I’ve been feeling a bit defensive lately.
For a while there Part 2 of our adoption story videos was getting close to 1,000 plays a day on YouTube. I was extremely honest in those videos about my post-adoption depression and how difficult our experience has been. People don’t seem to like that. The negative comments can start to get to me pretty easily. To be fair, it’s mostly people who have never adopted before. I suppose I don’t blame them – I didn’t quite understand until I went through it either.
It’s like how a person who’s never dealt with postpartum depression can’t understand how a woman could not feel happy about a newborn baby.
Have these people really never had a wonderful change happen in their lives and still mourn the old? Have they never married the man of their dreams, but miss being single and independent? Have they never taken on a better career, only to miss the easier job they had before?
Some of the comments that we’ve received on the video, but since deleted: (The comments were deleted mostly because of the mob mentality of people ganging up and feeling their thoughts are justified because someone else said it, and also because even though we tried to reply, people just weren’t hearing it. Comments are now set to be approved.)
“This isn’t the right mother for Ezra.”
“Why did you adopt him if you can’t even provide comfort or even speak his language?”
“He should go back to China.”
“She doesn’t seem to treat Ezra the same she treats her own kids. Poor kid.”
Yeah. That’ll make you feel really great about yourself.
But I’ve come to realize the worst part about the feedback is this: People don’t understand what love really is.
They are mistaking my not being able to “feel” the way I wanted to toward our newly adopted son for me actually not loving him.
This is what is wrong with the world today – We equate love with a feeling.
According to Merriam-Webster, the simple definition of love is this:
a feeling of strong or constant affection for a person. : attraction that includes sexual desire : the strong affection felt by people who have a romantic relationship. : a person you love in a romantic way.
What a completely deficient way of defining love!
This used to be me: I was so completely in love with the idea of love. I wanted to be loved and, to me, that meant I was cherished above all things. I wanted to feel love for someone else, which meant that person would complete me and we would always have butterflies and passion. He would never let me down. We would be everything each other needed and we would always feel “in love.” And if that feeling ever faded… Well, then we just weren’t “soulmates.”
You know what happened? I found that guy. We dated 4 years and got married.
You know what else happened? One day, a year after being married to that guy, I decided I didn’t feel “in love” anymore. The butterflies and passion had faded. We let each other down. Surely we weren’t meant to be together if we couldn’t even love each other for more than a year of marriage!
I’ll spare you the details, but long story short – We almost got a divorce. By God’s grace we made it through and now our marriage is stronger than ever.
Notice I didn’t say our feelings are stronger than ever. No, but our marriage is. Because now we understand that love isn’t a feeling – it’s a choice.
Love is actually despising someone’s mistakes, but choosing to forgive.
Love is not feeling lovable, but still allowing another to love you.
Love is forsaking your fickle heart and choosing to do what needs to be done because you care deeply for someone.
Oh, wait. This actually reminds me of something!
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.
-1 Corinthians 13:4-8a
There is no mention of feeling is there?
The fact that I am being misunderstood because of a few words on a video is maddening. But you know what is worse? The fact that people just don’t understand love and they are suffering because of it.
I could defend my words and my feelings, explain that it’s perfectly normal for families to feel this way post-adoption, but that doesn’t really cut to the core of the problem. It’s time for people to wake up and learn what love truly is, because if they don’t, they have a lifetime of heartache in front of them.
You can search and search, you can go from one person to another in a never-ending cycle–because I guarantee you, no matter who that person is, there will come a day when you don’t “feel in love” (even if for a few minutes)–but until you are willing to be dedicated to someone, even when the feelings aren’t there, you won’t know unconditional love.
It’s why it’s call unconditional love.
My husband and I learned the hard way that love is a choice.
Love is an action! Love is dedication and my feelings of depression, selfishness, mourning, impatience, anger, or anything else will never change the fact that I swore to be the mother to this adopted child. I’ll make mistakes. I’ll mourn the old, celebrate the new, lose my temper, have all the patience in the world, long for the lovey-dovey fuzzy feelings, have my heart burst with overwhelming joy, tell the honest truth, withhold some things, be strong and courageous, or feel like the most ill-equipped mother in the world. Probably all those things will be felt just today! Isn’t that life? Isn’t that being a woman, mother, wife… human?
What makes the difference is the dedication and strength to wake up day after day and choose to be the best wife and best mom I can be. And when I don’t feel like it, I pray to feel like it. And if I still don’t feel like it, I do what I have to do to make it through the day.
Dare I say, the times when I felt the most loved in my life were when someone stayed even though they didn’t want to. They might have been angry, disappointed, didn’t like me right then, but they stayed and they let me know they were there. Some days that’s the best I can do. I’m sorry world, if that doesn’t fit your standard of love. It fits my standard, because I know love is a choice and love is all the better when it’s stood the test of time, trials, and heartache.
The Ugly Truth
Ezra, if you ever read this later it will probably come as no surprise that adoption was difficult for our family. You, no doubt, had a hard time yourself. We don’t ever intend to push feelings aside just so others will look at us and see a perfect little family of saints. We want to talk about those feelings. We want them to heal – us and others – and not be swept under a rug.
Although we are not your saviors, this love reminds me of our savior. Jesus prayed for God to save us any other way, because he knew the road ahead of him was going to be excruciating. Did he love us any less in that moment? Of course not! Jesus walked to the cross willingly. He chose even though he knew it would hurt. He chose even though it was the hardest thing anyone has ever endured. He chose even though it meant he would be separated from The Father, the worst thing he could possibly imagine. That is love. I know he could have chosen differently, but instead he chose me, even when I was his enemy and it was going to put him through literal hell. His love is sweet because it was such a sacrifice. It’s those of us who grasp our own sin and Jesus’ sacrifice that understand everyone is hard to love.
I get that most people don’t want to hear that being loved is hard… but think about it. Doesn’t loving through a difficult time make it that much more amazing when someone does it?
Adopting you absolutely was not a mistake. We loved you before we even met you, we chose to love you when it was hard, and we love you now.
– Mom & Dad