Tuesday, October 14, 2014

2014 Retreat Recap

In February of 2014, we got news (through a random adoption facebook group) that the current directors of our agency as well as two past employees were arrested on charges of adoption fraud.

Our world began spinning. Quickly.

An ethical adoption was something we were always concerned of. I had nightmares about it-we asked all the questions we could think of, contacted others in the adoption world to think of harder questions to ask, researched like crazy. All of it. But there I was, living something far worse than anything I could have dreamed.

We spent a lot of time in tears and in a strange emotional fog. We had no idea what was happening, no idea where the boy we saw on our referral pictures was, no idea if he was going to become our son-actually quite sure he wasn’t going to.

Just weeks after that news and the swirling days that followed was an adoption retreat I truly felt led to be at. I had been excited about it for months. But to be brutally honest, that awful news just changed me. All of a sudden, I didn't want to go. I was terrified. "I'm scared I'm going to just be that sad person crying in the corner all weekend" I told people.

But I just felt like I was supposed to go. It's unlike me to sign up for a retreat where I know no one, 3 hours away, for over 24 hours. I'm an introvert that really prefers to be home with her babies. I like the occasional mom time away, but overall, I really like just being with the kids and the husband. Being away typically isn't incredibly relaxing for me.
But I made sure I was signed up as soon as sign ups opened in the winter.

I had been excited about it for months. I was going. The day I was supposed to leave, I was shaking. I was in tears telling my husband "I don't want to go". He told me I needed to and sent me on my way.

The next three hours were amazing. Just driving. In the quiet and with worship music. No one to explain anything to. No one to talk to. I really started to be able to process all that had happened in a way I hadn't been able to before with constant needs of small children in front of me.

I got there in what I thought was right on time. Because oh goodness, I didn't want to be early. I didn't want to have to talk to people. I knew I was at a very emotionally fragile state. Turns out, I was there with over an hour to spare. I tried mingling. I walked around the vendor area and bought a few necklaces for my sister and mother in law from The Adopt Shoppe. I teared up by the 1500 trees table-because I had a tree I wanted to buy for 'the boys' room but now didn't know that there was going to be a boys’ room.

After a few people introducing themselves, and asked "where are you in the adoption process?" I took my Bible into the woods and hid. ‘Just get me to the main stuff’ I kept thinking. I can hide it there.

Then it started. Finally. We started with lots of goofy ice-breakers and then there was an ice breaker that got a little deeper. Sit at a table with 8 strangers and tell them where you are in your adoption process, your biggest fear, and something else I can't remember. Oh and go in alphabetical order. (My first and last name starts with A. Lucky me!) So, I got to go first.

It came out.  I didn't know where I was in the adoption process because my biggest fear of working with unethical people and a possible unethical adoption has come true. I just kept breathing, trying not to cry, and trying hard to listen to everyone else.

Finally the main session started. I was sure it would get easier.
They showed this sweet slide show of all the families represented and this adorable picture of Addilyn and Josiah holding Gideon's picture came up and you hear "aww".

And my tears can not be contained any longer. They just can't be stopped. I left to hide in the bathroom. Because I was NOT going to be a sad person crying in the corner. Was NOT.

Then Jen, one of the Joy in the Journey gals, came out to talk with me. She knew I had been considering not coming. She knew what was going on. And she let me vent. She let me tell her all the stuff going through my head and that I was walking away. I couldn't do it. I didn't know that I could trust anyone in Ethiopia anymore and didn't know if I could try. But I loved that baby. I wanted to know he was safe. And she was kind and loving and encouraging through all the word vomit coming out of my mouth that made absolutely no sense, I'm sure.

Then we had the first session. I skipped whatever I had signed up for because it sounded serious and I couldn't handle it. I didn't want to talk about adoptive kids coming home right now. So I stayed right where I was. I listened to this woman talking about staying connected to your spouse in the crazy. And I laughed and smiled and truly enjoyed every second. I learned about just staying connected to Derrick-how little tiny things were important. How it was ok to be in crazy-mode sometimes. And how making it fun or laughing about the crazy was equally important. After that session, this woman came up to me (at the time, I didn't even know her name). I recognized her as someone who I 'met' during one of the ice breakers but didn't remember anything else about her. She handed me a necklace and said "I almost didn't buy this but I did and I think it's yours."

I felt like that was just God shining. Ready to give me a hug. Just there. No need to be afraid. I talked with a few more people that night, some knew bits of my story, some did after we talked. And I learned some of their stories.

I loved hearing the adoptive moms panel and things they struggled with or needed to do. These women loved each other and each others stories. They loved just being and learning and loving their families.

The next day, I was handed a paper from a friend I talked to the night before who knew what this middle ground and losing a referral felt like.  She gave me scripture and told me she was praying. My roommates prayed for me out loud, together. Just because.

I talked to another mom who had gone through our agency and could be sarcastic and snarky with me. Cause I needed that time to be angry too. A group of Ethiopian adoptive Moms took a picture together (I couldn't believe they let me be a part-I was SURE I wasn't going to be a part of that group) then prayed together, for me, for our family, and for our boy. That is a moment I will never ever forget.

I left knowing adoption was in our story, even if I wasn't sure how anymore. When I came home and my husband asked about the sessions, I talked about the correcting while connecting class and a few other things about attachment and connecting to your children and he said "Oh, so these were like your people. They talk and think like you?" Yep. Exactly. That retreat was filled with my people. And I was so very blessed to get to be a part.

So, if you’re adoption story doesn’t look pretty right now and it’s making you second guess if you should sign up for this retreat:
Just sign up. I promise God will use every moment to encourage you. Even the hard ones and the times you hide in the woods. 

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