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!