Just over 10 years ago, I got divorced. It was a situation where I felt the rug had been completely pulled out from under me; it was hard, painful, and scary. In the years preceding the divorce, all I wanted was for everything to be ok. I didn’t want to go thru heartache and struggle, and prayed and pleaded with the Lord to not lose what I loved so much. But that wasn’t meant to be. Even though my prayers weren’t answered in the way I wanted, they still were still answered. I learned invaluable lessons, met people I will remember forever, and knew the Lord was with me. Two short years later, I met my sweet husband, was remarried, and have been blessed beyond my capacity to imagine. I would not change a thing. I wouldn’t even change having to go thru that difficult situation because of the experience I have gained. However, even as the years went by, I sometimes found myself questioning the “why” of that situation. Not why it happened, but why it happened to me. I had felt good about my decision to get married, and done everything right, and yet still had to go thru the hardest years of my life because of it. I know that we can suffer greatly because of someone else’s agency. I wondered why my prayers were not answered the way I wanted, or if I would ever understand it. What if I had done something differently? What if I had made different choices or at different times? I realized I may not find out the answers behind this situation in this life.
In preparing for our adoption, we completed 26 long and lovely hours of “Parent Ed”. Parent Ed teaches you what to expect with adoption. Every issue your child could possibly encounter and every mistake you could make as a parent is brought up in glorious detail. Any anxiety you have in the back of your brain is confirmed, every fear brought to life, and some things you never even considered thrown in for added measure. In the end, though, it has this uncanny ability to better prepare you for adoption.
One of the things we studied in Parent Ed is “Loss”. Our daughter has experienced Loss. Loss of her first family, and loss of some of her abilities. She will experience a loss when we bring her home from the orphanage and from China, the only life she has ever known. We will be the strangers and will be the cause of this pain for her. However, because we see the end result, we know it is the right thing for her. We can lovingly and gently encourage her on thru her loss because we know what she has to gain: joy, care, love, a forever family, and a lifetime of opportunity. It is easy for us to see that, and yet, I have a feeling I will still ache for her and cry with her when she is grieving, feeling loss, and adapting.
I realized that 10 years ago when I was going thru my struggle, I experienced a great deal of Loss. My Heavenly Father,in his wisdom, could see what was ahead of me. He knew what was better for me, even though I didn’t know at the time and was pleading for mercy for things to stay the same. When I thought things weren’t going my way, there was a plan for me all along. He couldn’t stop it because it was definitely the right thing for me. And yet, in my struggle, I know the Lord cried with me and understood every pain I experienced. I still don’t know all the “why’s” or all the answers, but I know that God loves me for what I went thru. He just does.
As adoptive parents, sometimes when we accept a referral of a child (which we did when Camilla was 2.5 years old), we think that everything will be ok, because they have a family now working toward their adoption. It is like the clock stops on their progression because we aren’t there to see it. But it doesn’t. This year, we realized that everything was not ok for her, as she was continuing to have delays and damage. Her medical condition will cause brain damage if not properly treated. We felt helpless. We went thru the “what ifs”….what if she had been born in a country where treatment was more available, what if we had done our paperwork sooner, what if… It was heartbreaking. Elder Holland said:
“I do not know all the reasons why the circumstances of birth, health, education, and economic opportunities vary so widely here in mortality, but when I see the want among so many, I do know that ‘there but for the grace of God go I.”
(“Are We Not All Beggers?”, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, www.lds.org/generalconference/october2014)
I have come to realize that Camilla’s only challenge was not being born with PKU or being abandoned. Part of her journey is the first 3.5 years of her life in the orphanage and all that entails. Her challenges won’t automatically stop when she comes home. But that is ok. Because we can see her happy ending. Someday I will be able to tell her that “what ifs” don’t matter, because no matter what, the Lord loves her for what she has endured. He loves her, He knows, and He understands.