Anchored Joy

Joyfully bringing healing and wholeness to our adopted kids


Thoughts on Birthdays and Adoption

AdoptionTracee WagnonComment

Every year on their birthdays I desperately try to remember what I was doing... I wake up and think, "Shouldn't my heart have known that my child, from my womb or not, was born today?"  It seems impossible to me that a day that changed my life forever could be lost to me forever.  

Did I wake up and have my morning coffee?  Did I have a good day?  I am inclined to think I did. Somehow I know that God must have whispered something into my heart the day both girls were born... I like to think that I spent those days being hopeful instead of heartbroken.

Later during the day, my mind always turns to their birth mothers.  And I always come around to the realization that the fact that I can't remember their birthdays, but their first mother's can, is just right.  (I'm speaking just for our family, not for anyone else's.  I am definitely not generalizing for all adoptive families.  Everyone's journey is different.)

The days my daughters were born were between them and their birth mothers.  I've come around to being thankful that they had that day together.  I know despite the outcome, their birth mother's loved them that day, and still do.  I imagine they held them on that day, just the way I held my children that came from my own body on the days they were born.  We have learned so much about how hard it is on our girls hearts that they did not get to grow up with their original families.  I can't help but be thankful that they got this day with them, a day full of that joy and discovery between a mom and child.  We know from research that though they may not cognitively remember that day, their body remembers.

While part of my heart will always wish I was able to birth all my children or be there the moment they entered this world... I've come around to accepting the actual events of those days.  I've come around to knowing that their stories, our stories, have played out just as God intended.  I've come around to being thankful for their birth mothers, who chose life for my girls.  It definitely didn't come naturally, it was something that I worked at - for my daughters' sake.

Today, on my daughter's 9th birthday, I think of her birth mother and I pray that she is ok.  I pray that she cherishes the moments she had with our little girl.  I hope she knows that her daughter is loved and well cared for. That she's part of a family.  She's a big sister and a little sister.  I wonder if our daughter got her natural talent for anything sporty from her birth mother, because she so did not get it from anyone else in this house!  I hope her heart doesn't ache too much, but I imagine that it does.  I hope she knows we tell our daughter that her birth mother did the best she knew how, and that no matter the outcome - she loved her then and loves her still now.

I may not have gotten the first day, but I get so many amazing days.  It's a privilege I try, like every mother, not to take for granted.  



Spiritual Warfare in Adoption

AdoptionTracee WagnonComment

"Adoption is Spiritual Warfare"

I keep seeing this statement.  If you follow some of the prominent adoption pages on social media I'm sure you have too.

My first thought on seeing this was relief.  Relief that I wasn't alone in my feelings on adoptive parenting.  Many days in my home I am fighting a battle for my child's heart.  

Furthermore, I've learned that I'm either gaining ground or losing ground.  There is no "cease fire" from this battle.  If I'm not actively engaging and gaining ground, then you can bet the enemy is advancing against my child, filling her head full of lies, stealing back the ground we'd already won.  

When I see this statement though, I do wonder if many adoptive and foster parents are left with the question - 

"If adoption is truly spiritual warfare, then how do I respond?"  

In the early days of our foster/adoption process, we were fairly new to church.  I had gone to church as a teen, but had fallen away during the early years of our marriage.  My husband did not grow up in church, and though he believed in God early in our marriage, he didn't fully give his life to Christ until around the time we began our foster/adoption journey.  So we really were baby Christians.  Had you told us that we were about to go head first into battle, we probably wouldn't have believed you, or had any idea what to do about it.  Many families are ready and prepared for the fight, but we were not.

While I have not specifically studied spiritual warfare, over the next few posts I would like to share some of the things that have helped our family in this battle, as well as a few things God spoke to my heart in the early days.

When we first realized that our sweet Warrior Girl's behavior wasn't actually strong will, but a deeper issue, God spoke a few things to my heart as I desperately sought answers for her.  I remember the Lord reminding me what kind of life she had come from, full of chaos and neglect. As I pondered what her life would have been like, had she continued in that life, it was a very bleak picture.  I heard the Lord say, "As much as I have a plan for her, so does the enemy.  He liked her where she was, in that destructive place and now that she is in a home where she is taught about Me, the enemy is angry.  He will not give her up easily.  You have to fight for her."  It wasn't only an issue of trust vs. mistrust, but also a spiritual battle.

(If you're wondering if the enemy having a plan is Biblical, consider 1 Peter 5:8 "Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.")

A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.  Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil.  For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.  Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm.  - Ephesians 6:10-13

Be strong in the Lord, put on God's armor, stand firm.  

Please join me tomorrow as I share some tools God has given us to war with Him in the spirit for our daughter.

The Privilege of Adoptive Parenting

AdoptionTracee WagnonComment

This is my daughter.  My tree climbing, horse riding, book reading, Warrior Girl.  Today I want to tell you what a privilege it is to be her mom.  

I haven't always felt this way.  "Why me?" has actually crossed my mind quite a bit.  If you've adopted a child that has problems attaching, you probably understand.  The hard days (and nights) wear you down.  More than once I've fought with God, "I didn't cause this, why do I have to fix it?"  And more than once He has gently reminded me that He didn't cause sin, but He sent His one and only son to fix it.  For me, a sinner.  

The same chapter of the Bible that commands us to care for the widows and the orphans also says at the beginning to, "Count it all joy, my brothers, when you encounter various trials" (James 1:2)  So how do we count it joy when we have a child that rejects us?

I'll tell you how I'm counting it as joy today.  I have had the privilege of easing her broken heart while she grieves her birth mother and what should have been.  I have had the privilege of teaching her how to manage big feelings that come along with so much loss at a young age.  I got to be the one to ease her fears of the future, when she thought it was going to be her against the world for her whole life.  

I am the one that gets to teach her about love, the most powerful force on earth.  

And yet in the process, my sweet warrior girl has taught me more about love than I could have ever hoped to learn anywhere else.  

I learned about love the day I said, "I do".  I learned about it the first time I heard my son's heartbeat inside of my womb and the moment I held him for the first time.  I learned about love through ups and downs in the beginning of my marriage.  I learned about love with our very first foster placement.  (I remember that was the first time I knew love could be so fierce.)  I learned about love when our middle daughter was placed in my arms and after the social workers left, my husband and I peeled the old ratty hospital gown off of her and counted her fingers and toes and dressed her up in pretty pink.  I learned about love when my Warrior Girl walked into my home at 18 months old, the first day I was her mom, and she crawled up in my lap and fell asleep in my arms.  I definitely learned about love after 11 years of praying for a pregnancy and finally learning I was pregnant with a miracle.

Teaching someone to love must be intentional.  Without my Warrior Girl, I still would have loved and had a large capacity for love, as that's something God put in me when He created me.  But I may never have known these valuable love lessons, which are incredibly dear to me now: 

Love is hard work.  Something I knew from marriage, but in adoption is taken to a whole new level.  

Sometimes I am no good at love.  Sometimes I just downright fail at it.  I need Jesus and His kind of love flowing through me.  Only then can I give her the love she needs.

Loving can be, and should be, fought for.  Again, something that we learn in marriage, but is so much... more... in adoption.  Proving to someone that you love them, unconditionally, when everyone before you has let them down, well it's going to be a fight.  But it's also going to be worth it.

Love can be scary.  Being vulnerable is hard.  Loving a child that rejects you can cause you to want to behave the same way - reject them.  You want to throw your walls up, after loving them so hard and so long and being rejected so many times.

Jesus loves me.  With a never ending, beautiful, full of grace, kind of love.  I should have known this before, and I did to some extent.  Every day I know it more.  Mostly through the mistakes I just keep making and the grace He just keeps giving.

There is an endless capacity for love.  Love isn't ever divided, it is only ever multiplied.  

There are certain places in your heart that can only be filled by specific people.  Or Jesus.  But no one else can fill them.  And we shouldn't try to.  My daughter has a birth mother size hole in her heart.  I can't ever fill that space.  It's not meant for me.  There is still plenty of room for me (see my last point) and I don't have to ever feel intimidated by that spot, or nervous to fill it, or uneasy about it!  I hope that one day she meets her birth mom, and that the spot can be somewhat filled.  But there will still be woundings there that only Jesus can heal.  What I can do is be there for her when that hole in her heart hurts, because it's going to.

I may not be able to count it all joy every day (I am a work in progress) but today I count it JOY that I have the privilege of being her mom, of walking her through healing and that I am learning just as much as she is.  I love this girl with a fierce kind of love that will never give up and keep on learning and fighting for her full healing.

What are some things you've learned about love, as a mom?