I have always loved to dance. As an adult adoptee, a bio mom, and an adoptive mom, I dance between love and loss regularly. I dance with joy over small victories and small signs of acceptance. I dance to escape pain and to avoid obvious rejection from my family(ies). Let me continue to dance with the pain, the understanding, the surrender, His plan, and not faint.

Yesterday’s sermon got me thinking . . .

Nehemiah got down and dirty and observed how bad things in Jerusalem really were.  He inspected the walls of the city and they were broken down.  Its gates were destroyed by fire.  Well, oh my goodness, the walls of my city have been broken down, and the gates to my heart and to our family have been destroyed by fire.  Strong language, I know.  But I’m not exaggerating.

Nehemiah 2: 17 . . . it’s Nehemiah talking: 
17  “Then I said to them, ‘You see the bad situation we are in–how Jerusalem lies in ruins, and its gates are burned with fire . . . .  “

ruins, burned with fire, disgrace . . . Those words describe what has happened to our family during both adding Naika to our family and seeking out my birth family–in hopes of love, joy, and peace in both situations.

I am naive.  We brought Naika into our home when she was 2 1/2.  In my own ignorance, I parented Naika the same way I parented our other children.  I promptly got no where; in fact, I made myself and those around me crazy.  It took a whole year before my eyes were opened to the fact that parenting a child who spent two years in an orphanage would require different knowledge, skills, and approaches.  And then, . . . when she was 3 1/2, I began to learn.  But from 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 and somewhat beyond/somewhat still, our family/lives were upside down.

Ruins–family time held no joy.  Ruins–she literally ruined things in our home.  Ruins–everything that we thought we were doing that “worked” with our other children . . . ruined.  Ruins–ruined confidence in myself as a mother.

Burned with fire–my insides were burning with fire and pain from this little girl who would not let me be her mommy.  Burned with fire–my husband and I had heated discussions about what to do, what to change, what I was doing wrong (I already felt like a failure so that didn’t help).  Burned with fire–angry at people who told us how “lucky” Naika was to be in our family, or what a “great” thing we had done in adopting her (good intentions, but not reality).  Burned with fire–wanting answers–wanting everything to go back to normal.

Disgrace–ashamed that I was doing such a poor job with her.  Disgrace–ashamed that she would not look at me in the eyes while I fed her a sippy cup or a bottle of milk like the counselors and books suggested.  Disgrace–ashamed that she happily jumped into a strangers’ arms than into mine.  Disgrace–ashamed at her behavior, . . . and mine.  Disgrace–the social worker explaining to me that I was part of the “problem.”  Disgrace–that my husband came home night after night to a fried wife.

Ruins–once I received a threatening letter from my birthdad telling me not to contact anyone him, my siblings, or anyone else anymore (need I say more?).  Ruins–the strain it put on my family of five and husband emotionally, financially as I was insatiably focused on somehow loving/knowing my birthfamily and them loving/knowing me.  Ruins–as I struggled to feel alive and real instead of snuffed out and stuff back into a secret closet.

Burned with fire–I burned to find them and know them.  Burned with fire–I burned from the sting of receiving very small gifts I sent to them for Christmas back.  Burned with fire–I burned with fire before I found any of them when I would look in the mirror and not recognize ANY of my features.  Burned with fire–I got burned, my parents got burned, my pain burned my husband, and even my kids were burned by birth relatives who they were hoping to be able to know and love.  Burned with fire that my need to know my past was stealing my present–and could potentially steal my future.

Disgrace–it is my personal theory that when people are hurting, they seek relief.  My choices which came out of my need for relief = disgrace.  My behaviors, desires, choices, thoughts, . . . all became uncharacteristic of who I really am = disgrace.  Note–I have no disgrace in my choices for searching/how I searched, etc.  The disgrace comes from choices I made to cope with my pain–to self-medicate.

Nehemiah then says, “‘Come, let us build up the wall of Jerusalem, that we may no longer be a disgrace.'”
Aha!!  I am ready and building up the walls again.  By God’s grace.
Because of the above visions and experiences of Ruin, Walls burnt by fire, and Disgrace, I can uniquely see the wreckage . . . the pain that others cannot:  pain in searching, pain in adoption, pain in reunions, pain in marriages,  pain in parenting.  AND, . . .

I am uniquely made with certain gifts and experiences now to minister to some that others simply can’t.  I cannot minister to my husband regarding his job as a basketball coach.  Haha.  I cannot dribble.  I can, however, support families who are struggling through adjustments to all things adoption!  In fact, could it be that “He planned me to be the way I am because then only I can be the one to help/minister in certain situations?”  That’s what our pastor said on Sunday morning.  And, I’ll tell you what:  that thought increased my self-worth which has suffered Terribly during the above things mentioned.  I can uniquely serve/minister in this area, because . . . Ha!  I’m an expert.

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