You step inside the story and you become intertwined, enfolded, grafted….
Adoption isn’t the simple act of feeding, clothing, and educating a child. Adoption is grafting. It is the grafting of another life into your life, and your lives becoming one together.
Grafting is a farming technique that joins two separate plants into one. A wound is created in one of the plants, and the other is inserted into the wound so each plant’s tissues can grow together. The plants grow and heal together until you cannot see where one starts and the other ends.
This is grafting.
Scripture speaks extensively about grafting. It was a common practice amongst the farmers and growers of Jesus’ time and the spiritual analogy of God grafting us into His family would have been well understood amongst the hand calloused listeners.
Farmers knew that a plant or tree that was grafted meant faster growth, healing, more fruit, but, you see, to be grafted meant that the plant taking the graft had to be wounded and the branch inserted into the wound was broken off from the original plant.
This is a concept that many people struggle with before and after adoption. Adopting a child is glamorized and we all love the golden hour Instagram moments, but the reality of adoption is that there is a wound made within the adopting family to accept the grafted branch. The branch that is received is a broken branch that has been cut off from familial sustenance. The self inflicted wound of the parental grafted plant is not a mortal wound, it’s a necessary wound. It’s necessary that we know it’s coming, recognizing the initial piercing change of it.
It’s an entering into the struggle and story of the child. It is painful, it is hard, it is time, repetition, exhaustion. It is wholly necessary for the grafting process so healing and growth can begin. It is going into adoption with eyes wide open….knowing that this is the reality of the journey.
For me, the wound was the first few weeks home. I was beyond exhausted, not connected yet, my 40 year old body hurt from suddenly carrying a child around. I’d wake up in the morning thinking, “this is what we chose…this is my life now”…and I’d be ashamed of feeling this way.
It’s utterly overwhelming.
Your life is upside down in every way. The wound is made and the graft is inserted. The grafted branch is heavy, painful, not healed, uncomfortable, you’re supplying sustenance, support, and life to this graft and there’s not much to show for it. It’s just plain hard work and mostly not fun. It feels like it’s bleeding you dry, but it’s not.
There’s a reason God chose you to accept this graft. His strength is gifted to you.
Time passes, and you slowly feel your heart wrapping around this small one…..your tissues enfolding the graft…. I remember a moment so vividly. I used to have to bounce Lian at night, holding him until my arms ached and my back groaned, but he craved this human touch. He would pull at my clothes until his cheek would rest on my skin, and as strange as that seemed to have this small stranger desperate for his cheek on me, I realized that, as a baby, he was never nursed…never had that intimate contact with his mother. Never fell asleep on his father’s bare chest. Never listened to a parent’s heartbeat….and so we did that…every night, until my arms shook with strain as I laid him down, heavy with slumber.
And one night, I’m doing the bouncing routine, I was startled to realize that I loved this child. It hit me full force, washing over me like a wave…tears ran down my cheeks onto his, because I didn’t know that you could love another child like your own.
I didn’t know.
I wondered, but I didn’t know. I hadn’t experienced it yet. This grafting process.
And suddenly that little grafted branch isn’t so heavy, and your wound has healed and his little grafted life is starting to bear fruit and leaves and flowers. There are days when you look at him and wonder if you birthed him, you FEEL like you birthed him, like he was always there, and what did you do before him?
You can’t remember.
This entering into the grafting process is the gift. It’s the willingness to be wounded, to recognize the hard, facing it head on, rejoicing in the journey.
It’s such a beautiful reminder of how God has grafted us into eternity with Him.
I pray that I’m always reminded of this through the daily ordinary.