I was never one to dream big dreams. Oh, I am a dreamer, but the storyboard for my dreams were all sweet and safe. They really were such good dreams about loving Jesus well by raising babies and loving my husband and making a home and filling bellies and always writing in between. I was never called brave. I was just normal, and I was really content and really happy right in the middle of that normal life.
But adoption took me places that I never dreamed of going.
Five years ago we walked off of an airplane dazed and naïve and stood in a country that was so far away and so different from the one that we called home. We left two beautiful blonde babies with grandparents and embarked on a journey that would change everything about our entire lives for our entire lives. And as dramatic as that sounds, it is entirely true. It would change us, our family, and the ripples would impact everyone who loved us. Looking back I really did not know that this would be the case. I didn’t know so much. I did not know that five years ago was the end of the life I once knew and the beginning of the life I now live.
I didn’t know how hard this journey would be or the toll that it would take. I thought I was getting off of that plane to meet my baby. And I was doing that, but I didn’t know that my baby was coming to me with so many special needs and diagnoses that five years ago I had never even heard of. I didn’t know that we would also meet our older son, and that we would soon disrupt the birth order of our family and jump headfirst into parenting an older child, with no prior experience or foundation with this child. I didn’t know that I was preparing to enter a few years of desert wandering as we wrestled through things I never knew existed until I was strangled in it - things like post adoption depression. I didn’t know the darkness and isolation that I would feel in the midst of the joy of building this family. I didn’t know trauma and heartache and sadness, or the way it can wrap around one’s heart and whisper all of my parenting failures every time my eyes opened in the morning. I didn’t know that love is not enough to fix all of those broken hurt places and cover all of those stories that I not only wish I could unhear, but even more so wish I could unwrite. I didn’t know that truly only Jesus is enough, and that I would grasp and claw after Him like never before. I didn’t know accusations would arise simply because we were giving this our all, and sometimes that looks so, so different from normal.
I also didn’t know just how strong our marriage was and how united we really were as a team. I didn’t know the intense love I would feel as I looked across a room and saw my husband tangled in the arms of a sobbing teenager, or cupping his chin while speaking truth against the lies he fights against, or the way my heart would feel out of control as he cleaned up vomit for the thousandth time, or fought on the phone with doctors and lawyers, and stood in front of person after person demanding this child be made his son, and that child receive the proper treatment, and all the while loving the other two just as he did when there were only two. I didn’t know how brave my blonde babies were or how enormous their hearts were until I saw them make room for their brothers and embrace them with everything inside their little bodies. Or how proud I would be when the tears and rages come, and they quietly move out of the way and pray for Jesus to heal the hurt, and rub backs with their little hands, and whisper wise words, and forgive and give grace and remind me of what it means to love. I didn’t know how much they would understand this journey and teach us along the way. I didn’t understand how courageous two boys were who folded themselves into our family and learned what it meant to be a son. I didn’t know how much I would enjoy a family spread out in ages, how much a teenager can love the baby of the family, and how fun our lives have become with littles and a big, and all of the good that comes with having both.
Five years ago, I embraced a thirteen month old baby, and collided with a ten year old boy, and everything changed. I could not have known what was to come, the depth of pain, the unspeakable joy, the stories we would share, the places we would go, the tears we would sob, the laughs that we would exchange, the millions of I love yous and I am sorry; please forgive me’s that would need to be said and resaid, the thousands of photos to prove to him that yes, we are family and no, we are not going anywhere without you, the memories that we have forged and fought for, the wounds HE would heal, the lessons we had to learn, the hard we had to endure, and the life we get to live.
I didn’t know that leaving behind normal would be this good.
Five years ago we flew across the ocean, landed in a strange world, met two little boys and everything changed.
Happy Meetcha Day Jameson Yonas Byron and Habtamu Theo Byron.
Now we know that you were exactly who we were waiting for.