Thursday, March 15, 2012

Things Were Better Before You Came

This is a strange title for an adoption-related book, but author Doug Walker did a great job with the title.

Things Were Better Before You Came is a true story about Walker's life, his adoption, his immense fear of rejection and discovering that God will never reject you.

I have to tell you - I have page after page of this book underlined. I related so well to each word he wrote.

As an adoptive mother, I saw my son in Walker's own self, and myself in the role of his mother. The main point I got: They did not speak the same language (figuratively) and had a hard time communicating with each other. I think my son and I are much the same and we, like Walker and his mother, show our love in different ways and it at times frustrated the other when we don't "get it."

I also saw much of myself in Doug Walker as well. He explains that he felt rejected by his adoptive mother after a callous, emotion-filled (and untrue) statement she uttered when he was a child. And as someone who does not know half of my biology, I can relate to that feeling of rejection. As he explains, it's not something you walk around with consciously. It's completely unconscious, it's buried and unrealized, but still there.

In the book, Walker explains that three single moments in his formative years led him on a path of feeling rejected - a comment from his mother at the age of 9, his mother's willingness to help him search for his birth parents at the age of 12 (he explains that he wanted his mother to be jealous and only want him for himself), and asking his mother if she loved him unconditionally (to which she responded as any mother would - "What did you do?").
Now - Walker is quick to point out that his mother always loved him and he never doubted that, but in his own mind her reactions were not what he wanted and therefore meant that she rejected him. He also says that their relationship is much better now and is healing...his mother had no recollection of even saying these things to him. It just goes to show that trivial things to us might be life-altering for others.

I did want to point out a few lines in the book that really spoke to me. Lest you think this book is only worth reading if you are adopted or an adoptive parents, let me assure you, anyone can benefit from this book. The rejection Doug Walker felt from his mother is something we all face at times in our life.

Early in the book he says, "My existence, I believed, would only be validated by my performance." I think we all feel that way at some time or another. We all feel the need to prove ourselves. And that's really what the book is about. Learning that you ARE loved. Learning that no matter what, God loves you and Jesus died for you even though you were not worthy - and that no matter what you face in life, God is always there, always present, never rejecting.

He also says he came to this realization, "At that moment I realized her love for me is based on one simple truth: I am her son.Her jealously for me was not fueled by the knowledge that I have planted a successful church, that I have never been arrested, or that I have given her three grandchildren. She adopted me when I was a baby, and she continues to adopt me today. In the darkest moments of our relationship, this has always been true, even when I didn't feel it."
For me - this statement sums it up. As an adoptive mother, I don't love my child for the things he does or does not do. No, even as a preschooler, his choices don't always make me happy, and no, we do not see eye to eye on a lot of things and we likely will butt heads over many things for many years. But he is my son. I chose him. I love him and I adopt him daily as my son.

And God adopts us daily in spite of butting heads and arguing with him over things.

Things Were Better Before You Came is an amazing story of love, adoption, redemption, and unconditional love. I highly recommend it for all parents, all children, adoptive families and Christian families.

As of March 15, 2012, this book is $7.99 for Kindle.


Doug Walker visited my home church in March 2012 where he preached an amazing sermon on adoption and shared his own birth mother's story. He also shared how he and his wife have three sons - two are biological and one is adopted. While at our church he was selling copies of his book, which I promptly bought. I will tell you that this book had deeply affected me as a mother and as someone who understands underlying rejection issues. I want to thank Mr. Walker for sharing his story both from the stage and in his book. 

Here is his sermon from his visit to our church:

AdoptionAcceptance&UnconditionalLove from Foothills Community Church on Vimeo.