Friday, January 13, 2012

A Whole Different Angle

I'm not sure what other parents think about when they make decisions about things like spanking or tv time or homeschool or not. Mark and I thought through those kind of questions right when we got married, but 9 years later those decisions had been left in the dust of infertility, albeit I rather like the term barrenness better at this point in life. Long after we ever considered the possibility that God's 'no' to our desire for children could have been a 'not yet', John came along.

John was a total surprise, I would say shock, but really we weren't shocked. When my cousin called to ask if we would adopt her step-daughter's baby I told her 'yes' without a second thought and when I got off the phone and told Mark what she wanted he too said 'yes' without hesitation. From that instant we were John's parents, in our hearts, in our minds, it was a done deal, sealed and delivered right there in our basement, hundreds of miles away from where John was growing inside his biological mother and yet only 9 short days from when we would see him.

Those 9 days were panic time, nope, not panic about being parents, panic about how in the world to go about adopting someone. Mark and I were clueless as to what was involved, lawyers, money, papers, reviews, more lawyers, way more money. Our family came to the rescue, Mark's brother offered to pay adoption fees for us, we could have never paid what could have been the amount needed, other family members offered encouragement, support and prayers and member's of Mark's congregation were encouraging as well. We were in shock, still not about becoming parents, but wow what a mile of red tape and the short amount of time to figure it all out was shocking.

Parenting decisions were not forefront in our mind, it was a given that John would be baptized as soon as we could, would be raised in our faith and would be home schooled. We didn't have a clue about other parenting issues and had just settled on the name John Allen, John for John the Baptizer and Allen for my dad, when the call came that John Allen had indeed already been born, what, wait just a minute that was supposed to be almost two months from now, that was a shock!

I'm sure all parents fall in love with their child the moment they see them, we were the same, and when the news was so dire that John wouldn't survive long at all we made the only parenting decision we knew how to make an absolute determination that John would be loved and know that he was loved each day of his life and that each of those days would be the very best that we could make it, no matter how few of them that there were. John was baptized and we carried on with our determination and the days passed into months and the months became years and still we functioned with our primary parenting decision being that John would know he was loved and each day would be the best possible.

After John's transplant we started thinking about we needed to raise John so that as a teenager and adult that he would want to continue taking his medications, most people who reject their organs years out from the transplant do so because they stop taking their meds. That little change took months on end to sink in and then this Christmas when we were visiting Mark's brother in Arkansas I said something that stuck in my mouth, stuck in my brain and continues to stick there. "We never thought about raising an adult, we were always just enjoying the days we were given."

Raising an adult, hmmmmm, I will admit that I am completely clueless as to how to do that, Mark doesn't seem to have too many ideas on the subject either. The more I think about it the more I wonder if we need to change anything. All along we have felt that John would be happiest being as independent and free as possible and so have raised a little free spirit that is not afraid of most new challenges and comes at everything knowing that he has two parents who love him unconditionally, even if he couldn't define the word 'unconditionally' for you. He loves life, he loves to learn new things, he loves to figure stuff out and he is generally joyful. He knows Jesus forgives his sins, he knows that he needs to forgive others and he loves and cares for us and others freely. I have never known a person, of any age, who exudes life and joy like John does, we stand in awe of him and his affect on others and not just because he is ours but because he is John.

The more I think about parenting from the perspective of a child who would survive into adulthood the more I wonder if we really need to change a thing. There are no guarantees, length of days is not something which God informs us of, or of which we would truly want the knowledge if He offered it. When I look at life from the perspective of John growing to be an adult somehow I find myself in exactly the same spot adamantly determined that he will know he is loved each and every day, and making sure that each day is the best it can be, no matter how many days there are. Funny how life from a different angle can remain the same on this note, while in other ways it has surely changed.

1 comment:

Assistant Village Idiot said...

I used to say "raise your children to be good parents," and that was appropriate in its day. Not that we didn't enjoy each day (never enough, though), but we had the goal in mind: continuity of our faith, our culture, and the ability to give out to others.

Life changed. We adopted teenagers from Romania, and now have inherited a teenaged nephew, so - 5 boys. We kept the idea of raising them to be good parents in mind still - in some ways even more so, because of the need to repair parenting pictures they had grown up with - but just getting through it, just getting them into some sort of respectable adulthood took over.

Had boys 3-5 been younger, we might have held more to that "enjoy every day" philosophy. We were much more aware of a short clock, though.

(Came over from Barb the Evil Genius's sidebar)