Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Before and After

My bloggy friend Lisa left such a profound comment on my last post that I just had to share it here: "I truly believe that adoption is 50% for the orphaned child and 50% for the family that is opening its arms wide. The Lord is asking both to trust and lean on Him with all their might."

That statement is so true. (Thank you, Lisa.)

The purpose of my last post was not to yank your rose-colored glasses off your face and stomp on them. (And forgive me if you're still standing among broken glass.) I was just feeling conviction about some things.

You see, I'm guilty of not sharing "out-takes." I have a lot of photos that don't make it on the blog, or in the scrapbooks, or on the Christmas card. It's not because I'm in denial that at certain angles I have a double chin or don't think my kiddos are adorable when their eyes are closed. I just prefer to share the photos where we are looking our best.

I've kind of done the same thing with my blog. I share mostly the good stuff--not in an effort to hide the hard times, but just wanting to make sure I record every bit of God's goodness in our lives. I also want to respect the privacy of my kids, especially Daniel. You wouldn't believe how many posts have been deleted before publishing. Writing them was cathartic for me and might have encouraged others, but if there's any chance that my child might feel betrayed by sharing something too personal, well, it just isn't worth the hurt it could cause.

The only problem with sharing only the good stuff is that you only get to see the "after" without the benefit of the "before." And when I share about the priceless things Daniel says and does, all you see is that we have adopted a very special little boy. (Which is so very true.) The part that's missing in this story is what God has done and is doing in Daniel's life and in our family.

To explain this, I'm going to have to give you another analogy. (Sorry, but this is how my crazy mind processes things.) I remember walking through a house once that friends had remodeled. It looked like something out of a magazine. I could only imagine it in its current state of perfection. They described what a dump it had been, but I was thinking "Yeah right." But then they showed me pictures of it before. The house was run down, the yard overgrown, windows broken, wiring exposed. I couldn't believe it was the same home. I had to see the "before" photos before I could appreciate all the time, money, and effort they had invested.

I wish I could share all of Daniel's "before pictures" so you could understand how God is transforming him. When we started his adoption we knew we were getting him "As Is." We knew there would be repairs and perhaps some cosmetic updating (he needed glasses and had never had his teeth cleaned), but he was just so precious that we refused to label him a "fixer-upper." All he needed was a fresh coat of love and he would be good as new. Right? We watch HGTV. How hard could it be?

But we got him home and found termites eating the foundation and mold slowly growing in the walls. His heart had been vandalized and our Daniel had words spray painted on him that wouldn't come off.

And we felt overwhelmed with the task ahead. And angry that the original "homeowners" had treated him so terribly. And we realized the box of tools we used for minor repairs on our other three children didn't contain the Power tools needed to restore Daniel.

So we contacted a Master Craftsman to do our renovation. And the estimate for the job was a lot. The invoice said "EVERYTHING." And we let Him know we couldn't afford it. And then He told us He already paid for it. We graciously accepted the help . . . and wept at the generosity of His gift.

And now I love to show the "after" photos and share the "after" stories of my sweet Daniel. But it only tells half of the story. So it makes me want to show the world the "before" that Daniel was so others can see the magnificence of God's handiwork. But then I realize these are Daniel's stories to share some day . . . not mine.

While I feel that at this time I need to respect the privacy of my family, I'm torn because I feel I'm not being fair to my readers. It's not fair to those considering adopting to not share about the challenges because they may not be prepared for the reality of parenting a child with a broken spirit.

It's also not fair for me to only share one side of things, because there are many wonderful adoptive parents who are struggling. I don't want them to read my blog and wonder what they are doing wrong or why it seems our child effortlessly transitioned into our family while theirs is having such a hard time. Had I been reading my own blog last January/February, I think I would have thought to myself, "If I have to hear another story about the precious things Daniel said on his birthday/Christmas/yesterday morning, I'm going to lose my lunch."

And I don't want people who haven't adopted to unfairly compare other's adoption stories to ours. We were fortunate that we got Daniel before the termites had eaten through the entire frame of the house, before the mold had reached toxic levels. We have not had to deal with attachment issues. He has never been violent or harmful toward any person or animal. (In spite of the abuse he has endured, he's one of the gentlest little boys I've ever met.) He has a strong conscience and an understanding of right and wrong. But sometimes children have been so hurt that God has to do a complete demolition of their will before He can rebuild. And these adoptive parents may have years of praying and waiting and loving unconditionally before they can see the beauty from ashes.

Yes, we have invested much time and prayer and love in our son, but the credit for his healing goes only to God. I don't know why some renovations take longer than others. But I do know there's a blueprint for each one of us.

We are far from finished. There's still a lot of sawing, hammering, and sanding going on with each member of our family. (Especially me.)

So as you read my blog from now on, I want you to know that for every "after" I share, there was also a "before." And if you are facing some "before" situations that look hopeless, I've got the name of a Master Craftsman that I highly recommend. He can restore even what has been condemned and His work is already paid in full.

Gratefully His,


The Tam Family said...

Oh Kathie, your words today evoked so many feelings and memories in me. When I think of Daniel I think of my Dad. His mother died when he was 18 months old and his dad was an alcoholic and abused his family. My dad did live with his aunt and uncle for some time(months) after his mother died but went back to his dad once his dad remarried. My grandfather continued to abuse his new wife, my dad, and the 7 other children they had together. My dad endured so much. As an adult and married to my mom he went back to his fathers house, scooped up his two youngest sisters and brought them home with him, telling my grandfather he better clean up his act or he wouldn't see those girls again. Believe it or not he did clean up his act, got help and he and my dad reconciled. My dad was one of the most gentle, sweetest, soft spoken, loving people I have ever met. He never raised his voice, always comforted us and made me feel like I was the most precious little girl in the world. His 'before' picture was a nightmare, but his 'after' was a Masterpiece. Thank you for bringing his story to my mind today. If he could overcome what he did then surely there is hope for each and every one of us. Daniel is lucky to have you for a mom.
Love wins,
Renee Tam

Christine said...

Awesome post Kathie. Love your analogy. Would you mind if I shared it on my blog sometime? Thnaks!

Michelle said...

Until you have walked the journey of parenting a hurt child I don’t think you can fully understand the magnitude of this. People who tell me my child also has a fit about x, y and z have no idea what a real fit is in our house. Today DH has a mark on his face from our RADish child age 5 because she was asked to wear shoes outside. A neighbor who has constantly said “I don’t see any behavior issues” was standing right there when this occurred now can believe us that we are not just spending money on therapy going to specialist after specialist on a whim. We have many wonderful family times, but always know that just under the surface is a fire storm that might erupt and so always must be ready to extinguish flames. I have to remind myself each day that this child is God’s child and with this I have to turn to Him to regain my grace and strength to carry on, to love, to minister, and to embrace all that comes in this 35 pound package.


Kristin Ferguson said...

I think you've done an amazing job giving us a good picture of Daniel's "before and after" snapshots without invading his privacy. It's obvious how much you love him and want to protect hiim so I think you tread that fine line very well on your blog! It gives me a true picture of the realities of "life after the paperwork is complete". It's not all rose-colored and classical music playing in the background. But even in the hard times we're learning more and more about how our Creator loves us and the child we've adopted.

Thanks for your honesty!

trustandobey said...

This was a great post, Kathie. We adoptive parents do feel like we walk that fine line sometimes. Do we report on the good , the bad , or the ugly? We don't want to paint a false picture but we don't want to scare anyone away from adoption either.And then there is our children's privacy to consider. I guess the point is that we adopt because God commands His children to care for the orphans and the widows of the world. We pray that everything will go smoothly but we live in a fallen world where things rarely goes smoothly.We press onward and forward because we are bond servants of the Lord Jesus Christ. And because we are, we are also His hands and feet to lost and hopeless children. And so we take the good, the bad, and the ugly for God's great glory.
Such a good , heartfelt post!

A family being transformed said...

I loved your first few sentences {that is as far as I have gotten so far}. I was talking to the Lord a few days ago--crying out for three of my children--and the Spirit said, "this is not just about their "redemption" but about your sanctification too." WOW!!!

Mammy said...

I just came over from A Place Called Simplicity and I know it was a "God thing." I am helping raise my 5 year old special needs grandchild and your blog so eloquently said what I have felt. Bringing Caden into our home was as much about us as it was about him. Would you mind if I linked your blog to mine today? I'd love to share your heart with my friends. Blessings to you as you minister to those He loves.

Not Just Another Jennifer said...

What an amazing analogy! So well-written. I just found you through Kludgy Mom's Blog Frog badge and I'm so glad I did!

Karen said...

I just checked in with your blog in again this evening because I realized I haven't seen a new post from you for awhile. Just letting you know I'm thinking of you and your family and hope all is going well. Looking forward to reading more from you soon.