Monday, February 23, 2015

When love isn't enough and love means letting go...

Sometimes life doesn't go as WE planned. Sometimes you push so hard to get your life to go the way YOU want it to go and you finally wake up and realize "wait a minute. What am I doing? I'm living for God. Not for myself! Why am I not following His plan?" Well. Here I am. I've woken up and realized I'm done writing our story. I'm letting go of the pen and handing our story back to God. (P.S. If you're not new to our story, you may notice that our blog address has also changed)

So. Here I am. And I'm struggling. Our story has taken a huge twist. Something we never fathomed would happen. Something we never planned for. Something we fought against. But, alas. Here we are...

Many think that love is enough when you adopt. That if you love them enough that things will be perfect. It's not true. I know without a doubt that love is NOT always enough. And it breaks my heart to say this...

For two and a half years, I have been a mom to Eyob. For two and a half years I have tried so hard to be the best mother he could have. For two and a half years I have put literal blood, sweat and tears into trying to love him enough that his poor little traumatized heart would heal. Praying that I could fix all the hurts and struggles that come from a life that began with trauma. I endured hundreds of hours of screaming, tantrums, abuse, and sometimes hateful words. And I tried so. very. hard... To be enough... While I struggle with feelings of failure, I  know that I tried and I tried hard and fought as hard as I could for him.

But - God had different plans. It got to the point that no matter what we tried, Eyob would not attach. In the adoption world, attachment is SO important, and SO vital for the child to grow and thrive and survive their early traumatized start to life. His sweet heart craved a mother's attachment, but his brain, so full of fear and pain and stress of the past would not allow it. His brain fought and fought hard. And when his brain fought, it caused his body to fight. And fight he did. It was rare for me to not have the marks of his tantrums all over my body. I was okay with it. I knew his heart didn't mean it. He didn't know why he acted that way. It wasn't truly his fault. But as his brain fought my love, my touch, my affection, it wasn't enough. His brain fought more. And for some reason, it told him that hurting Mommy just wasn't enough. So he had to fight even more. He had to fight the only others he could really get to. His siblings. The older ones began to know what to expect and usually were able to get away from slaps or bites. He found one that couldn't. His baby sister. At just one year old and a new walker, she was the perfect size for his anger. So his brain told him to target her. A slap here. A push there. It began to get even more dangerous and unpredictable and we quickly realized we were in a scary situation and in order to ensure her safety, we had to either isolate her from the rest of the house or isolate Eyob from the rest of the house. We couldn't leave either of them alone for even 30 seconds.

Eyob was struggling. Baby Sister was struggling. The older 3 were struggling (one in particular was REALLY struggling emotionally and mentally).  This was affecting everyone more than we ever realized. And we were warned about CPS having to step in if it continued. A therapist recommended trying even harder to get Eyob to attach. To go full force into therapy. 3 days a week for play therapy. 2 days a week for occupational therapy. 2 days a week for speech therapy.  And she recommended that each of the older 3 get counseling for the trauma that was being endured in our home. A total of TEN one hour therapy sessions a week. Add that to our already busy week usually full of doctor appointments and you've got a family who is falling apart. A marriage that is desperately trying to sustain through so much stress. And a mom that has already struggled with depression and was hanging on by a thread...

It wasn't fair. It wasn't fair for our family. Most of all, it wasn't fair for Eyob... We were trying so hard to force an attachment that just wasn't going to happen. He deserved more. He deserved a better life than that. He deserved to grow and thrive and be able to attach and have a good relationship with a mom. And as hard as it is to admit, that relationship just wouldn't ever be with me. No matter how much I pushed and fought and tried and loved.

I began to question God and why He would allow us to fight so hard for Eyob. We fought so hard to raise the funds to get Eyob's referral fee nearly 3 years ago. God provided every single penny. We fought to get him home. God miraculously provided for those doors to open quicker than we imagined. Why would God allow us to do all of that and bring him home, only to say that we weren't going to be able to get him the help he truly needed as he grew? It just didn't make sense that God could allow something like this. I didn't know how to pray, what to ask, or how to accept this. While seeking biblical wisdom, Romans 8:26-28 spoke to me:

"And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans. And the Father who knows all hearts knows what the Spirit is saying, for the Spirit pleads for us believers in harmony with God’s own will.  And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them."

I had to trust that whatever happened, God was going to make everything work together for good. That was the only thing that was helping me survive. As we began to seek help and wisdom and advice, a friend told us something that finally opened our eyes. Remember the story of Moses? How Moses went to Egypt and helped the Israelites escape? His plan was to take them to the Promised Land. He was able to free them from Egypt and he started the long journey to the Promised Land with them. Unfortunately, Moses wasn't able to make it INTO the Promised Land with his people. Our friend explained that we are Eyob's Moses. We helped him get from Ethiopia to the United States and we loved, cared for, and provided for him the past 2 1/2 years, but we were just a stepping stone to get him to where he was supposed to be.  We realized that now it was time for us to hand over the reigns and allow God to take over and fully trust in His plan, no matter how heartbreaking it would be.  No matter how much judgement and persecution we would face.

We sought advice and prayed fervently for days and weeks for God to reveal what we were to do. I couldn't eat. I couldn't sleep. I could hardly function... We eventually realized after much confirmation in many God ways, that Eyob deserved a fresh start to his life. That we were to give Eyob a new life in another family. We were recommended by some specialists that he was to be in a family with no children under the age of 8-10. He needed a new start with another family who would continue to love him, and could also give him the help he needed that we could not give him. God revealed to me in a dream (two dreams, actually) that in this new family, Eyob would grow and thrive and finally become the child (and eventually man) that God had planned for him. This would help him more than ever and this would also help the rest of our family and ensure safety for our other children. From others we had talked to, many times children in a disrupted adoption end up finally getting through their attachment issues (or at least improving significantly) in the second family and can finally live normally. We opened up to the older kids and began praying nightly as a family. One night, Ilana came up to us and told us that God had spoken to her and God told her "I already have the perfect family picked for him. They are a strong Christian family."

I opened up with another adoptive friend. She had been waiting for this exact moment, this exact conversation, for a few months. God had already laid it on her heart months ago what would be happening and she was prepared. She contacted a friend who immediately had a family in mind who God had already been preparing for this exact situation.  God had even given them a dream over a year ago of a little boy they were to adopt. A little boy who looked like Eyob. They had other children, but none under the age of 9. They were a strong Christian family. He was a pastor. The timing of everything lined up perfectly and we knew that God had been preparing for this for long before we'd even considered or thought about any of it. Isn't that just how God works, though? He knows everything. He's constantly working out all the details behind the scenes... Details like:

Before we had even considered finding another family, Eyob continually repeated "momma papa momma papa momma papa. I go see momma papa. momma papa." We thought he was just being goofy because no one in our family goes by momma or papa. Not even grandparents. 6 weeks later, Eyob got a package in the mail from his new adoptive family with pictures. He immediately saw a picture of the parents, and wouldn't you know... They labeled it as "Momma and Papa".

Or when I showed him their pictures on my phone, before we'd even told him or the kids anything. I wanted him to familiarize himself with them. He takes one look at the picture and says "That's my new daddy?" I was astonished and questioned how in the world he even knew that. Later that day he was just grinning from ear to ear. I asked him why he was so happy and he replied with "Jesus gave me new family." Michael said "Well who told you that?" And a simple reply from him was all that was needed before we were covered in goosebumps "God."

God had orchestrated everything and began working in Eyob's heart before we even realized it...

The process went by over 8 weeks and then it was time. The week before it really began to sink in and our family began to really experience grief. This was the hardest thing we've ever had to do. To accept that it had gotten to this point nearly broke us apart. To accept it in my heart that I had to do this tore me apart inside. Feelings of failure. Of feeling like I wasn't enough. That somehow I didn't try enough, fight hard enough, or endure enough... Deep down I knew that no matter how much I loved him, love was not enough. My love for him would not fix him. I could not fix him!! This was for GOD to do. And I had to accept that this was God's plan for me. For my family. For Eyob. And I had to remember that ultimately, Eyob was NOT my child. He was God's. And I had to trust God's plan for His own son...

Even though we knew it was the best thing for him, it didn't make it easy. The goodbye was bittersweet. It was great to see Eyob so happy and to have a sparkle in his eyes that he hasn't had in a long time. We spent several hours with them and then this evening, our family and his new family spent the evening surrounded by our small group in prayer. I know most disrupted adoptions end ugly. This, however, was just beautiful and just covered by the Holy Spirit. Saying goodbye and handing him to his new family nearly ripped our hearts in half. We held it together until I turned around and walked into the arms of my sister as I lost it. I'm SO thankful for my sister and her husband and two of our best friends, Duane and Danyelle who stood by our side as Eyob and his new family drove away. I can't imagine going through something like this without God and without the comfort and support of our closest friends.

We are SO thankful for God's provision in allowing the process to go so smoothly and for allowing us to find the perfect family who not only cares and loves Eyob, but cares and loves our entire family and who will stay in contact and keep us updated on how he is growing and changing. God has answered every prayer during this process and we are eternally grateful.

For now, our family is grieving. We're grieving the loss of a son. Of a brother. Of a little boy that we truly cherished and loved. Everywhere we look in our house, we're faced with reminders of him. Of reminders of what we had to do. And we are struggling. We miss him. We always will. We will always love him. Saying goodbye was THE hardest thing each of us have had to do and I now have a small glimpse into what God had to do by giving the world His one and only son. We are trying very hard to remember Proverbs 3:5-6:

 "Trust in the LORD with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take. "

God revealed to us SO clearly on which path to take. And we cannot depend on our own understanding on why, because we still don't quite get it. But we are trusting that God will make beauty from these ashes and that He will heal our hearts and help Eyob to become whole and help our family to become whole again.

For those who disagree with our decision, it's okay. We understand. We know there's going to be many who think we made a huge mistake. Who think we're awful parents or who think we took the easy way out (which is crazy - this was by far the hardest thing we've ever had to do) or who think we made the wrong choice... It's okay. I know we will face judgement. I know we will get nasty messages, comments and be ridiculed. It won't be easy to accept, but I am expecting it. We're prepared and know that sometimes following God's will is asking for judgement... Nothing I say or explain will make you understand, and that's okay. We love you anyway.

For those who want to continue to support us during this heartbreaking time, thank you. We love you and we appreciate you. Please pray for us. Pray for our kids. Pray for Eyob. Pray that he will just flourish and grow to overcome RAD/PTSD. Pray for his new family that we have grown to love over the past several weeks.  If you see us over the next few weeks, please be cautious in asking questions, especially to our children. They are struggling, as are we. Please allow us to grieve... Please pray for us to continue to remember to praise God during these times...  For now, this is a song that explains our hearts right now....