I’m finding it so hard to write about Wyatt without talking about JT. Their stories overlap and at the same time their stories are very separate. Both of their stories take up space in my heart. It’s different space but it’s space nonetheless. I feel a lot of feels when I think about the both of them. It’s hard because the memory of JT will never be bigger than Wyatt, but there would be no Wyatt without JT. And so there will always be a JT. One day we will tell Wyatt our adoption story, and I would guess that JT’s name would probably come up. His pictures will always be in our house, and I think one day Wyatt will ask who that is and we will have the privilege of getting to tell him exactly who that is. Wyatt points him out on our refrigerator and I hope one day Wyatt will pray for him by name. And so when I think about Wyatt I think about JT, too. Two sweet Ugandan boys who have changed us in so many ways. There’s so much tension in that space right there, but it also feels so sacred to me.
I remember when we got Wyatt’s referral. I sat at my computer and cried. I cried because it wasn’t JT and I cried because it would never be JT. I cried because it all still really hurt and I cried because it felt good, healthy to keep moving forward. I cried because I didn’t want to say Yes and I cried because I knew we were going to. I cried because following Jesus just really pisses me off sometimes. I cried because I was so scared to go back and I cried because I knew I was going to have to. I cried because I wasn’t excited and I cried because I was maybe a teeny tiny bit excited and that scared the mess out of me. I cried because Wyatt was so cute. (His referral picture is him sitting in a chair in a dress, with a look on his face like, “Could y’all hurry the h@ll up? THEY’VE GOT ME IN DRESSES OVER HERE.”) And so I just cried because that moment was all of those things. It was sad and happy and bittersweet and overwhelming.
My last night in Uganda was a hard one. Wyatt had finally, finally fallen asleep. I had Taylor Swift on as loud as I could play it without waking him up. I had just finished packing up all of our things and was drinking my last Nile Special. I was sitting at my kitchen table trying to write an email that would tell a lot of people where I had been for the last two and half months and what I had been doing. I was trying to form words around introducing our child for the first time. And all of a sudden I couldn’t stop crying. Like, head in my hands, possibly making an audible noise, for real couldn’t stop, kind of crying. I felt so relieved and so overwhelmed and so excited and so sad. I sent Dustin an email that said something like, “I’m so excited about Wyatt and I feel so sad about JT. It’s the first time I’ve let myself feel both of those at the same time since I’ve been here. I can’t stop crying.” His response was so perfect. He said, “Yeah, it’s hard because that part of the story will always suck.”
Right, though? Because the Wyatt part of the story will always, always be exciting and the JT part of the story will always, always suck. It’s both. It will always be both.
I think this journey has taught me a lot about permission to feel. How so often we don’t allow ourselves the space to just feel life. How so often we don’t allow others the space to just feel life. How uncomfortable it can be to admit we’re not excited about something that’s exciting. Or how uncomfortable it can be to sit across from someone who admits that. How we’re so into happy endings and we’re always searching for redemption and for things to make sense, that we can so easily miss out on the beauty and the tension of life itself. But I’m finding that there’s something so sacred about this idea of giving ourselves permission to feel. To feel the happy and the sad. To feel the excitement and the heartache. To feel them both at the same time. To even say it out loud and then just sit there with it all.
Adopting Wyatt has taught me a lot about Jesus, too. It’s taught me that he will never fix what happened with JT. Wyatt doesn’t give us closure and he doesn’t give us peace about what happened. Adopting him doesn’t help us make any more sense about what happened and why it happened and the pain we felt and still feel about it all. Wyatt didn’t save our adoption story or make it whole and he most certainly didn’t redeem it… Wyatt has taught me that those are things that Jesus does and the minute I think a child can do those things for me I think I’ve missed it. Adopting Wyatt has taught me that longing for Jesus to come back doesn’t stop when our earthly stories piece together nicely. And I think that’s why I will always love that JT is a part of our story, because he makes me long for Jesus.
So I’ve decided that I want to keep calling things awesome and not awesome. I want to keep feeling the feels that don’t always go together but describe the same thing. I want to be the kind of person who grants permission and creates sacred spaces. Not just with myself but with my people, too. I’ve found there’s so much freedom, so much truth, so much healing, and so much goodness in those tension filled, sacred spaces. Because it’s in those spaces that I find Jesus the most. Those spaces almost feel so holy to me. And so I want to keep doing those things because yes, yes to it all.