Word of the Week

This time last June, Kevin and I were sitting in the airport panicked. Several of the flights we'd booked were canceled or delayed. We didn't know we'd make it to the hospital in time. The girl who would enter our family as a daughter was soon to be born. Though we arrived in the middle of the night, we made it with time to spare. And when a little girl came fighting her way into the world our lives were forever changed by the word "adoption."  She'd soon be placed in my arms (and later Kevin's too) and we'd be asked to feed her that night and every night in all the days to come. And we'd begin the journey of loving her more than we ever thought was possible.

And here's the thing about adoption. It's an experience that's impossible to describe unless you've walked in its shoes. It comes with complicated feelings. It comes with questions that often can't be answered.

One friend of mine and fellow adoptive mom summed it up well: "Adoption is full of sharp edges."

For when Kevin and I think of the magnitude of this gift given to us, our hearts overflow with intense gratitude. We love our baby girl so much. We couldn't think of a more perfect addition to our family.

Yet, on the other end of the spectrum, there's the edge of pain. We know that our girl will grow up and put the stories of her life together with loss too. She'll have to wrestle with her identity and place in this world. It's a sharp reality too that I wish weren't so.

But (and it is a huge BUT), in the meantime our girl is just like any other kid. 

Every day is an opportunity to be with her, guide her and parent with love.

In the past year, she's learned to sit up, crawl, eat solid foods, ride on an airplane with ease (because her parents are crazy nomads) and most recently walk like a little girl determined to be a big part of any room she's in.

She's learned to love music and toys that make noise. Recently she's found a lot of joy out of throwing a ball and playing with her mom's hair. She knows that her father is the one that will rock her extra long if she's not in the mood to go to sleep. And if you want to see her smile, give her a bath. The excitement of being in water makes her giggle and giggle some more.

And on this night, she's a girl whose about to turn one year old - sleeping peacefully in her crib. 

So with all of this true, what bugs me about the traditional label of adoption is that  it's what our culture often elevates it to THE story about a child or about their family. Assumptions are made that are not necessarily true. And people forget that day-to-day life goes on. In our case, day-to-day life this year has been a lot of washing bottles and changing diapers and snuggles in the middle of the night.

In a thousand ways every day, Kevin and I get to wrestle with the privilege and normal challenges that come with parenthood.

I also want to tell you this:  I know I will always be protective of our girl. I will roar like a mamma bear when anyone tries to make her feel less than. Because she's awesome. Really, really awesome! And I am glad I get a front row seat to her life.

I know I will want to always remind others that while baby girl came to our family in way that is unique, she is still just a girl who needs to connect, to feel loved, and to feel valued. 

If anyone asks her who she is, I pray she learns to answer by saying, "I'm a beloved a child of God."

She's also a Hagan. And the Hagan family together has had a great year! 

Who believes in the best for you?

This is the fourth in my series of "How Do We Live in These Days?" series. If you missed last week's conversation about privilege, you can read it here. 

We all need to keep a few really good friends around for the long haul  . . . especially if we want to spend the months of our lives engaged in work that matters. 

People who we've fought hard with, thinking this might be the end of things but it wasn't. People who've heard us swear, cry big tears and maybe drink more than we should. Maybe these are people who agree with us politically right now or maybe they don't (all the better if they don't for it's so good to learn from those in whom we disagree but still respect!)

In my life, these people are those who know what makes me anxious without explanation. These are the people who know I need a care package in the mail before I could hope for one. These are the people I know I could call with a crisis in the wee hours of the morning. They'd be on the next flight out.

They not only want the best for me, but believe in the best for me.

A couple months ago, we celebrated the baptism of our daughter in a special ceremony led several of our closest pastor friends in our house.

It's a lovely story (as to how a ordained Baptist minister decided to baptize her child!) for another day. But for now, I can tell you this: baby girl's baptism was a great reminder to me that I need all the sister friends, mother friends, father friends, daughter friends, couple friends, midwife friends, and so on in my life.  My daughter needs them too.  People who believe in you literally change your life.

And to give her our faith is to give her our community. 

This week was my birthday. To some people birthdays are just another day in the calendar or an excuse to eat cake, I am not one of those people (though I love a good cookie cake). I love the concept of birthdays a celebration. Not in a self-centered “All about me” way, but as a time to re-group, reflect and gather people close that I love.  I can't end the day without touching base with all the loves in my life (even if they forgot it was my birthday!). It just makes me happy. I would not have made it to the ripe age of 37 without team Elizabeth going strong.

They are the ones who've pushed me to articulate my dreams even when I've been to scared to do so.

They are the ones I've come crawling back to when failure has crippled my courage.

They are the ones who've held up my head so I could see past my tears. 

So this week, I move forward in this new year, grateful for those who see me better than I often see myself.

I'm relying on the Divine gifts of strength in community to show up for the challenges of the year to come. And thankful that I'm not alone in this mess called life. Nobody can do it alone.

Who believes in you? Find them. Treasure them. Tell them that you love them. Your life will be all the better for the community that surrounds you. This is my testimony for today.