The Story of (the other) Moses

4/7/15

Before I begin I want to say that this is simply my story, my journey.  It is not meant to be a projection onto you or the adoptive mom friend you have.  Though the journey of others might be similar, this one is just mine.

I've always known I was made to be a mother.  When I was 8 years old I wrote "an orphan" on my Christmas list.  By the time I was 13 I had baby names picked out.  (Daisy was the front runner, in case you were wondering.)  When I grew up, Eric and I began dating and were married in a 7 month whirlwind and the extent of our family planning conversation was pretty much agreeing we both want kids someday and sure, maybe we'll adopt.  (If you want advice on maybe a thousand better ways to have that conversation, I have some new ideas 9 years later.)

Before the end of our first year of marriage I had been bit by the baby bug.  (I mean, hello 8 and 13 year old me.)  But around that time we also committed to a tiny little thing known as a long term missions team to Indonesia.  And everyone advised us to wait to have a baby to make the transition easier on me.  So we did. (That's actually not my recommendation now, but my hindsight always has bested my foresight.)  And finally, finally, when all was said and done and we were all settled in, we prayed about it.  And we couldn't shake the feeling that we wanted to adopt first.


The way we chose the country was long and arduous and a story for another day.  But the point is that somewhere along the path of adoption, God broke my heart over the need for adoptive families and it became a passion that I carried like fire in my chest (and sometimes a large soapbox on which I stood).  Then the plane landed in Kampala and we got in a car and drove over dirt roads and over past lives and just like that, we were no longer preparing for an adoption story, we were living an adoption story.  And it has proven far different than what we had expected.

We gave everything we had and we wept tears of failure when it was not enough.  And still I burned for adoption.  We held on to this threesome for dear life and we broke into pieces together.  And still I burned for adoption.  My husband fought with all his strength to not fall into the darkness. And still I burned, and I burned, and I burned for adoption.


I could not rid my mind of the harrowing statistics, the hundreds of children in our own little county who bounced from home to home to home.  I could never justify creating new life when there was so much life around me that needed mothering.  I knew we couldn't take them all in, and I knew that the path we were walking was nearly killing us, but I couldn't work it out to add up to anything else.  It was an equation that, however I turned it, equaled THE ONLY WAY.

And I judged you for not adopting, and for having baby after baby after baby.  I judged you and was at the same time jealous of you and I am so, so sorry.

It's hard to put my finger on exactly when it started to change.  It might have been when we met with a trauma therapist and suddenly there was someone who finally, finally validated that our experience was not just par for the parenting course.  It might have been the months of adoptive parent training that doubled as a support group.  It might have been studying Catholic teaching and beginning to question whether we had denied Jesus lordship over our fertility.  Probably it was the fact that all those things collided in a 6 month period.

We opened ourselves up to the possibility that maybe, just maybe, God's will was different than ours.  I conceded that adoption wasn't the only way to grow a family, and he conceded that all the stars don't have to be in perfect alignment in order to love and care for any child.  We took a deep breath, said "Your will be done", and this was the result:


I don't think there is any way to explain to you what this baby did to my heart.  But I guess I could try.  I could tell you that from the moment the plus sign appeared out of nothingness, I was freed from the guilt of not taking in a million orphans and was filled instead with a peace that said this is exactly right for us today.  That was all I knew, but that was enough.  I could tell you that I stopped judging you for a path that is all your own anyway, and started believing you had a heck of a lot to teach me.  I could tell you that the actual act of giving birth to him made me a more self-assured woman.  I could tell you this baby has made me a softer person, and I mean that figuratively but let's be honest, literally as well.


What Moses taught me is that my strength, my solutions, are useless to God.  They are not what He asks of me.  Instead He asks for my trust, my humility, my offering up of my whole self to Him.  He asks that I permit Him to give me good, beautiful gifts and not assume He would rather I solve the world's problems.

Creating anything, from a piece of art to a human life, is worthy simply for the sake of creation itself. I tend to be a black-and-white thinker, often too practical for my own good, and I can get awfully hung up on the functionality of the thing.  I see a need, I want it met.  Is what you're doing meeting a tangible need? Which is good and often necessary, but simply can never encompass the richness of the human tapestry.  We are a people created to create and we do it, each one of us, in thousands of ways.

Moses is my ever-present reminder that God never asked me to save the world, but to love it, to be present with it, and to offer it the depths of what's inside of me.  With his birth, I watched the last of judgment burn away.  And I breathed a sigh of relief as that weight fell off my weary shoulders and I loved you, all of you, a little bit more.

For all the ways that I talk about Alyosha saving me, Moses has saved me too.  Don't I know it.


P.S. If you're wondering what our "plans" for our family are at this point- well we're laughing at that word, but we're hoping that the future includes a little adoption and a little biology and a whole lotta crazy... because we know that's how we are best changed.


last two photos by Meghan Blaylock Photogrpahy

11 comments:

  1. Love this! You're teaching me a lot before I ever have to go through parenting. I feel wiser just from reading your teachings, Shan. And I LOOOOVE that Moshe & am so glad he's alive! xo

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  2. Love love love this! And so needed to read this just days before beginning our new journey into house parenting! Thank you and God bless!

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  3. Glad I could encourage your heart, Jayna. Y'all are doing an amazing thing. Praying!

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  4. Lucky for you I have a lot of failures to learn from ;)

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  5. Edna Shurden LangleyApril 7, 2015 at 7:46 PM

    As always, an inspirational piece. Thanks, Shannon.

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  6. Beautiful. Love the reminder that God doesn't need (or want!) my strength or solutions. Yes and amen.

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  7. I feel like maybe different people require different messages? Like that some need to be reminded to put works to their faith, and some need to be reminded to let God be God and not themselves? I'm in the latter category (if there even are such things...), constantly needing Him to teach me to trust Him with the bigger picture!

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  8. Erica Giavasis JarrettApril 8, 2015 at 2:03 PM

    It's so crazy, I have struggled so much with feelings of jealousy over families that have adopted and families that have been able to have lots of kids. It is so hard to be content sometimes with what God gives, but God indeed does give us the families that He knows we need. So grateful for your beautiful family.

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  9. That makes sense! I think I'm constantly rotating through a bunch of messages. Once I think I've got one down (ha!), another flares up...and then I cycle through them all over again ;)

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  10. I should have mentioned that I've been jealous of couples who have adopted multiple kids too. I've pretty much been jealous of everyone at this point I think :) You're right, contentment does not come naturally to us. Love what you said though, God really does give us the families we need if we're open to it, the ones we'll be most challenged and changed by. I'm so glad that I was present in your life during the time you became a mother! :)

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Someday, the light will shine like a sun through my skin & they will say, 'what have you done with your life?' & though there are many moments I think I'll remember, in the end, I will be proud to say, I was one of us.

(Brian Andreas, Storypeople)

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