Let me introduce Tara to you as my last guest for the month. She possesses a deep and kind and thoughtful soul. She found me on my blog, then we found one another at the 2013 Christian Alliance for Orphans Summit, and now we’re, together, finding more of our voices and learning how to offer them to the worlds we both live in. She’s not only an adoptive mama, she is adopted. Which means, she has had to wrestle and wade through many layers of grief AND that she has (and is) stepped into much grace and witnessed the sweet gift of healing. She is someone whose quiet strength and authenticity will encourage you to pause and reflect and keep moving…forward.
Lean in and listen to her story…
“Suffering Together” by Tara Bradford
I’ve lived the adoption narrative my whole life starting as an adoptee and then moving into becoming an adoptive parent.
As an adult I began to understand loss in the adoption journey, my loss, their loss.
I began to watch my children’s loss unfold into suffering right in front of me. The understanding that I was gaining quickly turned into intense feelings for what they were going through.
My feelings at first were sadness, but that soon changed with time as their loss became more intense and harder for them to articulate and easier to act on.
Many days I found myself pulled under by the trauma current and simply doing whatever I could to survive and get to the surface so I could breathe.
What I didn’t realize was that over time, I began to avoid going into the water. I would try to stay close to shore where it was safe and no current could sweep me under.
Unfortunately by staying close to shore, I couldn’t be with my child if they were taken under.
I realized my disconnection and avoidance was hurting my child and my relationship with them. It was safer to turn inward – for me.
If I were truly going to be their mother through this adoption journey, I would need to be with them.
As I reached out for help and dug into my soul and why their hurt was so scary to me, I learned a lot about Jesus, pain and myself.
I learned that Jesus suffered more than my children or I combined, or the world for that matter, ever will.
I learned that because of His suffering, he calls me to join in that suffering, like a good soldier would enter the war voluntarily. (2 Tim. 2:3)
I learned that Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. (1 Cor. 13:7)
I learned that I’m asked to help carry my child’s burdens because this is how I follow Christ’s teachings. (Galatians 6:2)
I learned what compassion truly means. Not simply feeling sad for my child’s circumstance, but actually suffering with them in their circumstance.
I can’t heal my child’s wound of loss, only Jesus can do that, but I can sit with them and nurse them towards healing.
I can hold them in their pain of the rejection.
I can cry with them in their sadness of missing her smell and embrace as they question why God let this happen.
I can bear with them in their moments of hurt and frustration when they feel they were not good enough to have been with her for a lifetime.
I can struggle with them in wanting answers to the questions and not having any.
I simply learned I can. I get to. This is what I need to do as their mom.
They didn’t sign up for this story, and maybe I didn’t either. But it’s the story that God has given us and we have a choice.
The story can write us or we can write the story.
Three years into this journey of parenting children who come from loss has not been easy, but nowhere does Jesus promise easy.
My children need their mom and since their first mom is not available to be who she was intended to be, that has been entrusted to me.
I have a choice. To stay on the shore or to get in the water.
I’ve chosen to get into the water. I’ve chosen to enter into their suffering no matter how far it takes me.
Even at this point of the journey I can see there has been change – in me and for my children.
Suffering doesn’t have to be for death. Suffering can be for growth and healing.
Maybe that’s why God “allowed” this to happen.
I can see that God uses what I love most to mold me into what He loves most.
I can see my rigid lines of control showing soft curves of trust.
I can see my harsh storms of imperfect identity roll into sunsets of beauty.
I can see my broken shells of failure be made into white sands of grace.
I can see my looming fear of inadequacy nailed to a cross of perfection.
This journey is still stretching me. Still takes me inward on my really bad days.
But then God brings a word of encouragement through another mom’s blog, a “me too” from a friend, a verse in my reading, or a random hug and it speaks to my soul and moves me to a better place.
My children are not the only ones who need others – we need others too.
So, day by day, I do my best to see their pain for what it is – suffering – and I choose to join in every circumstance to help carry their burden because to Jesus, every one of us is worth it.
Tara’s narrative as an adopted person, an adoptive parent, and the Director of Encompass (which supports adoptive and foster families) has woven adoption through every part of her life. Tara has spoken at the Refresh Conference, Christian Alliance For Orphans Summit and the Tapestry Adoption and Foster Care Conference. She is grateful for the opportunities to bring grace and education to the adoption discussion and blogs at “Living In The Between”. You can connect with her on Facebook or Twitter.