Aaron and I are expecting.
I have to be candid and say, this isn’t how I imagined I would make this announcement. I imagined it would come with a collage photo of the two of us holding a chalkboard with a date on it, with hands forming a little heart shape in front of my bump, or holding a bouquet of pink or blue balloons.
What it is, instead, is a little different.
Because we're expecting, but I'm not pregnant. You might already know that Aaron and I have decided to foster-to-adopt. What this means for us is that we want to become foster parents and we are willing…we are hopeful…to adopt as a result of this process. Adoption has been something we’ve both been sure about since before we met one another and the avenue of fostering as a means to that end has become apparent to us in the last three years.
Today, we completed our first major milestone in the process of becoming licensed to foster and the only things of note to put in my collage so far are the things like the certificate we got from completing our first training class, and questions bigger than I can even frame, but which I wrestle with every day.
For example, I would like to sit here and write that I am all enthusiasm, that I am aglow with anticipation. Or, to be able to say that my heart is so broken for these children that I just don’t care what travail they may bring. I’d like to tell you that I am not afraid. But the truth is nowhere as simple or admirable as that.
The truth is that from one moment to the next, I alternate between wishing they were already here, to realizing with a swell of alarm how different - how interrupted - that same moment will be, when they come. With one breath I am consumed by a desire to love them and in the next moment, by my own selfishness, full of hesitance and resistance to the sacrifice I know waits for me, there at what will be a horrible intersection in their lives. I know I’m getting ready to take in children with any number of challenges. Not ones I’ve raised from birth in a safe, loving environment, for whom my voice is the sound of comfort, to whom I’ve taught honesty and kindness and well, for heaven’s sake, even table manners. No, these are ones who have probably been raised far…so far…from anything that I would call home and they are natives to that other life. Natives to struggle, fear, lack, anger, pain and grief. For them, that’s familiar. That’s home. They wouldn’t be coming to my house in the middle of the night, a black trash bag in hand if it weren’t. And I’m anything but a comfort. I’m a stranger. One whose standing between them and everything they’ve ever known. I have great compassion for the challenges they face, but I’m not so naive as to believe that they aren’t still challenging.
I wonder if I’m loving enough to remember that it’s probably much worse for them than it ever will be, for me. I wonder if I’ll resent them for robbing my house of it’s peaceful quiet, or if I’ll find an unknown well of joy in the way they crash through the stillness, full of youth and life. Will I be able to give up the time I so dearly cherish with my husband, or will I inadvertently make them feel like a minus instead of a plus in our lives?
I don’t think I’m going into this thinking that my job is to change these children, or even to rescue them, per se. I don’t imagine it’s going to be like a scene from The Blind Side, every day. But even without those expectations, am I anywhere near strong enough to perpetually be the one to try to pick up the pieces of a life that someone else shattered? To live a life of emotional triage for them?
But there are other thoughts, too.
I imagine taking them to the library. Maybe that’s nerdy, but when I was little, there was no where more magical than a library. The library was my Narnia. Where everyone else saw a wardrobe or a painting on a wall, I saw the most incredible secret world, one I think I could teach little ones how to find and see and love. I dream of reading books together in bed, or having adventure walks to the park. I think of building forts, of fireworks in the summer and snowball fights in the winter. I imagine getting to listen to them in their time of need, getting to be the one they trust in an untrustworthy world. I think about watching Aaron help with homework. He’s such a gifted teacher. I think about gardening together, someday when we have land, having chickens and goats. I think about baking with a little girl or cheering a boy on at his game.
I imagine taking pictures of every single one, precious to Jesus, precious to me. I think about being the one to stand at their crossroads, and lay my life down, even if for a day and I know that it’s worth it and I know that it’s good. And I know that true religion is to take care of the widow and the orphan. And maybe they aren’t orphans, totally. But in a way they are.
The truth is, I think this would've been easier if I'd just gone ahead and had kids when I was younger, before I had all this time to think.
So, while most of my friends spent 9 months planning and dreaming by choosing names and picking out colors for a room, I am filling my own waiting period with lots of forms and home inspections. I won’t be picking names, I’ll be trying to read up on things like Reactive Attachment Disorder and trying to prepare myself for the fact that we will say goodbye to more of these kids than we won’t. Other moms-to-be are shopping for cribs and strollers but I bought fire extinguishers and lice shampoo. Instead of classes on how to breathe, I’m taking classes on what to do if the child in my home has been abused. Come to think of it, maybe I should consider those classes on how to breathe, anyway.
But, I’m trying. Trying to wrestle with these questions and trying to stare fearlessly into the face of my own flaws now, while there is no little face depending on me to have it together. I know I’m not growing a child inside of me, but I wonder if this is how other mothers feel, when they’re expecting.
I’ve decided, after much writing but very little publishing on a personal theme, to try to open up our lives through this blog. This is somewhat difficult for me. I find it easy to write about everything except what matters. And for those things, I generally finds the words are too swollen with feeling to ever fit past my chest. But I’m going to try.
So, this is our announcement; we’re expecting. I’m not sure what exactly, but something, for sure.