On Wednesday we celebrated Tyler’s “Gotcha Day.”
A year ago we had the opportunity to stand before a judge and commit to be his forever family. It was one on the most joyous days of our life as we celebrated the “birth” of our newest son. The sweet feelings were even more profoundly felt because of the struggle it took to get to that point.
Tyler moved in 11 months earlier. We didn’t fully comprehend the commitment we were making when we opened our home and hearts to this little six-year-old boy. We blindly stepped forward in faith, having no idea the roller coaster we were climbing on, as we learned to parent and love a little boy who was broken. It was a journey filled with feelings of fear, discouragement, and feelings of inadequacy as we struggled to parent behaviors we had never faced in the raising of our biological kids. The first year of Tyler’s life with us was filled with tantrums that lasted hours, things being broken as he raged, profanity and words of hate as he tried to push us away in fear that eventually we would push him away. It was a long year…a tiring year…a surreal year.
Our journey toward adoption was a “one step forward, two step back” sort of tango that left us feeling we were on an emotional treadmill that never made any progress. The days left us exhausted and feeling as though we were running in place.
There were days that the only thing that kept me from packing my bags and running away was the testimony that God had called us to be this little boy’s parents and the faith that this was serving a purpose in His bigger plan.
Adoption is about commitment.
It has been said that:
“Commitment means staying loyal to what you said you were going to do long after the mood you said it in has left you.”
Yesterday we spent the afternoon in the garden. As I pulled weeds and harvested squash I thought about how gardening can be likened to parenting.
It begins with a commitment. The seed is placed in the ground with the promise that you will care and nourish it until the season’s end. In those early years a lot of care is needed and protection is required. You are there to shield it from the harsh frost and dangers that threaten it. All too soon your plant breaks through the soil and you eagerly begin watching it grow. It becomes a labor of love. As it grows so do the weeds that surround it, threatening to choke it out and impede its growth. Parenting is a test of endurance. For every weed you pull, two more sprout up. It is a constant battle that requires daily commitment. It means daily putting on the work gloves, even when you don’t want to.
Often weeks will pass and despite your laborious effort it doesn’t seem as though any growth is happening at all. Your seedling is still only inches tall and the promise of fruit for your labors seems a billion years away. This is the test of commitment…
Will you still keep showing up and working hard when there is no progress being seen? Will you remain committed when the fun of digging in the cool spring soil is gone and all that is left is hard, sweaty work under the hot July sun?
This is the test.
It is hard to keep showing up when there is no sign of growth or improvement. It is easy to get discouraged when you are pulling those same weeds day after day and your plant is not growing.
BUT… the interesting thing about gardening is that so much of the growth that happens, happens out of sight. When you think there is little progress happening on the surface, roots are pushing deep into the soil. It is when we most feel as though our children are “stalled” in their progress that the real work is happening deep in their hearts.
Then one day you step outside to tend your plants and before you sits a lush jungle of tomatoes and squash. You don’t know quite when it changed. Overnight, it seems, the growth happened. You can’t pinpoint the breakthrough moment… you just realize the dry season has passed and the fruits of your labor are visible.
The value of commitment has been lost in our generation. We have become a disposable society. While our parents and grandparents lived by the philosophy of “Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without,” we live in a world that says “If it is broken, toss it out.” Rather than taking care of our things we disregard their value with the thought, “I can always buy a new one.” Rather than fixing what is broken we simply replace it.
This is not only true of our possessions, but of our relationships as well. We toss friendships away when they get hard. Spouses get replaced when they are no longer shiny and new.
It is hard to be committed when the good feelings aren’t there. It is tempting to “run” when it gets hard, but if we walk out halfway through the season we miss the miracle of the harvest.
One day you will wake up and see a jungle of growth and wonder when it happened.
The deep, meaningful sweetness of a relationship comes with time. You must remain committed through those hard times to enjoy the sweetness that comes later.
It was a labor of love with Tyler. It was two years of daily watering, pulling weeds and choosing to show up every day… but we are now in harvest season. Daily I am astounded at his growth and the fruits of our labors. God knew exactly what he was doing when he took that angry, broken, abused little boy and placed him in our lives.
I look at Tyler and my heart overflows.
Happy “Gotcha Day” Tyler!
We love you forever and a day.