Monday, May 12, 2008

A (Long) Update

I've been thinking I'd be able to compose a really brilliant, well-worded post. I've been waiting for it to come, actually. Snippets of sentences or powerful words would come into my head (of course, at times when I was far from a computer keyboard or even a pencil), and just as quickly they have vanished.


Here's my adoption update post that I've been struggling to write for the past few weeks. I'm not sure what words will come tumbling out, but here they come!

Apparently it started when we walked through the doors of our agency and sat down in an informational meeting (with one other couple) about the new program for the country we had chosen for our adoption. At that meeting, we were handed four sheets of paper, each containing a picture and information about an older, waiting boy who was at our agency's orphanage in Ethiopia. I looked at each boy's picture (two are 5 years old, two are age 9) lingering over their precious faces, one by one. As I did, I read the information and said a silent prayer that God would handpick just the right families for each of them. Then I tucked the sheets into my folder and settled in to hear how we could adopt a baby. A baby girl.

As the weeks progressed and we got further into our paperwork, we would eventually expand the age range from "12 months and under" to "up to 5 years." Wow, God was really working in our hearts! As we progressed even further (fervently praying all the while) we increased the number from 1 child to 2 children, in order to be open to siblings. Well, what if that sibling were a boy? Of course. So, we changed our preference to include a boy sibling. Okay. A baby/toddler/preschool girl and her sister (even brother !) if she had one. That was that.

Or was it?

All the while I had had those four sheets of paper. All along I kept looking at those faces, praying for those dear boys. We received permission from our agency to duplicate the pages and distribute them to people personally (not electronically). We prayerfully gave their pictures to families whom we knew were praying about adoption, and one family in particular whom we knew had been considering an older child. I posted their pictures in our Sunday School room, confident that someone in our class would consider adopting one of them. All the while, we pursued our little girl. And her sister/brother if she had one. Under 5 years old.

A few weeks ago, I was feeling particularly burdened after some of my adoption reading. My burden was for older, waiting children. Orphans are clearly the least, the last and the lonely. But older children, particularly older boys, are truly the last. The last chosen. They wait and watch while families come and go, taking the babies. One article I read began,

"Waiting for a child is extremely hard and emotionally draining, particularly when it seems that everyone else has what you want the most - a baby. But stop and think about how it must feel to be a child with no family. There are millions of children in our world who desperately need a home. Most of these children are not infants, but they are still young enough to need holding, cuddling, security and most of all, they need love. They need parents to read them a bedtime story, to teach them to ride a bike, to hold them when they are hurt, kiss them good night and make them feel safe and special."

"Just how old do you have to be," I wondered to myself, "to outgrow the need for parents, the need to be held when you are hurt, to be tucked in at night, and to be made to feel safe and special? When do you outgrow your need for love? A mother's love? A family?" Through my prayers and in reading many articles/books about adoption issues, my heart began to be more and more tender for these older, waiting boys.

One morning as I was working around the house, I was making my bed and I asked God out loud, "Why won't people adopt these older boys?" He answered (not out loud, but I heard Him loud and clear in my spirit) "Why won't YOU?"


I had no answer for that. It seems He had been doing the same work in my husband's heart, and as we looked at the four sheets of paper together and prayed, one face seemed to be staring back at us more piercingly than the others. All of a sudden, it seemed so obvious. It's him.

As we talked and prayed for him, and about him, it all just seemed to "fit." We could see him here. We could see him with us. We could see him in our family. We could see him as our son. In fact, it seemed so natural that I couldn't believe we hadn't seen it all along! But what about our little girl? What would we do about her? Wasn't she the one we were going for? Weeks and months earlier, I could "see" her, too.

So, we met with our agency to ask about adopting two kids who were not biologically related. Throughout our two-hour-long meeting they explained why they do not do that. I won't go into all of their reasons now (but I will share that I have come to agree with those reasons). That was hard for us to hear. I burst into tears as we left the agency that day and cried over my salad at lunch as Luke and I sat at a nearby restaurant and tried to make sense of what we had learned. Basically, what we learned was that we had a decision to make: Either continue pursuing the little girl we originally felt called to adopt, or adopt the boy we knew was waiting, the one we could see in our family, the one to whom we felt so drawn.

It didn't take us long to make our choice. In fact, I think we already knew. We just had to adjust our vision and our thinking, and sometimes that's painful. None of the baby or toddler girls will turn 10 in that orphanage, but those boys very well could. And we couldn't stand the thought of it. In my opinion, the reason we couldn't stand the thought of it was because it's quite possible he's ours! The thought of it is supposed to break our hearts. I could envision myself over there, walking past the baby girls as we took our new little boy by the hand and headed back to America. But I could not, cannot, imagine walking past that precious boy while holding a baby girl. I couldn't imagine looking at him and playing with him during our stay at the orphanage, knowing that we almost adopted him. And the reason I think I can't fathom it, the reason it brings tears to my eyes to even type it, is because it's quite possible he's ours.

So, what about our little girl? Well, she wasn't some sort of prophecy. I never saw her as such. It's not that she's still "out there somewhere" and it's our job to find her. I see her now in terms of what she represented. She represented our willingness to do whatever and go wherever God directs us. She represented, and still represents, our longing for God to grow, remake and reshape our family however He sees fit. I don't know if there will ever be a little girl, but I still hold her in my heart as a reminder to myself and a sign to God that I am willing, we are willing, for Him to grow and mold our family for His glory.

And now we focus on our little boy. I'll tell you a bit about him. He's beautiful. He's smart. He's musical. He's got huge, gorgeous eyes and a contagious smile. I catch it whenever I look at him! He's a gangly, skinny, soccer-loving, preteen boy who turns 10 this fall. He makes good grades in his school (is described as being at the top of his class), is friendly (all the kids in the orphanage name him when they are asked who their best friend is), he wants to be a doctor when he grows up, and his favorite food is fried pasta with fried egg. He told our adoption coordinator when she was there that he really wants a family so he can feel like he belongs to someone. He just wants to belong. Well, we think he belongs in our family!

I have been grieving for what he and his family have been through in recent years, and for the circumstances that led to him being in an orphanage. I am acquainted more and more with the fact that adoption begins with grief and loss. I had so many different emotions yesterday on Mother's Day. I mourned for his mother, his first mother. (I will refer to her as his Ethiopian mother, rather than "birth mother." But that is another post for another day...) I just want to scoop him up and tell him I'm sorry for what he's been through. I want to tell him that I love and miss his parents, too, even though I never met them. I can't wait for him to tell me all about them. I want to tell him it's going to be okay (and then do my level best in God's strength, as long as it takes, for that to be the case.) I want to be his new mommy. I want him to belong to me every bit as much as he wants to belong to someone. We want him. Not him-if-he-came-with-a-sister, but him, for who he is.

Our children are ecstatic. They are showing his pictures to anyone who will stop to look. Bethany wrote his name in HUGE letters on the white board in our school room, and Kyle added "rocks." He rocks! We have added a bunk bed to Kyle's room, making room for his new brother. I have been adjusting my plans for school next year to include a new fourth grader who loves math but will be learning to speak English. I have been watching the dvd of him over and over, replaying the part where he says, "My name is ____ ____". I love hearing his precious voice. (By the way, that is the only English he speaks on the dvd. "My name is." The equivalent of me saying "Me llamo Cyndi" That doesn't mean I hablo mucho espanol!) I have ordered books and materials in his language, and I'm learning as much of it as I can. It is hard! But I want so desperately for us to be able to communicate as quickly as possible. I want to show him I'm doing my part. I want to "connect" with him as effectively as I can.

This afternoon we are driving to our state's capital to stay overnight and walk our paperwork through the Secretary of State's office in the morning. We are hurrying to get our dossier (Mt. Paperwork) completed and over to Ethiopia as quickly as possible so that we can get a court date before the courts in that country recess for two months later this summer.

This weekend our sweet daughter leaves for two weeks in China, so I'm looking forward to this short trip to Austin with our kids... not only is this a mission toward bringing home our new son, their new brother, but time for us to spend together in the car and in the hotel before we spend two weeks on opposite sides of the globe. I've never had one in China and one in Africa before. Kyle is bracing himself for me to put the "mother" in "smother" for the next two weeks! Bless his heart. ;)

There are a million more thoughts in my heart right now. I am well aware that there are many issues surrounding adopting older children. I have many questions, and have received many answers already. God is so faithful. I've read so many helpful materials, have ordered some wonderful resources (for us, and for him in his language) and continue to hear from God daily through His Word. What I have been learning and the powerful work God is doing in my heart and in our family could fill multiple blog posts each day. This is such a wonder-filled time for us.

Thank you so much for following along on this blog, for so many of you that we know personally a as well as those of you I've met through your blogs. I am thankful daily for the precious people God has put in our lives. I can't wait for all of you to meet our precious new son, who I'll call "M" for now. Today, M is living his life, going to school, playing with his friends, doing whatever he does... not knowing that he's being celebrated, prayed for, cherished, eagerly anticipated, and pursued. Isn't that a picture of how our loving God regards us? I love it.

I hope you have a blessed day!


Stacy said...

Cyndi, I'm enjoying your adoption story as it unfolds. Thank you for sharing it. It is beautiful. I will put your family and your new son in my daily prayers. All the best!
Stacy :-)

Joni said...

Hi Cyndi,

I read every single word in this beautiful post and am blown away by God's amazing plan for his children's lives. I will continue to pray as you move forward with this amazing adoption. I am thinking so much as I write this how very amazing it is that we are ALL adopted when we choose Christ. And your family will be a real, live testimony to that. God bless this new endeavor.

Mrs. U said...

Hi there!
My sister just shared your blog with me. I LOVED this post! My husband and I are currently seeking the Lord about where to adopt next (our daughter is from China). You definitely have written a lot of things that I need to pray about.

Thank you for sharing this!

May the Lord bless you and your family!

Mrs. U

Deidre said...

Wow, Cyndi. Just WOW! I'm amazed daily at how God ordains things. It has been such a joy to read about this entire process for your family. You are a great example of trusting God with each and every step and not getting your eyes fixed on your own agenda. I am just so amazed.

I cannot wait to hear more about it. Very well written!!

Anonymous said...

Oh, how exciting!!! Thanks for sharing your heart and how God worked in you to follow His leadership for your family. I am so happy for that child to be joining a good family. So wonderful.

Linda said...

Cyndi, you make me want to just sit here and weep great tears of joy. I am so delighted for you and so very happy for your little boy. I have been praying that all will go smoothly and that he will quickly become a part of you.
As I read I wondered if perhaps that little girl appeared to lead you to your little boy.
Just as the Father knew your children before the foundation of the earth - so he knew M and knew that he would one day be your son. God is faithful, and he is so very good.
Praying for Bethany too!

Emily said...

As I sit here with tears streaming down my cheeks, I just can't think of what to say. We are rejoicing with you over all that God is doing! And we CAN'T WAIT to meet him!! Love you!

Kelly @ Love Well said...

I've had so many emotions well up in me this afternoon since I read this post, Cyndi. (By any chance, did you read my guest post at Compassion last week? If not, you should. It relates to your situation.)

If I start to break it down into specifics, this would turn into a novel-length comment. :-) So I'll just say -- may God's hand be on this whole process. Throw that pebble into the pond of God's grace, girl. I can't wait to see what He does through you.

Susanne said...

What a beautiful post, Cyndi! I am very moved and inspired by your openness to what the Lord would desire of you. You are such an example and inspiration. I'm looking forward to the day you introduce us all to your wonderful new son!

Much Ado said...

Wow, this is so exciting! I was moved to tears as I read your post. Isn't God just amazing how he works in our hearts and lives. What an exciting journey you and your family are on, I look forward to hearing more about "M". May God richly bless you for your wonderful decision.

Chris @ Come to the Table said...

I read it all and I am so excited for you and your family and for "M". Glory to God in the highest!! I can't wait for him to come home to you! What a beautiful update. Thanks Cyndi for sharing it with us.

Mindy said...

Congratulations Cyndi! I am so happy for you an your family!
And I can't wait to meet your new 'M'!!!!
In HIM -

Monica said...

Thank you so much for sharing your story. You and your family are in my prayers as you pursue God's calling!

Kim said...

Wow---I am speechless, Cyndi! And in tears! What a beautiful story of how God has worked in your change your minds...and see His plan for you!!!! I'm so excited for you and rejoicing with you, friend!

I need to begin praying now...that God would show us His direction as we feel we are at a crossroads of sorts with our adoption. I will also pray for your sweet family as you continue through this process...I am overwwwwhelmed with emotion and am praising the Lord with you.

I just posted a video on my Sugar baby blog with John Piper quotes about older children in Ethiopia...before reading your posts! Neat!

Kim said...

I meant the Sugar Pie Honey Bunch blog...I don't know where that came from...except that I call my kids sugar babies...?

Beefy said...

I LOVE that last paragraph. What a neat picture.

John and Heather Needles said...

I just wanted to say, AWESOME!! That is an awesome adoption story! You will be so blessed by "M", just as you will be such a blessing to "M"! God is so faithful and God Bless You for defending the fatherless!! God will pour out His rewards on your family!

Thinking of you,
Heather Needles

Sandy said...

Cyndi, thank you so much for sharing your raw thoughts. It's been awhile since I've had a three tissue cry that may end up being four. My heart is so happy that God chose the older boy for your family. It is my belief that all children, regardless of age need a parent. Our Ashley has worked with these children and told heart-breaking stories of the older ones and how important it is at even age 18 for them to have someone to belong to. I praise God for the miracles that he is working in your life and in your family. Who knows, after our Amy's trip to Africa this summer, we may have an another "older" grandchild. I know that she, too, is praying for God's will in their family.

In the meantime, I applaud the efforts of your family to make a difference in our world. God Bless you All!

Love & Blessings,

Kim said...

I tagged you with a fun meme...hope you can do it!

D said...

Okay, catching up on blogs after being out of town for the funeral.

What a great story. You know, maybe that girl was God's way of getting you in the water. Maybe the older boy would have been too much to consider...but once you step in the water towards that little girl, you realize it's just a little bit further out to that boy.

I think China was that for us. There was so much about international adoption that scared us. China relieved a lot of that and got us in the water. Then, once in the water, Africa didn't seem as scarey as it did two years ago.

It was just a little bit futher out. And boy...isn't it great to be just a bit futher out!

andrea said...

You will be in my thoughts as you wait for your son. I have been in your shoes, it is not easy. May the Lord bless your family.