Dear five-year-ago self…

July 29, 2015 by The Rippke's

Hey self. Five years ago self. Younger self, about to start down a really crazy path to parenthood. I’ve been thinking about this for a while…but you know, it’s been a little crazy around here. I know you think you have an idea of what you’re doing. What you’re about to do. But I’m lovingly here to tell you…that you kiiiind of actually don’t. You’re heart is in the right spot, it is. And I admire that “we can do this!” attitude. You’re going to need it. But you’re kind of naive about what this is actually about (hint: it’s not about you even 1%). And in the next five years God’s going to open your eyes in ways you aren’t ready for. It’ll be good. And hard. And along the way your selfishness is going to shine real bright…Ok, so it still does most days…you’re still working on it.

Along the way you’ll say things you’ll look back on and feel yucky about. You’ll remember how little you knew about the actual process, and ethics, and what the word “orphan” actually means. You’ll remember those first meetings with your social worker. The things she must have been thinking. That dreaded checklist of special needs. And checking no to every box. Especially the ones you eventually said “YESSSSS!” to and advocate daily for. You’ll remember conversations with people where you talked about it all wrong. Where you tried to tell God “no”. You’ll realize you were often insensitive. That you celebrated things that were actually tragedy because it got you closer to YOUR desires. You’ll use words like “gotcha” because you don’t realize how traffick-y that sounds yet. You’ll take classes, and read books, and talk to other adoptive parents. But the day your first kiddo comes home you’ll quickly realize that talking about the hard stuff and living the hard stuff are two VERY different things. And that “knowing” everything in the book does you little good when you haven’t slept in weeks…and you don’t speak the same language as your child…and you’re in a downward spiral of grief. All of you. (This is why you have all those fellow adoptive mama friends that you can text at midnight. And they answer.)

You’ll start piecing it together along the way. Like I said, God’s going to open your eyes to that and shine some serious light on that selfishness of yours. And you have some amazing friends, getting their hands dirty, that lovingly educate you along the way.

But I’m here to tell you that your ideas of what adoption and orphan care looks like are going to be flipped on their head. You envision orphans as parentless, unwanted, infants. Period. And you’re wrong. Most are older. Many have needs you’re saying no to. Lots of them are waiting with no one saying “yes” to them. Many are loved, and wanted, and prayed for, and thought about daily by their birth families. In fact, you’re thinking you’re pretty sure you don’t want a relationship with your childrens’ birth families. But you’re wrong. You actually think about them every day. And feel this ever present bit of guilt that you get to watch these amazing children grow up, and they don’t. That they call you mommy. That you wipe their tears. And boo boos. And boogers…so many boogers…

And right now, you think you just might be able to fix things a little. But you’re wrong. You can love and advocate and work really really hard at this whole parenting thing. But you don’t fix the brokeness. God does. And He does over time. And it’s amazing that you get to be there daily to watch it unfold.

But you know what? It’s worth it. You were SO right about that. And you’re kids are awesome. Like, you stare at them daily and wonder how on earth they are so amazing. And then they tell you…”God made me this way.” And then that little guilt shows up again. You wish their birth parents were here to see this. That you could be one giant happy family. A righteous anger will grow in you that children are separated from their families because of poverty. Child sponsorship will become a whole heck of a lot more than a commercial…

And now, when other people say the things you used to say it stings. You want to cover your childrens’ ears. You know adoption isn’t about resucing a kid. You’re going to hear about how “lucky” your kids are a lot. And you’ll grow to hate that. You KNOW you are not their savior. You know they are not lucky to have lost every single thing they know. This is born from tragedy. You know that because you ALL navigate that daily. Advocating for children takes on new meaning. You used to advocate for adoption. And that was about it. It was at the front of the line. You now know it’s the end of the line. Orphan care doesn’t just look like adoption. It looks like care. And PREVENTION. And that the adoption part of this all was never about you. Never will be. Not about your needs. Your desires. Your arms being filled. Or a phone call. Not about what you want from it. Or your perfect child…that perfect fit for your family. It’s about them. And God. Period.

So five year ago self, get ready, because the next five years is actually way better than you even imagine it could be. But in a different way. And these precious children that call you mommy, they’re the most amazing people ever. So while most of this little letter is about you, this thing overall…well, it’s not. Try to remember that.


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