Long before we had begun our adoption journey, I read the book L'Abri by Edith Schaeffer. This is her account of when she and her husband, Francis Schaeffer began L'Abri Fellowship in Switzerland. It is a powerful book and one I recommend. But the one thing that struck me most forcefully while I was reading it was the part where their son, Frankie, contracted polio. Francis was out of the country and Edith was left alone to deal with the situation. A doctor informed her that he had developed a new treatment for polio, which if they acted quickly enough could save Frankie's ability to walk. The treatment was not without risks, however. Edith didn't have any way to contact Francis to ask his advice and she had to make the decision immediately. She eventually chose to go forward with the treatment, but implored God to put a roadblock in the way if it wasn't the right decision. Frankie survived the polio relatively unscathed, being left with only a slight limp. The idea of making the best decision possible, when there wasn't a clear right or wrong choice and asking God to honor that decision and to take charge of events is what stayed with me.
I have written quite a bit about our experiences with TM after bringing him home. How the experience brought me to my knees and caused me to give myself up to God as I never had before. It was a life changing experience in more ways than one. But I'm not sure I have ever shared the amazing workings of God as we continued on this path of adoption.
Even as difficult and chaotic as TM's transition was, J. and I always knew that we wanted to adopt a second child. We wanted someone else who looked like TM and shared some of his experiences. We didn't want TM to be the only dark-haired child in a sea of blonds; to always be the one who stood out and was different. Even before we reached the 6 month mark of TM being home, I found myself trolling waiting child lists, having a strong feeling that we had another child out there... somewhere. At 6 months, I phoned our agency and asked for the file of a little boy who had been on the photolisting for some time. He had been waiting a while and needed a family. I wondered if we were his family. His paperwork arrived and it was a bit overwhelming. His needs were pretty great and I wasn't sure if I could parent him. But, I also had learned by this point that if God wanted us to parent him, He would give us the ability. What to do? I didn't feel strongly one way or the other. I remember standing in my kitchen, holding the paperwork offering a desperate prayer to God, that if wanted us to parent him, we were willing, but I just needed to know one way or the other. Five minutes later, the phone rings. It is the developmental psychologist with whom I had left a message to talk about the file and she was calling me back. (I knew this woman as we had taken TM to see her.) I explained the situation and the first words out of her mouth were, "You should not adopt this child." In consideration of my prayer five minutes earlier, this seemed like a pretty specific answer. I sent the file back, and never felt any guilt. (The little boy did get matched with another family.) And we waited.
Two week after sending our application in (having decided that perhaps we were to wait and be referred a child), I received a phone call. It was the director of the Vietnam department of our agency and we chatted for a bit. I thought, "Oh, how nice, she's calling to welcome us back into the program." And then, she asks, "So, I see you're open to quite a few special needs. Would cleft lip and palate be on that list?" I had checked so many that I couldn't remember for sure, so said that I thought so. Well, it turns out there was a baby they wanted to send us information on. The next day, we grabbed the envelope from the FedEx man and took a look at the picture of the boy who was to be our 7th child (whose needs, I might add, were remarkably similar to those of the little boy we had said no to).
I have also written quite a lot about the long wait to bring K. home. It was another period of growth, though of a different sort. A period of learning to wait on God's timing, even if I don't understand it at all. I prayed so hard for K. during that time, that he would not be negatively affected emotionally from the extended time in the orphanage. I was so fearful for him. God is faithful. We brought K. home (in God's time) and K. continues to have the most sunny and resilient nature. He was indeed protected.
K. came home in May 2008. I had no idea beforehand how life would be with seven children, one of whom had multiple weekly therapies for a while. Parts of it seemed like a lot, but for the most part it was manageable. That summer I still could not shake the feeling that we still had children missing from our family. If you have never looked at your family, and felt, even briefly, that someone is missing, I can't begin to explain what it feels like. But it was there and I could not ignore it.
By this time, Vietnam was closed to adoptions to the US. China was not an option since we did not meet their requirements. I was feeling very strongly pulled toward Ethiopia and so that was what we started looking into. We applied to an agency, and then all forward motion stopped. I had seen a photograph of a sibling set of four whom I was quite drawn to. It was a huge thing to even consider, so I had asked a couple of friends, whom I knew to be Godly, prayerful women, to join me in praying over the situation. And I tried to go forward. And I tried and tried. We could not even get started as no matter what I did, we could not find a homestudy agency to even come out and talk with us. It was roadblock after roadblock and I was incredibly frustrated and angry. Then one day in my Sunday school class, a phrase which someone said, jumped out at me as if it was electrified, "Dare to be idle".
I don't do 'idle' well, especially when I have a goal in mind. But there it was. All those roadblocks? I started to see them as being from God. God's way of taking my bumbling after Him and turning it to what He wanted. I would by lying if this made it easier. The defining moment of this process was when I was putting away some of P.'s clothes, which were too small, and weeping. I was overcome with sadness that I might never have another little girl to wear those clothes. God had said no to what I thought our path was and clearly, this was the end. My heart was broken, and I tried to let it go.
Count back with me now from the birth of G. and L. They were born in June 2009. This little breakdown in the basement of my home was September 2008. As so often happens, God knew the plans He had for me, and though I couldn't see it at the time, they were plans for good. We have been so richly blessed by the presence of these two little girls in our lives. God is good. God is good even when it seems He is saying no to something we have our hearts set on.
H. brings another chapter of our journey, but I will save that for some other time. All this is fresh in my mind today because of a friend of mine who received some bad news yesterday. She and her husband made the hard choice to try to adopt a little girl from Russia. This little girl has some significant needs and her care won't be easy, but they knew she needed a family and so they said yes. Russia said no. My friend is heartbroken, both because they wanted to call this little girl their daughter, but also for the little girl who is destined to live out her life in a mental institution.
God must have other plans for this little girl. Could God be calling you to make the hard decision and say yes?
Please go to Reeses Rainbow for more information about this little child of God.