So after my meltdown (yes meltdown as things aren't always rosy in the world of adoption), a friend K was there just in time [I knew K but I didn't really know her before this weekend except from meeting her at a Families with Children from China gathering, a hey there at Goodwill (trying to "breathe her air" as I knew she was amazing with her 8 adopted special needs children) and a few fundraising ideas via email in between (and some stalking through FB)]. So K happened (I say that lightly because I know it has God's fingerprint on it) to post a FB question about messaging her if you want to share adoption struggles for an "article" she was writing. I laughed to myself and said she is up to something. God gave me the chance to speak up then but I went on with my robotic day. Then K posted on FB that based on the overwhelming response she was going to create a FB page to support post adoption families. I said SIGN ME UP! She did and once I posted my intro and how I felt "broken" lately she immediately responded by asking WHEN could we get together the next day! (not if but when) She was taking the time out of 8 adopted children on a busy Sunday as a pastors wife to meet with me. Boy can God be loud sometimes! I went and although I thought I would cry the whole time (like I did all week), I was able to share and share. And guess what, she shared and hey, I wasn't by myself in this confusing world of adoption. Then she asked what I was doing this coming weekend. She told me there was this retreat for adoptive moms that she was going to and maybe there was still room for one more. I asked if it was christian based because if I know one thing about my pain it was that I needed God involved. We departed feeling better and while I wasn't ready to go home yet I wandered around a bit. K FB messaged me that there was a space. I told my husband about it and immediately he said GO! I signed up and got a big YAYYY from K. I was excited!
So when I signed up with the retreat I felt like ahhhhhh....then I woke up the next morning and said to myself (and probably to my husband too), "What the heck do I think I am doing running off for a few days when I have two kids and a house to take care of." At some point before the crying here and there and the robotic moves of the prior days I finally realized I wasn't running away from anything (this time) but I was RUNNING TO GOD, the ONLY ONE who could help me in my time of weariness, defeat, pain, uncertainty.... On Friday, I took a deep breathe and got in the car to start my journey and I don't just mean my journey to meet the girls to drive to the retreat. I was about to embark on a journey that was not just going to save my life, but my soul......my every being.
I can't define when it was during the retreat time or what particular story it happened during where my heart just - I don't know - found itself again, felt it's own beat and not the beat of everyone else or everything else around me. It found me, that me that had been missing for longer than I originally thought (probably since the arrival of our first son). In finding me I found something great - I found God again! Sure He was always there and I definitely knew that but now I was able to focus enough to see and feel him. I was able to remember that God gave me these GIFTS not burdens, not fears but these true gifts. I didn't push this on me, God gifted me it. Saying that these adoptions are gifts aren't just words anymore to be used as a cover up for all of the brokenness I had been feeling but I was truly able to feel the gifts that God gave me. The greatest was my husband and my two boys and all the love I have for ALL of them. It didn't mean that I needed to run back home at that moment from the retreat. For one I still can't define that moment and for two, I knew I needed to keep absorbing the "aura" of the whole weekend. Basically I needed a chance to relax and take it all in. (Note: After typing all of this I titled the post "retreat" and it occurred to me that the word retreat not just refers to a place and I didn't see it as withdrawing but as a place to take a much needed step back to gain the strength to move forward stronger).
I was able to recall (and say out loud - thanks to those who opened not only their hearts but their ears this past weekend) how He said yes to this child so soon after our first and how He provided when we had no idea how it was going to happen financially. For the first time since Gabriel's crying began when I first met him, I was able to remember when I cried uncontrollably the moment I opened the pictures from the first update on him, when I knew he was ours! I was able to recall when the three of us watched the video's for the first time and we asked Anthony if this boy was happy and he said no (there was no indication in the video that he wasn't happy). I recalled when we then asked Anthony if this little boy would be happy here as I waved my arm around the area and he said yes! Then we asked if he would play with him and he said yes and started to show the toys they would play with (which by the way are the toys Gabriel is playing with right now as I type away)! I GOT TO REMEMBER THIS!!! We accepted him as a referral to be our son. I got to remember how then we were still back and forth with the adopting due to not knowing how we could afford it. I remembered the pain I felt when I thought about having to say no and the pain thinking about saying yes! I remember how Eric and I got on our knees over our bed in prayer (I called it the old fashioned way like little children) asking God for peace in either decision, no matter what it was He wanted us to do. I got to remember how we both woke up the next morning and said let's go get our son!!!!! I remembered how money trickled in with small numbers and how those small numbers added up. And when they didn't, I got to remember how a friend showed up at our door step with a check that would cover the travel expenses!!! I GOT TO REMEMBER HOW GOD ORCHESTRATED THIS WHOLE THING!!! So YES, this was meant to be. I did not make it happen, I did not put this on my family. God wanted this boy in our home, God gave him to us as a gift! And what a gift he is. He laughs, he giggles. He is so smart!!!! He communicates through pointing and while we are telling him what these things he is pointing to are, he is taking it all in! He is amazing! Just as amazing as our first son!
I know that some people out there are scratching there heads and saying, what in the world happened this weekend and what in the world happened before that (as our adoption exteriors always reveal all is just "honky dory"). This weekend my life was saved; my body, mind and soul. Will it always feel this beautiful, heck no. But I was reminded this weekend that God is here. All of what we do are in his glory, are for him.
There was almost 100 women at the retreat this weekend. Only 1 of who I knew (and really only just a little bit THEN), yet I felt like I knew them all. I felt them all in my heart. I may not know them all by name but I know their hearts. I know that God brought every single one of them there for a reason by a different path and through his Grace we didn't leave as single's but as whole's - each of us was inside each other. Our spirits bonded as God intended them to. We left with that and we will carry it until we meet again, where God will design our paths in his Own way.
I am eternally grateful for K reaching her busy hand out to me. I am loving that I made new friends (more than just FB friends :) in the area. K, B & B, I hope we can continue to mold our friendships with God in the middle. Thank you for making room for an extra body in the crowded room. I am also grateful to M for making me laugh and cry in the same breathe - even though you are from NJ, you are soooo NY to me!!! Thank you "Joy for the Journey Retreats" and all the beautiful women who laughed and cried with us! I look forward to seeing you again next year!
I am so blessed to have a husband to shout GO right away, without a thought! I love him dearly. And most of all I thank God for getting me back on my feet, for allowing me to remember His blessings, for providing me with His grace and for His beautiful plan! Thank you Lord God!!!
God Bless you all and may you feel the powerful spirit of God with you through your ups and downs!!!
As always, please continue to pray for the orphans who need the love of a forever family AND please pray for those forever families that are struggling with the many challenges that adoption brings.