This past year has been one where I think our entire family has had heavy hearts. It's been joyful at times but there has been a darkness too. Adoption is only possible due to GREAT LOSS and everyone is impacted by that.
But right now, the tide is turning for us. Caroline is processing what has happened, in a six year old way, and that gives her the opportunity to move forward. Our relationship has been deepening. She is starting to see herself in our family now too and sees the boys as her brothers. She's always said it in words but I don't think she felt it in her heart. There is a heaviness that is lifting from our house. We are getting our joy back! I don't even remember what our day-to-day routine was like before Caroline came. I really don't. But I know that it was more lighthearted and playful. Caroline is as sweet as she can be and she does not intentionally misbehave; that's not the problem. We have just all experienced such an unexpected upheaval that it takes awhile to recover. In some ways, maybe we were in shock. It's hard to describe why adoption is so hard.
That's not true.
It's hard to describe why it's so hard without making myself sound like a monster. A friend was telling me a story about her college roommate who had scoliosis. This girl was amazing, an athlete, valedictorian of their class, and so on. Every morning at 6 am this sweet girl would get up and take off the back brace she had to sleep in. This made an enormous racket as the pieces of Velcro running the length of her back were ripped apart. Who wants to be the jerk that's annoyed with the awesome girl over her BACK BRACE, of all things!??!? No one, but you still wake up to Velcro ripping everyday. That's sort of what our last year has been. Caroline is gracefully overcoming everything in her path and I am still struggling with hearing the velcro. I try to be careful with my words on this blog always keeping in my mind that my kids might read it one day. At the same time, I never want to sugarcoat the truth and make this all sound seamless, which is apparently how it can look sometimes. Painting that picture minimizes the beauty of the work that God is doing. Let me just say that anything at all that you see in me or in my relationship with Caroline that is beautiful is Christ in me. It is not me.
That is not to say I don't love her because I love her fiercely. I have fought for her, cried with her, caught her vomit in my hands, and fallen in love with her heart. I love her deeply. I have a new understanding that it is God that is giving me a mother's heart for her, as He has for each of my children. It's not innate in me. I've been humbled.
We love because he first loved us.
1 John 4:19
God knew what a shock all this would be and built in other mamas to go through this with, to encourage each other, and those friendships have been priceless. Hearing someone say, 'Me too,' and 'I understand' when you know they actually do is a precious gift. The pic below isn't even all of them. :)
Yes, the LORD has done amazing things for us! What joy!
I remember thinking when she came home that we would never celebrate this day, 'gotcha day' becuase it held so much sadness for her. Our adoption into God's kingdom also held tremendous sadness so I should not be surprised at this. However, God gives new perspectives. One year later, she was all giggles and smiles when I explained what it was and how we would celebrate because we were so happy. She is excited to commemorate one year in our family. I'm in awe at God's goodness and healing.
While we were busy applying numerous band-aids to barely-there injuries and teaching the basics, He was about His work of serious restoration. There is much more to be done but I know what has been started will be completed. There is a hope now that we did not have at some points along the way. Walker's last day of pre-school was today and I thought back to the first few months of the year. There were so many days I drove him there with huge tears rolling down my face because I really wasn't sure how I would get through the remainder of the day. It was just all so HEAVY. In the midst of that, God was healing my daughter's heart, refining me, and making us family. Caroline is being given a new life as we finalize this and I want it to be abundantly clear that this is God's work and not ours. He does these things and has given us the blessing of the most loving child I've known despite our many failings.
This event is not just a formality for us. Here, and in the spiritual realm, it binds a covenant and that holds weight. This is a new beginning for all of us and there is no more appropriate time than on the 1 yr anniversary of her coming home. Elisa Morgan writes in 'The Beauty of Broken' that "Adoption is a promise acted out over a lifetime." I am scratching the surface of understanding the truth in that. While we said yes before we ever met her, we get the chance to formally say yes with our eyes wide open. We had time to live life together and to fall in love with the little girl we are making a promise to, and vice versa, and that makes this commitment even sweeter.
She also writes that "When we believe that God inhabits our lives in order to write in us an illustration of His love to us......then the telling of our story will give a little piece of Him away as well."
I write all this to make sense of it in my head but also to show what God has done. Tom and I get lots of pats on the back for 'doing such a great thing' and while I appreciate the sentiment (and pridefully bask in it at times!) it sort of makes me cringe inside because I know the truth. We aren't doing a great thing at all. God invited us on His great thing, empowered us to say yes, and we are just along for the ride and chosen to reap the blessings. He is accomplishing His great thing in spite of the roadblocks we put up.
My prayer is that when people hear Caroline's story is that:
1) God will be glorified.
2) Fear is taken out of older child adoption. She is a face to the unknown and there couldn't possibly be a more loveable ambassador.
Caroline is a special little girl that was chosen to live an extraordinary story and we were chosen to be her parents. When I take a step back from the day-to-day demands I can't really wrap my head around it. She is a blessing to each of the boys in a different way and they all love her. In many ways, she is the glue that connects them, because they can relate to each other through her in ways they can't without her.
It is exciting that she is officially a Goolsby!!! And I am thankful and humbled and so, so happy to get to be her mommy. God, please give me the grace and strength to do it well.
Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert. (Isaiah 43:19 ESV)