gayle from christian family adoptions said that they usually ask families to wait a year after a major family trauma to begin the adoption process. she said that they might make an exception, and asked me how we were dealing with the grief over losing sky. i don’t remember exactly what i answered, but apparently it was a good answer, a “we’re ready to adopt” answer, because she said yes.

i didn’t tell her that we left him at the memorial chapel. ashes, a lonely powdered baby, waiting to be claimed. privately, i wonder about my ability to mother a live baby, since i haven’t had the courage to collect my dead one yet.

but there is no one benchmark of a completed grief, is there? i have accepted this detestable reality, not every day, but many of them. i grasp at the broken pieces falling off me, and fix them back into place, choosing wholeness in sorrow over cowardly fragmentation. i have edited his pictures and told his story and held his memorial service and even shared a bit in church. don’t these steps count, too?

some people choose to wait two or three years after losing a baby to try to have another. broken hearts are fragile, and those who have lost know that a baby is always a gamble. we didn’t choose to wait. instead, we drag our broken hearts down a perilous new path, mapless and stumbling.

i guess i thought that death was an end. when the doctor said, i’m sorry, your baby died, it should have been over. but it wasn’t. every death births a grief journey. in our case, literally.

and the grief journeys don’t end in this life. there is no mordor, no oregon city, and no land of milk and honey. heaven is not here. there is no end in sight, no finish line, our souls will long for him long after the ashes are scattered, and our family will never be complete in this world. we will always be building onto brokenness.

but cease to build because of the brokenness? this we cannot do.


grief asks

how do we make plans for the future when part of ourselves is locked in the beyond, unreachable by any plans or future?

how do we live fully when life keeps escaping through a huge hole in our soul?

how do we live with death every day? like a cancer of the heart, it betrays thoughts and emotions, eating with guilt.

how do we experience a sense of accomplishment in a life that will always be unfinished?

how do we learn to love with half a soul?

with eyes locked in eternity is it even possible to see the sunrise of today?


hope asks

what do we do with all this overflowing parent-love, and no one to give it to?

who better can we give the empathy of our loss to, than our own adopted child who has lost their birthfamily?

what child would best benefit from a family culture of acceptance, validation, and a deep understanding of grief?

are we ready? i have no answers to this, only more questions,
and also love.


2 thoughts on “unfinished”

  1. i cannot think of a greater approach to adoption. there is grief. for adoptive parents. for biological parents. and grief for the child. but in that grief there is hope. and it is called adoption. it is a lifelong journey, but i cannot imagine any place more rich and fertile to do that grieving and reach for that hope than the home you and joel have created. with tears. and work. and ripping. and pain. it is the most safe and beautiful place for a precious little one to do his own work. i am so thankful. so proud. so overflowing with love for you and for one special baby who will know such redemption because you know it so deeply.

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