“Hannah, why do you weep? And why do you not eat? And why is your heart sad? Am I not more to you than ten sons?”
Dear Mamas who are praying, longing, yearning to adopt,
I see you. I was you. I am you again. I was the Biblical Hannah, pouring my broken heart out in my desire to adopt, my face pressed against the cold, stone, temple pillar, nails catching in the cracks as I held myself up. Lips moving silently, tears streaming… I seemed crazy to those who saw me, knew me. One observer wonders, why do you pray that way? Why do you yearn so strongly that your heartstrings are pulled tightly, stretching, reaching, longing for something you cannot have on the other side of that steep adoption cavern?
I see you wipe your tears and walk away, only to repeat the cry through the months, years, over and over again…. silently, aloud, in the whispers of the night, or at the red light when A Thousand Years plays. (yeah, me)
I see you hinting to your spouse, I see the sadness welling in your eyes when “that” family walks into church. You know what lovely family I’m referring to…the one with the bus of kiddos in various stages of special needs from sundry continents. I see you late at night pouring over photos of children who need you….need a mama, a family. I see the longing in your eyes because I was you, for more years than I care to count or remember. Your phone is full of screen shots, you read bios, juggling a dozen adoption listing access passwords…Red Thread, Reece’s Rainbow, Morning Star, Little Flowers…you know them all by heart. I see you. I know you like the back of my hand, the inside of my coffee cup.
In 1 Samuel, we see Hannah. A woman who had no children, who longed, with every fiber of her being, to be Divinely granted the gift of motherhood. I think we can all knowingly concur, sympathizing with that wail, whether our arms are currently too full or too empty.
That longing is uncommonly hale, compelling us onward into an unforeseeable future. A holy yearning, cherishing an innocent as greater than oneself……to sacrifice, nourish, to love with all your might, a person who cannot survive well otherwise.
And Hannah’s husband asks of her, “Hannah, why do you weep? And why do you not eat? And why is your heart sad? Am I not more to you than ten sons?”
Ah, husbands….we do love you so, and we were certainly made to be by your sides! God knew that you shouldn’t be alone and He sent along us…and we do so adore that you need us, working so diligently to bestow happiness on us, but you alone are not enough, for our hearts were made for so much more than complacency and a life of single-minded love.
Our hearts are so much more capacious than that.
Hannah saw that her aching, childless arms were an affliction….an affliction! “O, Lord of hosts, if you will indeed look on the affliction of your servant and remember me and not forget your servant, but will give to your servant a son, then I will give him to the Lord all the days of his life.” There is a wellspring of endless tears for those who are denied their true calling of motherhood.
The grand story is that Samuel was born to Hannah, one joyous year after the sun dried her tears on the temple steps.
What is the absolute favorite verse of adoptive Mamas? Stop and listen, hear it… it is Hannah’s voice softly declaring these words,
“For this child I have prayed, and the Lord has granted me my petition that I made to Him.”
The Lord has granted me…please grant it to us, God. Hear our cries, wipe our tears, listen to our hearts.
You, sweet one, I see you…. praying, seeking, petitioning, looking at little faces in the glow of your screen. I feel your heart squeeze during scrolling…. he’s too thin, she looks peaked, those blue lips, that rash, that bruised forehead, those shadowed eyes……your two simple hands can’t care for them all, but you want just one more…you wish it, sigh it…just give me one more, God, please. I’ll be so tender, I’ll do my best, I’ll guide through the hard spots and trudge though the valleys.
You scatter your prayers to the wind like cherry blossom petals, hoping, wishing, dreaming that your child would follow the petal path back to your arms.
If you have a pack of bios and you’re praying to adopt, I hear you. I was there. God hears, answers. If you have one or two heart babes and you’re praying again…I’ll pray with you because I’m kneeling right next to you on those temple steps, my forehead scraping the stone, in petition to the God who sets the solitary in families. He hears us and cares that we care. Our prayers don’t fall to the ground.
I can’t save them all, but one more? If it’s in Your will….
Happy Mother’s Day…to the praying Mamas-to-be, to the Mamas who have loved, lost and loved again, to the wishing ones, yearning ones, exhausted ones, adopting ones. To the birth Mamas, the foster Mamas, the tummy Moms, the heart Moms. To the Ayis in China, to Lian’s foster mom, Lian’s birth mom….
Happy Mother’s day through the tears, prayers, and wishes….the longings of our hearts that whisper…just one more.
For this child, I have prayed.
Who’d have thought I’d be the lucky mom of a simultaneous toddler stage AND teen stage? I’ve definitely hit the occasional insanity jackpot, not that I was aiming for it, but it somehow seems to find me no matter how carefully I hide. (was that a mixed metaphor? Jackpots searching for me…oh well)
I know that ya’ll just look at our happy pictures and think, “oooohhh, Cady has it all together!”, but let me just fill you in on what a sometimes typical day looks like in the always strange and exciting opposing spectrums that encircle the lives of toddlers and teens.
It’s a typical day. I’m chasing Lian around, redoing the things he’s undoing, picking up the things he’s pulling out, cleaning, laundry….you know the game. It’s like one giant, happy game of “let’s see how insane mom can get”.
“Mom”, says Chloe as I’m laying on the floor fishing the balls out from under the TV cabinet….again. Lian is laying on the floor with me, pointing and directing where mom should put the aforesaid balls so that he can pick them up and roll them under the cabinet again. It’s a fun game, you see. Fun.
“Mom!” louder now, “MOM! I applied to the Royal Ballet School and I can’t get the application to go through.”
“Ok,” I grunt as I heft my aching body off of the hard wood floor. I sit down at the table, scratching my head. Is my hair thinning? Yes. Yes, it is.
CRASH! Lian dumps all of the tupperware out of the cabinet. I sigh, but leave it. It’ll keep him occupied while I figure this out.
“Mom! I need the computer!” my youngest demands. “There’s no ink in the printer and I HAVE to print this!”
I glance over.
“Lian, please don’t put that toy in the dog water!” I say in my best I’m-trying-to-build-attachment, cheerful mom voice…dragging him away and distracting him with a cracker.
“TT, I’ll get dad to order ink, don’t worry” I make a mental note to text Chris. (I forget, as usual)
I shoot an email off to the Royal Ballet Academy stating our issue. The dog starts insanely barking and Lian demands to be picked up.
“Jake turn that thing down, please!” My phone rings. Lian on one hip, Tirzah hovering worriedly over my shoulder with a look on her face says that her entire future will be ruined unless she can print this paper out for class. NOW.
“Good Day! May I please speak with a Mrs. Driver? This is the Royal Ballet School calling”….a very proper British lady is speaking. I suddenly get the urge for a cup of tea and I stand up straighter. British accents have this affect on me.
“Yes!” I pant in what I hope is a proper voice, as I balance the phone on my neck and start kicking the growling dog out the backdoor. Let her eat the mailman, I don’t care.
I’m wildly gesticulating at who knows what, but I feel that more proper behavior is in order from my children and various stinky pets when someone from England is on the phone.
“It’s the Royal Ballet Academy”. I mouth to Chloe. Chloe’s eye widen as if the Queen of England herself is gracing us with a visit.”It’s the Royal Ballet School!” She corrects me. I attempt to roll my eyes at her but I’m afraid it’ll throw me off balance and I’ll drop the baby.
Lian happily reaches over, stuffing the rest of his cracker down my shirt. I set him down and wildly gesture to Jacob to turn that game down or so help me, all of his descendants will feel my wrath. A cat slithers past my leg and yowls at the door I just shut from letting the dog out. Why, again, do we have pets????
“It seems you’re having a problem with the website. You must enter the state code.” She states in her proper British way.
I shake the crumbs from my bra. State code…state code. Lian is babbling. “MA”, he yells at the top of his lungs. State code…..State motto? I think…..ummm….something about fried chicken or pulled pork…a cardinal? I can’t remember what the state motto/code is. Live free or die? No, that’s Patrick Henry. Was he from here? What does the state code mean? I’m failing this quiz from the proper British person. Silly American, not even knowing her own state code! I stammer that question like a slightly distracted idiot.
“What’s the state code?”
“Oh, no”, even her bell-like laugh sounds properly British….”the state code…what is the code for North Carolina? The, what do you call it? Abbreviation?”
Oh, duh, NC. I sigh. Lian is dipping his ball in the dog bowl and licking it. Sydney is outside eating who knows whom…I think I hear the mailman faintly screaming in the background. The mail truck is now honking frantically. I ignore it. He’ll be ok.
“Yes, we shall fix that state code immediately. Thank you so much.” I brightly state as if my side of the phone call is very much in control of the situation.
I hang up, suddenly exhausted and feeling frumpy. I feel that if I possessed a British accent, my world would be calm, orderly, and I would stand up straighter, my clothes would fit better, my upper arms would not dangle and swing when I wave……or something.
Would my house be cleaner if I had that crisp accent?
Lian is now rolling the wet, dog slobber balls back underneath the cabinet. There’s tupperware scattered everywhere and my son is shooting aliens, but more quietly now.
Motherhood? Who knew, right? I’m thankful that Lian’s cracker as at least dry before he decided to stash it in my clothing. Thankful for small blessings.
Please don’t let the mailman sue me for his heart failure from my dog.
He had no idea how to manage his fear or his emotions. He managed his fear by spitting, hitting, slapping, pinching and even threw a few solid bites in there to really make sure his opinion was respected.
If you’re currently climbing the papery mountain of adoption and diving into the humbling waters of fundraising, you probably have a lot of questions about the looming adoption experience.
Let’s face it, China is sorta, kinda far away….there are numerically, a billion unknowns, plus a myriad of questions running through your brain during the cricket filled hours of moonlight.
Don’t be afraid, my friend! We have experienced all of the above and I would just be so honored if you gained some insight with this post.
1. He’s petrified, just like you…learn useful mandarin.
When we picked up Lian, he was kind of like a tiny, scared, slightly smarter than us wild animal. He had no idea how to manage his fear or his emotions. He managed his fear by spitting, hitting, slapping, pinching and even threw a few solid bites in there to really make sure his opinion was respected.
I remember one initial bath time, he just hauled off and slapped Chris across the face in an admirable “hallmark-movie-spurned-lover” kind of way. If people he didn’t know spoke to him, he’d spit at them. I understood this behavior as his way of saying “stay away”. New people, new situation, he was in all out self-preservation mode. He had no words and no other way to communicate. How terrifying to be so small and feel so alone.
So, we ignored the spitting and within about a week, it lessened and finally faded out as he became more secure. If people were offended, I’d just raise my eyebrows and shrug. Don’t get in his face…. Every time he would pinch or hit us, we would say, “no” firmly and take his hand and show him how to stroke our arm or face gently….and then we’d stroke his face gently and say “gentle”. After many repetitions of this, he learned to respond to us when we just said “gentle” to him…..and, of course, he would test us, but overall, he desired to learn, which was encouraging. Eventually the aggression faded away until we got home, and then we had the unparalleled joy of regression to help perfect us in tossing quick, heavenward prayers.
Good thing God is a great catcher.
Before we left for China, we also had a friend of ours translate some useful mandarin phrases in pin-yin for us, such as, “Are you hungry? Are you tired? More? Don’t be afraid. I love you” and so on.
Think of some useful phrases to help in your communication and memorize them before you leave. Life. Saver.
2. Your little person may not know how to “play”
Lian had no idea how to play with a toy. He had no idea what a book was or how to turn the pages.
Lian’s one and only idea of play was to grab an object with mind-defying speed and throw it as hard as he could. As you can imagine, this made eating out an adrenaline filled experience when chopsticks were expertly thrown like ninja stars across crowded restaurants. Miraculously, nobody lost an eye. Also, waitresses in China seemed to have no concept of child safety and would routinely place piping hot dishes, hot tea, knives and other injury inducing objects right in from of the aforesaid tiny ninja.
This soon honed our reflexes and observational skills. It also trained us as anticipatory prophets of future injurious related events….all invaluable parenting skills that we exponentially grew in.
Also, napkins. Why do the Chinese not use napkins? Every restaurant we went to acted like we were personally strangling adorable panda cubs when we asked for napkins….and with Lian, we NEEDED napkins….so, I recommend taking napkins, wet wipes, or entire rolls of paper towels with you every time you eat out.
3. Magic and more
Before we went, I had viewed this “go to sleep right now pretty please, Tiny Energy Sucker” YouTube video, which I thought was amazing! A parent took a soft little blanket and repetitively drew it down the baby’s face until sleep magically came.
Before you injure yourself by rolling your eyeballs too hard, it totally works, or at least, it did for Lian, so don’t get mad if it doesn’t work for you…(please, no angry digital epistles) I just used my fingers to lightly stroke down Lian’s face, over his eyes, nose and mouth. It makes him very drowsy.
I cannot emphasize this enough: TRY YOUR HARDEST TO KEEP A SLEEPING AND EATING SCHEDULE. Yes, I know it’s difficult with all of the running around, but nap time and bedtime routines really help with regulating your little’s already topsy turvy world.
Here was our bedtime routine. Bath every night, followed by stories (if he tolerated it), then we darkened the room and put on soft piano music on iTunes (Relaxing Piano with Ocean Waves was a favorite). Chris and I would lay on either side of Lian, stroking his face, sometimes singing, and he’d drift off. After about 30 minutes of Chris and me frantically catching up with family on social media on our phones while we lay as still as possible, he’d be in a solid sleep and we’d transfer him to the crib. Anytime during the night, if he cried, we’d bring him back to bed with us and repeat the above. Overall, he did pretty well sleeping, which I chalk up to the one of the many blessing of Down Syndrome….they are GREAT sleepers.
I kind of view adopting a little one who is blessed with Down Syndrome like this…God said, “Oh, you’re taking this step of faith? Well, I will bless you with *Ta-Da* SLEEP.”
And I’ve heard this from a myriad of parents, not just us.
We always made sure to be back at the hotel in the afternoon for nap time between 1-3:00, if possible.
4. Mourning and night terrors
Your little one might have a period of mourning. About 4 days after we got Lian, he woke up one morning just sobbing his little heart out. We instantly recognized this as mourning for his familiar life and, I’m sure, he was grieving the loss of his foster mother. He spent the day very dis-regulated, crying and being sad intermittently. We simply held him, sang to him, and let him mourn. I remember crying right along with him as I sang “Jesus Loves Me”, it just broke my heart to hear him cry so.
After that one day of solid mourning, he seemed to consistently improve and commenced attaching to Chris and me in a healthier way.
A few times, when we got home, he did have some teary days where he seemed distant with memories, and he did have a few night terrors where he woke up screaming, but if you answer every cry with compassion, those things eventually fade.
5. Don’t panic if you’re the rejected parent
It was simply the Lord that I “accidentally” stumbled across an article about being the rejected parent.
75% of adopted children initially reject the mother, according to statistics.
Maybe the dad is an anomaly since most of their orphan care is done by female workers, or maybe they are angry with their foster mother for “disappearing”, I’m not sure. I was so glad I read this because it helped me mentally prepare to be the rejected parent, and guess what? I was the rejected parent.
All the years I begged, bargained, and pleaded with God to adopt and all Lian wants is Chris.
I suspect it would have been much harder for me if I hadn’t known this beforehand. The rejected parent needs to then do the majority of the nurturing/bonding acts such as hand feeding all food, rocking, soothing, and playing. The non-rejected parent can do the diaper changes and not-so-fun things (there were perks to being the unpopular one!)
On a side note, it’s way easier to feed the baby bird noodles with chopsticks than with a fork. The Chinese were on to something here, but rice…yeah, not so much.
At first, Lian would only tolerate me, avoiding any eye contact. I understood that he had had a foster mother with whom he was close AND he was an only child in the foster home. I was replacing his foster mother and Lian wouldn’t allow himself to love me. It was really challenging, but I was determined to break through to him.
The first time Lian locked eyes with me was, I’m not kidding, over a Starbucks coffee. We had stopped for a rest and a drink. I started scooping whipped cream off of the coffee and letting him taste it from my finger and after the second lick, he locked eyes with me and I smiled. He kind of half smiled, opening his little mouth for more, and there was no going back. We were both smitten with each other.
6. You don’t have to do everything
It might be tempting to do every single event that is on the tourism schedule in China, but if you don’t want your time there to be super stressful and exhausting, opt out of a few things. It’s ok. Give yourself down time in your room to recoup and rest. You and your new little one need time to play together quietly, go for a walk on the hotel grounds, connect, and just be.
You’ll see and do plenty even if you don’t do everything.
7. The Walmart stroller
When I tell you that the $20 Walmart umbrella stroller is literally a God-send, it is. Best $20 you’ll ever spend, especially if carrying your child constantly isn’t a good fit for your back (like mine) or if your child is too heavy for the carrier.
When we’d go out to dinner and have to walk through the city or if we just took a late afternoon walk through the park, Lian would just ride along or cat nap. It was perfect.
Plus, you’ll have it for the subsequent airport runs and it makes life so much easier.
8. Sores, crusty eyes, straw hair, and spots
The wonderful, terrifying, sorely anticipated day when Lian was placed in our arms was filled with questions and concerns.
The first time I stroked Lian’s hair, it wasn’t baby soft as it should have been. It was coarse, dry and pieces fell off in my hand. I was actually alarmed when I stroked his head because I knew that damaged hair was indicative of some pretty severe malnutrition issues. Come to find out, it’s a protein deficiency. These kids aren’t fed meat or protein, hence the “orange” colored, straw-like, thinning hair and flaking fingernails.
Even as I write this, looking back at pictures, I can see how pallid he looks as compared to the sun-kissed, strong body he has now.
The first night we went to give Lian a bath, we were horrified to see large, deep blue marks on his lower back and buttocks. He also had a quarter size raised boil on his neck and some rashes, along with horribly runny, crusty eyes.
My first panicked thought was that he had been hit on the back several times. After sending a photo to our pediatrician, we were relieved to find that the spots were Mongolian spots, which is very common in Asian children. The raised boil was a really bad case of eczema and the crusty eyes were blocked tear ducts.
I’m going to let you in on a secret….eczema is a milk allergy, but you will NEVER find a doctor that will tell you that. I also knew that the constant congestion, eye bags, and crusty eyes were from a milk allergy. Lian was fed mainly yogurt and rice congee in China. Some mornings, he would wake up and he literally couldn’t open his eyes, they were that crusted shut. We’d have to carefully clean them with warm water (which he hated).
As soon as we got him home and I cleaned up his diet (i.e. NO dairy) within a few weeks, his eczema cleared up completely and within about 2 months, his blocked tear ducts also healed themselves.
The majority of children cannot digest milk and it causes an excess of phlegm in their systems. Children do not actually need to drink milk. Their bodies cannot process the calcium in milk. If you’re interested in learning more, I highly recommend some naturopathic research on the subject.
9. The dreaded plane ride and being yelled at
Oh yes, the dreaded million hour plane ride. A few tricks held us through: children’s chewable melatonin, a book of 1,000 stickers to distress the flight attendants with, some tiny packs of play-doh, favorite snacks, and emergency lollipops for when things might go south. We were fortunate to get a flight at 7:30 at night, so he was about ready to go to bed at that point and ended up sleeping a large chunk of the night, which was a blessing.
If you can manage to get an evening straight flight, it seriously helps. We also didn’t fly straight home. We had a straight flight to JFK, then we spent the night there and got a quick flight out in the morning to Raleigh. It made a huge difference in our energy levels to do that and we didn’t arrive home completely spent.
Also, be mentally prepared in China to endure glares, be yelled at occasionally, and be adulated, not necessarily in that order. On several separate occasions, I was yelled at by women who seemed angry with me for reasons I still know not of, since I don’t speak Mandarin. I think one woman thought I hadn’t dressed Lian warmly enough for the 74 degree day (they like to WAY over layer their kiddos there and strangely allow their over-layered kids’ cute little bottoms to hang out in the air for the occasional sidewalk poo-poo squat)
A few people were positive to us, giving us smiles and enthusiastic “thumbs up”. Those were always encouraging.
10. Fear of strange things
Like grass. Also leaves, sticks, being dirty at all, touching things, any sort of loud noises, being outside in a park, and anyone resembling another person besides us.
Lian was petrified of walking on grass and being outdoors. One of the great joys of motherhood is playing outside, picking up leaves and sticks, exploring. Nope. You couldn’t show him a flower or a leaf, but he’d motion no or look distressed. It took quite a bit of coaxing to get him to walk on grass and when he finally did, there was great rejoicing in the land.
I’m not entirely sure he’d ever seen grass, flowers or tree leaves before.
Yes, he’s eating a dandelion. You saw that correctly.
BONUS – Things you don’t think about
Claustrophobia. I felt so claustrophobic in the cities where it was just endless people, endless miles of tall buildings, no green unless you travelled to a park, and no rest for the eyes or ears.
People are too close! Yipes! As an introvert, it was a stretch for me to have people standing constantly close enough that they are literally breathing down your neck. Literally.
It totally just shivered typing that.
Also, being pushed and shoved. I don’t think I’ll ever get used to that.
Longing to hear English. After a few days, you suddenly long to hear your own language. It’s a very un-settling feeling. It’s almost as if your brain gets weary of not understanding anything and your ears strain to hear something familiar. It helped me have patience and sympathy for Lian, for the language switch for him.
All in all, just do what you can to survive the trip, enjoy it as much as you can, remember to rest when you can and know that we are all rooting and praying for you!
Also, keep your sense of humor!
What I greatly fear has happened in Christian churches worldwide, is that this brand of worship has produced an experientially focused, overfed, overindulgent brand of believers.
If I say “worship” or “religion”, what’s the first image that pops into your brain? If you’ve been a part of the Christian community for even a nanosecond, this is probably what you’re envisioning:
Looks amazing! We’ve all been here. Expensive, colored, sometimes pulsing lights, atmospheric smoke, trendy, attractive people on stage fueling the compliant crowd into an emotional experience. Eyes are shut tight, hands waving, bodies swaying in musical accord. Musicians expertly playing state of the art instruments. The service ends and expensively dressed congregants file out of such a “worship” service feeling energized, yet longing for the next religious personal “experience” as soon as this one fades.
What if I told you that this isn’t worship. This is not true Biblical religion. You’ve been fed an indulgent half-truth and the whole Christian world believes that this, THIS is true worship. True religion.
Yes, yes, the Psalmist talks about singing to the Lord a new song and that is great! Let’s do that! Raising holy hands, yes! Awesome! Have at it! I’m all about some great Christian music. Lights, smoke, etc…nothing inherently sinful about these things….
What I greatly fear has happened in Christian churches worldwide, is that this brand of worship has produced an experientially focused, overfed, overindulgent brand of believers. It breeds prideful performers and esurient, entertainment seeking congregants…people who are so focused on sentient religion that they fail to comprehend what God has instructed us, through Paul, as to what pure, unerring religion is.
The early church didn’t have lights, camera, smoke, action, glory, accolades….. No, my friends….. Their religion had simple hands, traveling feet, unending suffering, total sacrifice, pain, and many times, a bloody martyrs’ death.
What concerns me greatly about the seeker-friendly focus of churches is that this type of experiential worship is NEVER mentioned in the New Testament. Never. In fact, James addresses what true religion is, very clearly and explicitly:
“Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.” James 1:27
Wha?!?! No flashing lights? No smoke, come on! For Pete’s sake, where’s the smoke machine? How can I worship God without conjuring up that wondrous, sparkly experience?
So, let me get this straight….. you’re telling me that true religion is this:
And not this?
Yep. According to the apostles. The persecution and sacrifices they endured and God’s calling qualified them all to teach with the utmost, tip-top, religious authority.
I have this strange feeling that if James or Paul were alive today, you wouldn’t find them on stage riffing away in torn jeans, you’d find them in the gutters and street corners, hands dirty, picking up filthy, abandoned infants, praying with widows, ministering to the homeless. You’d see the scars on Paul’s back, a split underneath his eye from the stoning he’d recently walked away from. You’d see the bloody chafe marks on his wrists from the chains that attempted to paralyze him from proclaiming the glorious gospel of Christ.
I wonder what Paul, and the other great saints of old, think when they look down at our churches right now….and you know they ARE looking. At you. At me. At this church of Jesus Christ.
Maybe you’ve had some sort of ecstatic religious experience, my friend, and that’s great! But I’ll let you in on a lovely secret…..Ready?
God meets you when you’re here, at the bottom, weeping because of the lost souls in those dirty rows of cribs….He gathers your tears as you gaze upon the abandoned child in your arms….as you stroke their thin, sore covered neck. God meets you in your painful longing to bring Christ to as many lost, broken, difficult, RAD, sleepless, defiant, sick, hopeless, damaged, sweet images of God as you possibly can.
God meets you in the broken, not in the mighty.
Recently, my husband was in India on a business trip. There were two sisters who slept on the sidewalk outside his office building every day. One can’t help but wonder what these children would think if they walked into one of our churches today….at the colossal amount of money wasted on entertaining the masses of “believers”.
My heart weeps because we are all living for the NOW, not the eternal. We aren’t really broken up by this photo. We are numb to it. I am numb to it. You are as well.
When you meet a lost soul here and there is no fanfare, no accolades, no lights, no atmospheric music, no “likes” on YouTube…. this, THIS is where you will find pure religion. Perfect, silent, heart-broken worship. This is where you see God move mountains, miracles happen, healings take seed.
I’ve been here before and it’s heart wrenching. It’s gut twisting to be snatching little ones from the jaws of hell. It’s horrible, frightening, and down-right terrifying to invite the unknown into the rest of your life…into your family…..
and I want to be here again because this is where you meet God.
What makes this religion real? It’s real because orphans and widows cannot give anything back to you. Pure, perfect, holy religion! There is no mar in it, no thought of self, no consideration of how it’ll give back…what you can gain from it. Christ-like, sacrificial, wholly pure religion.
Let’s get back there! Let’s be so radically on fire for Christ that we may have to hide amongst the dusty bones of the catacombs, picking up abandoned ones from the gutters.
Let’s go there together, you and me.
Because Jesus said, “ For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’
Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’”
If you’ve read this far, then I beg you to wrestle with this question….where would you like to meet God?
Let’s gather in the gutters and meet God.
If someone were coming at my child wielding a knife, I would step in, take the blow, protect….but these words are like knives for my child’s tender heart. How do I take the blow, somehow anticipating what’s coming?
“Oh my word, I could just take you home with me RIGHT NOW!” She bends down and starts talking directly to Lian.
“Oh, you’re just so cute! How old are you, what’s your name?” He’s ignoring her because he’s rolling a roll of tape across the hardware store’s floor.
“I love it when they’re this age and they don’t talk yet, it’s when they get older and start talking that drives me crazy.”
Ouch…I sigh….what I wouldn’t give to hear Lian speak to me, hear what he’s thinking, hear his little boy thoughts. The countless hours I have spent with flashcards, letters, slowly saying words, coaching, bribing, singing…..Progress is painstakingly snail slow.
“He’s not really speaking much yet.” I state, inwardly cringing a bit. I know what’s coming and I mentally brace myself.
“Oh”, she pauses, “does he have autism? Oh, Down Syndrome? You know, you can teach those kids how to talk.” She beams upon me as if, in that one statement, she has rescued me from all my travails, enlightening me with the knowledge that he can be taught.
Those kids. The “us” and “them” thing.
“Well, every child is a bit different in their abilities.” I wrestle a can of spray paint from Lian’s hand.
Stop the madness!
“You know…(why is every uneducated statement always predicated by ‘you know’), I read that in China, these kids are just abandoned just because they have Down Syndrome and it happens all the time. Parents just leave them. Can you believe that?”
Oh dear. God, how do I gently educate this person while keeping my composure? I’m so grateful that Lian doesn’t understand…yet….but does he? I’m not sure what he does or doesn’t comprehend about adoption yet. I want to rush over and cover his little ears. It’s as if she thinks he can’t hear because he’s not talking.
I smile and shake my head. I tell her about the hard choices that some parents have to make with medical care and the cost of some children’s needs. I tell her to not believe everything she reads. I tell her that we love him to pieces and that he is so incredibly valued.
“Well, I could never do a thing like that. I just don’t have the patience for it.” She flatly states.
Okay then…and I tell her to have a nice day and we leave.
Let me pick your brain with the “what if’s” of this conversation.
What if Lian had been old enough to understand? How incredibly damaging it would be to his core self-worth to hear a stranger make a judgment call as to why his biological parents made the decision they did. This is HIS story.
Would he assume that he is somehow flawed, that was HIS fault he became a orphan, that his parents didn’t love him enough to keep him?
How hard the car conversation will be when he IS old enough to comprehend the heartache of his past.
How do I constructively navigate and cut this conversation short? I’m truly at a loss here because this is new to me. If someone were coming at my child wielding a knife, I would step in, take the blow, protect….but these words are like knives for my child’s tender heart. How do I take the blow, somehow anticipating what’s coming?
I felt torn and guilty that I should have known what was coming. I should have circumvented it somehow, I could have cut her off (SUCH a hard thing for me to do, since manners have been drilled into me from a young age.)
Mamas who have done this a long while, help me! I don’t know how to handle this well, introvert that I am. I need kind suggestions, not mean or snarky ones (although those are fun to contemplate). I don’t want to cut people down, I want to educate, but not at the expense of my son’s hurt.
Any words of wisdom? I could use some. Leave your thoughts in the comments.
Not only did He throw out all of our preconceived notions, He made us long for what was better before He gave it to us.
Down Syndrome. Wow, wow, wow.
If you read my previous post, you can probably understand more fully why the wows are repetitive in this eternal journey called adoption.
If adoption was a stretch for us, special needs adoption resembled an attempted arabesque, while hopping on one foot and balancing on a high wire over a pit of dieting lions. It was a circus act that we had no training for, no experience in, no previous calling to.
We had just started our adoption journey. Like the hopeless romantic that I tend to be, I’m dreaming of a sweet little girl with dark, Asian eyes and stubby pigtails. I heart girls. I have two girls and while I love my son to pieces, girls are just so darn fun to dress and play with. I’m not a rough and tumble person. I like quiet. My girls are quiet. I’m an introvert. I like peace and tranquility. A girl is good for me.
My life, my choice, I want a girl. Yep.
Bring on the quiet and sweet!
Oh, there are no healthy children coming out of China, you say? Oh, ok…..well, a minor special need is fine…..let’s see. Maybe a missing thumb or cleft lip? That’s not too hard….
Oh, there’s a list? With checkboxes? Ummm…God? Ok, now what?
Even now, I cringe at how shallow my thoughts were, how unbelievably rosy and undeniably uninformed, immature….selfishly silly.
We are about one month into our process. Our agency cheerfully tells us, “You know…there’s this list of waiting children that we have a hard time placing. You should look it over!”
Uh oh. A list of kids that they can’t find homes for, that nobody wants. Hmmmmm….
Well, it can’t hurt to look.
The little faces scroll by. Hydrocephalus, cerebral palsy, Down Syndrome, Willi-Prader, blindness, deafness…the list goes on and on.
God, I can’t. I don’t know about any of these things, how can I?
Each syndrome, each medical problem has a little face attached….and their eyes. How does one describe their eyes? It’s a combination of lostness, sadness, hopelessness with a healthy dose of pleading questions.
Are you my mama? Why am I alone? Where are you? Whom do I belong to?
And then there was this:
It was this look. This photo. I literally couldn’t stand it. I saw him and I just knew. He’s the one!
I wanted a girl and God laughed.
I wanted a minor need, God chuckled.
Oh my stars, God, if adoption was a lion avoiding high-wire routine, what will Chris say to a boy with Down Syndrome?
I left his photo on the screen, biting my nails until Chris came home. He walked in the door and I carefully pounced.
Soooo, honey…there’s this boy on the waiting child list (I mumbled that last part)? What do you think?
He took one look at him and said, “That’s our son!” My jaw just about hit the floor….again…”But he has Down Syndrome and could never grow up, never leave us, he might be non-verbal, could need heart surgery, could get leukemia, will need multiple therapies, might have this…that…the other thing…oh, and that……” I run out of counting fingers with the list…do I start on my toes? My voice trails off in dismay. What am I thinking?!?!?
Without hesitation, “That’s ok!”
Ok, wow….we sat down for dinner and my mind is racing…we just both agreed and said yes to this little guy. I have ants in my pants, my appetite has fled.
“Go call now! Call the agency now and tell her we want to pull his file. Do it now.” Chris’ insistence bumps me into motion.
“You’re not going to believe this,” Tiffany’s voice travels through the phone, “But his file was just pulled 24 hours ago. Nobody has so much as asked about Lian the entire time he’s been up for adoption, and now two families want him in 24 hours!”
He was no longer available. My heart sank. What?
Why, God, why? We both felt so strongly about him? We were both in agreement, a relatively amazing minor miracle, we timidly stepped out in faith and now, he’s gone?
Ok, back to square one. Well, maybe this was just to open our hearts to Down Syndrome? Rationalizing our disappointment.
The days pass and I keep an eye on the list. No other child jumps out at me and I keep looking at Lian’s photo over and over again.
“Stop torturing yourself!” my best sister instructs. “God has something else for your family.”
She’s right. I won’t look, ok one more time. Last time. No, this time is the last one, I swear…..aaaand one more.
Every day I looked and prayed for Lian. I was happy that he’d finally found a home, but I was sad inside. So sad.
God was silent. Don’t you just adore those silent times with God when you assume you’re headed in the right direction and WHOOPS, shift in speed, direction, altitude…and there are no “this is your Captain speaking” announcements?
Yeah, me too.
I had finally accepted (not really) that Lian was gone and two weeks later, the phone cheerfully rings.
“So, the other family doesn’t want him, do you want to pull his file?”
YES! I shout, damaging her ear drums. PULL IT QUICKLY!
So, the file is pulled, the “yes” is said, the wheels start the forwardly motion and we all say “wow” in chorus.
I literally went from no boys, no severe special need to intensely longing for a boy with a more complicated special need.
God knew what I wanted and chucked that because, frankly, He knew better.
Not only did He throw out all of our preconceived notions, He made us long for what was better before He gave it to us.
And I am ruined. Forever ruined for any other type of adoption. I’m telling you that this sweet boy has entirely captured me, heart and soul. Down Syndrome adoption has turned my world upside down and I wouldn’t want it any other way.
So, if we adopt again (please, God!) I’m adopting Down Syndrome again.
Because I’m ruined for anything other than Down Syndrome.
And some say there isn’t a God.
Besides, when you’ve stood in a sterile, crib-filled room, your heart filling with tears, the deafening, infant silence signaling the destituteness of this world, somehow these petty things fall away. You want to join hands with those nearest, forging forwards to beat back the relentless dragon of orphanhood.
“You make me feel inadequate.”
The words were like a knife in my gut. I caught my breath, unsure if I’d heard the phrase through the phone correctly.
“I’ve been praying and God told me that we aren’t good for each other….we shouldn’t be friends anymore.” Her voice was devoid of all its accustomed affection and warmth.
Unsteadily, I’m stammering, “What? What did I do? Marie (name changed), how did I make you feel inadequate? Something I said? Did?”
My heart is pounding and I swallow the lump in my throat, but tears sting.
“This isn’t right…Marie…you can’t just end a friendship, can’t we work this out? This isn’t right!”, I’m awkwardly repeating myself.
What followed was a litany of reasons why she was upset with me…through the pounding in my ears, it was “you didn’t let me put something in Lian’s care package….it’s all about your kids, not mine….you’re manipulative….you posted a meme that offended me….” I felt like she was grasping at straws, searching for something, anything to end the relationship.
I’m verbally stumbling around, trying to defend myself, apologizing for the offensive meme…..not realizing that I’d offended her by posting it, trying to explain myself.
A meme I loved and agreed with, but she thought I was aiming it at her…but she didn’t have a facebook account, so how was I aiming it at her?
In frustration, I raise my hand to my face, feeling it tremble.
“Ok, if that’s how you feel.” I fall silent, resigned. How can I insist she stay friends if she doesn’t want to?
The conversation abruptly ended. I hung up the phone, sat down, and wept. I’d just lost a friend. A dear, Godly friend. A person I loved and respected, that I had laughed with, cried with, prayed with…..I was beyond devastated.
This wasn’t just any friend, Marie was one of my closest friends. Our children had grown up together for years…our daughters were best friends. We would get together for coffee at least once a week and we’d laugh, paint, draw, the kids would play. I so enjoyed her company….a beautiful extrovert, she drew me out of my introverted reverie, her spunky personality and beautiful smile always lifted spirits. She was popular, everyone loved Marie…all were drawn to her charming charisma. Never the popular one, always the nerdy, quiet, artistic one, I was thrilled just to be welcomed into her inner circle.
I vividly remember the years she prayed with me for adoption. She knew my heart and deep passions for children in need of families. A happy history existed, but I helplessly watched those sweet years crumble away into the murky waters of bitterness and misunderstandings.
To be honest, I have wracked my head and heart, trying to figure out where I failed. I would lie awake at night and shed bitter tears on more than one occasion. If a photo popped up on social media of her, sleep would be a stranger to me. I had to unfriend her friends, her family, all people I knew, just so that I could try to put it out of my head…move on, get some sleep.
I was confused, hurt, and in the midst of it all, we were trudging up the uncertain mountain of adoption paperwork and fundraising.
Then, one day, it came to me….the tension, the noticeable withdrawal….It all started that autumn when we started the adoption process. I couldn’t quite put my finger on the problem at the time, but there was a coolness that had started, a drifting away distance. She was no longer available for weekly coffee anymore, too busy. My texts went unanswered…she didn’t call or answer her phone.
“That’s ok!” I attempted to be cheerfully accommodating. She has kids and a busy life, whenever she’s free, it’s ok. I tried to reassure her…but I quietly wondered.
The distance progressed. A few times I tried to get to the bottom of it, fumbling through emotions and words, sensing something was amiss, but unsure of how to fix it only making it worse, I’m sure.
We were matched with Lian around Christmas time and then that phone call happened after one last, strained coffee together in February. It was over.
It has been almost two years since that day. Does the rejection still sting? Absolutely. Deeply.
Did our adoption have something to do with the ending of the friendship? I honestly don’t know. What I do know is that the timing was strangely coincidental.
I’m certainly not writing to garner sympathy because I’m pretty sure my experience has been replicated multiple time in the adoption community. If not friends, then family rejection, neighbors…….I’m writing just to encourage us all, as Christians. Even if God is moving your best friend or family member in a direction that you don’t agree with or if you’re feeling inadequate in the shadow of their journey, you must wrestle through those emotions with scripture as guidance.
If one allows untruths to poison the spirit, strangling the friendship, the ripple effects of those actions in severing the close bonds of camaraderie spread fearfully far.
If you are truly a believer, the words “God told me to end this friendship” should never come out of your mouth. Ever. Unless there is serious unrepentant sin in the relationship, God would never send you in that direction. In fact, Proverbs states that “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.”
What does that mean? God places certain people in our lives to sharpen us, honing our Christian walk, teaching us lessons that we would never learn otherwise. The sharpening process is metal grating against metal…..not pleasant, but oh so valuable when the end result is realized! When the sharpening process is complete, you are both stronger, wiser, more ready to traverse the challenging individual journeys God has laid before you!
Don’t shy away from the sharpening process in your life, my friend.
We are sisters in Christ.
“Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. Be of the same mind toward one another; do not be haughty in mind, but associate with the lowly. Do not be wise in your own estimation. Never pay back evil for evil to anyone….If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.” Romans 12:15-18
Honestly, my sweet friend, God isn’t going to have a separate area in heaven for the two of us.
“Oh, Marie! Welcome to heaven…I know that you and Cady have had earthly issues, so please go to Heavenly Sector B….and Cady, please make your way to Sector F, the clouds are especially fluffy there”.
No! Your journey with your sisters in Christ starts here and now, regardless of our fleeting irritations, busy lives, or PMS driven impulses!
Let us love and support one another, fleeing from unhealthy thoughts that endlessly strive to divide us. How will the world know we are Christians, except by our love? All of our precious efforts should be focused on unity and reconciliation when matters of the heart are on the chopping block.
Besides, when you’ve stood in a sterile, crib-filled room, your heart filling with tears, the deafening, infant silence signaling the destituteness of this world, somehow these petty things fall away. You want to join hands with those nearest, forging forwards to beat back the relentless dragon of orphanhood.
One of my favorite movie quotes is from First Knight, where King Arthur says, “I take all of you. I cannot love people in slices.”
We have to take the bad with the good and love the person in entirety, unconditionally, without parsing out the easy parts of their journeys or personalities. Some of my most fragrant friendships are the unexpected, uncommon ones where God lovingly plopped us together, making me glean exceptional life lessons.
I’m pleading with you all, as Godly women, to live together in unity, encouraging one another, lifting one another up in prayer, not getting bogged down in divisive pettiness that is the world’s main destructive diet in friendships.
Please, I am begging you, consider eternity. Remember what Christ died for and how He forgave those who nailed Him to the cross. Forgive, as you would like to be forgiven.
If you have a grief against a sister, RUN to them and resolve it, with tears, with humbleness, with hugs over coffee….make it your top priority.
And to Marie, if you ever read this, I love you dearly. I’m sorry from the bottom of my heart for anything I said or did to hurt or offend you….and I’m always here, if you ever want to heal.
We are followers of Christ. Let us act accordingly.
“Each friend represents a world in us, a world not possibly born until they arrive” ~ Anais Nin
What’s the old saying? One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.
Trash /traSH/ noun. discarded matter; refuse
Trash is something we discard. It is so valueless that it isn’t worth keeping, you just toss it and walk on. We throw things away every day, many times a day, and we rarely pause for thought.
Treasure /treZHer/ noun. A quantity of precious metals, gems or other valuable objects. verb. to keep carefully (a valuable or valued item).
We rarely find treasure but when we do, our lives change for the better. We treasure the things that society highly values. We keep it in gilded boxes, carefully preserved, displayed proudly for all to admire.
When we were in China, one of our guides in Beijing asked us why we were there. We hadn’t had our Gotcha moment yet and I proudly showed her a photo of Lian.
She looked at him and frowned at me, “Oh, something wrong with him?”
“No, nothing is wrong with him.” I stated quietly, “He has Down Syndrome, he’s an orphan… he needs a home.”
“Oh, you make big trouble for yourself!” she laughingly declared in broken English, shaking her head in dismay. “Why you do that?”
My heart sank.
Why do I do that?
Let’s see, her assumption was that this small child must be somehow flawed, something must be wrong with him, especially since he’s an abandoned boy. Boys are more highly valued in some cultures. He must be considered worthless, too sick, too damaged, or too much work, and she’s assuming that that is why he ended up as an orphan.
She viewed him as abandoned. Discarded. Not worth a thought. Out of sight, out of mind, let’s live our lives and if we’re comfortable, why should we be concerned about these children?
As I considered this, I realized that although this one person, or the entire nation or the world, for that matter, might consider us foolish for taking in a little, unwanted person, we have the unique privilege of seeing this soul with a wholly, different set of eyes.
What one society considers unworthy, we know without a doubt that he is treasure.
Our God lovingly crafted this treasure, and what an immeasurable treasure he is.
This child. This sweet child who smells of strawberries and cheerios, was left in a baby island when he was 6 weeks old. His note simply stated that he has Down Syndrome, that he’s a good baby, please take care of him…..The mama also wrote that “he is my angel.”
That one phrase spoke volumes to me. I’m sure he was her angel. I’m sure she loved him dearly, but you see, my friend, we live in a world where the vast majority of Down Syndrome children don’t even see the light of day. Iceland boasts that they haven’t had a Down Syndrome birth in 5 years. Some people want to eliminate this sweet extra chromosome altogether.
Whatever doubts, fears, or family pressures she had to leave him, I’m sure it came from misinformation that pretty much ALL cultures of the world are throwing at mothers who carry Down Syndrome angels in their wombs.
As I’m learning more and more about the dire straights of parents who have special needs children in other countries, I cannot and I never will judge them for the heart rending decisions they are forced to make. Watching a recent documentary of a family with a child who had cerebral palsy, the child’s care cost $1500 a month. What was the parents’ income? $400 a month.
Some governments won’t lift a finger in these cases. In their eyes, the child is worthless. There are countries where you cannot get medical help for your child unless you pay the hospital upfront. This means that if your baby has a heart condition and is turning blue, gasping for air, lethargic, and you rush him to the hospital, he will not receive treatment until you pay.
If you don’t have the money to pay, what do you do? You choose between abandoning your child so they can receive life saving surgery or keeping your baby and watching her die in your arms.
What is your choice? Choose wisely.
Another parent tearfully lamented that when he took his sick daughter to a hospital, the hospital wouldn’t accept her for treatment because her expensive condition meant that she was considered worthless. The parents were strongly advised by the medical staff to abandon her. Trash. Something to be discarded, someone not worth keeping. Leave her and move on.
How do we change the perspective of leaders and societies to see the infinite value of these precious souls?
I think it starts with us.
You and me. Down syndrome children used to not be up for adoption in many countries because they were considered un-adoptable, unwanted, unworthy. They languished in institutions for their entire short lives.
Now? We are bravely showing the world that they have value.
We will fight and work for these children to have families. Their files are finally being prepared because parents like you and me are willing to shout their value to the world. Down Syndrome children used to not even be up for adoption.
How amazingly incredible is this?
You see, man looks on the outward appearance, but God looks on the heart.
Doesn’t that statement “but God” just give you chills? But God…..sees, He knows, He plans, He changes the hearts of parents half a world away, He provides a way.
BUT GOD gently teaches us that these children are infinitely valuable, maybe even more so than you or me, because of their helplessness, because of their intense neediness, because of their deep losses.
And so, God asks each of us, He’s asking YOU, as followers of Christ, to look at these children through His eyes….. as treasures.
Something that is infinitely valuable, something worth the work, and the time, the money, the mountains of paperwork, and the perceived “inconvenience”.
What one family, one government, one country, one world treats as trash, I am honored to count it as treasure, and what a beautiful, sticky, funny, loving, stubborn, mischievous treasure it is! Our lives are forever altered and our once apathetic hearts made all the richer for this treasure that we are honored to have in our family.
Besides, even if it cost a million dollars, wouldn’t he be worth it? His life, his eternal soul, his story…He is priceless.
Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
Where is your treasure? Is it in a glass box labelled “please look but don’t touch” cordoned with velvet ropes? Is it on display in your garage, expensively shiny and red, ready to turn heads? Is it coldly lit in numbers on your bank’s computer screen?
Or is your treasure intricately woven with the heart of a soul that you are investing in for eternity? Eternal treasure.
Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.
“Do not store up for yourselves treasure on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroy and where thieves do not break in and steal.
For were your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matthew 6:19-21
The divide widened, rifting us in an unhealthy way. A not God-honoring way. A way that wives should not be taking and for me, I was completely justified, in my own stubborn mind, for feeling this way.
You might be like me. You might have married a good man, a quieter man, a man who will cover your feet when you’re cold or leap out of bed in the graveyard hours when you hear those heartwarming “harf harf” sounds of the cat commencing her scheduled barfing routine. I think that many of us have married these steady men. Everyone likes them, demands their time, they give unselfishly, cautious spenders (Target is his nemesis), you get the picture!
They work hard, pay the bills, bathe kids, fuss at teens for too much phone time. Overall, they are really, good guys….church guys, who will answer the call to help others with basically, anything.
But adoption….adoption was really a struggle for my steady man to wrap his mind around.
A few years ago, when I broached the subject with him, it was a flat out “no”.
“We have enough kids, we can’t afford it, how can I love another child like my own?”. Those were the main bullet points, and in that order.
Me, I’m all pie-in-the-sky. “We DON’T have enough kids, GOD will provide, we CAN AND WILL love another child just the same as our own”. And so the argument went, and argue, we DID.
The topic would come up, I would become bitter and frustrated, he would shut down, I would be sarcastic and snarky (which is always such a GREAT and PROVEN way to move your husband forward on the spiritual journey of adoption).
I was so incredibly, undeniably certain that adoption was for us. I had wanted to adopt my whole entire life, ever since I was a child, I just knew….I wanted to have my own kids and I wanted to adopt. There were children that needed a mother and here I am, a mothering type of person and I would mother them.
They would be so mothered that they wouldn’t ever feel the need to be mothered again. I’m here, let’s get this show on the road. Chop chop.
And so, we went round and round, me, weeping sometimes bitter, angry tears, yearning to be involved, yearning to start the big, scary journey and him, rock solid in his bullet point facts of male, square-boxed, time honored practicality.
The divide widened, rifting us in an unhealthy way. A not God-honoring way. A way that wives should not be taking and for me, I was completely justified, in my own stubborn mind, for feeling this way. Clinging to my pride and justification, I allowed bitterness to creep in.
And our marriage suffered, because of me, because of him, because we weren’t doing this the right way, the Godly way, and we both knew it.
Finally, I got to a point where God was gently (but not audibly) saying, “Let it go”.
“Let it go.”
God, I CAN’T let it go, there are children that NEED me, they need homes, they need a MOTHER and look! Here I am! A mother! What a coincidence, so, you know, let’s start this thing.
Let. It. Go.
I’m pretty sure He quite possibly was saying this with gritted teeth because, man, can I be super stubborn.
So, I’m all Holy-Spiriting my husband, which just might be NOT my job and I’ve got the impatience thing firmly down pat from lots of practice and I’m a total, emotional wreck inside.
After much internal struggle, which resembled one of those animal planet shows where two grizzlies have at it over a salmon head, I had to finally, reluctantly let it go.
THEN, because even though I’ve “let it go”, I still had to do SOMETHING, I started a line of artwork to help raise funds for other families, who were obviously more spiritual than ours, and much more blessed to be able to be so annoyingly united in their decision to go adopt.
I feverishly poured myself into fundraising, and fundraised my little heart out for quite a long time, creating a whole line of ink artwork that sold like hotcakes. It was the beginning of the adult coloring insanity and my finger developed a permanent dent in it from all of the drawing I did.
I believe God gave me purpose in the waiting, and there was purpose in this artwork that was yet to be realized. It took me an entire year to complete my line of Exquisite Ink work and in that year, I felt like I had truly let it go. I sadly resigned myself to the fact that adoption wasn’t for us. I’d just do my small part, however measly it felt, in raising funds and supporting families who were going. (Grrrr…)
We started attending a new church at the time and it just so “happened” that the pastor was preaching a whole entire, wondrously glorious series on trusting God.
Are you really trusting God? Are you stepping forward in faith, even when you are uncertain of the outcome? Do you trust God with your marriage, your money, your family? Well, do you? Huh?
He wasn’t as annoying as that, but you get my drift.
I’d sit in service and I’m telling you, it took all the self-control in my body not to elbow my husband at certain key points. He’d sit really still, I’d glance down and see his foot jiggling. At times, he’d shift uncomfortably like someone was poking his back (It wasn’t me, I swear!). I’d smile an internal smile with my internal jaw, which, later on, you’ll see will be dropping….internally.
After service, in the car, I’d want to talk about the sermon, and he’d say, “I don’t want to talk about it.”…… that’s it….and silence prevailed.
And I left it, because I sensed that something was happening, but I didn’t allow myself to hope…..I’d already spent too many years hoping, weeping, and praying… Hope hurt too much.
I miraculously managed to shut my big mouth (no easy feat) and let the Holy Spirit do His thing, because, you know, that’s His job and not mine (I should probably get a tattoo of that somewhere to remind me of that).
Three months. For three months, we didn’t talk about the sermons and for three months, our pastor wielded the sword of the Word of God like an expert surgeon…..and now you’re wondering what kind of surgeon I go to, but ancient surgeons might have used swords back in the olden days, so just hush now. You get the mental picture.
Finally, one Sunday afternoon, he sat me down. He needed to talk to me.
He’s very serious. My heart suddenly hurts. “I’m ready. I’m ready to adopt.”
I sat really still, fearing that any sudden movement might blow away this new feather of faith. My heart leaped and my internal jaw just dropped, but outwardly, I didn’t move a muscle or say anything.
My internal jaw was grinning so hard that it forced my external one to comply. There are really no words to accurately capture the sky-high joy that swept over me.
We’re ready. All those tears, arguments, years of hurt, hoping, disappointment, bitterness, talking, hinting, hoping some more….We. Are. Ready.
And that, my dear friends, is how we started down the wonderful, lovely, hard, scary, amazing, close-to-God’s-heart path called adoption.
Through all that emotional upheaval, I learned something valuable. Don’t be the Holy Spirit in your husband’s life. Yes, yes, it’s very hard and while there are times we are to hold each other accountable, it wasn’t the right time.
My man likes to lovingly point out that if we had started down the adoption road when I wanted to, Lian wouldn’t have even been born yet and wouldn’t be a part of our family. It’s so incredibly evident that Lian was meant for this family in God’s perfect design.
Think Sarah and Hagar. Just because your intentions are good or that you think you’re following God’s plan for your life, doesn’t mean that you can take matters into your own hands and advance your cause, pre-empting God’s perfect timing.
It has been an incredibly difficult, but necessary lesson for me.
The journey has transformed our spirits, whittled away our self, weeded out the sinful poison ivy in our garden of life.
Adoption has irrevocably changed us.
God’s timing, allowing the Holy Spirit to work, being patient, respecting my husband’s leadership and decisions….ALL things I had to learn the hard way and I’m still learning these things.
Above all things, lifting up your desires in prayer to our Heavenly Father, Who hears us, but just may not answer as quickly as we’d like.
Now, I’m itching to do it again, but I’m proud to say that I’m zipping it.
Was your adoption decision journey easy or hard? Encourage others with your story in the comments. I feel that there are many spouses out there that feel the call, but aren’t united yet in the decision.
How can I lift you up in prayer, my friend? Let me know!
Stay tuned for how Down Syndrome chose us!