adoption: Guard Your Heart

When I was a little girl, we used to sing a song in Sunday school that went like this:

“Oh be careful little mouth what you say” followed by “Oh be careful little ears what you hear” and “Be careful little eyes what you see.”  Check out a modern day version by Casting Crowns called "Slow Fade."

The messages in both are clear:  be discerning and guard your heart.
Today, I want to talk to waiting and new parents by adoption.

Recently, a good friend of mine who is heavily invested in the adoption world (like me) has expressed her need to step back from the plethora of adoption-talk on social media and on websites.  She’s chosen to unfollow many of the adoption pages she engages with on Facebook.  She’s not writing as many articles or starting many new projects, because her work focuses on adoption. 

She’s taking a breather.  She’s smart.

There is so much information on adoption “out there.”  Information can be a great thing!  But the problem comes in that there is also so many opinions.  And because adoption isn’t just a choice, but also a matter of the heart, the opinions of others can weigh heavily on new and waiting parents by adoption, making their load heavier, not lighter.  Adoption becomes a burden, not a blessing.

If you’ve read my blog, books, and articles, you know I don’t think adoption is all Cotton-Candy-Rainbow-Roses-Butterflies (and any other magical things you can think of).  As I’ve said many times, I describe adoption as bittersweet, intricate, and complicated.   There are many issues with all forms of adoption, BIG issues, issues that need complete renovation.  Like, take-it-down-to-the-studs renovation. 

Those who don’t take adoption deeper to its under-the-water-iceberg levels (where 90% of the iceberg is) will run into problems as their adoptee grows up.  They won’t be prepared, empathetic, educated, honest.  They will be more likely to bury their heads further into the sand than to confront their child’s questions and feelings.    This is problematic.  It is not okay. 

However, there are many, many parents by adoption who know the realities and possibilities.  

They’ve read books, blogs, and articles.  They are listening.  They are learning.  They are mindful and purposeful.  Some of these parents are adoptees themselves, or siblings or spouses of adoptees.  They GET IT. 

But they are burning out quickly.   Because instead of being willingly led through murky waters, they are being dragged through them by their choices of what they see, hear, say, and go. 

And that has got to stop.

You cannot be a great parent when you are looking down.  You just can’t.  When you are burdened, you cannot possibly be your best, be the parent your child needs. 

Which brings me to the old song I sang as a child.   Parents (waiting or placed), be careful what you say, what you choose to listen to, and what you choose to read and believe.  Be discerning.  Be wisdom seeking.   Focus on “ [. . .] whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” (Philippians 4:8, ESV)

Remember, your job, once you become a parent, is to love, nurture, support, and encourage your child.  You need to accept your child in whole (including his or her beginnings) and without condition.
This is a big job. 

I implore you to carefully guard your hearts.  Say no to distractions.  Say yes to wisdom.  Say no to squeaky wheels.  Say yes to experience.  Say no to Satan's whispers and coaxing.  Say yes to possibilities. 

Relish in the realities of your child's adoption, in all its bittersweetness, complexities, and intricacies.  Say yes to today’s joys and challenges. 

Say yes to meeting your child’s needs, above all else.  

And deny, with all in you, and with God's strength, the daily temptations to live a distracted, misguided, burdened life.  


Dear Sugar,

If you find yourself already in a dark place, a place of burdens and anxiety, refer to these verses for encouragement:

Matthew 11:29-30:  Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

1 Peter 5:6-7:
Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you

I'm praying for you.  I'm cheering for you.   

(And for more encouragement on your journey, whether you have adopted already or are waiting, check out a year's worth of inspiration here).

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