It's been a major love fest around the Root house for the last month. To get things started, it was finally time for Caleb to undergo surgery for the repair of his cleft lip. His poor lip protruded into his right nostril causing him all sorts of trouble breathing and the wet skin portion of his lip was pulled up where it was constantly exposed to the air and would dry out non stop. This produced a lot of painful cracking and bleeding for him. The surgery went better than expected and we are prayerful this will be the only time he needs to have work done on it.
Being alone in the hospital during his surgery, and again at night with him (after the wonderful visits from family in the evening) was a God send. Knowing I would have a mountain of time alone, I went prepared with an iPhone full of praise music and sermons I had been wanting to listen to for some time. I told the Lord ahead of time I was expecting some major breakthroughs to happen, and I wasn't leaving the hospital without them!
That night in the dark room, while he lay sleeping, God and I encountered each other powerfully. I, yielded, heart broken for Caleb, submitted, desirous, begging, and God willing, loving, giving, and all powerful.
Let me share an excerpt from a great book I had just read. . . This Means War - Equipping Christian Families for Fostercare or Adoption by Cheryl Ellicott
So we survived and continued on, but I still struggled with guilt because I didn't feel as strong of a bond with them as I thought I should. In my mind, I was passionate about being a loving mother, but my emotions felt. . . anemic. I was so tired. Many times I prayed, asking for forgiveness for my feelings of apathy and for help to feel a deep parental love for these kids; it was still lacking.
One day I realized something vital: The only love that was missing was the "natural" love - the feeling of a bond between mother and child. Under natural circumstances, this strong emotional bond motivates and guides parents as they protect and raise their child. However, adoption isn't natural and these children are not as they should have been (without damage); they have extra challenges and I've been called to have something higher than natural love.
"If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that?" (Matt 5:46-47NIV)
My lack of strong emotion actually was the natural response to this situation! You might not form a strong emotional bond with this child, but that's okay because you can still love them; God's love is supernatural. Yes, I'm parenting, but under these circumstances, the typical parental feelings may or may not blossom; it doesn't matter. My mission is to nurture these kids, include them as part of a loving family, teach them scripture, and pray God will touch their lives in a powerful way and call them into a relationship with Himself. Nothing else matters.
My mission has been hard and will continue to be so - because I'm weak. But God is strong and faithful; He answers prayer, and I still truly and wholeheartedly believe in miracles.
The song Stay Amazed by Gateway Worship was playing on my iPod. The climactic point of song began to build in which it cries out to God, "I'm pouring out my love on you," and I began to shake uncontrollably as everything in my soul and spirit began to cry out to God.
Was she staring into my soul when she wrote this? Surely she was writing about me and not herself? This helped remove the guilt. A huge first step in healing so you can be set free of something. It was necessary for me to let go of the guilt, and once that was gone, the desire to bond with Caleb was not prayed for out of guilt for my own feelings, but out of pure desire for him. I knew I loved him and was giving him a life he deserved. I knew he might never know the difference, and God had bonded us to a beautiful point. But I began to desire more in the last months. I began to realize that he didn't remember life before me, and so he loved me completely. Didn't he deserve that in return? As a child, didn't he deserve to be loved like every other child God had created and placed in families? The ability to ask for this type of love was gained through the prior 13 months of breakthroughs. One laid the foundation for the next, and I pray I continue to have breakthrough after breakthrough after breakthrough. I had prayed for God to fill me with love for Caleb a thousand x a thousand times before. But "WE" - Caleb and I - had a lot of growing together to do before I was capable of allowing the miracle to manifest itself, and I fought hard for 13 months to become capable.
So there I was, in a dark hospital room with this child just hours out of surgery, and I felt sad for him in his pain, but I was still on the outside of it. I comforted him, and soothed him, and loved him . . . but it was still. . . anemic. And then Stay Amazed by Gateway Worship began playing on my iPod. The climax of the song began to build and cry out, "I'm pouring out my love on you, I'm pouring out my love on you." and everything in my soul (my mind, will and emotions) and everything in my spirit (which was SO alive with the presence of the Holy Spirit) began crying out to God in pure desperation. As I lay there, fully prostrate, face buried in the plastic couch a thousand worried parents had slept in before, I began to shake uncontrollably and my body went numb. I began to cry out to God, "Take it! I'm pouring it all out to you! I'm giving everything I have to you Lord. There is no love left within me, I'm pouring it all out on your feet. Take all of it Lord, but fill me back up. Fill me back up Lord and when you do, fill me utmost with a true parental love for Caleb. nothing lacking, nothing missing, nothing forced. 100% natural, 100% genuine, 100% complete, 100% mommy to pure born son." Over and over I wept and shook and cried out. I swear if the nurse had come in to check his vitals at this point he would have admitted me next door to the psych ward! The song ended and I stood up, the feeling coming slowly back into my body, and my breath and heartbeat returning to normal. I looked over to Caleb lying in his bed, and of course I wondered. Is anything different? I crawled in bed with him, I promised him things would be different going forward. I whispered how much he was loved and how much mommy was going to love him unconditionally for the rest of his life. But I've done that a thousand times.
I laid back down on my plastic couch with the sheet that wouldn't stay on, and I slept fitfully through the night with the nurses coming and going, and we were released. Same motions, same care and concern. We met daddy for lunch, we picked the kids up from school, daddy came home from work, it was time for dinner. And then God revealed himself. Headed to my room to change, clothes half way off, I hear a scream from the other side of the house. It's Caleb. I knew Jason was just feet from him, I had just left them, and for the past 13 months that would have been enough. Daddy will comfort him, his needs will be met, and that would have been enough for me. But not this time. Instantly, I changed course and half naked ran to him, ripped him from daddy's arms and checked him over. He was shaking violently - pointing to his lip where Bekeh had slammed the door in his face. I confirmed the stitches hadn't busted, and more pain meds were administered, but then as I held him, I began to cry with him. I hurt with him. I felt his pain to the core of my being, and I knew I would do anything to take it away from him. I recognized this feeling. I had it for my three biological kids, and often for Bekeh, whenever they were hurt. I had never experienced it with Caleb. Like I said, I had always felt sad for him when he was hurting, but I had never felt his pain with him. I began to cry harder, this time in thanksgiving that God had truly thoroughly answered my prayers.
10 Days After Surgery
Let me tell you, Caleb is a different child. I didn't share with my family for days what had happened between God and I and Caleb at Children's. But they began to say, "Man, Caleb's a whole different child since his surgery." How much more joyful, happier, brighter, talkative, skippier and crazier Caleb has been is the most talked about thing in our house to this day. Everyone has noticed the difference in our relationship, but more so, the difference it has made in Caleb.
I believed the lie that Caleb would never know the difference. I needed to let go of the guilt and understand that stage was all part of the process, but Caleb understood the difference. He knows what it is to be COMPLETELY loved like everyone else and even though the behaviors and interactions between us aren't really that much different, he still knows something is different, and he's flourishing in it.
I know in my heart of hearts adoptions is unnatural, and the things that result have to be formed by supernatural ties. But I more so know that MY GOD is in the business of supernatural relationships and He desires to completely redeem, completely heal, completely bond, and completely set us free to be who we are created to be both in the supernatural and in the natural. I know that it took 13 months of fighting like a mad woman to receive the miracle of a pure natural love for Caleb, and I would fight it over again and will continue to fight for the rest of my life to continually gain more and more breakthroughs for my good, my families good, and FOR GOD'S GLORY!
To say the least, celebrating Valentines Day was a beautiful day around here. We had a blast. Caleb and Bekeh both started preschool this month, and they are loving it. They have a long way to go to fit in academically and socially with their peers, but they are so excited, so adorable, and so friendly, they're fitting in fine and doing amazing.
Valentines Day - 4 Days Post Surgery
His lip is healing beautifully. I keep standing in authority over it and telling it to heal and for the pigment to return evenly and appropriately. It will happen. God is good. We continue to grow, experience setbacks and breakthroughs, and most of all we continue to gain wisdom and be filled with the Holy Spirit and His love daily. Life is good, so good.