When they were almost two

Playing outside

Recently I was playing with our two little grandsons, both of whom turn two in the next couple months. They’re learning so much– talking and running, and showing understanding of so many things about their lives. They come to our house each Sunday, and walk in with smiles on their faces, eager to play the same games over and over again.

SnackingThey ride their little bikes. They ask me for stories. They follow their Auntie Julianna around with utter adoration. They sit in their high chairs at the kitchen counter, snacking with her and watching me make dinner.  They play with the same toys over and over.

Filling the Kitchenaid

They go into the pantry and fill up my Kitchenaid bowl each and every week, usually with raw potatoes, but sometimes also with toys.  They savor each repetition, each ritual.  Toddlers are creatures of habit, after all.  It’s so much fun to watch them.

They follow her like she's the Pied Piper

But lately while watching their happy and growing competence, I’ve also been struggling with grief.  Not for them;  they’re enjoying a wonderful start at life, and are so treasured by so many.  I’ve found myself grieving anew for my own precious kids who came to us through adoption.

All of them experienced dramatic life-disruption at some point.  The two who keep coming to my mind when I watch our grandsons are the two who came to us at exactly this age.  It’s such an aware age.  So much learning has already happened.  And yet they’re young enough that it’s impossible for them to fathom a life-change as complicated as adoption.

EmilyI remember waiting to bring them home, staring at their pictures, and worrying about the coming upheaval in their lives.  But even then I don’t think I let myself fully imagine the pain that they were about to experience.  How hard it would be for a little one to leave every scrap of the familiar that they so treasure at that age. To be placed into the arms of strangers, and then begin a whole new life.  New bed.  New food.  New faces.  New language.

In 2000When I see the deep awareness and the growing understanding our little grandsons have at this age, I see so clearly WHY many, many adopted kids need, not weeks, but YEARS to settle in well.

I am profoundly grateful that our grandsons are growing up in security.  In love.  I wish all my kids had gotten that wonderful beginning– without relationship rupture, upheaval, and complete world-change. Blessedly, God’s love and power is bigger than hard beginnings, and He’s done much work in their hearts and lives.  Our kids are overcomers.  They’ve grown and settled in and are thriving.

But I don’t take easy beginnings for granted any more.

Maybe that’s good.  We’d probably all be kinder to each other if we remembered that some scars are invisible,  and that not everyone began life feeling secure and knowing they’re loved.  It’s good to also remember that God works mightily right in the middle of the hard, encouraging us toward growth, showing us His love. And very often He uses people to be that love in the flesh.  How awesome would it be if we could each look for ways to be part of His healing plan in the lives of those around us.


  1. Gary Coryer says:

    Mary, from your lips to Gods ears. You can be assured you have been a positive influence well beyond your own family, which in itself is a pretty substantial miracle.
    Peace, Gary

    • Stacey schrock says:

      I’ve been thinking much the same about our two who were foster children then adopted. Especially our now 14 year old who was nearly 3 when he joined our family As we cherish our 3 and 1 year old grandchildren it breaks my heart that he didn’t have the same kind of nurturing when he was younger. Our 11 year old joined us at less than 48 hours old, but is showing signs now of grief. People seem to over romanticize adoption and tend to forget the loss part. Up to us to keep loving them and cheering them on!

  2. Jennifer says:

    A friend shared this on FB. I appreciate you sharing this side of fostering and adopting–it never would have occurred to me in such substantial terms otherwise. Thank you for teaching me something new and important! 🙂

  3. Melanie says:

    Thanks for sharing. My 11 year old came to us when he was 7. Sometimes I get so wrapped up in life now that I forget that he has pain from a disrupted life before I knew him as my son. Thanks for the reminder.

  4. Hi Mary, I always love your comments on adoption. I recently wrote about similar feelings about my daughter who we adopted at age 2.