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We are terrified

In two days we board a plane and begin our journey to Africa to bring Abby home. So many folks have asked us if we are excited, and we understand that being a natural question. We have waited so long. We have dealt with all sorts of set backs and delays, and certainly feel like we have "labored" for this delivery! The realization that the preparation and waiting stage is ending is a wonderful thing, and we look forward to having all of our family under one roof, finally.

But, if we are honest, our primary emotion is not excitement. We're flat out terrified. We have an idea what to expect, based on others' adoption experiences, but because even those vary so much, we truly have no idea what the next few months will be like.

Sure, we've parented other kids, but how to parent an adopted child is not instinctual. At least to me. Frankly, parenting wasn't instinctual to me the first time, either. When I was pregnant, I could have cared less about reading books about the size of my fetus at 24 weeks or what foods I should eat to increase the baby's IQ--I was reading books on infant care and parenting toddlers--and TWINS no less! The pregnancy stage kind of happened in spite of me--kind of hard to mess up--but what about what comes after!! I had no idea what to do and had little experience with babies. Each stage we have gone through, as my kids have grown up, has required me to research and learn, and I was just beginning to think I had the hang of it!

But all the reading and preparation I have done to prepare to bring Abby home is showing me that I will have to change my approach from how I have parented my biological children, based on building trust and attachment with a 4 year old. I have never parented a child who has suffered so much loss and disruption, and at an age where she is old enough to understand it.

Joe is an incredible father. He is a protector and a fixer. He is coming to grips with the reality that we cannot fix all Abby has been through...we can only love her unconditionally and pray she embraces the love of her new family.

We know there will be times of great joy and fun. We look forward to sweet bonding, cuddling, and affection. We expect to laugh alot.

But we know there will also be times of pain, grief, and sadness. Probably frustration and tantrums. Communication barriers and sensory overloads. We expect to weep, too.

We feel under-qualified and somewhat unequipped to be exactly what Abby needs. My friend looked at me the other night when I was sharing my fears and said, "You're going to do alot of things wrong. There. Now that I've said it, do you feel better?!" She's right. I will. I am an imperfect person and therefore an imperfect parent. It feels like so much is a stake, and I just don't want to mess it up. But I will, sometimes. And acknowledging that up front is helpful for me.

God is not expecting me to do everything perfectly. I am not the one healing her. I am not the one redeeming her. He is.

And I'm praying He will use me to communicate His perfect love for Abby, build security and trust in her little heart, and shower her with affection and affirmation. And then I pray He will fill in the cracks and crevices where my efforts fall short.

One thing we know. We have never been more sure of anything we have been through as a couple: adoption was God's plan for our family. Abby is meant to be our daughter. And we have the Lord walking it out with us. All will be well.

When I am afraid, I will put my trust in You.
Psalm 56:3


Andrea said...

Yep, terror...have felt it myself, twice so far! And the second time I kinda knew what we were in for... It's a bit like strapping into a roller coaster that you cannot see. You can't see the twists and turns, the hills or the drops... you just hop into God's hands and hold on for the ride of your life! :)
Praying for you!

Christy said...

Praying for you guys, Rachel! I know the Lord will be with you every step of the way and give you wisdom and patience and strength right when you need it. Thanks for your honesty and vulnerability in letting everyone see that it's God at work through you and letting Him receive the glory for it.

Jenn said...

Rachel, this is beautiful. I seriously almost teared up reading through all the cares and concerns, and excitement you are about to experience with welcoming Abby into your family. But you are right that God knows exactly what and WHO Abby needs. I'm so happy for your family and your decision to adopt. I'm not a parent (yet) but for some reason this really touched me. We are praying for you guys! Can't wait to see more pics of your new daughter :)

Jenn Martin

Cindy said...

It is a crazy beautiful ride. It is hard and wonderful. We started balancing out about 6 months home. At 12 months it was like she had been with us forever. I think the hardest realization for us has been that we cannot heal her heart. 2 1/2 years later and we still work towards that part every day.
Have an amazing trip. Your daughter is beautiful and knowing this age of Ethiopian girl well I would guess she is strong! Best Wishes.

Kelley said...

Thank you! Thank you for putting into words, what has been on my mind and heart, but haven't been able to articulate.

We are FAR from hopping on a plane, but the fears are still there.

mrstraciewhite said...

"God is not expecting me to do everything perfectly. I am not the one healing her. I am not the one redeeming her. He is."

Amen and amen. Your love will be a healing balm to her, but only the LORD can heal the parts that no other human on earth can heal, even you, her Mommy.

No expects you to be perfect, there is no such thing! And you are so right that things will be different with your adopted daughter compared to your biological children. Often we have to step back with Rachel and remember what she's been through. Sometimes she has sensory issues, like loud noises upset her. One of the kids said, "None of us were like that." Bingo! And none of you were born drug exposed to seven different illegal drugs, either.

As a family, we have grown and the Lord has taught us so much. I wouldn't change a thing. Yes, sometimes its hard. Yes, sometimes I've prayed for patience, for understanding, and for loving feelings. God is good and He hears us and answers our prayers in His time.

After 4 1/2 years, I can't tell the difference in my love for any of the children, but it wasn't always so. And that is just the plain old painful truth.

We are praying for you and your family and Abby. Everything you feel now and later on and is normal and typical. Thank you for allowing me through this blog to share and hopefully encourage you.

Love in Christ,


Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing your fears and concerns. I understand... but not yet fully. Praying for you guys! We will be praying daily while you are gone for safe travels, for your children at home, for sweet Abby, for your trip back with her. So excited to see Him work in your life and through your life:)

Melissa said...

You said it all so beautifully! Love how the Lord shines through all that you do and say.

When Moses was on the mountain and he had to keep his staff held high so that Joshua could fight and win, he was getting tired, weary is what the bible says, BUT Aaron and Hur came up to that mountain, gave Moses a stone to sit on and help hold his hands in the air. They all had to do it together.

You are NOT alone in all of this. You never were in the beginning and you are certainly not when sweet Abby comes home. I will be there ( along with so many people) giving you a stone to sit on, helping you hold the staff of God. Crying with you (okay I know the men didn't cry, but I'm sure they wanted to) loving with you.

We are hear! and more importantly like you clearly stated it's all about Jesus and He will take care of everything.

Love you friend!

To God be the Glory! said...

Have always said, if I could have a do over, I would want to parent as Rachel & Joe. Praying of course, confident in the Lord's working in you guys. Little Abby is blessed just like the other 4 Walser kiddoes!

To God be the glory!

Amy said... are in for a TREAT. Not a smooth ride, but a treat. :) God's grace is so wide, so abounding and encompassing! I know the fear of adopting an "older" child. All I can say is God supplies. Over and over and over again. He who called you is faithful and HE WILL DO IT! Sending you so much love and many prayers your way. Go get your little treasure. :)

Chrissy said...

No relationship is perfect but the plan that God has for Abby's life is!! Thank you for revealing your fears so that we can all lift you up in prayer! May the Holy Spirit help give you the natural intuition that you're looking for, and may God fill in any gaps that you have while you are bonding your family together... GOD BLESS AND MUCH LOVE TO YOU GUYS!!

Meyerdrk said...

{{{{{Hugs}}}}}, and prayers daily for you and all yours! you

Unknown said...

Oh precious Sister! I can't help but think of a quote that I was shown recently by C.S. Lewis:
"He seems to do nothing of Himself which He can possibly delegate to His creatures. He commands us to do slwly and blunderingly what He could do perfectly and in the twinkling of an eye."
You have been carefully selected to 'blunder' through this task ~ REJOICE and give thanks to an amazing God!
Jumping for joy with you and can't wait to "meet" Abby!

Lizzy said...

Rachel, your humble transparency is such an example to me - not only in your blog posts about adopting Abby but in the way you live your life and interact with others. we are praying so much for your time in Ethiopia with Abby and for all the transitions, ups & downs, times of tears & laugher etc. upon your return. "He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion on the day of Christ Jesus!". What you are doing is so hard in the immediate sense, but will undoubtedly be one of the most rewarding things you will look back on in your life...for in this adoption process with Abby, you are modeling what the Father did for us through His Son ~ adopting us broken, needy orphaned sinners and making us whole & beautiful by His faithful, redeeming love! <3