2016 is almost here! In the midst of all the cooking, shopping and celebrating I like to do two things: plan for the future and reflect on the past. It seems as if I’ve spent most of this year in reflection. So far we’ve shared stories about a loved one passed on and her wonderful legacy Grandma Personified in Cambodia, a small peek into my childhood The Daughter’s Song, and the “why” when it comes to being brave in this new blogging world Finding Your Why.
Bringing us full circle to this week’s topic: adoption. Until recently only those closest to me knew I was adopted as a young child. Early memories of my parents were disturbing, and I’m staying politically correct here. My Dad would show up sporadically then disappear for long stretches of time, which either depressed or infuriated my Mom to no end! One of the saddest memories I have as a kid is of me at the babysitters daydreaming about my Dad, and suddenly a man with an afro wearing an Army camouflage coat turns the corner. I cried as I ran and hugged his legs, saying “Daddy,” but he was not my father. The sitter grabbed me and apologized to the stunned man as he hurried down the street, and I stood there shocked, confused, and just heartbroken.
Eventually my Mom married the man who would become my “new Dad” as they explained it. “Forget your old Dad” I was instructed along with promises of a fresh start. Siblings arrived between periods of happiness and dysfunction, and three years after the adoption ink dried new Dad left. This time I was neither naïve nor confused, but a pissed-off-with-a-capital-P teenager. Abandoned again, and I blamed everyone from myself, my parents to God. Bitterness and anger took deep root in my heart, and would snap to the surface like a whip whenever I allowed thoughts of the dear old Dads to surface.
Enter my husband! We’d been friends and classmates since our teen years, but even he knew very little about my childhood. I didn’t share, and bless his soul, he was too polite to dig. The traits of our early friendship: loyalty, commitment and kindness became the bedrock of our marriage, but even his love couldn’t erase the issues of those early years. Our children arrived, along with the chaos of parenthood, and the cracks in me were temporarily filled by the constant neediness of little people and our busy home. Now I’m the mother of adult children, who have their own feelings and childhood perspective. How ironic!
This spring I sat in church thinking about my children leaving the nest, and our Pastor started talking about the beauty of forgiveness. The point of the message was that forgiveness starts with the one offended, and not the person who creates the offense. At the end of the service we were asked to write the names of those we needed to forgive on a piece of black paper (no peeping eyes), and to place the folded paper at the foot of a cross at the altar. I wrote and prayed that God would heal my heart, and allow me to forgive those who hurt me in any way as a child. There’s really no way to describe the lifting in my spirit since that spring morning, and all the many, wonderful changes my family’s experienced since that heartfelt prayer ascended to the heavens. There’s true peace now as I continue to work on my relationships with my Dads, and great comfort knowing my heavenly Father not only loves me but unconditionally accepts me as I am: cracks and all.
God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure. Ephesians 1:5 NLT