a path which few can tell

She says, “I ya you, mama,” and I’m not sure if she means it, or if she even knows what it means yet, but she hears it from us and feels safe to repeat it back, finally. It has taken two years.

And him…he waves. He smiles. I give him thumbs-up, and he gives thumbs-up back, instead of any equivalent to the middle finger, which is what we’re used to. He also has recently started saying “I love you” – and it was heart-meltingly sweet at first, but then we realized that aggressive or defiant behavior follows it every time. Now, it just puts us on alert.

a path which few can tell: praying for families on the front lines

So there is progress, but we are hard to please because we want it to be faster than two steps forward, 1.9 steps back. We are past the stage of not recognizing our home anymore, but not yet to the point of getting to go out of the house for dates yet. I have vague memories about our life before adoption, including certain things that made it possible for us to leave the house without children. Maybe you’ve heard of them – I think they’re called “babysitters?” – but I don’t think they exist anymore.

Yes, it’s still hard around here. But most days, we see light at the end of the tunnel and we’re pretty confident that it’s not an oncoming freight train. We’re starting to make headway, and the emotional trauma involved in fighting our childrens’ past no longer slays me like it used to. This was not always the case.

So Perseus started on his journey…and away through the moors and fens, day and night toward the bleak north-west, turning neither to the right hand nor the left, till he came to the Unshapen Land, and the place which has no name.

And seven days he walked through it, on a path which few can tell; for those who go there again in dreams are glad enough when they awake; till he came to the edge of the everlasting night, where the air was full of feathers, and the soil was hard with ice; and there at last he found the three Gray Sisters, by the shore of the freezing sea, nodding upon a white log of drift-wood, beneath the cold white winter moon; and they chanted a low song together, “Why the old times were better than the new.”

There was no living thing around them, not a fly, not a moss upon the rocks.

– Charles Kingsley, The Heroes

The journey often feels like the place which has no name.


A dear friend of mine said this:

I told my husband just yesterday, “Adoption is the loneliest thing you will ever do,” and I wondered out loud why would God call people to adopt if it only leaves them feeling alone and isolated….an island in a world that pays little attention…and he said, “It is not God’s will that we are alone…it is a heart condition of our society.”

And I agree with both of them. I don’t think it’s an intentional heart condition, but an undiagnosed heart condition, made possible by the combination of decades of misinformation via the media, and a shallow culture that is discomfited by those who get their hands dirty because it threatens to mess up the manicures of the elite.

Deep breath. All this, with a broken coffee pot. I guess we should be grateful that this wasn’t a caffeinated post.


 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too.

– 2 Corinthians 1:3-5

But friends, post-adoption depression…it’s real, and serious. It’s a different beast than post-partum or any other depression, and it comes with a myriad of its own mutilated griefs, but they’re all spawn of the same ugly monster. Life doesn’t go on hold for families who bring hurting children into their homes, and in many cases, they deal with drama and attack from several directions outside the home as well. If you know an adoptive/foster family, or a special needs family, or a family who falls into both categories (and many do) – for the love of all that is holy, pray for them.

If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; and if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which you experience when you patiently endure the same sufferings that we suffer. Our hope for you is unshaken, for we know that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in our comfort.

– 2 Corinthians 1:6-7


Jesus, we pray for your peace and patience and wisdom in homes that need you utterly right now. Adoptive families, special needs families, foster families, blended families, grieving families – come over each of them with Your Spirit, and flood their homes with peace and joy, unity and healing, that makes the enemy flee.

You have great days ahead for us. Your plans are good. You make beautiful things out of the dust. You make all things new.

The Unshapen Land…it’s not a place we linger or stay, but it has lessons to teach for those who trod the bleak path there. They come out wiser and well-armed to slay the monster, and finish the task before them.

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This is day 18 of Without Ceasing: 31 Days of Relentless Prayer. Find the other posts here. To get new posts right in your inbox, subscribe here.


a path which few can tell — 3 Comments

  1. Pingback: | A Few Thoughts

  2. As my husband and I look forward to bringing home our Ethiopian children in January, your post both scares the bejeebers out of me…and gives me hope that should I need it, an Alaskan lifeline will be available via the WorldWideWeb. :)

    Our almost-adopted kids, 7, 9, and 11 are said to “show no signs of institutionalization” despite having lived in orphanages for the past 6 years. I cling to that like syrup to little child fingers. (Our three year old is eating pancakes as I type this.)

    And if it is true, God be praised. But at the very least we expect major transition stress, if not something more traumatic. And if that negative reality is the case, God be praised.

    I am believing–for your children and mine–that God will repay for the years the locust stole. In His time. And I can’t wait to bear witness to it.