I “met” my friend Everly many years ago when I stumbled on her family’s adoption story. We exchanged a few emails and have maintained sporadic contact ever since. I am so excited to share this guest post with you– a look at the brokenness and miracle of adoption (from the viewpoint of an older sister).
I was on my way home, my mom’s car whizzing down a country road, when the memory came ringing through my brain. I had seen a girl with no legs, her gait awkward as she traipsed around on aluminum appendages.
A stone fell into my stomach as I remembered what I had heard, that sometimes after an amputation, patients continue to “feel” sensations where their limbs once where. They agonize over itches that are not there. It’s a simple brain glitch, but one that leaves me curious. Our brain does not always follow along when nerves are severed, because this goes against the original design.
I turned the wheel and pulled onto our street and thought about how well this issue relates to my family.
Over the course of nine years, five children had been born on an island into four very unique situations. They were different from each other and seem tragic to us, but are quite typical in their homeland of Haiti. Born to a woman who cleaned up and sold trash for a living, a woman who wouldn’t survive to his third year, a woman who could only care for so many children, a woman who we know so little about.
Each of these children were abandoned. We cannot question the intentions, but we can look at the wound and we can see the severance.
Fast-forward to when I was eleven. I took a flight that would change my life forever. That day I would see the island of Hispaniola and a little boy with large, dark eyes. I would see a little baby who had recently been dropped off at the orphanage, completely traumatized by the institution and almost unresponsive. I would see a girl who had learned to adapt to living here when it was safe, there when it wasn’t. A girl who had seen violence and depravity and finally been given away in hopes of a better life.
A matter of months later I’d meet and fall in love with the babies.
After three years, a presidential coup, an orphanage-director coup, and a final adoption denial, the children came home by pure miracle. All but one, and she would always be missed. I fight the lump in my throat now and think that there won’t be infections in heaven, where she waits for the rest of us.
It seemed like the end to some heart-wrenching Hallmark movie. The press crawled around our property with cameras and notepads. Neighbors and cousins offered their congratulations and sent gifts. Bedrooms were painted in the new, larger house and everyone settled in for the happy ending we’d so anticipated.
But when will I learn that stories only end so that the next story can begin?
There are some ties that are never meant to be cut and four of my siblings have learned that the hard way, whether they realize it or not. Though the family picture always turns out cute and we spend our days cooking, homeschooling and laughing at kitchen table jokes, things are not perfect at Eyrie Park.
We have had to face the truth that they don’t tell you in the magazines, that adoption is second best.
Living things rarely connect to something new. Transplants and grafts don’t always take, and even when they do, they are risky. Many times the muscles or the rosebush reject the new cells and the connection is unsuccessful and every adoptive family faces this fear.
We hate to admit it, but genetics are who we are and sometimes it can be hard to make a family out of mismatched, ragtag DNA. Sometimes love doesn’t conquer all. In the end it will, but when you’re doing chores or creating hobbies or planning a family vacation, it sometimes isn’t enough to say you love someone. Sometimes you have to make yourself do it. Sometimes you wonder if you really belong in the same family, under the same roof, at all.
I have come to face the truth. My sisterhood is a Plan B for four of my siblings.
They weren’t originally meant to have this lanky, vanilla, 3rd mom in their lives. This whole living in Texas thing isn’t part of the original story. Life took a detour. Tragedy struck.
But we serve a God of second chances.
Second chances at a mom and dad. Second chances at sleeping in the same bed every night, listening to an air conditioner, not a machine gun. Second chances at an education, an upbringing, a life in which infections don’t steal little babies just because you’re poor.
Second chances at being a good sister. Second chances at keeping the peace. Second chances after you just tore into a little orphan with your tongue because they took your life and held it upside down and shook the last drop of “normal” right out of it. Second and third and zillionth chances at dying to self and asking those brown eyes to forgive you for thinking that I know how things should be.
This world is full of brokenness. Things that were never meant to be torn are severed forever.
But Jesus didn’t just die. He rose into life again. He didn’t just tell us to take up our crosses, but offered us life abundant. He makes beautiful things out of dust and binds up the brokenhearted.
Slowly we walk to heaven, a little glue at the edges, but held together. Thank the Lord.
Everly is a 20-something who lives at home with her patchwork family in Texas. She spends her time cooking massive amounts of food, laughing with her siblings and writing at everlypleasant.com