I remember climbing up in a tree one day as a little girl and hiding. I wanted to see if my family would notice that I was gone. I wanted to see them come looking for me. I didn’t have the maturity to realize at that moment that I was looking to have my place in my family, and their love for me, validated. I needed to know I was wanted. I had no reason to test this. I was the second of five children, and my parents were kind and loving. Still, some doubt or confusion gnawed at me until I climbed that tree.
There is a time in everyone’s life where they wonder if they are good enough. It’s part of our natural fallen state. We know deep down that we are not good enough apart from Christ and it plagues us.
When adoption is added to the mix, things get trickier. Our second daughter was placed in our arms at three months old. She has no memory of her birth family. We bonded right away. She is personable, funny, and sweet. But underneath all of that, there is a storm brewing. I see the doubt and question in her eyes, and when she acts them out, I see the pain. Deep down, our daughter struggles with whether or not she is worth it. She hides in the house when it’s time to leave. She wants us to come calling for her. She is trying to test if our ride is complete without her. She dawdles on family walks to the point of almost being left behind, wondering silently if we will notice.
No matter how much we validate, there seems to be a wound that we cannot heal. Time won’t heal that wound either. She asks questions about her birth mom. But she hasn’t drawn the connection. She doesn’t know that her surrender as an infant by her birth family and her current doubts are probably related.
It’s hard as her mom to see my child struggle and to know that I can’t fix it. Sure, we can overkill on validating, and we do. We can address destructive behavior, and we do. We can try to instruct and guide, and we try. If counseling is needed as she goes into the tween years, we can seek that out. But we know that a person ultimately cannot validate another person.
We seek the Lord on our knees and we pray that His adoption message, the adoption of his children, will be the message that brings her healing one day. We pray that she would know deep in her being that she is so desperately wanted by us, but more importantly, that her Creator who knew each day of her story before it began, loves her and will rescue her if she seeks Him.
Navigating waters of adoption can be tricky. Every insecurity, personality quirk, or misplaced emotion doesn’t have to be the outcome of an adoption. We’ve all had them. My family never did come looking for me. Although to be fair, I’m not sure my childish resolve to stay put until they did lasted very long. I was emotional, moody, and insecure at times. I was not adopted. There are universal misguided thoughts and emotions we all have because of our fallen human state. However, when adoption is in the mix, it’s important not to define the child by it, but not to remove it from the equation.
Which leaves us as parents observing, wondering, and praying.