As we all know, forgiveness is not so much for the person being forgiven as it is for the person doing the forgiving. It’s a terrible burden, to carry a grudge. Even worse, when it’s yourself you can’t forgive.
By the time we came to the decision to adopt, we’d been through years of fertility treatments, false hopes, and miscarriage. I was still young enough in life experience that I really believed that I could control my life: If I work hard enough, I can have what I want; if I try hard enough, I can become expert; if I hope hard enough, it will happen.
If I work hard enough, I can have what I want; if I try hard enough, I can become expert; if I hope hard enough, it will happen.
And so we entered our adoption journey with me being headstrong and demanding. Don’t get me wrong—I was still pleasant and friendly. But when I set my mind to something, it happened in my way. I’d seen success in so many areas of my life, when I worked really hard at it, that I truly expected that’s how our adoption would go. Sure, infertility was the exception. I finally gave up on that battle. But adoption? No problem.
When a 5-week old little boy was placed in our foster care as a child who would most likely be adoptable, we were overjoyed. I knew the moment I held him and our eyes locked that he was mine and I was his. I was not prepared for the nearly two-year fight that would ensue. The government was in control of this little boy’s future. His birth parents’ rights were terminated when he was eight months old and the Department of Social Services began searching for an adoptive family. We just figured we were top on the list—what with raising him, loving him, and wanting him! But we were informed that the administrators thought it best he be placed in a family whose skin color matched his. I went from a confident adoptive-mom-to-be to a whiny, temper-tantrum-throwing young adult. Still clear thinking, even throughout my grown-up tantrum, we explored every avenue to make him ours. In the end, we won.
It was a hard-fought, very long battle, but on Christmas Eve the judge signed papers.
So, I got what I wanted—what I worked hard for, what I tried desperately to achieve and what I hoped beyond hope I would get. So what’s not to be happy about? The outcome didn’t materialize because I made it happen. It occurred because good people pulled together and because God is in charge. Of course, I still needed to take certain actions (hiring an attorney, meeting with social workers, etc.) but my bullheaded, angry, complaining self only made life hard for everyone. How much more joyful those two years could have been, had I only exercised faith, been grateful for my abundant blessings, and worked hard with a cheerful heart.
Although I had thought that the government were the bad guys, the other hopeful adoptive parents were my competitors, and the world was against me—in the end, I was the only one who carried negative ammunition.
I’ve had trials and hardships since that experience. And gratefully, I’ve been more graceful in my approach and my endurance. And so it’s time to forgive. On International Forgiveness Day I vow to let go of the disappointment I’ve carried against myself; to remember that I was young and inexperienced; and to bury the resentment I’ve held toward my younger self. I forgive. And in doing so, I take a giant step forward in letting go of my past every day as I strive to be better than the last.