Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Adoption Moments That Break Your Heart...

I’ve struggled all day with whether or not to post this… I so want to be careful to protect Abby’s privacy, and yet, I feel like life was meant to be shared, that we have so much to learn from each other. The Bible says that “iron sharpens iron.” So, I believe in transparency, in sharing my own struggles (within reason of course), in hopes that maybe someone else might be challenged to rethink some of their own attitudes.

Older child adoption is a challenging journey, but also the most amazing blessing. God has given me a love for writing and my desire is that as I share this journey, someone might be encouraged to take a leap of faith and adopt an older child…or that God, might see fit to encourage another who is walking a similar path.

In any case…for the time being, I will continue to share the ups and downs of this journey, prayerfully considering each story that I share so that I don’t cross a line that Abby, or any of my family, would feel was too far… I do ask all of my older children for their permission before I post and I always ask myself, will I be comfortable with Abby reading this someday and knowing that I posted it publicly…

So, having said that, I will tell you about one of the moments that broke my heart…

I knew they would come, I just didn’t expect it to happen so soon. I thought for sure with the language barrier that we would be several more months away from confronting some of the harder issues of adoption… But that was not to be… It caught me by surprise last night and it broke my heart.

You see, Abby found my stash of photos of the kids from when they were younger. She pulled out old photos from our Disney trip, of early Christmases, even of me with my grandfather Pop. For some reason I was surprised in her interest in times that she wasn’t a part of, but then perhaps this is part of the attachment process…of beginning to love us enough that she wants to know more about us!

Hmmm…now there’s a thought…I guess that’s a lot like it is in our attachment process with our Heavenly Father…the more we know Him, the more we want to know Him.

Well anyway, I left the office and went to cook dinner…but apparently Abby continued to go through the pictures.

At bedtime, I was sitting talking to Abby and all of a sudden Abby made the motion of holding a baby and said, “Mackenzie your baby.” I was confused, and then she said, “Pictures mommy.” And I realized, she had found pictures of me with Mackenzie when she was a baby.

My heart lurched…I will never be able to show her photos like that…I will never be able to show her what she looked like as a baby…to assure her, with more than just words, that she was loved and treasured.

But then she said, “Mommy kiss Nick when he a baby.” “Abby, if I had had you when you were a baby, I would have kissed you too. But God has made you my baby, so now you are my baby too.” “But Abby not a baby.”

There are just some holes in our heart that no human being can fix…I trust that my Abba Father will be who He promises to be…the One who binds up the brokenhearted.

Later, Scott was telling me that as Abby looked at the photos, she found several years of Mackenzie’s photos from her birthdays. As she looked at each year she would say, “Mackenzie have another birthday.” Finally Scott said, “Abby, Mackenzie is 10, she has had 10 birthdays. You’re 6, you have had 6 birthdays.” To which Abby responded… “Abby only have 2 birthdays.” Only twice in her sweet life has anyone celebrated her birth…her precious entry into this world. How can that not break your heart?

When May 8th rolls around, Abby will know beyond a shadow of a doubt that her life is celebrated…that we are so thankful that she was born into this world…that God entrusted her to us! I can’t wait for her to have another birthday!

I know that there will be many other moments that will break my heart as she is able to reveal more and more of her life, as understanding awakens in her heart for all that she has missed. But, I also trust that God will bestow on her a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, a garment of praise instead of despair (Isaiah 61:3)… And I trust that He will equip us to walk through each one of these moments with grace and compassion. I am so overwhelmed that He has allowed us to walk this amazing journey with her…what a privilege.


Sydney said...

I totally understand what you mean and have had the same conversation with our 6 year old after looking thorugh our photos. One thing that helped our daughter recently happened while decorating our Christmas Tree. She found the 3 years of ornaments that we made that said "waiting for Sydney (2005, 2006, 2007)". She said these are mine and have my name on them! I explained to her what they meant and she asked if we were all sad and I said "Yes, and everyday, we wanted you to come home". I think it gave her a sense of peace that even though she was not here physically to share things with us...she was here in our hearts. It was also sad to hear her say "Santa did not come in China"
:( The older our children get, the more painful questions they will have. I am trying to prepare myself for the difficult ones ahead. Your doing a great job! I too have to pause and think before reacting.

momto4girls said...

Once again, I thank you for sharing. I realize that these questions will likely come sooner than I am ready and because of bloggy friends that are much better with words than I, maybe I can be a little prepared.
We have a "shower" tomorrow for Lilly, which I felt was a little weird as she is 6 and we have 3 older girls, therefore don't NEED anything. But, I realized I NEED the pictures and cards that the other girls received at their baby showers for Lilly's memory book.
One good thing, I wasn't a very organized mom the first 3 rounds, so none of the girls have a put together baby book. It will appear more "equal" because of my lack of organization. lol!

trina said...

Sharla, thanks for sharing these sweet moments with us. It will help others see how adoption can change the life of a child...and the life of the forever family,too. We love you, Abby. You are loved!! And wow...would love to be around for that big birthday party. :)

Patientlywaiting said...


That is tough as a parent to see the child you love and have loved before even meeting them hurting. Perhaps you are right though about this being a part that she needs to go through in order to fully bond to you as a family. I think she is starting to realize what this family thing is all about and with that she recognizes what she has missed out on.

What a celebration May 8th will be. She has been loved by God since the beginning and now she has a family who will show her God's love daily and especially on May 8th!


April Isaacs said...

Why do you always have to make me cry??

I am so sad for Abby. I can't imagine what that would feel like. I often look at Emme and feel sad for her. I wonder what her parents look like and if they think of her daily. And, then I think, if I think of this, what will she think one day. And, Emme is only 15 months but I have found myself not being able to comfort her. It's almost like she looks empty. I used to think with orphans that a family could just love all the hurt away. Now, I know that is just not true. I think we are all born with a void or a hole that only God can fill. Orphans holes are just much bigger. Thankfully we serve a HUGE God.

Leslie said...

Oh Sharla, I am sending you a hug. I can only imagine Abby's grief about this b/c I can tell you that Susannah DEFINITELY notices. In fact, she goes around the house looking at photos and then points to herself. (Note to Self: GET THOSE PHOTOS CHANGED OUT.) I know we can't replicate the moments that we weren't there for, but I do think I am going to put a lot of recent photos in frames. you may have already done that. I have a lot of photos of when the boys were younger setting around and on the walls. Things we don't think of until one our babies is affected! You know though Sharla that she will understand fully someday. THIS IS HER STORY and you have to instill that in her. That b/c of her story she is EXTRA-SPECIAL TO GOD! He chose her to have a birth family who would bring her into this world and then to have her forever family and though we all have questions about why she had to wait so long, that was God's plan. I think it is OK to tell her that it makes you sad too. Maybe you have. Susannah has just started asking me to rock her. And only a week ago did I "force" the issue and I still didn't force it. She is half as old as Abby so as you said months ago, there is more to unroll. GOD WILL HEAL HER HEART.

Sharla, just name and claim Psalm 139 to her daily and how special and loved she is to be chosen by God to have such a special story. I wander every day why Susannah has to face so many surgeries and pain (one in March and another this summer) and then I see how her story has brought so much glory to her Maker and I feel like a get just a glimpse of why.

HisTaiHens said...

Thank you for sharing. You did an awesome write up of a tender moment. This needs to be told, needs to be shared. I am encouraged to be prepared for these moments. And Sydney's comment has encouraged me to prepare for them NOW and not wait until they are here.
Off to go pick out ornaments!!! :)

laranou said...


Thank you for continuing to share to joys and the tears. As we wait to bring home our six year old daughter, I'm grieving for the years we've missed and each day that we are apart now. I know that God has a perfect plan, but I still miss my girl. We are trying to prepare for the rough times and difficult questions that lie ahead, but it has been so reassuring to walk this path along side you through cyber-space. Thanks for being a long-distance, mentor mom!

Amy said...

Thanks for sharing! You and your family are a great encouragement to me!

Anonymous said...

Oh Sharla: this was been quite a week for me; the first time that i glanced at the site and read this post. I cannot imagine how our Abby must feel..and so many of your circle that are experiencing the same thing. My heart it broken for these little ones. But should not my heart be MORE broken for those of us that never feel the acceptance of being adopted in the the FAMILY of God. We are so fortunate to be accepted into HIS family. I pray that sweet Abby will feel his hand upon her life today. I love you - CKK
keep the "SON" in your eyes

Denise said...

Oh Sharla, how come every post you write makes me cry? Maggie will often look at family pictures (before she was here) and say, "Where's Maggie?" And she is only 2. I tell her that she was in China or that she wasn't born yet, and she moves along to something else. But I know the questions will increase as she gets older. Thank you for sharing and for your beautiful perspective. I love your sweet heart~

Smile!!! said...

Thank you so much. I have been reading your blog for encouragement. We adopted a 12 year old girl in Sept. 2008 and with all of the ups and downs, I hardly have time to reflect. Your blog is helping me tremendously.

Norma said...

It will be okay. Grace came home at four and had the most difficult assimilation of our 3 adoptions, but nothing we couldn't handle......her sisters were both just over a year when they came home.She is 11 now and her past is behind her and we look forward without forgetting where and how we came together as a family. We had the waiting ornaments too and on her first Birthday with us..her 4th...we had 4 birthday she never did miss celebrating her birthdays with us! and was and is sad to watch her looking at her sisters baby photos.........but it is okay. We are so happy and so blessed she is ours and with us now and forever.