exactly two years ago

Joseph, four months old, with Uncle Eric at Cornerstone of Hope Orphanage in Nigeria on Dec. 10, 2010. We stumbled across this photo today.

Two years ago today, my sweet son was in an orphanage in Nigeria, waiting for a family. On the other side of the world, in the middle of the U.S., I was waiting, too.

Waiting to meet him. Waiting for paperwork. Waiting for a new picture. Waiting.

So much can happen in two years.

Today wasn’t a particularly easy day for Joseph and I. In fact, it was really difficult and left me to erupt in a puddle of tears as soon as Jonny came home for lunch.

My patience waned. I was tired. And frustrated. And angry. And guilty for feeling that way.

I felt like a failure — and then some. All of these ugly doubts and questions and what-if’s began to attack from all sides. That’s how I felt. Under attack.

I know every parent struggles from time-to-time, but I specifically felt weary from the unknowns that can come with adoption.

In the age of over-sharing online, I really believe it’s incredibly important to set boundaries to respect Joseph’s privacy. So without sharing too much: Joseph’s health leads itself to more doctor and hospital visits than a typical two year old. And every time I fill out another medical form, I’m reminded that there is so much we don’t know. There are answers that we will never have. That he will never have.

And that breaks my heart.

And it doesn’t help the lingering worry that comes with parenthood.

I want to be the best mom I can be for Joseph. I want to love him wholly and fully and I want to give him all I can.

And then days like today happen. When naptime rolls around, I collapse on the couch, feeling completely inadequate. I feel inundated with lies and drowned with doubts. And all I can do is cry and acknowledge that sometimes life is hard. Sometimes parenthood is hard. Sometimes adoption is hard.

Two years ago, I had no idea about the peaks and valleys I would encounter in the coming two years. Two years ago seems like ages ago.

From the toddler trenches, here’s so much I would tell 22-year-old Kayla:

You will grow and change. There will be some growing pains. But it will be okay.

Worrying won’t solve anything. Don’t lean on your own understanding — the world is much bigger than we know.

Perfection is an ugly myth — don’t believe it. Don’t push it on yourself. On your husband. On your son.

Adoption is always worth it.

Never stop advocating for your son.

The adoption journey is constant, and ever-changing. Hold on for the inevitable bumps and enjoy the ride.

And what would I tell that adorable little baby in the photo?

You are worth every tear, every sacrifice, and every premature gray hair on my head.

will never stop fighting for you.

It’s not your fault when I worry.

Please forgive me when I mess up. I am learning and I promise I’m trying.

When you have questions, I’ll be here. We might not know every answer, but I will always be honest and I will always hold your hand in our journey together.

You will always be good enough for me and Daddy. Now and forever. No matter what.

Sometimes things are scary. We’ll wade through those scary times together.

You really do make me happy when skies are gray.

I committed to and loved you without holding you — and that love and commitment has grown and intensified with each passing day that I’ve held you in my arms over the past two years.

Being your mama is a gift beyond gifts. Thank you for making me a mother — I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Two years ago, the holiday season was bittersweet. My heart belonged to a boy halfway around the world. Gifts were meaningless. I longingly watched moms bundle up their kids at the store, and I ached that Joseph didn’t have a mama to love on him like that.

Today, I have a son chasing our dog, stealing the jingle bells off our Christmas tree. Even on the toughest days filled with frustration and worry, parenting him is one of the greatest gifts I will ever receive. It’s pretty amazing.

I’m so thankful we stumbled across that photo today.


6 thoughts on “exactly two years ago

  1. I admire you and Jonny so much for your decision to adopt. I can barely begin to comprehend the struggles of parenthood, let alone parenthood combined with the additional stresses of adoption. But in my extremely limited knowledge, I think you guys are doing such an amazing job. The fact that you worry about the things you do, the fact that you *care* so much – you have to be a good parent to have those feelings. (And to go through all of this AND be pregnant? Well, you have to be Super Woman to do that.) If it makes you feel any better, from the outside, you seem incredible all the time.

    1. Wow, thank you so much, Justine. Reading your comment with all of these pregnancy hormones running through my veins definitely resulted in a few tears at the coffee shop. 😉 Thanks for your sweet encouragement, really.

  2. Beautiful, Kayla. I am so touched by your heart for the Lord and for adoption. Your family’s story with Joseph is such a powerful message and testimony for adoption.

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