I was rushing out the door and decided it was better to be 10 minutes late WITH lattes than on time because our kids were up and in our bed last night. I’m exhausted again- which to be honest seems like a constant state of being for the last 4 years. It was nightmares again for our foster daughter and it took me a while to fall back asleep so I knew this day would be a challenge.
I grabbed my purse and headed to my coffee shop first and then pulled in to her drive way and texted “I’m here” to my friend. She made it out the door and hugged teary kids goodbye that were begging their mama to stay. She made it into the passenger seat of my mini van (shoving aside goldfish cracker wrappers I’m sure) and I handed her liquid caffeine. The collective sigh as we started off to the Replanted Conference told the story of LONG days proceeded by long weeks. Such is Mama life. There are always reasons not to go, not to take seriously the call of self and soul care, not to dive deep into community. The reasons are valid and many but they keep us isolated, keep us lonely, keep us forgetting the abundance Jesus calls us into on the journey of foster care or adoption.
I have attended the Replanted Conference for the last few years because it is one of the few conferences that is absolutely worth the time, money, & EPIC arrangements that need to be made for our 4 kids in my absence (can I get an Amen?). I have learned about trauma and attachment and it has changed the way we parent ALL the children in our home. I have been overwhelmed but encouraged with resources and support. I have wept as I recorded parts of our daughter’s story I was too afraid to say out loud. I have had the privilege to be still and quiet and just listen to birth parents who made an adoption plan and felt the compassion growing in my spirit. I have been able to take a deep breath and be with friends and make new friends without constant interruptions. I have learned that I am NOT alone in navigating the difficult but blessed path to build healthy relationships with birth families. I have listened to transracial adoptees share the hard & beautiful parts of their story. I have struggled through how to love without fear alongside others with actual skin in the game. You see, I find lots of people have thoughts about our life but few have actually been foster or adoptive parents themselves. Usually we are easily put into a box of saviors or crazies. The truth is we are neither (well, arguably a little crazy). We are very human and sinful and a mess AND Jesus called us into this journey and He is seeing us through it. His abundance has been demonstrated to us again and again through the resources, kindness, tears, laughter, celebration, mourning, encouragement, & community at Replanted. It is a break from the chaos of our day to day, and a chance to remember why THIS matters.
As my friend and I drove home we talked through tears about what we learned, where we were stretched, and what we wanted to change as a result of our experiences. We reflected on all the good and hard small wins during the last year and through our processing, I was reminded of what a gift it is that we do not walk these roads alone. The isolating days can make that seem like a lie, but these moments of investment, rest, and connection tell the true story.
As we left the Replanted Conference, all the volunteers gathered in the entryway and cheered us on to the good and hard work of parenting kids from hard places. I sobbed. Parenting is something that has no finish line, very few big wins, and little appreciation or accolades. I felt so SEEN in my tremendous weakness. It made me want to choose to SEE others around me because we all need encouragement in whatever hard place or isolating place we find ourselves today (or will find ourselves in tomorrow). Friends, you are loved and seen, and if you need someone to cheer you on, I will jump and scream for you too because in your weakness you are beautiful. Come and be seen- join us.