Joy over Grief

She was grumpy. She was testy. Suddenly it poured out and pure grief flowed. I sat holding my daughter as she wept huge tears and cried out in anguish. “I want my family. I miss my family.”  She wasn’t talking about me or those living in her forever home.

Part of the birthday, holiday, or any family centered event day is grief. You can count on it to happen more regularly than any deeply held tradition. Sometimes it is quiet sadness, sometimes it is loud wailing. Regardless of the manifestation, it is always present.

Some may chalk it up to sensory overload. Too much noise, too many people, too much change, too much sugar, too many lights…too much everything. And yes, “too much” does play a major role, but not the lead in this recurring drama.

Regardless of circumstance, every adopted child has at least one thing in common. Loss. They all suffer from it. The loss will vary, but it is springboard that launches every adoption. Without loss, there is no adoption. Loss of family, culture, language, security, innocence, and safety are some of the most common themes experienced by those growing up in foster/adopted families.

All those sweet, family moments bring back ugly reminders that there was once another family, good or bad, feelings emerge. Adoptees often feel guilt for leaving their first family, guilt for missing a family they never knew (or knew very well). They feel anger because they long for what was lost and anger towards those they feel are keeping them from reuniting with the past. It all adds up to an emotional pressure cooker that needs release before it explodes. It is a lot for a child to contain, much less control.

Acting out, disobedience, feigned indifference, stoicism are all symptoms of deep grief. “I don’t like you. You’re not my Mommy. I don’t care. You don’t love me.” Hurtful words get tossed around with the hope of pushing others away because the fear of imminent pain and loss has once again returned. The thought is “you will leave me, too.” Walls of protection go up and ugly words spew out.

As I sat rocking my girl, my heart hurt. The realization that I can never be enough for her is hard. I can’t make any of this right. I can’t heal the pain, at this point, I can’t reconnect her with her past. I just can’t. As she sobbed, tears fell silently from my own eyes and I prayed.

I can never be enough, but I know One who is. I don’t know the words to speak, but He can speak peace into her life. I can’t make it better, but He is a master at creating beauty from ashes. I can’t be her everything that she needs me to be, but I can point her to the only One who is able to be her All in All.

Long ago, God determined a way for each of us. Adoption was His plan. The Creator of the universe confined himself in decaying flesh and bones so that the great loss we suffered at the hands of our own sinfulness could be placed on His shoulders. He was, is, and always will be enough. He was despised, rejected, and cast out. He understands the heart of my girl like no other. When all appeared lost and despair seemed to reign, He made a way for us to become the children of God.

As we go through another season of grief, once again I’ve found reason to rejoice. In all the pain, all the heartache that touches my home during this holiday, I choose to shout “Joy to the world, the Lord has come. Let every heart prepare Him room. Joy to the world the Savior reigns. He rules the world with truth and grace.” At this time of grief, once again, I choose joy because it is the only hope for peace on earth and peace in my home.

~ Regina




About Regina Etter

I’m a daughter of the King, grafted in by grace and trying to walk daily in His truth. I live in Denver with my best friend and hubby where I help others as a Nutritional Cleansing Coach, and we minister together at Mountain States Baptist Church. I’m a homeschooling mom of 4, with two more away at college.

I am not so different from you. There are many things that happen in my life everyday that I have no control over. I can’t determine what will happen, but I can determine how I will think and I how I will act. I choose to take action when I feel like giving up. I choose to make a difference when it doesn’t seem to matter. I choose to love the unlovable. I choose the rough and narrow path, because it strengthens me. I choose to make joy a part of who I am.

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2 Responses to Joy over Grief

  1. Robin Fowler says:

    These were the words that my mama’s heart needed to hear this week. We aren’t dealing with adoption grief but we do have some discipline issues and are seeking wisdom. I needed the reminder that even though I can’t be all our sons need, I know the One who is.

    • Regina Etter says:

      I am so thankful for godly mama friends in my life that remind me of much needed truths at just the right time. We encourage one another. You’ve sent words of blessing my way many times. Thank you, my friend.

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