The World Stopped
I couldn’t breathe when I saw her. I had been looking for her. I knew she was coming, but when she came walking into my aisle I stopped breathing. The world stopped. Nothing else mattered but her. And me. And the distance it took for me to kneel before her.
The last time I had seen her was a little over a year before. Our last moments with her never to be forgotten. Our hearts shredded into pieces when she whispered to the director she didn’t want us to be her family. We never considered in a million years she would turn us away. It was unthinkable.
There she was, standing before me on this side of the ocean, and I wanted nothing more than to grab her and hold her and tell her how much we had wanted her. I wanted to flee the building with this girl wrapped in my arms. Instead, I whispered to her how proud I was that she had said yes to a family. I told her how brave she was. I told her how happy I was that she had now a Mama and a Papa and brothers and sisters. I told her she was beautiful. I told her I loved her.
We played a bit at the preschool booth nearby. And then she walked away down the aisle with her Papa beside her. She took my heart with her. I went back to work that day, tears sliding quietly down my cheeks as I shared with people about our curriculum. It was the hardest of moments. Despite this, I consider it a kindness of God to allow me to have that moment with her. The family she chose is wonderful and I am grateful to the Lord that she is safely folded into their world.
Adoption is risky and hard. You cross the ocean to bring home a child with nothing more than a picture and a few words on a piece of paper. Anything can happen. Countries close in the middle of the process. Dossiers are submitted and denied. Children die before families get to them. War upends the process. The child you crossed the ocean to bring home is no longer available. Or they say no. Or you say no because the words on the paper do not match the child in real life.
And then you come home.
And the child you thought you loved is not exactly as you pictured or considered. Family is not exactly as they pictured it either. And you slip into a trench. Sometimes for a few months. Sometimes for years. And sometimes forever.
I used to shout loud and hard for families to adopt.
I used to yell and scream for the ones we left behind.
But watching the heartache, the hard, the loss, the trenches has caused my voice to grow hoarse at times. How can I tell you to adopt when I know the heart-wrenching part of it? How can I tell you to adopt when I know you may lose everything? How can I tell you to adopt when that child may die on this side of the ocean? How can I tell you to adopt when the picture and words may not match the child? How can I tell you to adopt knowing that tears may be your mantle for a season? Or a lifetime? How?
We have seen the ugly. We have watched families shipwreck. We have advocated for children who have been disrupted from their families. We have seen families grieve the death of their child over here. We have watched families fall apart over adoption. Husbands have left wives and vice versa. We have experienced the trenches.
Yet, we still believe that adoption is good and right.
Just because it is hard and heart wrenching and risky – doesn’t mean we stop.
There are children across the ocean who need families.
They need families willing to accept the risks and the heartache and the reality of the trenches and go anyway.
Because children belong in families not institutes.
We have seen the ugly and we are going back. I look at my boys each day and thank the Lord they are here. With us. Despite all their challenges. Despite the 40+ trips to Shriners. Despite the trenches. Despite the cost of two extra mouths. Despite the reality that we will probably never have that moment in our lives when it is just the two of us. We are going back. I may not be shouting very loud about adoption but going back is my witness. It’s my form of shouting right now. I KNOW adoption is hard. I KNOW that those who go and bring home their child or children will be bruised and beaten and will wonder what in the world they have just done. I KNOW the questions. I KNOW.
You may lose everything. You may have your heart ripped out. You may hear a child whisper a “no” to you. You may see that child again in someone else’s family and you may shed a tear or two or a thousand. It’s all possible.
But if God is tapping on your heart – Then you need to act.
Because it’s God tapping.
And when He taps – you really need to listen.
Pray. Advocate. Adopt.
Children belong in families not institutes.