screaming into the wind…

We can no longer exist in this state of soft and sleepy Christian denial, we must move forwards as the army of Christ and sacrifice everything we have for the cause of those who are lost. We want to stand confidently before God, look him in the face and say that we did all we possibly could to lead these small ones to Him.

 

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I’ll be straight up honest with you. In the church, I feel like I’m screaming into the wind, banging my head against a wall, yelling underwater…my voice is breaking.

And I keep screaming, even through the funny, uncomfortable looks or the rolled eyes or the “it’s not what God is calling us to do” statements…because there’s too much at stake here to simply let my voice take a permanent vacation.

You see, it’s not that there is an actual “no” being said. You can’t even get to the point where people actually make a yes or no decision. What always get me is the vast, unending silence and it relentlessly presses down upon my soul. It’s the total lack of interest, lack of questions, it’s the uncomfortable look people get when I start talking about the rows of cribs, the little faces, and how many children there are who wait.

It’s the endless excuses and statements of “Well, you can’t guilt people into adopting,” and “Adoption isn’t for everyone,” and “We just aren’t called to this.” And, honestly, I somewhat agree with every statement here…

You CAN’T guilt people into adopting, but you CAN challenge them to at least be honestly, wholeheartedly open to praying about it and being willing to accept the scary answer. Adoption ISN’T for everyone, I agree…but orphan care in some way, shape, or form IS. “We aren’t called to this” is the most frustrating one…because you ARE called, you ARE equipped, you ARE strong in the Lord and the power of His might.

Now, I know that people look at adoptive families and think we are all a little crazy. And we are, in all the good ways. We are CRAZY about getting children into homes…we are CRAZY about lost souls for Christ…we are CRAZY about having completely open eyes to the reality of the crisis in this world…sometimes, we are just plain crazy from lack of sleep. 🙂

When you get to the bottom of the problem, it’s an idol of convenience and comfort that we, as American Christians, must battle. Never before in all of history have American believers been so rich, so comfortable, so healthy, so free, so crowded around a man made wealth/health/prosperity theology…and it weakens us greatly. For while we think we are so strong with our coffee/Bible instagram photos and our trendy worship services, these children are going to hell in a hand basket and we are fully, completely, undeniably responsible for our utter lack of interest in them.

I AM responsible. I fully know that ONE DAY, I, Cady Beth Driver, will stand before God and give an account for my life. For the time I have spent, the resources I have spent, the talents I have spent….and I am guilty in so many ways of unrelenting selfishness. I AM so spoiled, I fully admit that. I FIGHT these urges to just continue my life, that I’ve done enough, I’ve adopted one special needs child and isn’t that enough?

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Well?

I don’t know….I’m not calling for legalism, but, I beg of you, please stop making us shout into the wind. I’m imploring  you, as a church body, to HEAR our hearts, ask the hard questions, fully open your eyes to the reality of what is all around you. Just because you cannot see it doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.

Orphans are a hard and ugly reality.

It’s a slap-you-in-the face reality. We can no longer exist in this state of soft and sleepy Christian denial, we must move forwards as the army of Christ and sacrifice everything we have for the cause of those who are lost. We want to stand confidently before God, look him in the face and say that we did all we possibly could to lead these small ones to Him.

I KNOW that there are parents out there who adopt terminally ill children. I know that when they walk through those pearly gates, that that child will be flying into their arms. I know that there are parents who walk incredibly hard roads for the sake of these small souls for eternity, but what if we all did it?

What if every church service had the hiss of oxygen machines, the humming of special needs kids, the adorable off-key singing of children with Down syndrome?

What if we had to turn up the pastor’s voice just to hear him speak over the din of welcoming the least of these into our church bodies with open arms?

What if?

Why must we shout into the wind? Why???

Why must we beg and plead, why can’t we all be this giant crowd of believers running to the helpless?

I don’t have all the answers and yes, I AM fully crazy for this cause. Because I don’t want to close my eyes and pretend like these children do not exist or that they’re not worth every piece of paperwork, every penny, ever sleepless night, every mama’s broken heart…they are WORTH IT.

My heart’s cry is this…Ask questions of adoptive parents…ask them how many children are in their child’s orphanage. Ask them what you can do to help, how you can be involved, how can you pray, how can you support.

Asking is the first step in a journey of illumination and let me tell you, you’ll never want to go back to the time when you didn’t know the answers.

This will break you in all the right ways. All the God ways.

And you’ll join the crowd of adoptive families who are shouting to come and experience the good, the bad, the heartbreak, the triumphs that make up our topsy turvy worlds of adoption.

Come and shout with us. Join us and do hard things…

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what if?

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What if mama’s stomachs were never supposed to be flat and hard…what if our softness was simply a continual visual wonder for the life that quietly grew within?

What if God designed us to be soft, because our arms and stomachs and laps so often cradle a little one for sleep, for comfort, for teaching….

What if the strength of our arms comes not from push ups and lifting weights, but from lifting littles high, catching them when they fall, carrying them through the rough places of life….

What if our hands aren’t meant to be soft and photo-finish smooth, but worn and calloused….each mark representing a dish washed, a child cleaned, a household fed, a tear wiped, a garden planted…

What if our faces were never meant to be flawless, but every worry and laugh line was a reflection of shared compassion, shouldered burdens, unexpected laughter….

What if we were never meant to be mannequins, endless slaves to the ever changing, demanding whims of fashion…but we are seen for the love we hold in our hearts…. the ideas and passions that change this world for the better.

What if our hair was never meant to be continuously coiffed but as silver streaks our temples, we welcome this gradual crowning of wisdom that only time can gift.

What if our feet were never meant to be tortured in shoes designed to draw the stares of men to our legs, but instead, they were shod with shoes that only helped us run faster to the weary, the waiting, the downtrodden…

What if we have it all wrong and we strive for things that will never bring us closer to God?

What if how we, as women, mothers, daughters, sisters, wives….what if how we are made is simply the best thing as we are……untouched, un-refined…that we don’t need the wearisome race of the unnatural……and we can joyfully rest in the undeniable gift of being a woman.

What if?

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a downsy?

How we label people matters simply because our society has so incredibly devalued the lives of humans who have Down syndrome.

“Oh, he’s a Downsy? He’s a Downs kid…a down syndrome baby.  Is he a Down syndrome boy? That cute little downs kid! That Down syndrome girl…she just had a Downs baby! Was he abandoned because he’s a downs?”

I know that any parent of a child who’s rocking the extra chromosome is cringing right now.

 

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Seriously, I’ve heard all of these and more! Before we had Lian, I really didn’t give much thought to these phrases and I probably used them a time or two, unthinking, unknowingly. I mean, what’s the big deal, right?

Are we, as parents of children who just happen to be blessed with that minuscule extra chromosome, are we being overly sensitive? Too demanding? Too picky?

Hmmmm….. Let’s just do a little experiment here. Let’s switch Down syndrome with something else.

“Oh, that palsy boy? What a cute, little, palsy baby! Oh, she’s a bifida kiddo. Did you know that Amy has a cancer brother, too? Yeah, she’s a cleft girl.”

No. We would respectfully say, “a little boy who HAS cerebral palsy, a little girl who HAS spinal bifida, Sally has a brother who HAS cancer, she HAS a cleft palate”.  None of these things degrade the value of the person at all.

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For example, above is a photo of Lian, who has Down syndrome, with his grandfather, who has cerebral palsy. Neither of these two men allow their condition to limit whom God has made them to be.

It’s called “people first” language or terminology. And, to be honest with you, I learned this AFTER we adopted Lian, but it makes SO much sense and I’m very grateful I learned it.

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As parents of children who just happen to have special needs, it’s so incredibly important to us that you aren’t counting chromosomes and handing out labels before you first see our child as a person. He’s a person first. A person of value who isn’t defined by a diagnosis, and, in fact, has struggled to overcome, to fight for, and accomplish more in his short life than most of us will in a lifetime.

How we label people matters simply because society has so incredibly devalued the lives of humans who have Down syndrome.

Their lives are demeaned to the point that these tiny persons are routinely aborted, never given the chance to brighten the world with their sweet spirits and sunshine smiles. These children are routinely abandoned in many countries solely because of their chromosome count.

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“For God sees not as man sees. Man looks on the outward appearance, but God looks on the heart.” I Samuel 16:7

So, the next time you see a parent of a child who is obviously blessing all around him with his cute wave, his husky boy hello…Just smile and allow his sweet spirit to lift your day.

I don’t want this defining question, “Is he a Downs kid?” to be the first thing Lian hears every time he meets someone new.

I want him to hear, “Wow, great signing, Lian! I hear that new word you’ve been working on for months! I love your smile! What a strong boy you are! Thank you for helping!”

And if you feel like you can’t possibly say anything nice, just move on. Please!

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Because who he is isn’t defined by a chromosome. If you could just look past the label, you’d see a child with an enormous heart, sensitive to those who are hurting, ready to dole out hugs and light up the room with his smile. You’d see a little boy who reminds us to pray when we forget, who raises his hands to God in worship service when I’m too self-conscious to, who insists on praying for someone who is injured or sick. You’d see a little person who speaks to God as if they are best friends, who commands the rain to stop with all the audacity of being a beloved son of the King, who makes us laugh all day long.

He, and all of our beautiful children who just happen to have Down Syndrome…they are infinitely more than the label.

So don’t introduce them with the label first.

 

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a hundred thousand Hannahs and counting, I see you…

“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)

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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?”

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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.

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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….

And so….

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….

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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.

 

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of toddler and teens…

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”.

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“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.

“MOM!”

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how do I protect him from words?

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.

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“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.

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“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?”

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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.

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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.

Thank you!

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down syndrome has ruined me…

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.

Just, wow.

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.

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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!

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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.

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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:

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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.

BOY!

I wanted a minor need, God chuckled.

DOWN SYNDROME!

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!”

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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?

“Argh” cubed.

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.

Staaaaaahhhhp!

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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?

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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.

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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.

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Though friends forsake you…

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.

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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.

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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.”

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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”.

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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.

 

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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.”

Whoa.

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.

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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

 

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trash or treasure…

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.

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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.

Heavenly eyes.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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.

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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.

Priceless.

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“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 hubby hurdle…

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.

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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.

For years.

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.

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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.

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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”.

But, but….

“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.

Yeah.

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.FullSizeRender 33

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.

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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…)

Cue, God.

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.

He’s ready.

Really?!?!?!?!

He’s ready.

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.

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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.

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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.

Moderately. 😉

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!

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