Every year on 3/21, we celebrate World Down Syndrome Day. A day which signifies the triplication of the 21st chromosome which causes Down syndrome.
Recently I reread a few blog posts that I wrote between ten and twelve years ago as we were preparing to adopt Hailee and Harper, and the early days of their homecoming. It brought back so many memories of how far we have come and how faithful God has been to my family.
But something really struck me as I pondered all that has transpired over the last twelve years.
Anthony and I were remembering a conversation that we had the day that I met Hailee and Harper in Ukraine. He was in the states, and I Skyped home to fill him in on our new daughters. The moment I saw his face on my screen, I was completely undone.
The day had been super emotional. Meeting Hailee and Harper stirred up so many feelings in me. I had a feeling that Harper would do well and would blossom and grow into a very capable little girl. She was so young and getting her out of the orphanage was an enormous blessing.
But Hailee struggled tremendously and had so much stacked against her—a history of so much pain and needless suffering. From the moment that I held her, she cried inconsolably. It was hard! Lying in a crib and being drugged day and night, she was absolutely terrified of being held or being out of her crib—the only environment she had ever known. I knew that the road ahead was going to be anything but easy.
My deepest fear was that I would fail at being their mother. “I just don’t know if I can be a good mother to these children,” I shared with my husband.
Fear had consumed me that day, and I was so afraid of not being equipped to be the mother who they would need me to be.
Could I be the mother they needed?
Could I be the nurturer they so desperately needed?
Was I enough for them?
It is true…adoption changes lives. Adoption takes children who the world so often deems not worthy of love or basic human value and gives them a chance to belong.
To be loved and treasured.
To be given opportunities to thrive and become all who God has created them to be.
And all that is a gift from heaven—God reaching down and placing the lonely in families (Psalm 68:6).
As I reflected this week, I realized once again that the greatest change has been not in them, but in me. Yes, all four of our children who have Down syndrome have thrived in every way, which is something that we never take for granted.
But truthfully, in many ways I hardly recognize the person I used to be. I read through some of my writings and it made me a little tearful over what a deep work God has done in me over the last decade. Of course, I have always loved my children fiercely. From the day that I met each one of them, they had my whole heart.
Yet I am different. I am changed. I see things so differently to the way I did way back then.
I no longer get fearful over the things that concerned me then. I don’t think about the things that our children cannot do or may never be able to do, but focus on all that they can do. I don’t worry about the future because I know God is already there. I don’t look at them and see a disability or notice their delays.
I look at each one of these four and see my children.
Perfectly made in the image of God who loves them even more than I do.
I have learned along this journey of mothering my typical children and my treasures that struggle a little more that perfection in mothering any child does not exist, nor should it be something to strive for. The social media version of being a picture-perfect mom is just not real life. We’re all just a bunch of broken souls figuring out this privilege called motherhood to the very best of our abilities. Just as I love each one of my children just as they are, so they embrace me with all of my failures and my shortcomings. They teach me about what it means to forgive every day.
They don’t care if I’m put together and have all aspects of my life Pinterest-worthy. They just need my love and my cuddles and my often-disorganized self just the way I am.
They don’t care if I make mistakes and fall into bed at night wishing I could have a do-over of the day. They love me so unconditionally.
They don’t need me to make them the fanciest meals and provide them with the most expensive toys on the market. A warm, safe home filled with joy and contentment is more than enough for them. Their joy is not determined by what they have but by how much they are loved and treasured.
They don’t care if I have a ton of money, a huge house, or a fancy car. None of that matters a single iota and the things of the world mean absolutely nothing to these four.
They don’t need a perfect mother, they just need me to be their mom—trying, failing often, succeeding sometimes, learning from her mistakes, and counting her victories as a blessing.
They really do just need me. As I am.
In a ridiculous world that looks for perfection in all things, I am so grateful that God whispers to my heart each and every day, “You are enough for them.”
Thank you for teaching me about what truly matters, sweet children of mine.
And thank you for showing me through all of these years that although there will be too many times to count when I fail, there will always be more than enough grace for me…and for you.
It is my greatest honor and joy to be your mom.