Friday, July 26, 2013

My No Return Policy

Um...  No thanks.  Never mind.  I've decided against this.

By the way, where can I drop her off?

If you think that hasn't gone through my mind before, you're crazier than I am. I've thought that more than a few times. With a couple of different kids.

In the beginning when adoption did not look and feel like I thought it would, despair met me at the door, moved in and took over. At least it did the first time around. I've said before that during Hannah's adoption I had no hope that she would ever get better. No guarantee that she wouldn't make me miserable for the rest of my life. After all, it seemed to be her full time job and she didn't mind working overtime.

I've been thinking this week about what kept me in the game, what prevented me from packing her bags, pinning a note to her and dropping her off on her caseworker's front door.

I've come up with a couple of things...

Number 1:  God had given me an assignment.

I was that kid in school who always had their homework done, was always prepared for the test and never turned in a project late. It's the way He made me and I'm certainly glad He did. In my mind, once I accepted the job there was no turning back.

Number 2:  I'm more stubborn than 37 mules.

Seriously. Ask my mom. I was not going to give up. I was not.

Number 3:  I hate regret with a passion.

I knew that if I were to turn her back in I would always wonder what had become of her or what kind of impact I could have made. I knew I would lay awake at night knowing I had not exhausted all avenues, I had not done every single thing I could do to make it work. I know me and that would have bothered me every day for life.

Number 4:  Deep down I knew it wasn't her fault.

That fact is easy to forget when the nine-year-old is cussing at you. You can't undo in three months what took nine years to build. You just can't. If she had been given a choice, she wouldn't have chosen the path her life took.  

Number 5:  Hard journeys make for the best destinations.

Some people climb mountains.  I adopt older kids. It's a hard and arduous journey to the top, but once you get there, all the pain and hurt fades away. Watching the sun rise on a mountain peak can't hold a candle to watching a child's hardened heart soften. It happens. It does.

If I could say one thing to those who are just starting the journey of adoption I would say this: Don't give up.  

When days are long. When she is screaming. When teachers call you crying. Don't give up. When she says she hates you. When she breaks things on purpose. When she's mean to Grandma. Don't give up. When family members can't stand her. When you can't either. When you wish you'd never gotten her. Don't give up.

Those days pass. It won't feel like it now, but they do. A day will come when the thought of life without her will bring tears to your eyes. She's yours. Completely. Your family couldn't function without her. Something would be missing and that would be devastating.

It took a few years, but Hannah became more than an adopted kid. She became a part of who I am. The biggest part of who I am. Add Ashley and Amy to the mix and I can't even see my own life anymore. It's a big bundle of them and I love that about us. I love that when they go ice skating, I wait at the door for their return. When we go out to eat with others they still want to sit by me.  

There was a day I wanted her gone. As far as I could get her. I remember those feelings, those incredibly strong emotions. They're gone now. Completely. I'm so glad I held on for dear life. I'm so glad God made me with such stick-with-it-ness. I'm glad my stubborn streak can be used for good instead of evil, because I would have never forgiven myself for giving up on her when so many others had. I'm so thankful to be the one who gets her hugs, receives her mother's day cards and will one day watch her marry and have babies of her own. I can't wait. It was worth every headache and every heartache. Times a thousand.

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