It was a Thursday morning at 9:57 AM.
I remember sitting there.
Staring at my class of 20 pre-kindergarten students.
My head began spinning.
My heart started beating at the speed of light.
I felt like I was about to throw up.
Tears were on their way down.
“What’s wrong, Mrs. Willis? Are you okay?”
My husband had just texted me that he was on the phone with a foster care placement coordinator from our adoption agency, only one short week after we had gotten the call that we were officially licensed.
There was a four year old boy.
His name was Alex.
“Yes, boys and girls, I am okay. I might have found my son.”
All Colton really got out of the first phone call was that Alex had some extreme behavioral issues, loved cars, and was cognitively advanced for his age.
A few minutes later (which just happened to be my lunch break, hallelujah!), the emailed us a 39 page packet, which we both skimmed as quickly as we could while on the phone with each other for a few short minutes.
By some miracle, without any hesitation, we both said yes.
Yes, let’s dive in. Let’s love this child with reckless abandon.
The next several hours were torture as we experienced the roller coaster that comes with choosing to foster to adopt.
11:35 AM: ‘Yes, he’s yours.’
12:40 PM: ‘Actually you’re not licensed to handle a child of severe behavior. Never mind. He’s not yours.’
1:32 PM: ‘We want you to be his parents though, so let us see what we can do.’
4:20 PM: ‘We won’t be able to talk to the person that can give us approval to let you guys have him until tomorrow. You’ll have to wait until the morning.’
5:35 PM: ‘We took care of it. He’s yours. He’s coming Tuesday at 1 PM.’
With that final phone call, I sat there. Shaking. Terrified. Uncertain. Scared. Sobbing. Excited. Overjoyed.
As I continued sitting there, on the floor of our room, overwhelmed with feelings, I opened up an email with his picture and I almost lost it.
This would be my son.
Yet, I knew nothing about him other than he was in some desperate need for affection, love, and grace.
Would I be enough?
Would we be enough?
Over the course of the next few days, we frantically cleaned the house, bought groceries filled with things that hopefully Alex would like, installed booster seats, bought sheets, decorated a little boy’s room, bought clothes for Alex, and experienced every emotion under the sun.
What were we getting ourselves into?
What would he be like?
Would we fall flat on our face throughout this journey?
Were we prepared?
That Tuesday at about one o clock, the foster care placement coordinator texted us that they were about fifteen minutes away. I began pacing as I stared out the front window.
Our life was about to change forever.
The moment that van door opened in our driveway was a holy moment.
A sacred moment.
A moment that doesn’t come again.
He was here. My son was home.
I stared out the window as I tried to capture small glimpses of the miracle God was entrusting us with. My heart flipped inside my chest as I saw his smile for the first time.
Nothing compares to watching him run from the van to the front door, begging the foster care coordinator to ring the doorbell.
We opened the door.
He walked in.
He told us his name was Alex and that he was four years old.
He was carrying a small toolbox filled with hot wheels and Paw Patrol cars.
Colton and I got down on our knees, eye-level with our son as he showed us each care in his box, telling us which ones were his favorites. It took everything I had within me not to start sobbing.
It was both the best and the worst feeling in the world.
He stood there—unable to fully grasp what had conspired over the past five days.
He didn’t ask for this.
He didn’t choose to come here.
Tragedy, abuse, brokenness, and addiction brought him to our doorstep.
The very people that he was supposed to be able to trust had wounded him.
And here he was.
At the doorstep of yet another home.
As awful of a feeling it was, it was a beautiful moment.
Because we know God is in the process of restoring and redeeming that which is broken, wounded, sick, and, abandoned, and hurt.
He might have arrived on our front porch with horror stories to tell, but love, hope, and healing welcomed him in.
That right there is the gospel. That’s the good news of Jesus Christ.
Alex’s curious eyes and body wandered through our house as he saw his forever home for the first time. He jumped up and down with excitement as Colton showed him an old remote control car we had found. Who knew an old broken toy could bring so much joy to one little heart?
I’ll never forget his beautiful eyes filled with wonder during our first interaction. We watched him play with bubbles outside, run around the house, and play cars as we signed a huge stack of papers from our adoption agency and the state. Within about 45 minutes, the caseworkers left.
It was just us and our son now.
A family of two, now suddenly a family of three.
Would we really be enough for him?
I think with every step of faith, there’s always fear.
Some kind of doubt.
Some kind of insecurity.
I won’t be enough to make the leap of faith in the first place.
I won’t be enough to finish the journey.
I won’t be enough to land, standing on two feet when it’s all said and done..
Yet, there are things in our lives, risks we have to take—because we can’t stand not taking them. Even when we don’t feel like we are enough, we have to risk enough. Otherwise, we might die without ever fully having lived.
If I’ve learned anything over the past two months of having Alex in our home, it’s that our own feelings of inadequacy—the feelings that we aren’t enough—that allow us to see how ‘enough’ God is.
He power is made perfect in weakness.
It’s in our ability to never truly be enough that we see our perfect and desperate need for Christ.
And there Alex stood.
In our home.
In his new home.
In the snap of a finger, our world had forever changed.
There was a brand new bed in his room where he would eventually find rest.
There were little boy shoes and clothes hanging in his closet.
There were new toys and books—waiting just for him
There were new stories of hope to be written in all of our lives.
Would we be enough?
Over the course of the past two months, I have found that I am simply not enough. I’m not sure where I got this idea that adoption required perfection or that there was something I would be able to do that would prevent the grief and struggle of a life that had been invaded by Satan. Somehow I told myself that because I knew Alex was coming to use from a broken, unfair, and deeply wounded world that I owed it to him to be perfect, to be enough.
But I am everything but enough.
I am more tired that I have ever been in my life.
I have been more forgetful in the past two months than I have ever been before.
I’ve reacted towards my son in selfishness and anger.
I am far from being the perfect mother.
Being a mother has allowed me to see my imperfections in a much greater capacity than I ever have.
But, every morning, at 4:05 AM, before I go running, I meet my Heavenly Father on my knees.
And what God is showing me is that Alex doesn’t need a perfect family.
He needs a loving one.
A caring one.
A family that allows him to be himself without judgement or criticism.
He needs a place where he can kick, scream, and cry as we all try to navigate this life together.
He needs a place where grace is abounding and second chances are constant.
He needs a family that will enter into his story of grief as we wait on God to heal as only He can.
He needs a bed to lay in, snuggles, and lots of bedtime stories.
He needs a family to listen, affirm, and acknowledge him as a person.
He needs to be held through this storm and the next and the next.
He needs a family to be present. To be there. To show up.
He needs discipline, boundaries, and consistency.
He needs a place to be a kid instead of a victim or a survivor of trauma.
He needs a family to love him for everything that he is—imperfections and all.
We are not enough.
We are not Alex’s savior.
We are not his rescuers.
Adoption is not all about recue. While there is definitely a ‘rescue’ mentality associated with adoption, to simply save the child is not the call. The call of adoption is to share in the suffering. It’s to intentionally place myself and my family and my community in a place to suffer right alongside of Alex.
His suffering is now my suffering.
His story is now my story.
He joys are my joys.
His defeats are my defeats.
His pain is my pain.
What I’m learning is that adoption is not about me being good enough, Alex adjusting perfectly, or rescuing anyone from anything.
It’s about a choice of love.
I adopt him every day.
Every day I decide to love him.
Every day I decide to make him mine.
Every day I show him that he is mine by actions of love, grace, mercy, and trust.
The truth of it all is this: we are not the rescuers.
We can’t rescue anybody.
All we can do is hold on to the One who can and does rescue: Jesus Christ.
The only way our family is what it is today is because our son had to lose a family first. And while things have gone smoother than anyone could have ever imagined, we have still stepped into a gut-wrenching story of trauma, abuse, and abandonment.
The only way all got to this point is through a door of loss, hurt, and pain.
I’ve learned that motherhood is not a call to be more or do more. It’s a call to come closer. It’s a call to show up. To be present. To live.
Alex often asks us to hold him and carry him.
As a young baby and child, he missed out on necessary affection.
When he cried out, his needs were not met.
When he wanted to be held, he was abandoned.
And while there’s nothing we can do that will ever make up for that loss, we can brokenly and beautifully embrace him.
I love to hold him.
To sit there with him.
To breathe him in.
And as I touch him and hold him, I know he holds his own fears.
His own past.
His own hurts.
His own losses.
And these are now my past, my hurts, and my losses.
I wish more than anything that I could take away all those fears, all those hurts, and all of those scars. But I’m learning I never can.
He has scars that I can never erase—all I can do is pour all the love I have into them.
I love the story of how Jesus left the 99 sheep for the 1.
I just can’t get over it.
God searched for me.
He fought for me.
He found me.
He sealed me with his blood.
He adopted me.
And he brought me home.
The only way I got into God’s family was through an incredibly painful, holy adoption.
You see, I’m learning that adoption is part of all of our stories.
As Alex grows up, the depths of my heart pray that he knows he is wanted.
He is valued.
He is adored.
He is cherished.
He is loved.
So very loved.
I might not get it all right. I might not be enough for my son, but I don’t want to be enough. Only Jesus can fill that void.
I want to be here.
I want to be all in.
I want to take Alex for everything that he is; to love him without condition.
I pray that one day Alex will be sent out whole, healed, and redeemed by the work of our Savior—simply because we chose to love Alex—both beautifully and imperfectly, not seeking anything in return.
God is enough for us all.
He can overcome Alex’s grief and hurt.
He can overshadow mine and Colton’s inadequacies as parents.
He alone can sweep our entire extended family in a beautiful story of hope, healing, redemption, and grace.
God is in these moments.
The beautifully imperfect moments.
He is here.
And He is enough.