when love looks different than you expected it to look

Thursday, August 6, 2015

It's been awhile...

So much has been happening in our hearts and lives over the past number of months. It's been a hard season, but through everything, we have been blessed by the constant faithfulness of our beautiful Jesus. He is good. Absolutely, totally, completely good. And for that, I am eternally grateful.

One big change has to do with our precious church family. I'm planning on writing about that change soon, but it will have to wait for now. Right now, I want to share a little bit about our wonderful son, Andrew.

Andrew officially joined our family in a Ukrainian courtroom 9 months ago. We spent a month in Ukraine, before arriving home with him on Thanksgiving Day. Andrew is affectionate, whole-hearted, bright, extroverted, loud, friendly, and passionate.

He's a whirlwind, folks. 

When we were in the process of adopting Andrew, we assumed that he would finish high school at home. We figured that it would probably take 3-4 years for him to complete his high school education. That was fine with us. We wanted him to live with us into his 20's since we had missed so many years with him. We had an expectation that he would want that, as well.

But, our expectation was wrong. And that's okay.

Our beloved son, as I mentioned above, is a whirlwind! Schooling is not exactly his thing and the prospect of 3-4 more years was not enticing to Andrew!

So, we were in a bit of a dilemma and we needed a solution. We strongly believed that Andrew needed a high school education, but homeschooling was out and for many reasons, public school also didn't seem like a good option.

In stepped the Job Corps.

The Job Corp is a federal program for young adults, ages 16-25, who need to complete their high school education and who would also like to be trained in a trade. It's a bit like the military in it's structure, and students are taught basic life skills as well as reading, math and job-related skills. Students can complete their education and gain job skills in 12-18 months! It seemed like a perfect fit for our mechanically-inclined, desperately-needing-of-structure son. 

The only problem was that the best option (of the three in MO) for Andrew was in southern Missouri, five hours away from us. Eek! This young man had been in our lives for less than a year, and now he was going to be five hours away?!

One of the things that I've learned through adopting multiple children, and especially in our most recent adoption of our teen son is this: every relationship is different and it is important not to have expectations of what I would like the relationship the look like, but rather, be grateful for the relationship that IS.

Our son wants to work. He doesn't want to go to a traditional school, and he doesn't have the motivation needed for homeschooling. He is a hard worker and we want to encourage that strength in him. Someone mentioned to me recently that adopting a teen is more like coming alongside that young person, rather than traditionally parenting him/her. In our case, that has proved to be true. We are now coming alongside Andrew to help him reach the goals that he has. They may not be our primary goals for him, but as a 17 year old, we have to respect the worthwhile goals that he has for himself, and do our best, as his parents, to help him reach those goals.

Sometimes love looks different than we expect it to look, and that's okay. 

Andrew will be coming home on holidays and some weekends. At this point, he'd like to live with us again after he's completed his training. We may not be a typical-looking family for our beloved son, but we ARE his family.

And that, my friends, is just what love looks like.

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