Things they don’t tell you

It was the thought that kept running through my head two nights ago, as I was bleaching the bathtub after what I called a “contamination situation:”

They never tell you about THIS.

When you’re thinking of having kids, when you’re pregnant or adopting and dreaming of the future, it’s not polite to bring up poo in the bathtub. Or if your hilarious friend does talk about it at the baby shower, everyone laughs like it’s an inside joke and you think it’s sort of funny in an “eeewww” kind of way, but the thought that it might (will) happen to you, and especially how exactly that will look, is pushed out by so many details, baby outfits, schedule concerns, when did he eat last, does he need a new diaper?

Or like my friend said when we were shopping together and I pointed out a string bikini I should maybe consider, a hilarious joke. We laughed and laughed, because our bodies have housed two babies each and though I’m crazy jealous of women whose skin can stretch and stretch and then spring back like a quality rubber band, showing my midriff in public is just something that will never happen again.

She said, “They don’t tell you about this. They don’t tell you your kids will WRECK you.”

And I suppose it’s like anything important and epic, any story that is chapters long over a lifetime: You have to experience it one detail at a time. If you could see all the messes you’d be cleaning up, the heartache, how it would really feel and the things you would cry over, you might stop trying for kids before you start. If casual conversation was an acceptable place to bring up all the ways a pregnancy changes your body forever and ever, many women would decide to never do that to themselves.

I get it. We can’t cover all of it, and you don’t want to scare anyone out of having kids. Even so, I think adoption is different.

I think we need to tell our stories, to give the whole truth, to not hide the tough or painful or wrenching parts that make you feel like your heart’s about to rip out. If we clean them up, talk of only the redemption and love and healing, we make it looks like a Disney movie. But when you’re in it, you realize that there’s no hero, and there’s no child-in-distress, at least not in the simple, clean-cut way you imagine in the beginning. It’s so much messier than you thought, and everything that looked so black-and-white in the beginning dissolves into gradations, into fuzzy gray and you don’t know what’s wrong and right anymore. The only thing you know for sure? is you aren’t cut out for this.

And THAT is the truth we need to tell.

The truth that will point not to ourselves but to our miracle-working God is that even in our brokenness, even though our child is hurting, even though we’re not perfect and we will fail them in the first day we meet, God is in the business of redemption. And through adoption, he can redeem even me. I’m not the savior here.

When we get honest about adoption and say the things out loud that no one ever told us, we can get out of the way and point to the only One who can rescue any of us.

Let’s not hold back. If you’ve adopted and a friend is sitting across from you asking what it’s really like, get into the details. Talk about the mess and the pain and the beauty and the joy, talk about what you’re learning about yourself. Do her a favor and tell her everything. Then leave it to the Holy Spirit to lead her into his plan in his time.

How about you? Are you the type to spill everything when asked, or do you hold back? Why?


Today I’m rejoicing in the birth of my newest nephew, Denison! Welcome to the world, sweet baby. And don’t worry, Adam and Jamie, cleaning up the poo in the bathtub isn’t really THAT bad. 😉

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9 comments on “Things they don’t tell you

  1. Anna says:

    “your children will Wreck you” so so true. So thankful for grace….the well that never runs dry.

  2. Love this. Thanks.

    And I am the type that holds back, right?

  3. Leah Spring says:

    Oh, I’m a tell it all kind of person! I gave you the link to my regular blog, but here’s a post I did about what nobody told me about poop on a plane when you’re flying home with your new kid! (and I will never use an airplane bathroom again.)

  4. TUC says:

    For a long time I did not want to tell it like it is because I was afraid to turn someone off from considering adoption… but like with all aspects of parenting, there are the bad parts and so I finally did write about it…

    • Love seeing adoptive mamas share their hearts. It’s so important, for exactly the reason you say in your post: Other mamas feel the same way and are terrified they’re alone. Thank you for speaking up and being unafraid! Inspiring.

  5. So true…and so practical. Parenting is messy and wonderful and exhausting and exhilarating…and we need to talk about it. Thanks.

  6. This morning, as I dropped off my “home 6 months 10 year old medically challenged daughter” and then my 6 year old “home 2 years developmentally challenged” daughter after a weekend filled with rages and grief and tears and bloodied body parts, – and drove away with my 5 year old baby – I thought “I wish it was just B and I still.” It was a hard, ugly weekend – not the first and won’t be the last. The thought lingered a while, then receded to the back of my mind. It will stay there until the incident.

    No – I don’t talk about it with people. Because most (not all – but most) people who aren’t AP’s living this dream – don’t get it. They either respond is a condescending, all knowing and patronizing way “well – just pray – I am sure God will make it all right”, or in the same tone “well, you did ask for this after all when you adopted an older child”.

    I am learning – not having a great deal of success yet – but learning, to take it to God. To leave all this hard, ugly real life stuff born from a fallen world with Him – at His cross. I am trying to praise Him through it. I am trying to see the blessings in the super small baby steps towards healing my girls make every day. I am trying to tap into the unmerited favor and grace He offers through these times.

    Adoption is the most beautiful ugly I know. Occasionally – I touch on the ugly:

    I am finding grace and redemption and healing through the honesty of others – and sometimes the courage to tell it like it is as well. Your post was spot on – thank you for being courageous.

    • Right back at you, Karen. I think the more of us who are willing to say it aloud, the more it will encourage and embolden our sisters who aren’t ready to speak up yet. But you’re so right about the reasons we keep it quiet when sharing with a non-adopting friend etc., because sometimes the grace that is so readily available from God just isn’t there from friends and family. That can be a tough reality to accept. 🙁

      I’m hoping to come to the place where it’s like breathing to take it to God, to give him everything I’m feeling, and then to extend his grace to others who might not understand.