Tomorrow she turns three. Or at least that's what a thin file folder of medical exams and growth measurements records. 34 months ago, a state-paid doctor guessed at the age of a tiny bundle of a baby brought into the orphanage. For the past nearly 3 years, September 20th has stood as a grim reminder to doctors, nannies, and orphanage directors that time was passing this little one by. A birthday is not a happy thing if it is not celebrated with hope. Tonight I am making a birthday cake for my child whom I have never met. Furthermore, this cake will not be enjoyed by my little girl as distance and paperwork and more obstacles keep us apart. I can barely think the thought that she has spent three years without a family to celebrate her very existence. A sob clutches in my throat and tears threaten to spill but then... Hope. This is her last birthday without a family. Tomorrow we celebrate her- and someday we will tell her of how we loved her before we had ever met. Your family waits for you, little one. We're having 'whooping pie cake' because, as I told her big brother, this is cake for happiness and little one's name means happy. Happy birthday sweet daughter- tomorrow will mark the year that you became ours forever.
Tuesday, September 15, 2015
Let me tell you about orphanages. They are a juxtaposition of childhood and nightmares. Sterile hallways, chipping paint. Rooms bursting to the seams with little faces,little feet and silence. Rooms with toys or technology perfectly arranged and on display for all visitors to see and rooms behind locked doors where no visitor will ever lay eyes for the unmentionable things that happen there. At the very best, there are caregivers that actually do care but are so outnumbered by the immediate needs that face them that there are simply not enough hours in the day, arms to hold crying babies, or room in their hearts for more brokenness. Malnourishment, neglect, hopelessness. And that's at the very best. If you are brave, allow your mind to wander to the very worst. Untreated diseases, unchanged diapers and sheets, unsupervised, tiny souls who have been hardened to no longer resemble children. And still silence. I have met young adults who will never be able to lift a heavy object over their heads. As orphaned children, they were restrained in their beds and their muscles died. Imagine what happens to another, more precious muscle- their brains- when left alone, restrained in a tiny bed for years on end. Imagine what happens to their most important muscle- their hearts? Silence, always silence.
This past week a family traveled to bring home their precious daughter. Months of saving, fundraising, preparing a sweet room and sharing her photo with family and friends. Little girl was sick- complex special needs they call it- but her true problem was one too many days in an orphanage. The child was not doing well - "her needs were more than we thought we were getting into" - and so the family returned home without their darling daughter. And little girl- abandoned a second time and returned to the very place that was slowly killing her. Disruption. And silence.
There is outrage and disbelief in the adoption community this morning. The diplomatic ones urge others to "not judge, you were not in their shoes". The problem solvers demand new photos, new medical exams, new agency, new family, go go go! The sensitive ones offer prayers and tears. And the angry ones...well, you can imagine.
So often the argument is "what if your biological child had these issues? Would you leave them at at the hospital?" Sadly the answer is yes some families would choose to end a pregnancy that promised a broken child (which is acceptable in our society now) while others would actually abandon such a little one after birth (which is not acceptable in our society- but does happen at an alarming rate).
This isn't really about that argument. Families are faced with hard things every day and find a way to deal. In my life, that dealing is a whole lot of depending- depending on a God who loves all of His creation to carry you through. But adoption- adoption is purposefully and knowingly walking into that hard. And still depending on that God who loves us to provide the very best for us.
We were called into this journey called adoption. It is God's heart to set the lonely in families, to rescue the orphan, to redeem the lost, and restore the broken. We said yes out of compassion and a personal desire- but out of obedience. We will knowingly walk into hard because of the One whom has our back- and our front and our sides. We know that God will provide, supply, lead, and sometimes carry us through the hard.
So my mind wanders to the what ifs of our adoption. What if on that day in a government office building in China, a different little girl than that one whose picture I carry in my wallet walks in? What if she has physical needs that we are unprepared for? Mental, emotional, social issues we never considered? What if she is on death's door and will take her final breaths before she takes her first flight?
I remember those orphanages. The ones with sterile walls and chipped paint. The dingy cribs and closed, locked doors, and silence. Always the silence. And I know that we will say yes, this is our daughter no matter what she is. Because God created families- not orphanages. And it would be better to die in the arms of her family in China than to be sent back to the hell of life in an orphanage.
Someone called me brave this weekend. I am not. I am terrified. But I know who goes before me and because of that reassurance, I will not be shaken when faced with the hard. We can do hard things- I tell my four year old this every day. But the reality is, only with God's help. My heart is broken for another little girl this morning. My heart is broken for my little girl who exists in those sterile, silent walls until we can come to her. Hang on- please.
Resources on disruption, visit No Hands But Ours
Resources on disruption, visit No Hands But Ours