Dear Nancy (in 2007)
I know you've just started to seriously consider adopting a child. I know that the thought of adopting has been on your mind not just years, but since you were a little girl and heard about the abandoned baby girls in China and saw videos of the Romanian orphanages. So I understand that adopting isn't a impulsive thought. And I know that even though you don't know how or where or if a child will come to you, or what he or she will look like, that you are excited... and unsure... and scared all at the same time.
But I am you... 5 years later... and 5 years into your adoption journey. And I want you to know some things that I think will help you along the way, some really important things.
1) I know that you are currently thinking that adoption is a great way to add to your family, and it is! But you should know that your adoption journey is going to be so much more than that. Adoption is gonna rock you're world like you've never imagined! You will not be the same woman ever again. It will be profound in your life. Bigger than you can fathom. Be brave and faithful, and you will be rewarded.
2) I don't want to scare you, but you need to know this. This journey will be the hardest thing you've ever done. You will cry. You're heart will break, and you will feel grief like you've never felt before, so much that there will be moments that you fall to your knees. There will be days your sadness envelops everything you do. During the worst times, you will withdraw from both your family and friends and feel completely and utterly alone. And indeed, there will be no person around you that can either understand the grief in your soul or console you. I promise you, it will get better. Please know, the trials of the process are part of what make the rewards so great.
3) In your times of pain and sorrow, you will never be alone. Not only will God be with you, but in times of grief, your relationship with God will grow and become something more amazing and powerful than you can imagine. There will be days when you pray without ceasing. And in these times, you will feel His hand comforting you. Trust Him. Feel Him. Lean into Him. Listen to His quiet whisper in your soul, but also be prepared when He speaks loud and clear.
4) Some of those closest to you will doubt your sanity, your judgement, and your worth. You will lose close friendships of people you thought you'd have your whole life. You will be questioned and judged. But you will also gain amazing friendships of people you don't even know yet! Some will have walked a mile in your shoes and will "get it." Other friends won't have a clue what you've been though, and that will be ok too because you'll learn that they love you completely and totally unconditionally. These friends will hold you in the hard times and will be the first to celebrate the blessings.
5) I know you're a mom already, but get ready to love someone you haven't met yet like you don't even think is possible! Oh I wish I could tell you just how much you are going to love this child! This love is just so so much more than you can imagine it will be. Once you meet this child, you will be so certain that this is the child you were destined to have all along. I know that right now you can only try to visualize the face of your child, and I know you try to imagine what it will be like to make this child, a child another woman grew inside her, your own. But get ready to shake with emotion when you first see your child enter the doorway. You'll remember every little detail of the moment you meet your child, and although you'll try, no words will come close to expressing how amazing it was to have that child placed in your arms. You will be awed daily. A tiny weak frail child will be the strongest person you have ever met. This child will teach you more about life than anyone ever has, without ever saying a word. Get ready to burst with pride and joy and so so much love.
6) You're never going to see the world the same way again. I know that you already see blessings and God's beauty, but trust me when I say that this world is even more beautiful and amazing than what you see right now. After this journey, a child's laughter will sound even sweeter. You're husband's hand in yours, no matter where you are at, will be the best place in the world to be. You will appreciate a nap and a tidy home even more than you do now. The sweet smell of rain will seem like God's little miracle just for you. A smile will creep up your face more easily. You will fear things that you've never thought of before. And you will run towards and embrace things that currently scare the pants off you... like the words "special needs." Your priorities and goals that you value now may be shelved and forgotten forever. But soon, you'll have a much better appreciation of what's really important and truly beautiful in this world.
7) You will doubt yourself. You will doubt your decisions, your worth, and your ability to do what you willingly and gladly chose to do. You'll lose sleep. You will have times when you are sure that God overestimated your capabilities, and you will plead with Him to lighten your burden. And because you not only chose, but actively sought out this adoption path, you will feel unworthy to complain or stress or regret... yet at times you'll feel quite unworthy and have stress and feel regret. Know it's ok to change your mind. It's alright to re-access and change directions. It's ok to quit and take up a different path. And in this process, you're confidence will grow strong.
8) Through your adoption journey, you will learn more about yourself that you thought possible. You'll learn that you are stronger than you thought. You'll learn that you can be pulled in a gazillion different directions and still get everything that needs to be done, done. You'll learn who really loves you. You'll learn to walk away from the things that don't really matter and concentrate your energy on the things that do. You'll learn lessons in patience, and you'll come to appreciate how amazingly proactive you can be. Some things that you think are important right now, won't even be a thought in 5 years. And things you never even considered, will completely occupy your thoughts and your actions.
9) Although you will learn so much and gain strategies and techniques to become a better parent, you will never get to a place where you feel like you pretty much know what you are doing and feel totally confident in your decisions and actions. You will not have all the answers all the time. And that's ok. On many occasions you will feel like you are going crazy and are completely out of control. Do the best that you can do at the time, because actually that's all you can do. Listen your gut. You're going to make mistakes, lots of them in fact, and try not to feel guilty about what you did wrong or what you could have done better. It's ok to wing it. It's alright to pretend. Go ahead and fake it till you figure out a better way.
10) 5 years later, in some ways, you're life will be just as you had imagined. And in someways it will be very different. 5 years later, you will still be on this adoption journey, and you will realize that it is a journey that lasts a lifetime. There is no destination, just the journey itself. It doesn't end the day you unite with a child. That day is just the beginning. 5 years later, you will be so very amazingly happy. You really will be! And it doesn't stop there! You'll be content. And confident. And so fulfilled. And the Lord will bless you more abundantly than you ever dared to ask for. And 5 years later, you'll be so very sure that the adoption journey was one that you were meant and called to do.
I understand that you really won't be able to appreciate these words now. I know that without the experiences behind them, they are just that... words. You can't really understand the depth of what I'm saying now. But you will in 5 years.
Nancy (in 2012)