LIE: What we gave Tommy was pitiful, insufficient to meet his enormous needs. Our best wasn’t good enough.
TRUTH: The neglect Tommy suffered for so long was not due to a lack of a big house with impressive decor, trendy new clothes and cars, or the latest kid stuff. We gave Tommy what he needed most and had never been given–love, nurturance, acceptance, and belonging by his own daddy and mama and many siblings whom he loved.
Our family gave Tommy’s needs top priority and they were met more than adequately at great cost to ourselves.
LIE: We didn’t love Tommy enough.
TRUTH: We sacrificed immensely due to our love for him. We gave and gave and gave and didn’t give up in spite of enormous challenges. He learned to know what home meant, and he loved coming home and being home.
He knew he belonged to us and that we loved him, and this love and belonging gave him joy.
LIE: If Tommy wasn’t happy 24/7, and if all my other children and husband weren’t happy 24/7, I was responsible; it meant I was failing at my job. I had better be able to present our entire family and lifestyle to the public in perfect order, looking socially acceptable to every strata of society, and of course with beaming smiles on all our faces (and possibly bubbles and rainbows about our heads) at all times so outsiders wouldn’t draw the conclusion that we were failing as adoptive parents.
TRUTH: Having an adopted child feel happy and look cute 24/7 is not what makes adoption successful or worthwhile. It’s an unrealistic and unjust burden to put on any human being to expect him or her to feel happy and look cute 24/7, or to make someone responsible to make others feel happy and look cute 24/7.
LIE: God took Tommy because He decided we weren’t taking good enough care of him. We should have been able to do more than we did for him.
TRUTH: God knew exactly what we would be able to give Tommy, and He wanted him to be with us. Tommy was loved more than he had ever experienced or could imagine. He loved being with people more than anything else, and was given his own family full of people.
Because we loved Tommy, his world grew so much bigger. He grew bigger, stronger, more mature, and more capable. He got to be proud of himself for mastering new skills. Coming into our family meant that he was cared for by those who were fully committed to him for life. We made sure that he was only surrounded by those who valued him as a person.
He got to experience as much of normal family life as he could tolerate. He got to live in his own family with a unique family culture that suited his needs.
In the thirteen and a half months he was with us, he got lots of hugs and kisses. He got to have a birthday with his own grandpa and grandma, balloons, candles, singing, a special dessert, and presents, celebrate other holidays in special ways, watch little fireworks at home and big fireworks at the ballgame, play in the sprinkler and sandbox and ride on the teeter-totter, get rocked to sleep by his own mom, be a barefoot little boy outdoors in the grass and dirt with his brothers, have an affectionate and accepting baby brother to play alongside him, be bowled over, wagged at and licked by a pet dog he adored, go on walks in the country and meet different kinds of farm animals, go to the playground, pool, and creek, sleep in a big boy bed with a pillow, surrounded by the brothers who were the light of his life, be at a family campfire, go on picnics, go on vacation to a cabin in the mountains with his own family, play in the autumn leaves, go to the zoo and aquarium, ride a school bus and go to school, receive the very best medical care and therapy, travel and meet lots of special people.
We did our utmost to give him many special experiences, in spite of tremendous obstacles at every turn. Doing more than we did with him might have been stressful for Tommy. Doing more than we did was impossible due to unforeseen circumstances which were outside our control. They weren’t outside God’s control, which means He chose every one of those specific circumstances.
God’s plans can be very different from our ideal.
Coming up–Lies and the Truth: Part Two