Aug 8, 2010

Out of the Ashes, Beauty Will Rise!

So, it’s really happening now. Our lives are changing forever. It’s a change that will make us a family of 5, and make Chris and me the parents of 3 kids! It will forever change the life of a little girl who has grown up never knowing the love of a family, or the safety and security of parents who love her unconditionally.

We aren’t looking at this situation through rose colored glasses though. We do realize that there will be challenges ahead. God doesn’t promise us that life will be free of problems. He only promises that He will be there to walk with us through the problems. God has carried us the entire way through this process despite how difficult it has been. The waiting has been long, the paperwork has been ridiculous, and the overall stress has been crushing at times. However, God has been with us, and carried us through the process. He has made a way in the most difficult of circumstances. The money has been there whenever it has been needed, and every obligation has been met. The long months that have turned to years, have been heartbreaking, but we have always had peace that God was in control. That is something that is priceless.

As we wind down this process and prepare for our daughter’s homecoming, I’m reminded of some past emotions that I have not dealt with. I really thought I had dealt with all the anger I had towards Chris’s family, but I obviously have not.

Chris was given up for adoption by a teenage mother, and was adopted by his adoptive parents when he was 10 months old. His adoptive father divorced his adoptive mother when Chris was 18 months old, and has had very little to do with Chris ever since. Chris hasn’t seen him since he was about 15 years old. His adoptive mother was mentally and physically ill all during his childhood. They had very little money, and Chris often went without essentials like food. His mother was verbally abusive, and very controlling. She was ugly and hateful, and very self serving. She made the lives of everyone around her miserable.

To make matter worse for Chris, his mother’s sister, brother, and parents expected him to bare the brunt of the responsibility for his mother’s care. Her uncontrolled diabetes led to her having her leg amputated, and months in and out of the hospital. Chris bore the brunt of her care, both at home and in the hospital. He was responsible for going to work, school, and caring for her. She refused to follow doctor’s orders, so her health only worsened.

After Chris and I met, her control became more bizarre and excessive. She would face illness, and make ridiculous and unreasonable demands . She made every attempt to break us up by calling me every name in the book. She told our entire church that I was trying to get Chris to sleep with me before we were married. She told me that if Chris and I ever did marry, we would surely end up divorcing. I still carry the pain of some of those professions to this day. What was supposed to be a very joyful time for us, was, in reality, a nightmare.

As we prepared for our wedding, Chris’s aunt joined in the cause of the nightmare. She felt that, if we married, the responsibility for Chris’s mother (her sister) would fall on her and her husband. This was something she definitely didn’t want. She would have rather seen Chris sacrifice his life and future to ensure that she was not stuck with any responsibilities that she didn’t want. She made her feeling about our marriage quite clear. She was the most miserable person you would have ever wanted to meet on our wedding day. So much so, that her husband actually apologized to me, saying she is just worried about who was going to care for Chris’s mom now. They are all fortunate we didn’t just tell them where they could shove it, and disappear off the face of the earth, after the wedding.
Chris’s mother’s health deteriorated to the point that she ended up in a nursing home shortly after we were married. She died within about 5 years of our wedding. By that time, both the boys had been born, and we had been transferred to Georgia. When she became very ill, Chris was left to make all the decisions, and the family stepped back. We also were responsible for the funeral arrangements and costs. Once all the arrangements were made, then the family chipped in some money towards the costs. She had no life insurance, and no money whatsoever. We had to borrow money from my parents to pay for her funeral.
Since her death, Chris’s “family” has made no effort to keep in contact with him. They don’t even send him a card on his birthday. When we travel to Ohio, we call his aunt and uncle, and we usually meet them for dinner somewhere. They tell him he’s just like a son to them, but they don’t even send him a birthday card. We only see them because we initiate the visit. Now that my parents are selling their house in Ohio, we won’t be traveling back there anymore. So, I’m sure we will lose contact with them altogether.
Chris is fairly indifferent about the whole thing because he said he has always been treated different by the “family”. So, now that his mom is gone, their true feelings are just showing through. It makes me angry though. I just can’t imagine that anyone could treat my husband that way. They’ve missed the opportunity to get to know a wonderful man. His life wasn’t a mistake, and it wasn’t disposable. He wasn’t around just for the convenience of others. He did have a right to a life and a future. He should have been treated as if he were born into the family.
As parents, it is very important to both of us that our daughter be treated as just exactly that.. our daughter. We have already stressed that to everyone in the family. It is critical that she be treated no differently than the boys regarding gifts, and family privileges. Chris is the first one to say that she isn’t going to feel like the odd “man” out.

Part of what God is showing me right now, is that I have to forgive Chris’s family for the hurt that they caused us both all those years ago, and thank God for what it has taught me. We have learned so much of what not to do to an adopted child through the experiences that Chris went through growing up. God has used those painful experiences to mold us into the perfect parents for this sweet little girl that God has always planned to be our daughter. I pray that God will help me to forgive the hurt, and turn it into strength.

God has a marvelous way of turning the ashes of our lives into something beautiful!

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