Saturday, November 30, 2013

The Hurt of Love

 My mom swallowed hard, trying but failing to contain her tears, and I followed suit. My dad tugged on my braid (universal man-speak for everything from I love you and am going to miss you to I have no idea what to say or do right now). They both hugged me harder than ever before the gate attendant called my flight number for the final time. We reluctantly let go, furiously giving last-second hugs and kisses. And then, shoulders squared, hands held and babies hipped, Nick and I marched onto the plane and into our future.

It hurt. Ripping one solid unit in half tends to do that.

But in the nearly four weeks since we left Oregon for England, it has occurred to me that the pain is a massive blessing.

It means we have someone to miss, someone waiting for us back home, someone who prays for us constantly. Every time a wave of homesickness hits me, I try to remember that it's better to love and hurt from the loss than to feel nothing at all.

I and my babies are ridiculously blessed that way. Not only do we have untold family members sending us gifts, cards, texts and messages just to say they love us, but also smaller, often-overlooked niceties that we can be just as thankful for.

We can color a penguin dubbed Pengo and watch proudly as the bank teller tacks it onto her wall.

We get to play Temple Run while a military barber chops off our curly locks (no tears from any of you, please, I think it looks fantastic and his curls, like always, will grow back!).

We even get rewarded with a sucker for behaving during said haircut. And look like a kindergarten thug while enjoying it.

We can enjoy the wonder of an automatic carwash. (What must she be thinking?!?)

We have an insane amount of toys given by people who would die for us if the situation called for it. We have our imaginations, our completely-healthy bodies, dozens of friends all over the map, an education, the church body, freedom to be and do and go wherever we want. To infinity and beyond, even.

And if all else fails -- if the internet tanks and we can't FaceTime with relatives back home, if we're constantly coughing and/or freezing from the damp British air, if suitcase living gets to be too much, if patience wears thin -- the Kuppers always have each other. We are alive, we are healthy, we are happy.

We are family, and we help each other up when one of us falls and is too weak to get back up.

Or not...

In all seriousness, November has made me realize anew how blessed my little family is, simply because we have the gift of family.

Not everyone is so lucky. And that's why this month isn't just for turkeys and Black Friday sales -- it's also National Adoption Month

I realize adoption can seem either like a fairy-tale (as an adoptive sister, I can assure you it's anything but) or a nightmare (once again, trust me when I say you eventually wake up). I understand why people look at our and other adoptive families and say, "There's no way I could ever do that. It's just too (hard, expensive, time-consuming, heart-breaking, or any other number of negative adjectives)."

Yeah, adoption is hard. It can be expensive, time-consuming and everything else people say about it.

But it can also be wonderful, a dream come true, a life-changing experience, joy-filled, funny, magical, educational and any other number of positive things. Usually, it's a mixture of both.

Beauty side-by-side with ugliness. Glimpses of heaven mixed with horrifying peeks into hell. Laughter combined with tears. A dream injected with a heavy dose of reality.

Pain and joy, all together.

As a Reece's Rainbow
volunteer, I daily see beautiful faces -- real lives -- waiting to find their forever families. Some of them have extreme needs, others barely a blip on the special-needs map. Most of them have significant grants that majorly reduce the financial burden of international adoption (and trust me, I will help you raise the rest!).

Yet ALL require the love of an imperfect family. For most, international adoption is their last defense against slow starvation, or even worse, an abusive, premature death at an adult mental institution.

I'll bet Felix
would LOVE to feel sad when his mom leaves for a dentist appointment.

I would guess that twins Nadia and Nancy would KILL to get into arguments with their siblings over who gets to sit in Dad's lap while he reads a story at bedtime.

I'm thinking sweet, ginger-haired Joshua wouldn't mind the pain of an impatient, snappy remark from his mom...because that would mean he had someone to forgive later on, complete with snuggles and kisses.

I'm sure Mindy -- who has mere weeks to find her family before her country kills off that chance forever -- misses the mom and dad she has never met, and wonders if she's worthy of someone coming halfway across the world to rescue her.

I'm positive that Eliah, with only a cleft lip and palate, would give his right arm to one day cry as he hops onto a plane, leaving his family behind, to journey into a bright, secure future with a wife and children by his side. 

And I know that Ruben, at the top of his class and bilingual, wouldn't mind being in my shoes at the moment.

My pain, compared to these kids', is minimal. Missing my family and friends, in fact, is a blessing in disguise.

The real heartbreak comes when I realize that so many of these precious kids will never feel the hurt of love...unless you and I do something.

Will you join me?

Update: Since I wrote, Mindy, unfortunately, has aged out of her country's program and will never be adopted. Nadia and Nancy, while still adoptable, have been transferred to an adult mental institution, which, in reality, will probably slowly kill them. But Joshua and Felix, thankfully, have found families. Eliah and Ruben still wait.