goodbyes

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

I'm thinking about goodbyes today. Love, freedom, choices, pain, hell, redemption. All of these concepts wrapped up in this blanket of grief. The littlest had a goodbye visit with her dad last night. His rights were terminated while he was in prison. She hadn't seen him since she was about two months old, so he is definitely a stranger to her at this point. I knew this visit wasn't going to change anything, but it meant so much that I felt tense and sick and just all around anxious all day long. I wasn't sure how I would react, but it ended up being a much more intense experience than I imagined.

This was by far the most difficult thing that we've done with Baby R. It was such a blessing and a pleasure to meet her dad - one that I didn't think we would ever get. We made him a photo book of her time with us and gave him one of her one-year photos. He brought some photos of him and Baby R's older sister. Just to see her with her dad was so lovely. Seeing that they have the same ears, that he also has a gap in his teeth (poor child has it from both sides now), their faces are similar. He remarked on the ways she behaved that were similar to him. He was clearly scared and a little unsure on how to interact with her. She took awhile to warm up, but I had been praying since we found out the visit was occur that she would not hate him. She tends to be particular about men, and I didn't want it to suck for him any more than it had to.

It was just so emotional and painful, and I barely have the words to write about it even now. The value of the pictures and video we have are immeasurable. Not to mention the memories that W and I now have to share with her someday, the stories from his childhood, the regret he expressed, the responsibility he owned up to, all of that is priceless. It was just such a powerful picture of how our choices shape our lives. In ways we don't recognize or even intend. Love is such a powerful emotion, but also a decision. While I believe with all my heart that his love for her is real and sincere, the truth is that he didn't recognize that that love should shape some of his decisions. Heaven and hell are obviously concepts that are being argued and discussed at length right now, but this experience, to me, was just an example of how our choices aren't just for that mysterious after-death point of time.  Our choices matter right now. We can choose ways that bring us life, freedom, love, the glory of God's presence - that bring God's Kingdom to earth right here, right now. Or we can choose hell. Separation, pain, death, destruction - all of those things of hell are very real to Baby R's dad (and to us) today. We grieve for him. We grieve with him.

This is not the end though - we do not grieve as those without hope. We hope for redemption, both in his life and in Baby R's. Baby R's redemption has already begun in our family. We hope that she can someday be an instrument of healing and redemption in her dad's life as well. We have his address, hope to keep him updates, and would really like him to have some contact with her growing up. This is much larger than just two little children who are finding a home in our family. This is a whole great big story, and it's all about God. We are just so humbled and blessed to be a part of it right now.

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