Saturday, September 27, 2008

The Joy of Adoption

It’s funny. I haven’t really talked all that much about adoption on my blog and yet it is such a huge part of my family’s story. I think it is because it has often been hard for me to put accurate words to the experience and it’s hard to feel like you fall short in describing one of the most important things in your life. I shudder to think that someone might misunderstand this most intimate of experiences. And then, to try and describe it in a literary world where there are no gestures or facial expressions or tears in the eyes to drive home your point. It’s just harder.

After all, how do I explain the bittersweet experience of seeing your child come into this world attached to another mother and yet fully yours? The experience of sitting on a hospital bed with your baby’s birthmother, each of us holding one of her tiny hands and fully grasping the glorious uniqueness of this moment…and then, one knowing she has to let go? How do I explain the ache I get leading up to my children’s birthdays, wishing I had memories of holding them in my own womb, and yet not desiring, for a moment, that their stories were any different? How can I even begin to tell you what God has revealed to me and continues to reveal to me through the beauty of pain and struggle, the beauty of adoption, the beauty of our multi-colored family, the beauty of birthmothers?

Ahh…the birthmothers. How do I explain how an experience that shatters the hearts of these beautiful women brings an irrevocable joy to my own? How in their brokenness I get to see a reflection of Christ? What I wouldn’t give for that to be able to take away the ache in them…the ache in me for them. How do I make it make sense that every new achievement by my children brings about twinges of guilt as I acknowledge the fact that two beautiful women are missing these moments so that I can have them. “Greater love hath no man than this…”

Mostly, I wish I could explain the miracle that God worked in our lives when he took these children, who were separate from us, and placed them within our hearts. The fierce love that was immediate. The miracle of that instant when we became parents of babies who were not our own and the understanding that it brought so unmistakably that they are His, and are never our own.

Right now, I am sandwiched in between two very special dates. September 7 marks the day that Bella’s adoption became final…a little more than eight months after we brought her home. October 4 marks the day that Hope’s adoption became final…almost ten months after we took her home. On these days they were declared official Kolmans, and the true heirs of our vast fortune (suckers!). On these days, the courts made official what we felt in our hearts from the moment we laid eyes on them. We were a family. Both days, we were surrounded by family and friends and were filled with thanksgiving and a deep rooted sense of joy, which comes from our belief in God’s goodness.

We are deeply grateful that God has chosen this specific path for us. We really are. We know that we were uniquely equipped for this purpose long before we ever were ready to have children. We are humbled by his grace and his abundant blessing…by his good plans for our lives. Our children, just like anyone’s children, are a reminder to us of his love. We see his heart reflected for us in the passion and enthusiasm for life that fills Hope’s spirit and in Bella’s sweetness and the tenderness of her heart. He declared us a family long before the courts ever did and even before we met our sweet girls. No doubt, he dreamed our little family up before the foundations of the earth and promptly declared, “It is very good!”

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Treasured Gifts

Last night I had a very special delivery. But first, let me give you a little background.

Even though lots of people know me as Amanda, there is a significant portion of the people in my life who call me Mandy. My parents nicknamed me Mandy when I was born and so that’s how I’m known to all of my family and to the people I grew up with. When I went to college, all of the stuff on my admission paperwork said, Amanda, that being my proper name and all, and I figured one day I might want to be known as Amanda (when I was a professional of some sort...insert eye roll here) and so I just didn’t correct anyone when they used that name. It was never that I didn’t like Mandy…I just saw it as a strategic career move at the time. I wish I was kidding, but I’m not. All of the people that I have met since entering college call me Amanda…including my husband. They think it’s weird to hear my family call me Mandy. My family thinks it’s weird to hear people call me Amanda…so formal! I like them both.

I do have a couple of friends here who occasionally call me Mandy. I like that and I think it is because, Mandy, always sounds so intimate to me, since the people who call me that have known me forever. It feels kind of like a term of endearment.

Not too long ago, I found a laundry bag that had been given to me as a high school graduation gift by my youth pastor and his wife (shout out to Kenny and Cassie Stanteen here). Cassie had it embroidered with my name, Mandy, on it. I have kept it all these years, even though I haven’t used a laundry bag in ages, opting for the more matronly hamper instead. Since Jen, one of the friends who calls me Mandy, has become quite the seamstress in the last year, I gave it to her one day and said, “I wondered if you could do something with this…maybe a purse or something.” I think I might have even said it was “no big deal, something simple,” or something along those lines. Of course, this is Jen we are talking about and I seriously should have known better.

Over the last few months, she has spent countless hours (I am serious when I say it was probably close to 100) on this bag. She has done it and redone it, sewed it and then pulled out all the stitching to start again, lovingly fixed the original, fraying embroidery, taken trips to Pueblo to find materials, including a darling piece of blue floral fabric that lines the inside, done and redone it again, and, in her own words, she, “almost threw up on the way over last night” to give it to me. Silly girl. I love it…not just because it is perfect and so much better than I ever would have imagined it on my own. I love it because it was made by my friend, who loves me extravagantly, and who somehow managed to weave that message in every stitch. It is the truest of treasures made by one of my truest, treasured friends. I love it, Jen, and I love you!