“I think I need to have a funeral.”
“What do you mean?” my counselor probed.
“I need to have a funeral service for the family I wanted but never got.”
I was serious. I needed to bury that dream; I needed to properly grieve it’s loss; and then I needed to move on with the family God had given me. I needed to quit trying to force my plans, and accept God’s plan for my life.
My counselor agreed.
Few people realize how much grief is involved in the adoption story—or any story that involves parenting someone else’s children. Every SAFE child grieves the loss of their biological parent/s. Any parent dealing with infertility grieves the biological children they never got. And everyone involved grieves the loss of a “normal” family construction.
Since I was not one to have to experience pregnancy to feel complete as a woman, it took a long time for me to realize I was in grief. Our children were grade school age when we adopted them so it took years for me to grasp the significance of what I had missed.
I didn’t get to have conversations about whose eyes he had or whose chin she had. I didn’t get to make coo-ey eyes at my infant sitting in my grocery cart. I didn’t get to experience the wide-eyed wonder of my three-year-old on Christmas morning. I never had a four-year-old run to me with open arms, delighted to see me after a weekend at Grandma’s. In fact on one occasion when we went to retrieve our kids after two weeks with their aunt and uncle, most of my kids sat talking with their uncle, totally uninterested in our arrival.
I have no little moments of early childhood intimacy tucked inside my hearts’ sweet spot.
I found a way, though, to not get sucked in to the “poor me” moaner’s club. I rarely allowed my mind to dwell on what I didn’t have. But once in a while, if I got honest with myself, I’d realize I was in grief. It was at such a time, only days before sitting in that counseling office, I realized that I could not embrace the family God had for me until I properly grieved my loss.
I never did have that funeral. It was enough just to admit my need. Maybe that’s the first step in processing our loss as SAFE moms—to call it what it is. A loss. A death of a dream. A longing never to be fulfilled. Only then can we lay down our ideas and embrace God’s. Only then can we take the next step of living the life God has planned for us. Only then can we truly walk by faith in God’s promise …
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11, NIV).