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The Ripping and Together of Adoption

This morning we had our domestication hearing for Ana, the final step in her adoption process. Woo-hoo!

We followed our lawyer through the large courtroom packed with people awaiting hearings into a small room behind it. The judge started off the proceeding by saying this:

I want to thank you for bringing this case to my attention. You saw all the people waiting in the courtroom. Everyone out there is here because of incarceration or divorce. The rest of my day is ripping families apart. Thank you for letting me put one together.

I choked up. Families ripping and together because of a host of circumstances. On this day in this building, we are so happy. And on the same day in the same building, so many are devastated.

And I know that for this together moment to happen, our Ana first had to experience a ripping. And so today I pay homage to the ripping, and so tenderly hold that in my heart, as I rejoice in the togetherness. Pain and joy, this is adoption.

Ana: Mom, are you crying?

Me: Maybe.

Ana: Um…

Me: I love you.

We dropped her off at school, where she skipped off to her classroom filled with friends and teachers and English and her new life, and it’s done. Orphan court, regional court, embassy, and now domestication. Four important places all recognizing that we’re a family.

I’m grateful. I’m so grateful. I’m sniffling at my computer grateful. And even in my gratitude, I acknowledge the rip, the break, the loss. As I celebrate the life we have together, I know the road to healing takes time, and there are scars.

When Jesus’s mom heard what the shepherds said about him, Luke 2:19 says “But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.” That’s what I do with my daughter’s ripping. I listen, I hold, I pray, I treasure up the beautiful and the painful and ponder them in my heart. We mothers are the archivists of our children’s lives. We take in all of the moments, we create space within ourselves, and we treasure.

If you’ve had a togetherness moment, I rejoice for you. Families call for celebration and joy and dance parties on the kitchen floor. And if you’ve experienced the rip, I acknowledge, I bow my head, I offer solemnity and respect.

All across the world, families are being created and destroyed as I write these words. I feel a hush in my soul as the weight of that descends on me. “Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn” (Romans 12:15). And that’s what we do.

This is the ripping and together of adoption.