This beautiful yet sad post caught my attention today….
“I recently went to a beautiful baby shower for a longtime friend of mine. It was her fourth baby, another boy. Everyone was happy and excited and jostled for time holding the baby.
She was overwhelmed with more gifts than she knew what to do with, and her husband had to bring the other car just to get them all home. Everything was perfect: the cake, the games, the smiles….
All but mine.
I tried to keep up the smile that I truly did feel in my heart for my great friend, but I was covered in a wet fog of grief for my own baby.
He was my first. He wasn’t perfect, his body had undergone trauma from a life now long gone….with other parents now long gone. He was tiny, still at 14 months old, and he fussed more than the ‘normal’ baby. He was PRECIOUS! He was beautiful. And he was now mine after parents were imprisoned for unspeakable acts.
He was mine.
No fanfare awaited him. No stuffed animals or diaper cakes. No funny baby food games. No elegant baby decorations. No jostling to hold him.
And as I stood at my friend’s baby shower, I felt overwhelmed with sadness that my friends and family did not do the same for him. It was as though they didn’t see the value in HIM.
His adoption was everything we had dreamed of for him, and I was sad that his reception was not welcomed as any other child’s.
He was a foster child. Temporary. But he was now mine. Permanent.
If I could give some advice to ‘normal’ families: WELCOME THEM HOME. Shower them with the stuffed animals and the diaper cakes. Play the silly baby food games.
See their value. Don’t make the adoption family responsible for doing the shower alone. It may look different, it may not be a baby at all. They may not need diapers and wipes and knitted baby booties.
Their needs are different, but they are no less important. Fill shelves with groceries. Give gas cards (you wouldn’t believe the amount of doctor appointments and therapies). Send restaurant gift cards.
They may come from the foster care system, and that is just fine, just remember them when their time of celebration comes around. Remember them. Welcome them. Let them feel ‘normal’ too. Party with them. Party FOR them.
Jostle to hold the baby.”
My Challenge to You:
When we adopted our 6 year old son Sandeep, our very first child, we were just starting our family, a time that should have been joyful…instead it felt like a covering of shame had overshadowed us because of the silence of joy all around us. There were no celebrations by my husband’s family in India and we came home to strangers’ faces in the airport, a taxi ride home and an empty house with no welcome, no food, and no warmth after traveling 21 hours with a traumatized child. My brother who was moving states to live with us the week after outright said he could not come earlier to welcome us. Even our church, HGC, and our Indian church, AICC, in NJ seemed to stand aloof and completely silent. Most in my immediate and extended family lovingly sent us gifts from afar but there was no one on the ground to welcome us home or to celebrate this momentous step of gaining a son as everyone lived in different states. My women’s Bible study group at HGC seemed to have forgotten us as we were on break for the summer.
Tears often filled my eyes wondering why God did not send people upfront to lovingly welcome us, to calm our parenting fears or to encourage our hearts after leading us so clearly to take this huge step of faith of adopting a little 6 year old? Why hadn’t He sent anyone to rejoice and celebrate with us? For after much loss, we finally had the joy of a son and he had the love and security of a forever family – so why were we so alone? Where was our tribe?
Probably because Sandeep was “older” at 6 years of age and was brought home against the cultural tide that people felt uncomfortable relating to us? Only one dear family in NJ opened their arms to us and invited us into their home for dinner a week after our arrival. They encouraged their children to befriend Sandeep and gave him a gift. The change and the adjustment was really hard for us and their active presence in our lives during those early hard days blessed our hearts.
Adoptive or foster parenting is an extremely hard journey that a family chooses to step into for the love of a child. Parents who have bravely stepped into the life of a hurting child often need far more support and encouragement than a couple having their first baby the “normal” bio way. My friends and family, I pray that your eyes would be opened to see how sad and hurtful it is to not celebrate and rejoice with those who foster or adopt. I don’t think our family and friends realized how isolated or lonely their lack of presence made us feel at the start – they just did what felt normal to them, but it hurt a lot.
So please, the next time someone in your family or friends’ circles fosters or adopts, throw them the biggest, most joyful shower or party that you possibly can to celebrate their new little one! And then, follow it up by committing in love (with no judgement) to be a part of their support system through the years. Far or near, there is much you can do – for some are called by God to adopt or foster but ALL are called by Him to understand, support, pray, care, encourage, mentor, advocate, or finance the care of these families. James 1:27 holds for all – no exceptions!