Mom, I couldn’t have scripted this any better. As I stand and look back over the last eighteen years, I’m amazed by our journey. Actually, I’m beyond amazed, I’m overwhelmed. Words really don’t do any of this justice.
I’m overwhelmed because I really couldn’t have dreamed of anything more beautiful, crazy, adventurous, broken, messed up, defeating…or worthwhile.
Worthwhile…even though the road hasn’t risen to meet us. Not even close!
Worthwhile…even as we load everyone up in our beat up 12-passenger van and drive an hour-and-a-half to visit one of my kids in residential treatment—talk about your reality check.
No, there’s definitely nothing rising to meet us. Yes, I claim this journey is beautiful and beyond anything I could have scripted despite the defeating, devastating moments we’ve been through.
So, when I stand and look back, I am amazed. In fact, I confess there are so many things that make this journey absolutely, without a doubt, amazing. Here are my top five:
1. It’s hard but hopeful
Our children have come from places of trauma and they often speak and act out of that trauma. It’s made the journey difficult. For so many years, we misunderstood where they were speaking from. We used to see with blurry vision. But in the past few years, we’ve moved from blurry to focused. We see clearly now: The hope we have is to stand with our children. We don’t fight against them, we fight with them and against their traumatic pasts.
Instead of a lecture, we have a conversation.
Instead of a battle, we hold them close to us through the storm.
We find renewed hope through this. From out of the ashes comes hope. And let me tell you, friend, hope that is forged out of the hard stuff is stronger than steel.
2. It’s broken but beautiful
I use the word broken for good reason. Show me a person in this world who isn’t broken in some way and I’ll choose a different word. All of life and humanity is broken in some way. We spend so much time denying this fact, we miss the beauty in the middle of it. While we never want bad things to happen in this world, they do. They happen because we are broken. In fact, we’re a mess. But if it weren’t for that brokenness, we wouldn’t know our kiddos. That’s the beauty in this mess. My precious kids are celebrating. I can hear their giggles and squeals in the other room. I can also hear them arguing, but I smile all the same because I know them. I call them sons and daughters and they call me dad. Out of immense brokenness comes unimaginable beauty.
3. It’s uniquely ours
Our family doesn’t fit any mold on earth, but guess what? We love it. But that wasn’t always the case. In the beginning, I struggled with our weirdness. That’s because I didn’t grow up weird. I grew up as a normal, middle-class American. I can honestly say I didn’t know what I was missing until we began raising our unique family. This life we’ve been given was never meant to be lived in normalcy. It was meant to be lived in uniqueness, in the beauty of diversity, and in the celebration of our differences.
I love how unique our family is. I love that each of my children have their own unique gifting and perspective on the world around them. We celebrate this to the zillionth degree and wouldn’t want it any other way.
4. It’s the greatest journey in the world
It’s been such an amazing adventure—hard, hopeful, exciting, defeating, and yet beautiful! It’s been worth every teardrop, every heartbeat, and every bead of sweat.
5. It’s perfectly imperfect
When our imperfections are embraced, not denied, this journey becomes perfect in its imperfections. You will never find us trying to be something we’re not. And we’re sure as the day is long never going to be dishonest about where we’ve been and where we’re going. We celebrate the fact we haven’t figured it all out and we often trudge through the muck and mire of life. But we also celebrate the new creation our broken pieces are forging. I think that’s what is most amazing as I reflect on the past. There has been a lot of pain and a lot of heartbreak. But that pain and heartbreak, healed and mended, is creating something new and more powerful than anything before. Thus, our journey is perfectly imperfect.
Yes, we talk about the hard, the hopeless, and the defeating moments. But we will also share the beautiful, the bright, and the hopeful. It’s our duty as believers to never share any piece of content, written or spoken, that is void of hope by the time we reach the end. Mark my words!
So, while this has been extremely hard, it’s also been extremely hopeful.
While it’s nearly taken the life out of us, it’s also been incredibly worthwhile on so many levels.
Mom, it comes down to how you see it. And whether you’re intentionally looking for the beauty that’s been there all along.
Mike Berry is cocreator of the award-winning blog Confessions of an Adoptive Parent. He and his wife, Kristin, have cared for dozens of children through foster care and have adopted all eight of their children.