Friday, August 16, 2013

Silver Linings

I just posted a status to facebook. Josh didn't get into the school across the street and it was full of complaining and 'woe-is-me-I-have-to-drive-my-kid-to-school-this-year-blah-blah-blah'. After about 6 minutes of it sitting out there in cyberspace I was overcome with remorse. Who am I to complain about this? So, my kid didn't get into the public school across the street. So what? In the grand scheme of education in the world, he has access to schools. And not just schools, but good schools. I have to drive 4 minutes across town? Well, we have a car to get him there. He doesn't have to walk an hour by himself on a dangerous road to get there.

Shame on me. Shame on me for thinking that my frustration was even near worth complaining about. There are millions of children all over the world who don't have his opportunities, who have never been to school and may never go. Parents who would do anything to give their kid a shot at learning but they can't because of their finances or the way their country provides or doesn't provide education or because their children are girls and not boys.

Selfishly, I wanted exactly what I wanted. I wanted our hours of research to give us exactly what we planned for. I wanted him to have a 3 minute walk to school to make my life easier. I wanted out of the carpool line. I wanted the brand spanking new building with the huge gym and lovely art room for him. I, I, I.

Well, I took that status down. I am grateful this morning that our silver lining is quite bright. He got into a school down the street that is rated just as well (if not better), that has a very nice principal, that has smaller class sizes and, I'm sure, will be just great for us. And even if those things weren't true of it, it's still a school, still a place where my kid can go and be cared for and taught and given crazy opportunities. Above all, I am thankful that I was able to see my own selfish nearsightedness in the midst of the disappointment and that God is big enough to forgive me for it and even give me excitement for a school on which we didn't plan.

Silver linings do have a way of setting our priorities back on track, don't they?

Monday, August 12, 2013

The "Good Enough" Thing

A few weeks ago I woke up tense and nervous. There was the house to clean, the child to get out the door to "Wacky Wednesday" at soccer camp which involved lots of hair gel, face paint and, of course, giggling, the cookies to bake and the final checks to make sure the paperwork was in order. You see, it was home study day. Again. And though all the case workers I've had assure me that there is nothing to be nervous about in this process, the bottom line is that your whole life is on display. And the biggest question I'm usually stuck with in and through it all is "Am I good enough?"

Do we have good enough communication skills as a married couple?Am I a good enough parent?  A good enough Christian? Daughter? Wife? Am I good enough to be trusted by a birth parent to become her child's real parent? Are we a good enough family to be picked? Am I good enough?

They say in this process that you really get to know yourself.  People talk about how any old person can go and get pregnant- there are no tests to pass, no background checks involved. No one is looking up whether you've ever committed a felony or asking how your sex life is after 10 years of marriage. No one cares if you have date nights or if you have the emotional capacity to be unselfish enough at least some of the time to be a decent parent. No one cares if you have a theory of discipline in place or what your relationship is to your own parents. Or at least, if people are questioning those things, they are rarely questioning them to your face, right? But to be allowed by the state or the federal government or another country to become a legal parent to someone, you get asked all these questions and more. I generally consider myself to be reflective person- but sometimes, sometimes, it is just too much to always be looking, always be asking, always wondering what someone else will think of the answers to these questions. Because, unfortunately, the bottom line is that these answers do matter. We had to be approved by someone. We had to pass a home study.

So a few weeks ago when I woke up with my stomach clenched, it wasn't a foreign feeling. For almost two years, it has felt like our life is on display. Knowing that birth parents are looking at our book- and passing us over- does not help. You begin to ask questions about "why". Why did they choose someone else? Why didn't they think our family would be a good fit? Is it because we already have a biological child who is the spitting image of his dad? Is it because we don't have a pool (I'm not kidding!) or because we have a dog or they don't think we are good looking enough? Why not us?

And when you combine the questions of "Why not us" and "Am I good enough?" you begin to get into dangerous territory. It's easy to start to question every little thing, to try to change yourself in ways that might seem more attractive, might seem like what you think an agency or a birth parent might want. You are tempted, like in so many other areas of life, to heed the voices of man over the voice of God. To rethink the whole process, even, because if there is one thing I've learned, it's that you have really got to want this. Adoption isn't easy. It doesn't happen quickly. It's messy and complicated and completely exhausting. And it means that you are constantly being questioned, assessed and, yes, even found wanting.

The bright spot in all this "good enough" junk is the way it sends me running back to the cross. Running back to the reality that actually yes, I AM not good enough. That's the point. If any of all this, if any of life in general was about being good enough, well, then we're all all in trouble. None of us are good enough. There is no measure out there by which we can say we're passing- no parental yardstick or spouse ability scale or spiritual checklist that can even begin to really label us as good enough. The point is that we are not good enough but God loves us anyway and gives us what we need to parent well or be a loving spouse or kind neighbor. I need to return to that truth every morning in this process. And for someone like me who takes a lot of the weight of the world on my shoulders, who is skilled at carrying around guilt, expert at condemning myself for any little mistake, this truth needs to hold primary focus in my life. I can't be good enough. I can't. Only Jesus can. And that, my friends, takes the pressure off. If I'm not trying to live up to some impossible and vague standard, I can just rest in the fact that all God needs from me is to receive His love and live in it. And I won't be nearly as affected when we are, yet again, passed over for another family. I can learn to rejoice that that baby has found a loving home rather than see it as our loss in the situation.  

So, when I talk to my case worker tomorrow about a possible birth parent match, I need to go into that conversation with this reality permeating my soul. That God is good, that his timing is perfect, that if this doesn't work out it has nothing to do with anything I could've done, that the only thing I can do in this wait is continue to seek God, love my family and neighbors well and wait for the moment, in all its beauty and chaos, when we finally bring that child home.