Guest Post #2
I love reading a good guest post on other blogs. This one is no exception. Tara and her husband Jon, have worked with us at the church for over ten years. Tara can be explained in one word - SPARKLE. She has a sparkling personality that lights up a room. But she went through a hard time a couple of years ago when, out of the blue, they were faced with the decision of adopting a little girl. Tara shares in a very honest and gut wrenching way, the feelings she had about this process and how God was able to give her a new perspective. It is a beautiful story and told best in her own words.
And so, I'd like you to meet...Tara.
|Tara and Jon Downs|
About 4 years ago, I happened to be at work and thinking how awesome my life was. My husband and I had been married for 21 yrs. Little did I know that one simple phone call was about to CHANGE OUR LIVES forever.
One morning, I was listening to my voicemail. It was someone from our church asking if we would consider adopting a six year old little girl. I then proceeded to casually erase it and texted my husband to give him the heads up. I was thinking, "NO, life is good. I've been singing praises about how good my life is right now." I was swollen with pride and happiness. But Jonathan's reply? It was...YES.
I tried every excuse in the book ... there is no room... it's a girl- we have boys! We stopped at four children for a reason. Our savings is for ITALY for our upcoming 25th wedding anniversary... a bigger car... all this will cost money..."NO!! I'M DONE!" Jonathan's reply...YES.
Later the following week, we met with all the powers that be in starting this process. I struggled even up to the adoption day itself...."Please God, is there a loophole to get me out of this? I'm screaming inside...I feel like I am drowning...can anyone hear me? I want out of this, God...find someone else. I never asked for this."
I was so numb by my own struggles that I could not even hear the struggles of a 6 year old girl trying to fit into a house full of boys. I went to any class that would help me understand her world. She was experiencing unsettling thoughts that no 6 year old should. She was constantly worried about her next meal. Because of the background that she had come out of, it was important to her to know that there would be a next meal. But I was also dealing with her lying, stealing, hoarding, anger issues, hitting, and even damaging our home. I was struggling with her ADHD. She and I butted heads by the hour. My husband and I fought more. My boys were constantly angry. I was always sleeping with one eye open. I would jump at every movement she made and spent my time blaming my husband and his YES reply.
My home was in chaos and my identity as a "great" mom was shot all to heck. Furthermore, I couldn't stand to be in the same room as my husband.
Ironically, my closest friend happened to be adopting her niece the exact same time as our adoption. I thought, " I'll talk to her about my struggles." But rather than helping, we ended up with a double drowning. We fueled each other's fire of frustration which caused us to both sink and dislike our situation even more. We both sincerely wanted to do the right thing - but it was hard.
I kept asking myself, " WHY am I refusing this gift from GOD? " I was kicking it away and yelling for him to take it back, "LORD, what were you thinking?"
I felt like I had to try and talk to others about what I was going through. But that seemed to only backfire. I felt that I was condemned, judged, and told it was my fault. How could I not embrace this little girl? Seriously, I so wanted to hit a few people. Everyone was so masked by the word adoption. In the movies, every ending ends with tears of joy while running through a field of daisies. BUT, not in this house. We were all licking sandpaper and slowly forgetting what happiness meant. I secluded myself from friends, family, church... the whole world. Putting on make-up was not an option anymore and sweats were where it was at. I was exhausted.
My friend, who I mentioned earlier, has a son who needs just a bit of extra love and attention. I adore hanging out with him. Through some special services he retains, I was able to sign up and take him on outings. With these services, I had to take training classes myself every month. I was eager to go, not just for him, but for this new addition to our family and for my own sanity.
During one night of training, the teacher was talking about the parents with special needs children. They would be encountering struggles and heartache for many years to come. She gave us a story to read which I will share below. I sat at my table after hearing this story and began to cry. All I could do was cry. I kept crying until class ended. Then I cried during the 25 min drive home. I wasn't even sure why I was crying.
My senior Pastor began asking how I was doing. I would just smile and say, "Fine." My husband and I are leaders in our church and meet periodically with him. Then the time came for a meeting with Pastor Dave. I finally explained what I had been feeling while he listened. After listening, he simply said, "You are in mourning, and guess what? It's okay!" He hit the nail right on the head. I cried as much as I did that night of the training.
He had told me about some of their struggles and his own mourning which he had faced in his life with their special needs daughter. He told me, "You are not going crazy. You are normal. This mourning will come in phases. Be prepared - it may cycle again." That was it! My whole family was mourning a life we had been living. SHE was mourning a life that was taken away. Whoosh!! Then I knew. We can get past this. For the first time that day, I hugged that little girl so tight. She had to tell me to let go!
Are we singing happy endings?? Not 100%, but I'm just excited that now I have a desire to work for that little girl who God so purposely placed in my arms. And when I have my bad days, which I do, I pull out this short story, read it, and then cry a happier cry.
WELCOME TO HOLLAND by Emily Perl Kingsley
I am often asked to describe the experience of raising a child with a disability-to try to help people who have not shared that unique experience to understand it, to imagine what it would feel. It's like this--
When you are going to have a baby, it is like planning a fabulous vacation trip --to Italy. You buy a bunch of guide books and make your wonderful plans. The Coliseum, Michelangelo's David, the gondolas in Venice. You may even learn some handy phrases in Italian. It's all very exciting.
After months of eager anticipation, the day finally arrives. You pack your bags and off you go. Several hours later, the plane lands. The stewardess comes in and says, "Welcome to Holland."
"Holland?!?" You say. " What do you mean, Holland?? I signed up for Italy. I'm supposed to be in Italy. All my life I've dreamed of going to Italy."
But there's been a change in the flight plan. They've landed in Holland and there you must stay.
The important thing is that they haven't taken you to a horrible, disgusting, filthy place, full of pestilence, famine and disease. Its just a different place.
So you must go out and buy new guide books. And you must learn a whole new language. And you will meet a whole new group of people you would never have met.
Its just a different place. Its slower-paced than Italy, less flashy than Italy, but after you've been there for a while and you catch your breath, you look around...and you begin to notice that Holland has windmills...and Holland has tulips. Holland even has Rembrandts.
But everyone you know is busy coming and going from Italy...and they're all bragging about what a wonderful time they had there. And for the rest of your life, you will say "YES, that's where I was supposed to go. That's what I had planned."
And the pain of that will never, ever, ever, ever go away...because the loss of that dream is a very significant loss.
But...if you spend your life mourning the fact that you didn't get to italy, you may never be free to enjoy the very special, the very lovely things...about Holland.
I love the honesty with which Tara shares her story. I love her, her sparkle, and the way she walks out her faith, don't you? Thank you so much, Tara. I know you will touch every person that reads your story.
I also plan to ask every lady that does a guest post to share their favorite beauty product. What is Tara's?
*Beauti-Control Powder Foundation
This is the Tara we all know and love. Who knows what she is doing while everyone else is looking at the camera?
Linking up to: homestoriesatoz.com savvysouthernstyle.net frommyfrontporchtoyours.com nominimalisthere.blogspot.com impartinggrace.com frenchcountrycottage.blogspot.com and kellyskornerblog.com
Thanks to both of you for sharing such a heartfelt story! Tara is gorgeous ~ReplyDelete
Hi Pat! She is - both inside and out. Thanks so much for writing!Delete
Thanks for sharing, I remember reading this story approx. 19 years ago when we started attending different support groups for parents with special needs children.ReplyDelete
Thank you, Juli! That story ministered to my heart, too. I've had to learn that Holland can be nice, too :)Delete
This is incredible, and connecting me with me on so many levels...and the Holland story is fabulous too. I ended up liking Holland so much that I stayed there ten years and married a Dutch man. :-)ReplyDelete
It was a great story.Delete
Yes, you are right!! That is really liking Holland!
Kathy, Thank you for sharing this wonderful adoption story at the Open House party!ReplyDelete
You're welcome! Thanks so much for hosting.Delete