Adoption, Parenting

The Ripping and Together of Adoption


This morning we had our domestication hearing for Ana, the final step in her adoption process. Woo-hoo!

We followed our lawyer through the large courtroom packed with people awaiting hearings into a small room behind it. The judge started off the proceeding by saying this:

I want to thank you for bringing this case to my attention. You saw all the people waiting in the courtroom. Everyone out there is here because of incarceration or divorce. The rest of my day is ripping families apart. Thank you for letting me put one together.

I choked up. Families ripping and together because of a host of circumstances. On this day in this building, we are so happy. And on the same day in the same building, so many are devastated.

And I know that for this together moment to happen, our Ana first had to experience a ripping. And so today I pay homage to the ripping, and so tenderly hold that in my heart, as I rejoice in the togetherness. Pain and joy, this is adoption.

Ana: Mom, are you crying?

Me: Maybe.

Ana: Um…

Me: I love you.

We dropped her off at school, where she skipped off to her classroom filled with friends and teachers and English and her new life, and it’s done. Orphan court, regional court, embassy, and now domestication. Four important places all recognizing that we’re a family.

I’m grateful. I’m so grateful. I’m sniffling at my computer grateful. And even in my gratitude, I acknowledge the rip, the break, the loss. As I celebrate the life we have together, I know the road to healing takes time, and there are scars.

When Jesus’s mom heard what the shepherds said about him, Luke 2:19 says “But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.” That’s what I do with my daughter’s ripping. I listen, I hold, I pray, I treasure up the beautiful and the painful and ponder them in my heart. We mothers are the archivists of our children’s lives. We take in all of the moments, we create space within ourselves, and we treasure.

If you’ve had a togetherness moment, I rejoice for you. Families call for celebration and joy and dance parties on the kitchen floor. And if you’ve experienced the rip, I acknowledge, I bow my head, I offer solemnity and respect.

All across the world, families are being created and destroyed as I write these words. I feel a hush in my soul as the weight of that descends on me. “Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn” (Romans 12:15). And that’s what we do.

This is the ripping and together of adoption.

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  • Grammy

    As a child of the ripping, I, too, am grateful for an adulthood of togetherness….your words are so true.

    • Melanie Dale

      Grateful, yes, so, so grateful. Thank you.

  • Laila

    <3 This is so beautiful, thanks for sharing this awesome moment for your family.

    • Melanie Dale

      Thanks, Laila!

  • Debra R. Smith

    Beautifully said and so true. As a child of divorce and a friend of those who have adopted and those who have lost children, and as a mom to my own, I too “Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn” (Romans 12:15). Amen and thank you for sharing your experiences.

    • Melanie Dale

      You’re so welcome, Debra! Thanks for your perspective as well.

  • Kathryn A. Helmers

    I love that judge. I love your family for loving each other.

    • Melanie Dale

      I’m still choked up from that judge, yes! We love you, too, Ms. Kathy. :)

  • Kathy Lickteig

    There are so many children growing up w/ no family to call their own. So glad your daughter has found a forever home. Thank you for being a positive part of the orphan crisis.

    • Melanie Dale

      Thank you, Kathy. We’re honored to be part of her journey.

  • Allison Fox Miner

    Melanie, I am so glad all this is competed! Ana looks WONDERFUL.. you said this so wonderfully.

    • Melanie Dale

      Thanks, Allison!

  • OffTheCuffCooking

    Having experienced both the together and the ripping in 4 incredibly intense roller coaster days in 2013, I have a new level of understanding for what this all is about.

    • Melanie Dale

      Yes. You. Do.

  • Von

    A ‘domestication hearing’ – what a ghastly term!! Sounds like a puppy!

    • Melanie Dale

      It’s a proceeding to domesticate a foreign judgment. Domesticating the judgment, not the child. In the case of international adoption, it’s when a U.S. court recognizes a foreign adoption.

  • Rachel

    Yay, Melanie, so excited for all of you and just blessed to witness the journey that God has taken you through to get to this point. He is so perfect and is moving even in the midst of the ripping and mending.

    • Melanie Dale

      Thanks, Rachel!

  • Casey Alexander

    The ripping and together…that’s a perfect way to describe it.





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