Preparing a room for Claire Kaichen has taken more than a month of physical labor as I've repaired and painted walls, painstakingly painted stripes in the bathroom, and refinished furniture. (Lots of thanks to Kelly for all the sanding he did. I could have never made all that navy blue go away by myself!)
It has also been a very emotional month for me. To start the painting, I had to get everything out of the rooms. Much of what was stored there belonged to Ana and Jenny. I had to go through it, deciding what to keep and what to discard. Sometimes my heart broke as I remembered the hopes and dreams we had for the girls joining our family. Sometimes I was just angry as I came across toys that had been misused or curse words gouged into the dresser I had spent so many hours decorating. Most of the memories just hurt. It hurt to throw away the quilts I had appliqued through long months of waiting. Each stitch represented a prayer for my girls…and they had picked and pulled those stitches out until the quilts were only fit for rags. It hurt to find tiny bits of paper, or pins, or other odd things hidden in crazy places. It hurt to wonder where the girls are now, and if they will ever embrace truth.
Sanding the flowers off the dresser felt like erasing my dream of being able to share beautiful truths and joy with my girls. The cleaning out illuminated the death of the hope I once had for Ana and Jenny to become part of us. We poured out love in all the ways we knew, but they tore themselves away, rejecting connection as if their lives depended on it. It still hurts.
With the new coats of paint, a tiny new hope started to grow. Kaichen isn't Ana or Jenny. Neither am I the same person I used to be. God has a plan that is good. As I painted, I prayed that God would take away my fear and give us a fresh beginning. I asked Him to melt our hearts together and make us truly belong to each other in mutual affection and love. I asked that Claire Kaichen be grafted into our family in a way that produces abundant fruit for God's glory.
Joni Eareckson Tada wrote about her uncle grafting fruit trees in her book entitled "A Place of Healing." She says,
Uncle Don would select his trees, find just the right place on the bark, peel it away, and make a slanting cut into the heart of the wood. He would then take a small branch, whittle its end, then push the graft into the damp center of the tree, covering the union to keep it cool and moist. Later that spring, new life would emerge…but it didn't happen without a wounding in both the tree and the branch.
If you could interview the tree at the time of the surgery, I suspect it wouldn't be all that happy about the prospect of being cut to the core and accepting this alien graft into its very flesh. But late in the summer, when the enhanced, abundant fruit hangs heavy on the new limb…well, at that point the tree might be willing to amend its opinion" (Joni Eareckson Tada, 2010, A Place of Healing: Wrestling with the Mysteries of Suffering. Pain and God's Sovereignty, p. 90-91).
With Ana and Jenny there was so much wounding, but never healing. They fought against the very things that they so desperately needed. Fruit never came. Instead, those grafted branches withered.
This time, I'm praying for a completed graft that yields abundant fruit and paints an amazing picture of God's work in our lives.
I'm not asking for easy or pain free. John Bunyan once wrote:
Conversion is not the smooth, easy-going process some men seem to think. It is wounding work, of course, this breaking of the hearts, but without wounding there is no saving…Where there is grafting there is a cutting, the scion must be let in with a wound; to stick it onto the outside or tie it on with a string would be of no use. Heart must be set to heart and back to back, or there will be no sap from root to branch, and this I say must be done by wound (John Bunyan, The Acceptable Sacrifice: The Excellency of a Broken Heart in the Works of John Bunyan, Volume 1 Shippensburg, PA: Destiny Image Publishers, 2001, 720).
To give us life and make us fruitful, God must cut and break and wound. Adoption does the same. As we pull our sweet girl away from the only life she has known and the people she loves and who love her, there will grief and pain. But it is a necessary pain, a vital part of the grafting process as we our adopted into God's family and as Claire is adopted into ours.
John 15:5 I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.