Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Love Makes Things Complicated

This post started Sunday.

We exchanged a barely-awake victory five. It was 5am and little Missy hadn't stirred all night. As Ben drifted back to sleep, I laid awake. Something didn't feel right.

I begged God to take the lingering influenza symptoms that had plagued me all week. We were all feeling better, finally.

Within minutes, I was out of bed, hugging the toilet, and heaving, violently. I didn't leave the floor for three hours. Whatever chaos was happening inside, rid itself from every end. Again and again and again. I sobbed in pain.

I curled in a ball, as my stomach lurched and twisted into the most piercing pain I had ever experienced. I moved to our bed and agonized for an hour before going to urgent care. I was sure I had an ulcer from all the stress.

Had you asked the day before, I would have, assuredly, told you my lowest moment in life was years before. Our ten year trek through barrenness has been marked with deep-set valleys...but nothing like this.

Every challenge of the last three weeks crashed in on me. I cried because I had nothing left to give. Nothing. No shower. No comfort. No Ben. I was depleted in every way and my hair smelled like vomit.

I moaned in pain, praying for relief.

I don't remember much from urgent care, but someone said, "We need to send her." I knew they meant the hospital. I was dehydrated and delirious; my pain was sensitive to the lightest touch. I closed my eyes and cried. The only moment that stands still is when I looked at my best friend through tears, and said, "This is too much..."

I spent several hours at the hospital getting hydrated. They gave me anti-nausea medication and morphine for the pain (glorious!!). I slept for nearly a day straight, once home. It turns out, I had a viral stomach flu of an aggressive nature.

What are the odds? Two weeks of back-to-back flus???

I was in and out of sleep all day Monday, wishing for heaven to take me. Then I coughed.

It took me a minute to realize...but, sure enough.

I had pooped my pants.

Yup. There's honesty for you. It was bad. Throw-away-your-clothes-and-take-a-bath BAD.

I laid in the tub and cried out, "Take me, Lord. Take me, now. I've had a good life. Only half of my children would miss me. I'm done. I have been emptied...in every way."

Needless to say, he didnt comply.

Here we are.

I woke up, this morning, with a stomach of knots ( literally) and no choice on whether or not to take my newest lovies to see their first mom. One of us had to cover Ty and LJ and one of us needed to head to the agency.

It had to be me.

As a mother. As his mother. I needed to be the one waiting for Sweet Boy.

I packed our bags for the hour drive and was thankful that no one asked questions. I didn't want to tell him until I knew for sure she'd show. We had snacks and toys and three sets of extra outfits, as all three of us were CLEARLY capable of filling our underpants.

I felt terrible inside and out, but Isaiah's words ran through my head, "He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak (40:29)..."

I was both.

I parked a block from the agency, stopped the car, and got in the back seat.

"Buddy. Remember how we've been talking a lot about first moms and why we call them that?"

He nodded.

"Today, you are going to spend time with your first mom."

"Right now?"

"Yes. But, I want you to know something. Look at my eyes. I am not leaving. I will be sitting right outside the door. If you need me, you come get me any time. And no matter what your first mom says in your visit, you and sissy are coming home with me, today. Home to daddy, Ty, and LJ....okay?"

"But-But-But Mom C [Foster Mom] always left and came back. Are you going to leave and come back?"

"No. I am going to sit outside your door in case you need me. I am not leaving. I will be here the whole time. Okay?"


We walked in and they were all in the lobby waiting. Caseworker. Supervisor. Visitation Supervisor. Mom. 

I looked her in the eye and forced a smile. "Hi, I'm Rebekah," and stuck out my hand (the business woman in me can't help it).

She wasn't unfriendly, but she didn't make eye contact. She didn't make small talk. She took the car seat out of my hand and reached for the diaper bag. Before I could give any instructions, she called Sweet Boy to her and they were behind closed doors.

Having had twelve hours to process that moment, I can now, verbalize what I felt, instantly.


I know it's not true. I know I have a place; I know that "the law" does/would listen to anything I have to say. I can argue every word I am about to say. But. In that moment. I was slapped to reality. I did not matter. I was not the mother. I had no control.

The flip side? My mama bear ROARED to life. I was angry that she didn't ask me questions. That she assumed she knew how to take care of a daughter she hadn't seen in six weeks. That she smothered Sweet Boy with fake words and empty promises, both of which came streaming under the door to my seat. I heard every word.

I took a deep breath and realized in three week's time...I had become their mother. More importantly, I FELT like their mother.

I checked my email to pass time and chatted with case workers as they walked by. When mine walked by she let me know that she would be in court, later this afternoon, requesting that visitation be suspended. My thoughts were smug in victory until she told me that she hadn't told mom, yet.

We finished the conversation with appointment and home study dates.

I sat, quietly, not able to erase her words. Mom didn't know. In this case, what "Mama doesn't know" will hurt her.

This was most likely the last time she would ever see her kids. My anger melted in an instant and God filled my heart with great compassion.

By the time the visit was over, I was wrought with emotion. I overlooked the fact that she had given Sweet Boy a 2 litter of Faygo to guzzle with a bag full of "snacks" that would, surely, leave him sick the rest of the afternoon. She hugged Sweet Boy, tight, and told him, repeatedly, that she loved him. My throat was so tight, I couldn't talk. Quickly, I asked if I could take a picture of the two of them together (I believe this was divine intervention from the Holy Spirit). I snapped three photos and turned my phone to video for a few short seconds, undetected, to capture her stream of "I love yous" and goodbyes.

Again, looking back, 12 hours later, I am SO thankful that I did that. Now, my babies will have one picture and short video to remember their mom by. I wish there was more. They will want more...

When she handed the baby carrier back to me, we locked eyes, and she said, "Thank you."

I had to wait a long time before I could come unglued. But I did.

I will never be able to share the photos I took, but I wish I could. They would break your heart.

I walked into this day emptied of myself and realize that's exactly where God needed me to be. If even a remnant of Rebekah remained, I wouldn't have seen mom the way God sees her. 

I have every right to be angry and bitter at what she's done. The mess she's created; the disaster relief crew I am forced to lead. She has allowed atrocities to take place at her children's sacrifice and seems to have no regret on the lasting effects to their future. She had the nerve to reprimand Sweet Boy for calling me "Mom" and told him to refer to me as "Miss Rebekah." Not an easy conversation to overhear when you're giving energy you don't have and love you don't feel to kids not born to you.

She doesn't deserve my kindness.

But I gave it. I had to. My heart broke for her the way I know the heavenly Father's already did.

I wish I didn't have compassion. I wish I didn't feel this way. It would be easier to think of this woman as a monster...or claim indifference. 

Love makes things complicated. 

Love requires my instincts to be shushed and my tendencies forgotten. Love is not self-seeking or proud or envious. Love demands respect when it isn't deserved and it, certainly, keeps no record of wrongs.

I understand, for the first time, how families can foster children and support reunification.

It was privilege to view this young girl through the lens of heaven. I wondered, all afternoon, if anyone else had bothered? My mama heart bled for her. She never had a chance. 

I know, I know she had plenty of parenting plans and referees and months to prepare. 

What I mean is...she never had a chance at life. Underage and pregnant? Addicted to heroine? Homeless?

I don't care what she's done. 

I don't. 

I care about her kids. I care about her. 

No mother should ever experience their children being ripped from them. It's not natural. It's not God's way. THIS was not the intent for Sweet Boy and Little Miss.

We were not meant to be these children's parents. Their parents were meant to parent. 

We are part of "Plan: Redemption".

I am so thankful for, today, and (oddly) everything that led me to, today. 

I am thankful that mom showed up. I am thankful that I got to witness her genuine affection for her kids. That I got to shake her hand and look her in the eyes. I'm thankful that I took pictures...and that God filled my heart with compassion. For the mother of my children.

When I look back on our adoption journey, I know there is a reason the points connect as they do.
Any other order and we would not have been prepared to love the way God asks us too.

I am humbled by this process and, completely, overcome with emotion.

More thoughts later. I'm off to a hot bath and a good cry.


  1. thank you for seeing both sides......thank you for this post!


  2. I love you and your honesty. :) I have been a foster parent since 2011, and in my class to become a foster parent, I was taught that foster care is not only a ministry to the children, but also their parents - as most likely they've never really had a good chance at life, and that their choices are most likely a result of their raising - just another spoke in the wheel...breaks my heart for them :( I also have times where I'm frustrated with the parents, but also I have times where my heart yearns to show them a different way to live.

  3. Oh wow...thank you for such incredible honestly and transparency. If it is ok with you, I may share this with my staff...so they can feel your words, and learn to have compassion for ALL parents that end up together in these situations. If you can do it, they can too. I so wish we could clone you for all of those other children out there needing homes because you are an inspiration. On a side note, I did get my husband to agree to *think* about foster/adopt sometime in the future - that is much further than we've ever been in that conversation:). I sent him the link to this post:). Hugs to you - I know you could use lots of them and I wish I could hug you in person!

    1. Faith, you can share any of my posts without official permission. I write, publicly, so that others will be challenged to do more; to go deeper in communion with God...

  4. Your honesty in writing just floors me. The way you weave your story and the story of your children in such as way that it portrays heaven in your humanity is only God given! And to think what God is doing in your hearts and lives of you and your children is a blessing to watch/hear about. Many of God's blessings to you and yours!

  5. wow. I am in tears for all involved. Love sure does make things complicated. Praying for you and your sweet family tonight.

  6. You incredible, and such an inspiration.

  7. Rebekah - I will say one thing about my myriad reactions reading this post - you are an amazing woman, and you are an amazing mom. Thank you for sharing your story with us. You change all of us with your writing.

  8. Thank you, Rebekah. This is so powerful and I am grateful for the way God uses you both with your family and through your writing as you share your story.

  9. Fighting back tears at my work desk this morning. Tears of sadness, joy for your new family, compassion and jealousy. The poor birth mother, I can't imagine, your family! It is growing and you Ben are the best. Compassion for the children, birth family and most importantly you and Ben, Ty and LJ. And lastly, jealousy, I am working on my relationship with our Lord and amazed by yours! Thank you for sharing your journey. I love reading every post.

  10. I sit here in tears, b.c I know I could have never seen her as you did been as compassionate after trying to heal the children that are so effected by her acts. Forgiveness is hard for me and it takes a lot of work but apparently compassion in some circumstances is even harder. God bless you and your ability to love this mother after all you have seen and done. I pray that Little Miss and Sweet Boy grow up to be as loving and compassionate as your - their mother!

  11. oh girl, love this. watching your heart, listening to your emotions. WOW. it's amazing (and you're amazing). ::hugs::

  12. You were in my thoughts all day yesterday!! I am glad it went well and that you finally " feel" what we all already knew. You are these children's Mother. I am looking forward to read your journey as it continues, and your family as it continues to grow and become official.

  13. Thank you for all of your kind words. Many of you are using the word "amazing". For the record, I'm just a girl in love with Jesus. Any "super" you see is not me. I am arrogant and selfish by nature. None of this comes natural. I, certainly, wouldn't have written things this way :).

  14. Thank you for using your life to teach me! That is exactly what it is too...going deeper in God. A deeper level of trust and so many other things. I am so happy for you that you got those pictures and video. The Holy Spirit was with you that day!

  15. welcome to true foster care. it hurts every step of the way. and God shows us more of Himself through every bit of it.

  16. I don't know you, but I found your blog some how and love to read it. This post made me both laugh and cry. You ARE amazing and wonderful. Thank you for writing openly and honestly.

  17. I am speechless after reading this post. Such raw emotion- oh my goodness!! And what a really, really hard week for you guys-the sickness alone is almost too much to bear and then you add the emotional toll from the rest of the week and you are so right- "Its too much"... I will be forever be grateful for you in that I love the way you speak about God, the Holy Spirit and your faith. It seriously restores me every time I read this blog-your story is unbelievable. Mothering in every sense of the word is not for the faint of heart- thats for darn sure. We all have different roads and no one person's journey is the same...We have good weeks and really, really awful ones. But being able to see God's hand in all of it keeps us going and gives us the strength we need. You are a beautiful and very courageous woman. I feel truly honored to be sharing his journey with you. It's very, very inspiring. I will pray for you all to have a healthier month with more smooth days ahead and lots of sunshine!!!!! Sending big hugs from Chicago!!!! Hang in there, Rebekah. xoxo

  18. As a foster parent, I KNOW the love you speak of. Isn't it just amazing how God redeems such tragedy? I will pray that God continues to give you HIS love throughout the journey that lies ahead.

  19. Your children are so lucky to have you as the one with a mama bear fire. This was an incredibly moving post. (Also, I hope you all feel better!!)

  20. My favorite part was when you coined your feelings as "insignificant." YES! I wanted to scream- as a foster mom working the system I have felt that. That is the perfect description. But like you alluded to it is also a lie.

  21. Oh my gosh Rebekah, such a beautiful post!

  22. Wow. I'm not quite sure what to say here but I do want to let you know I really appreciated this post. Hubby and I are in the process of getting licensed for foster-adoption so we may very well be in a similar situation (preferably without the flu) in a few months. Thank you for sharing your heart and how God is working in you through your children. It gives me insight as to what may be coming for us. Keep up the good work.

  23. Rebekah, Proverbs 31:25-26 comes to mind when I read this. I'm praying for you and your family and also for Sweet Boy's and Little Miss' birth mom. Thank you for being so open with us. God bless you.

  24. You are amazing and you are doing amazing things. What a beautiful post of LOVE! Get well soon!

  25. You are such an amazing woman. I am humbled by the grace you display every day. Keep your chin up, you make us better people by just reading your strength

  26. Love this post and hearing how God helped you see their first mom. It took my oldest to help me truly see our foster blessing's first mom in this way and to love her unconditionally. Now I have finally reached the point that I look forward to our monthly visits with her to be able to brag about our girl together.

  27. I remember the first time I met my younger son's tummy mommy. She had just signed the open adoption agreement and her last request was to meet me. I too shook her hand and we both burst into tears. I barely remember our conversation but the social workers said I did a good job. I then sat in the courtroom as she stood before the judge to relinquish her parental rights. Talk about bittersweet. There I was surrounded by social workers and attorneys. She was on the other side of the room alone with her appointed attorney. My heart went out to her. I am fostering the child she had seven months later. People have asked why I'm not angry with her. I tell them you can't give what you never had. She never stood a chance.

  28. You are such an inspiration and wonderful example of Jesus' love. Thanks for your honesty.

  29. Please don't ever stop blogging your experience. Your honesty, your struggles, your beautiful, difficult, amazing life gives us all inspiration to be better ourselves. Thank you.