most of us are familiar with the idea of the 'american dream.' you know, the idea that we are all able to attain a life with prosperity, having nice things, raising awesome kids, and retiring to be able to take awesome trips, and spend time with grand kids.
our family bucked most of that idea a long time ago. we don't want a big house, fancy cars, and lots of stuff. we want time together, laughter, and willingly give up lots of things in order for me to stay home with our kiddos, like a second car, a cell phone, new gadgets, new clothes, and so on and so forth. we're pretty content with it though. i'll take playing candy land, teaching my children, and watching shilo sit alone for the first times over trendy jeans and a car payment any day.
before abigail came, when she was but the name that God gave to us, and a lingering desire, there was a theme for her life. there was this one word that God gave us over and over to cling onto for her. hope. her middle name means hope in hebrew. learning to hope when we waited on a baby, grew my faith. learning to hope in the face of a diagnoses that leaves scary words rumbling through your head from day to day, has grown my faith. watching strangers pour out their love, support, and financial support as we got ready to have a tumor removed from our daughter's leg, made us have hope, and it would be impossible to have anything less than faith as we watched 30,000 dollars pour in in less than a month.
since the birth of shilo though, i have had a harder time putting my finger on what exactly it is that i'm supposed to be learning. there has, again, been hope and faith lessons. but that never quite feels like the lesson at hand. there have been a lot of lessons in learning to trust, even when things look different than i had thought or hoped. but i still don't quite think that's where the lesson lies. so i'm going to back up and be honest about some things.
first of all, i have sort of said this a few times on here, but i want to make this clear; when we chose to adopt a child with down syndrome, it looked much different in my head than what it does in reality. a really cute kid with some cognitive and developmental delays was totally doable. i had pictures of being able to tell people that lots of people with down syndrome grow up to become independent, some go to college, some get married, and some even own their own businesses. sometimes i wonder if we knew then all that would come ahead if we would have made a different choice. maybe. i don't know really. i can't imagine a different choice, because it would mean shilo wouldn't be here with us. and i can't, knowing my daughter, say i wouldn't have wanted her. because i want her. and in reality, there are lots of parents, dealing with typical things who may not have had children, had they known what life was going to be like. there is grace in the not knowing.
my struggle from the very beginning was in the fact that i didn't want to fall in love with her. she had heart defects. and ohs can have not great outcomes. what if i fell in love and things went horrible. but fall in love i did. and about the time where i felt like things were going to be okay, they suddenly weren't. and most of you already know the story. hospital stay. nearly died. ohs. home. life changing. and everyday since then has gotten a little better. a lot easier. and my love has grown exponentially for my little. i think the being scared to fall in love thing is pretty common, judging by the song written by matt hammitt after he found out his son had a congenital heart defect.
we were in the hospital a year ago right now. she lived. she's here. she great. and she has way more going on than we ever would have guessed. i don't love writing out all my children's labels in one place, but for the sake of this post, i will. down syndrome, coarctation of the aorta (repaired), av canal (repaired), a second asd (repaired), cor triatriatum (repaired), pulmonary hypertension, hypothyroidism, congenital mixed hearing loss (deaf in the right ear, severely hard of hearing in left), epilepsy, significant developmental delays, and a g-tube due to dysphagia.
now, i still think my daughter is very intelligent. just this morning she signed a two word sentence for the first time ever. 'kiss baby.' that's pretty amazing at sixteen months, espeically when you spent quite a few months in the hospital. none the less, at some point the pride i had that my child could grow up and do all of the things i wrote above smacked me in the face. what if she is also severely cognitively delayed? what if she can't ever live independently? what if she lives with us the rest of our lives?
and this, this, is where my lesson became obvious. because as i wrestled through these questions, i learned something. thirteen years ago i gave my life to Christ. i said i wanted Him in control. and i do. and most of the time that doesn't bother me, or scare me, or any of that. but i didn't realize until our little came along that i still held on to the idea that our children would grow up, move out, and we would get to have all sorts of fun in retirement.
so at thirty, i've been working through the idea that it's possible, that i may be parenting the rest of my life. it isn't just shilo. our big could have any number of things come up and take away some of her ability to function. when we adopt again, we could end up with a child who has more needs than the two we already have. we may be in this thing for a lifetime. and suddenly, i was reminded that my life is not my own.
i believe that God called us to adopt. i believe He chose the two girls we have in our home, to be our daughters. i have found peace and comfort in the idea that my life is not mine to plan. i do not need to look forward to retirement and all the great stuff that will come. i need to look at today, and all the great stuff that is. the future will be what it will be. and no amount of trying to think it out, plan it out, and perfect it, will cause it to actually be, perfect.
so i accept where we are. because i'm more than willing to kill any dreams i have left in order to be who God has called me to be; a mama to two amazing beings. the american dream is a deception, a lie, and a thief of today's joy.
i choose, instead, to live the dream that God has for me.