My husband and I bought our current home in rural Alberta in October of 2009. This house, our home, has been a great deal of work from day one. You see, our four-level split was built in the 1970’s, and spent the majority of its life as a rental property. As a rental property, not a lot of time and money was used for such niceties as updating. Dylan, the realtor, and I walked into a 1970’s monstrosity complete with original everything. From the stained shag carpet, to the kitchen and bathrooms, to the sparkly baby-blue stipple on the family room ceiling, to the gold-gilt mirrors on the wall (the stippled wall)…this place had it all! Despite the incredibly apparent cosmetic catastrophe we beheld, something about this place spoke to us. It felt like home. We could clearly see that “a bit” of work was needed, but we loved the layout and knew that since the house was so incredibly out of date that any work we did would make a very big difference.
I wonder if we would have picked this house had we known just how much work was hidden beneath the surface.
The latest project in our home has been a kitchen remodel. For Christmas 2016, Dylan felt it was time our rather large family purchased a dishwasher. As he was installing said dishwasher, he realized just how expensive that Bosch beauty would be. You see, I had very old, poorly laid out cabinetry in my kitchen, and in order to install my little timesaving friend, Dylan had to remove 1.5 cabinets. In the small kitchen of a woman who loves to cook and bake, losing 1.5 cabinets is a bit of a big deal. As I watched him remove a cabinet, and rebuild one smaller I kept my brave smile on. I was getting a dishwasher, and it was being installed within days of Christmas! My husband was happy for the added convenience, but could not suppress a sigh.
“This is an expensive dishwasher,” he groaned.
“Oh, why,” I wondered, half-hoping I knew what he would say next.
Another big sigh accompanied the statement, “you need a new kitchen.”
While I was pretty excited about the idea of a new kitchen, I really was not excited to spend the necessary time and money. We contemplated (and nearly purchased) Ikea cabinetry, but eventually decided on custom built. When we finally selected our layout and options, and it was time to demolish the old kitchen, we encountered a series of unfortunate issues that required some extra time, money, and effort. Thank God my husband is a forth-year carpenter! Suffice to say, the problems were more serious than expected, and we were none to pleased with our discoveries.
It was after finally putting away our renovation materials for the night, a very late night, that an interesting parallel came to mind. This comparison of sorts recurred to me a number of times and I could not shake it.
Adoption can be a little like purchasing an older home. You know there will be some work, you know that what you’re falling in love with has likely been neglected/abused/incorrectly repaired; or all of the above. You really don’t even know if the foundation is solid.
However, despite the coming challenges, you hope you’re equal to them. You hope you will not need the help of professionals to undertake the work, but know that you might. Maybe TLC will be all that’s needed, but maybe some damage or incorrectly built structure will need a seasoned professional to repair. In our journey, we’ve needed help in both our home and our children’s hearts.
Over the course of years, tears, trials, and triumphs it’s all too easy to look back on the naively hopeful person I once was and wonder: If I had known how hard this would be, would I still have made this choice? Earlier I wrote: I wonder if we would have picked this house had we known just how much work was hidden beneath the surface. The same could easily be said of adoption. Would we have said yes if we had known what lay ahead? Well, I guess the truth of the matter would be of course. The funny thing is, for all the warnings we received that adoption would be challenging, for all the worst-case scenarios presented, we really never believed we would encounter them. Much like the home renovation nightmares on TV look like something we would never find in our own home, the warnings and experiences of others are often insufficient to change our heart once it’s made up. Thank God for that.
The task ahead was much larger than the people we once were. Thank God for growth, for help, and for concealing the future from us.
I cannot imagine what my life would be, who I would be, if knowing what was to come in our home and in the hearts of our girls would have caused us to back down and say no.
Through it all, each and every heart-wrenching moment, we were being grown. Skills were being learned and divinely imparted. Mistakes were made, and lessons were learned from those mistakes.
Redemption and Restoration
I love the idea of a brand-new home where all the designs, all the good and bad choices are our own; a home where no one else has meddled and messed up. Much like I love having biological children.
For all the challenges, there is something so powerful in restoring a home, and in helping redeem the life of a child. It is an honour to be entrusted to love someone back to health. It is not for the faint of heart, but is any parenting? Truly, though at times the challenges may be more than those encountered in “typical” parenting (is there really is such a thing?), the same could be said for the joy. God counts every tear, and not one is wasted. In the adventure of owning this home, and parenting all 5 of our children, there have been tears. Tears of sadness, anger, and joy.
So, the question recurs in a different form. Would we do it again? Would we buy another older home? Would we adopt again? If we were scouring the real estate listings just for fun and we found a place that felt like home, a handyman’s dream, I can’t say we would say no. Likewise if the opportunity to love another person’s child came again, a child who has suffered trauma, I can’t say we’d say no. That’s not to say we are looking for another home, or looking to parent another child. But, should the opportunity avail itself…I can’t say we’d say no.