July 18, 2016

a child of God.

I had alluded many months ago that I had a story to tell.  Only, apparently I wasn’t ready.  The story wasn’t finished.  And the story, while I am a character, isn’t mine to tell.  Or, rather, it isn’t a story that the internets should indulge in.

The past year has been beautifully hard, and much of that has been my journey.  So, I will share my journey with adoption, parenting, life this past year, while still seeking to keep my kids stories their own.

I would have never said it out loud and would have rebuked any one who said that adoption is the business of rescuing.  I flew into China, fully aware of my inadequacies.  Never once thinking that I was specially equipped for the task, I often wondered if I had “heard” God right in this call.  It was a passion burning in my heart for certain, but I was terrified.

Our time in China was surreal.  Half-way across the globe, in a world so different, but still so much like mine.  Seeing a culture that was beautiful and broken just like ours.  I fell in love with the country.  And while my heart was ripped into two while we were there, I already knew that this would not be the last time I took such a trip.

Meeting our son was absolutely mind-blowing.  The months of preparing and praying over the few photos that we had and suddenly here he is, in the flesh.  It was almost hard to believe.  In case you didn’t know, our first meeting with Owen was the same time we got custody of him.  There were no visits.  No getting used to us.  No “trying it out”.  We met him, took him home, and less than 24 hours later, he was a Griffis.  Beautiful and challenging all at the same time.

Some people say that it was instant love.  They fell hard for their kids, and attached immediately, despite even being rejected by them.  I often wished this was our story, but it simply wasn’t.  This isn’t a popular or easy thing to say.  In the beginning, I felt more like a babysitter than a mother.  And I grieved this.  It broke my heart.  I felt such a strong intuition and connection with my bio kids, I felt guilty when this wasn’t instantaneous with Owen.  But, of course it wasn’t.  We didn’t know each other.  Not to mention, he was nearing two-years-old and doing all of the age appropriate testing of the boundaries, when he had probably never even had boundaries in the first place.  I felt extreme guilt about my struggle to connect with him.  I felt like my motherhood intuition was broken.  I felt the weight of our lack of history and carried it on my shoulders.  I felt like, after all this time, I wasn’t enough.

Which goes back to the rescuing.  I knew I wasn’t rescuing Owen.  I couldn’t.  But I was living my life day-in-and-day-out trying to.  Trying in my own power to make up for our lost time.  Trying in my own power to fill the gaps and forge a connection between us.  Following the rules, trying in my own power to create an environment where he could heal.

And I burnt out.  I was in bondage, completely afraid that I was screwing up our kids, because it all felt like too much.

Owen was doing well, he was attaching and seemed happy.  But emotionally, I was depleted.

I ended up deciding to give myself some grace (should be obvious, right?)  And I started begging God to fill in the gaps.  And that is when I realized that he had been all along.  That God was rescuing me through all of this.  That one more layer of my self-sufficiency was peeled down and I saw once again my pure dependence on God to do this parenting thing any justice.  And I realized that God loves loves loves my kids even more than I could.  He had protected Owen’s heart from my inadequacy and our lack of history.  He was filling the gaps and at the same time, he was mending our relationship.

Determined to find my words, I started journaling, which once again proved to be the cheapest form of therapy. Day after day I prayed for God to fill the gaps with my kids.  And I tried to find joy in them.  Look them in the eye more.  Say yes more.  Say I’m sorry.  Surrender.  Forgive.  Again and again and again.

And days and months turned into one year in May 2016.  Somewhere around that time I was talking to another China-mama and told part of this story, and as I was speaking, I realized that it was no longer my reality.  It was part of my story, but Owen and I had now built our own history.  The weight of the lack has lifted, as I’ve given that to the Lord.  I now longer even think that I will ever be enough to fill in all the gaps for any of my kids.  And I’ve found freedom.  And even more incredible, a complete and utter adoration and joy in my youngest son.  I feel like his Mama.  He feels like he’s mine.  You have no idea how good it feels to say that.

A few weeks ago in church we were singing the line,

I’m no longer a slave to fear.  I am a child of God.

And I pondered this, finding these opposing ends interesting.  I would never have thought that the antidote to fear would be finding my identity as a child of God.  But the more I thought of this, the more it made sense.  A child, when fearful, will crawl into their parents lap.  Covered, shushed, and assured by their parent.  To crawl into God’s lap in such a way feels like abiding.  It’s knowing him, knowing his promises, allowing him to cover us and our insecurities and inequities, assured that he has conquered our fear.  And it dissipates.

That visualization makes so much sense to me now.  That an identity as a child of God is the most powerful I will ever have.  I’m still learning to rest in it.  But I’m so so thankful for the journey that has lead me here and the children he has given me.

I’m thankful for the journey.  I’m thankful for the hard.  And I’m thankful for this story, because continues to form me into who I am and drive me closer to the Lord.  God didn’t stop having a heart for the orphan, or any child, once they were home with parents.  He doesn’t love me any less.  In fact, he loves to lavish his love on me and surprise me with his goodness.  I would never have known this so deeply without a pit to be brought out of.  A year full of hard and beautiful.

November 9, 2015

It's time to tell this story.

This has been the hardest, most beautiful year of my life, and I'm about to let to go by with no more than five blog posts about it.  And that is okay.

There are some seasons that are simply beyond words.  The dust has needed to settle a bit before sense can be made out of it.  I want to be real, and not sugar coat the complicated emotions and heartache, but at the same time celebrate all the amazing ways I've seen incredible growth and love and redemption and healing.  So, if you ask me how things are going, I might say a quick "Good".  Because I'm a glass-half-full kinda girl.  But the real answer is, "Really good.  And really hard."

I think it is time to share this story.  The beautiful and the painful.  But this isn't just our story, it is Owen's too.  And that is a huge reason why I haven't found words to write yet.  I have needed to give some time for this story to play out, and figure out what is Owen's to keep and what is mine to share.  At the same time, I definitely feel compelled to share this story, all while honoring Owen's history.  And that is what I intend to do.

Over the next many weeks, I want to get this story written down before it leaves my memory.  It has been incredible and the most beautiful, convicting, refining, and humbling experience of my life.  And we're only six months in.

This Owen Kang is nothing short of amazing.  He simply blows me away.  Sometimes I look down at this boy, snuggled up against my chest, rubbing his blankie with one hand and the other with a thumb in his mouth, and I can't believe we've only known each other six months.  Six months and he trusts like this?  He was so ready for us.

This beautiful story of family and growth and hard and relationship and love, could only have been written by the One who loves each of us beyond measure.  I'm so excited to share it with you.



May 1, 2015

So, it's May.

So, it's May.

I haven't updated, not for lack of things to say, but it has been so hard to find the time to really flesh out all that has been going on into words.  Then I remember, for me, it is writing that is therapeutic and will help me process, so here we go.

We leave in 12 days.  TWELVE DAYS.  Twelve days until I will be in my littlest's country, only days away from squeezing his cheeks and making up for all the snuggles and kisses we've missed the previous 20 months.

My heart is in a state of constant tension right now.  So excited and eager to go get this boy and bring him home and begin the process of loving him to trust us and feel safe with us.  At the same time, right now I am already feeling grief over leaving my other two boys for 17 days.  I get choked up just thinking about it.

But here are some truths that I know.

1. God has us all.  All the time.  In our togetherness and in our separation.  God will be there, and he can communicate love and affection to my kids when they are not with me.  All three of them.

2. Jude and Isaac will be so loved and spoiled by my parents that I'm sure 17 days will feel like 17 seconds.  That, and I may have gone a little overboard on the daily gifts for them while we are gone.  Oh well, what can you do?  They will be in good hands.

3. Redemptive work often involves sacrifice.  In all honesty, I'm sure China is amazing, but I don't know that I would have just left my kids and sat on an airplane for 14 hours for the experience.  Actually, I do know.  I wouldn't do it.  This leaving 2 huge pieces of my heart is sacrifice.  It's part of the hard work.

4. But, then I'm reminded that in 17 days, there is a boy who will be mine and will be a part of a family for the first time in his life and what JOY that gives me.  I have only a tiny picture of what this next season of our life is going to look like, but I do know that it involves a lot of trust in God.

People ask me, are you ready?  Yes, and no.  Yes, because I CAN NOT WAIT for my family of 5 to be under one roof.  No, because how are you ever ready for something that is going to completely change your life?  I have no idea.  But I know God is about to perform a great work, bringing a family-less boy into our family, and he will qualify Jordan and I for the job.  So, yes, as unready as we are, we will be ready.

February 21, 2015

now we're sprinting...

Earlier this week I was Facebook-chatting with a fellow China-adoption-Mama who is also bringing home a sweet boy from China.  I asked her when she planned to travel, and she replied "May".  She then asked about us.  I replied "Planning for August, but praying for July."  I was shocked by her optimism as she said "Oh girl, you will travel before August.  I bet you travel in May with us."  I laughed it off.  July was stretching it in my mind, but May?

The next day, we were gathered around the dinner table (who am I kidding... Jordan and I were, I'm sure one of the kids was under the table and the other was probably standing on his head) when the phone started buzzing.  I try to keep a strict "no phone" policy around the dinner table, but when I happened to see Eugene, OR on the number, I knew what that meant.

"Your LOA has arrived!!"  said our caseworker.

My polite phone voice flew out the window as I sputtered "WHAT ON EARTH!?!  HOW DID THAT HAPPEN!?!?!"

She laughed and said that due to the Chinese New Year, our file must have gotten expedited to be completed before everyone took a vacation.

You guys.  We were planning on waiting 3 or 4 months for our LOA (letter of acceptance) to arrive.  It took one week.

Waiting for this document was a huge chunk of our 6 month wait out the window.  So when do we expect to travel now?

"I would expect May.  Possibly June, but no later."

You guys.  YOU GUYS.  I have been so overwhelmed, processing this had me up until midnight that night because I did not even know what the next steps were!  I had months to wait, why would I jump the gun and drive myself crazy?  Well, as it turns out, we don't even have time to think.  Our baby steps to pick up Owen have turned out into an all out sprint as we anticipate traveling to get him this Spring.  I don't even need to count months.  I could count weeks at this point and it wouldn't be crazy.

I texted many friends with my outrageous news and one replied "It doesn't surprise me in the least.  God moves mountains to bring his orphan children home."

Oh you of little faith.

How many times have I stepped onto this water and believed I was sinking only to be pulled up by the arm of Christ, telling me that he has prepared the way.  Wow.

I am still overwhelmed.  But as tempted as I am to fear in the midst of this very big change, I'm going to reject it.  I could spell out the many reasons I fear for myself, the transition for Jude and Isaac, just FLYING TO CHINA (cool, but ummm freaky)... but again.  The road has been paved.  God cares about my anxieties and my fears so much that he continually prompts me to just let them go at His feet.  He continually reminds me that he has written this story and he is trustworthy.

So onward we go.  In May.