Adopted into a loving community
by Sharon de Beer, Glenridge Church, Durban
I will never forget that look on her face of sheer delight and joy as she started to laugh. I had been visiting the transition home for a few weeks and the house mom was watching us to see when that moment would take place. The mother child bond. The first sign of trust from a complete stranger to someone this little girl could bond with. We had been playing on the trampoline and I started tickling her. A peel of laughter suddenly filled the air and the house mom rushed out to see what was going on. It was then that she knew it was time for me to take Lulu home.
Adoption is something I had never considered until a friend of mine dropped the seed in my heart. It took a while to germinate but here I was on this journey of adoption at aged 46. What on earth was I doing? Was I mad to be embarking on this so late in life? Did I have what it would take to be a good mom? Would I have enough energy to raise this child? Maybe I should just abandon this crazy idea now before it was too late. Thoughts raced through my mind especially as it got closer to taking Lulu home. This was permanent now, no turning back.
I had longed for a daughter for 18 years. I had prayed and cried out to God for a Deborah, a mighty woman of God. The years went by and as I got older my dream of having my own child faded into oblivion. That’s when adoption started looking like a viable option. The thought of growing old on my own without the privilege of raising a child didn’t appeal to me. I had longed for family for so many years, a family of my own to cherish and love. Now hope filled my heart as the day dawned for me to take Lulu home and for us to start a new chapter together as a family of our own. But to be completely honest and real, the hope in my heart was mixed with a fear of failure and some anxiety as to how I would cope with this massive adjustment to my life. She was also embarking on a whole new chapter in her life. How would the trauma of separation from all that Lulu knew for the last 2 years affect her? What would be some of the challenges that this little girl would face? How could I respond well to her trauma and anxiety too?
It is now nearly three years later and I can honestly say I have no regrets that I chose adoption so late in life. Lulu and I are a family, not just a family of two, but a much larger extended family. Lulu has a granny and grandpa, an aunt, uncle and cousin who all adore her. She also has so many friends that love her. Her friendship circle extends from the children and adults she has built relationships with at church to the children and teachers at her school. She is also so spoilt and loved by her godmother and my large circle of friends. She has guardian parents who she spends time with so she is given the chance to be in a home environment with energetic brothers and sisters who have a caring and kind father and mother.
As a single mom, I made it a priority that she wasn’t just adopted into my singular family but that she was adopted into a much wider community of people who love her. I asked specific people what role they wanted to play in her life and what they could commit to in terms of energy and time to help me raise my daughter? I didn’t want her to just be around women but it was vital that I found men that I trusted, married or single men, who she could interact with. I wanted her to develop healthy relationships with men so that later in life, she could relate well to both men and women. I also made sure that she interacted with a diverse group of friends of different cultural backgrounds. That was also very important to me in raising my daughter and ensuring she stayed connected to her cultural roots and history.
Being connected in community is vital for healthy living and flourishing in life. I know that the diverse group of friends I have from all sectors of society have shaped and molded me into who I am today. Similarly, my daughter is being nurtured into being a secure and confident little girl who knows she is loved and valued by a community.
You may be feeling alone and isolated from some of the restrictions placed during the COVID-19 pandemic? Maybe it is time to evaluate your family and community relationships:
Do you have a few friends you can count on when ‘the going gets tough’?
Is there someone who has hurt you that you need to forgive so that you can repair that broken relationship?
Is there an unhealthy relationship that is toxic that you need to end?
How are you intentionally building healthy relationships with the people in your family and community?
Are you connected to people who place a value on who you are?
Some suggestions on staying connected during a pandemic:
Meet with one person this week who may be able to offer you support, advice or wisdom for your particular situation.
Meet up with people in small groups in restaurants or coffee shops that have open doors and windows and lots of fresh air.
Meet up with larger groups of people of ten or more in open park areas or other outdoor public spaces like the beach or a lake.
Wear a mask when you are in close proximity even of it is in an open space to honour and respect the
person you are interacting with.
Join groups that meet up who have similar hobbies to you e.g. cycling or walking clubs or art classes.
Sign up for an online course to help develop your gifting and skill set.
If you have health issues and cannot go to public spaces, get connected on zoom and join the many online church or community connect groups.
Finally, stay connected with God, spend quality time with Him as He is a good Father and knows how to love you more extravagantly than anyone else.