Tuesday, December 15, 2009
Seesaw Sovereignty: Lessons from the Playground
When life returns to normal (whatever that is), I plan to do an ongoing post where I share a lesson found in a bit of my everyday life. It will be a "Lessons from the . . ." (fill in the blank) series. I wrote the first one a few weeks back called "Loved to Pieces: Lessons from the Toy Box."
Today I'm too tired to put anything meaningful together. I was away from home for two weeks and I wasn't able to Tivo my life and I'm trying desperately to catch up. But there are things heavy on my heart and thoughts in my head that I thought I'd share before they go into my mental compost pile.
I don't know about you but I grew up during a time where playgrounds were constructed of those massive metal creations of swings, monkey bars, the Wheel of Fortune looking spinning thing, and the metal slide so hot it could fry an egg in the summer. And these items were no doubt covered in lead paint done in primary colors. I remember picking the paint off making a game of how big a piece I could peel.
Like most kids, I loved the playground. My favorite was the swings. I remember the joy when I learned to pump my legs so I could swing without needing a push and mastered jumping off mid-swing and flying through the air. Oh to be 8 years old again.
But my most unfavorite playground attraction was the seesaw. Yes, it was fun while it lasted, but it required a trusted friend to be on the other end (and one who was similar in weight). But I always seemed to be riding with an attention-deficit buddy who would hop off the ride as soon as the school bell rang, or her mother called, or another friend made a better offer. And I would not be able to defy the laws of gravity and would plummet to the earth. I'll never forget the inevitable contact with the ground--starting from my tailbone crushing and ending with my jaw snapping shut. Good times.
I learned early in life to avoid the seesaw on the playground, but unfortunately I haven't learned how to avoid the seesaws of life. It started early . . . things like having a BFF and one of us being invited to a birthday party and the other left out. One of us getting a part in the play, or making cheerleading tryouts, or being asked to the prom, and the other not.
And as I've gotten older, the seesaw has gotten bigger. And with the seesaw being bigger, the one who falls feels greater hurt from the impact. From two single gals riding the seesaw together, then one gets married and the other keeps waiting for Mr. Right. Two married gals hoping to have a baby, one gets pregnant and the other battles infertility. Two pregnant friends sharing the joys of impending motherhood, one has a healthy baby and the other one miscarries. One having financial blessing and the other financial drought. One has good health and the other medical challenges. One marriage celebrates golden anniversaries, the other ends in death or divorce. One has a sick child who is healed, the other has a sick child who doesn't make it.
Sometimes the friend just hops off the seesaw leaving the other to nurse their wounds alone--so excited about their blessing that they become oblivious to the other's pain. But usually the friend will first make every effort to stay on the seesaw as long as possible, then gradually try to bring her friend to a place where she is firmly positioned on her feet before getting off. Still it is hard to be sitting alone on the seesaw, when minutes before you had someone to ride the highs and lows with you.
Okay, you may be scratching your heads wondering why at Christmastime I'd go on and on about outdated play equipment. But it is this very time of year that being alone on the seesaw hurts the most. And nothing has felt more like a ride on a silly seesaw than our adoption.
You see, we started out on this playground with 27 other families adopting from the same orphanage. Nine of these families are dear friends of ours from Georgia and many others from this group have become dear friends over the past 2 1/2 years. We did our homestudies and dossiers together. We traveled to Guatemala together and took pictures of each other meeting our children for the first time. We prayed together, leaned on each other, and cried together when we discovered our papers had not been handled correctly and we would have to start from scratch under a new law and process. And I guess I had always imagined that we would all bring our kids home together.
But, unfortunately, the seesaw of international adoption breaks every playground rule of fairness. While one country program might take 3 months, another might take 3years. One might cost a few thousand dollars and another might cost 30 thousand. And although one would think the process would be the same within a country, we've seen a group of families who, although had their documents redone for Guatemala about the same time, are having very different timelines.
Some families got their empathy studies (trip to bond with the child to officially start the adoption process)in March, others in June and July and October, others are still waiting. Some got in and out of family court in 3 days, others 3 months. Some got a court who went on Christmas break November 9 to December 9 making a Christmas homecoming almost impossible, others got a court with a December 11 to January 14 holiday break leaving that door open. One family was able to bring their child home last August, some families may never be able to bring their child home at all. I HATE THIS SEESAW!
The worst part is that we have children riding with us. Some of these children, who have been waiting their whole lives to be with a family, will finally celebrate Christmas in their new home. And some will continue to wait. Don't get me wrong. I have rejoiced over every child who has come home. Oh, how it gives hope for the rest of us!!!! Never have I been so thrilled to see someone hop off the seesaw after years of heartbreak and frustration. Those of us left on the teeter-totter from Hades are screaming, "Run as fast as you can!!!" Still . . . we ache to be next.
And today, we are waiting to find out if we will get Daniel's new birth certificate and passport. What happens today will determine if Brad and Daniel have a chance to make it home in time for Christmas. And if we get good news, it will be bittersweet because it means we will leave dear friends behind to ride the seesaw without us.
But they will not be alone. For the Master of the Playground says, "Never will I leave you, never will I forsake you." (Hebrews 13:5, NIV) And that is the key to seesaw safety.
Only ride with the One who can carry your weight when your burden is heavy. The One who will keep you safe through the highs and the lows. The One who will never, ever leave you. And you will enjoy the ride on the seesaw so much more if you can trust that He is always there even when it looks like there's no one in the other seat.
Thanks for you continued prayers. Please cover not only our adoption with prayer, but also the many others still in process.
Today is a big day of wondering if it's our turn to jump off the seesaw. We rest in God's way and His timing and know He is faithful no matter the outcome. I will update tonight to let you know how things turned out.
Ready for the Swings,