Tuesday, February 21, 2012

An Ideal Life

May God bless you with discomfort at easy answers, half truths, and superficial relationships, so that you may live deep within your heart.

May God bless you with anger at injustice, oppression, and exploitation of people, so that you may work for justice, freedom, and peace.

May God bless you with tears to shed for those who suffer from pain, rejection, and starvation, so that you may reach out your hand to comfort them and to turn their pain into joy.

And may God bless you with enough foolishness to believe that you can make a difference in this world, so that you can do what others claim cannot be done.

–A Franciscan Blessing

There has been so much on my mind recently. It's been one of those times in which I feel like i just need to sit and write. Yet, the time has not been available, and I haven't been able to find the words. We're living in an "almost....but not yet" period. Cleaning, saving, working, preparing for this new little life to join us....yet still feeling like our time is an eternity away.

We recently met with our pastor to talk adoption. We applied for a grant with a foundation that does such things, and it was a requirement of our application. However, even if we don't get approved for the grant, we walked away feeling renewed and blessed, and reminded why we trudge through this journey, which can be so ugly sometimes. So less than "ideal."


He brought that word up actually, as we spoke. We mentioned our struggle and disappointment that sometimes we didn't feel like we were successful in helping others see and understand the miracle that adoption is. He mentioned his conversations with many couples throughout the years who contemplated adoption, yet just couldn't get over the perceived "ideal" American family of house, jobs, cars, 2.5 kids who look like their parents, etc.

And it made me wonder. ..is that really "ideal?" Is that concept...that generic plan....ideal?

Now, don't get me wrong. I KNOW that adoption isn't for everyone. I also DO NOT believe everyone should adopt. It's not for everyone. Not everyone is up for it. It's hard. And it can be ugly. And I am certain that it can push some people past the point of return in their family. I'm not looking to extend judgment. However, I do believe everyone, specifically Christian families, should at least consider it. And pray about it. And at the very least, pray for or support another family who is doing it. Because the orphan crisis in this world is just that. A crisis. And if the church, the people who are supposed to be living out the love of Christ, is silent, then who shall we expect to fix it? Besides that, it's a command....not an option. Jesus doesn't give us the choice of helping the orphan. He TELLS us to. There is no choice. But I digress....

Well, I started to wonder what my family would look like if we had stuck with the perceived "ideal." What if we never adopted Rylie, or pursued Judah's adoption? What if we did what the world considered "normal," never pushed past the status quo, never rocked the boat?

Would my life be easier? Most definitely. I LIKE having 2 kids who are pretty easy, and well adjusted, and make me all mushy with love. I like their independence. I like that people don't look at us weird when we are out in public, contemplating if they are "mine." It's easy.

I would like to have a lot bigger bank account, or house, or options of what to do with my money to make my life easier and more comfortable.

I would like for my kids to be completely healthy and not have any medical needs.

I would like all of that.

But I know that just because I like something, and something is easy, doesn't make it good.

I don't want to live my life on cruise control. I don't want my faith to never be tested.

You see, back when we had our "ideal" family, we had everything the world said we should have. A home. 2 healthy kids, one boy and one girl. A dog and a yard and jobs and flexibility.

Yet, we had nothing. We were broken. We were selfish. We lived in a bubble where as long as things under our roof were ok, all was right with the world.

What we didn't realize was that things under our roof were not ok. Things in our own hearts were not ok. We were blind, yet didn't know it. We learned that there's nothing ok about turning a blind eye to the needs of the world because it makes you uncomfortable.

Enter Rylie. There is nothing ideal about her situation. There is nothing ideal about a couple travelling to the other side of the world to adopt a child who was meant to be with her birth family. There is nothing ideal about millions of kids who are in the same situation. Orphaned. Abandoned. Hopeless.

There is nothing ideal about orphanages filled with kids who are "cared for" if they are lucky...but not loved. There's nothing ideal about kids being shunned by society because of a special need. There is nothing ideal about rules within societies or situations created by other humans that force the hand of parents to abandon their children.

There's nothing ideal about spending exorbitant amounts of money to bring one of those children into your family. There's nothing ideal about having a child with special needs. There's nothing ideal about wondering if you will be the parent your child needs you to be as they navigate a life fraught with emotional issues. There's nothing ideal about choosing to bring stress into your family because that child doesn't run to you with open arms, thankful that they are with you and leaving behind the only life they have ever known.

There's nothing ideal about kids who grieve, and act out, and test, and push you away. There's nothing ideal about rejection and fear of repeated abandonment and institutional behaviors.

No, adoption isn't ideal.

But it is good.

And for us, it's the best thing that has ever happened to our family.

We were blind, but now we see.

We see the needs in this world. We see the change in our hearts and choices. We see the change in the hearts of Jonah and Reagan, as they sacrifice, and accept, and want to help those who are hurting. We see the changes in Rylie. We see how to be the hands and feet of Jesus. We see how to love when it's ugly...when it's a choice....when you don't feel like it.

And for us, that's what we call ideal.

I encourage you to pray that God would break your heart for the things that break His. Pray that He would use you for something BIG. Then sit back, and let Him show you His version of ideal. I promise, life will never look the same.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Breaking Hearts

A post from Rush:

On July 22, 2010 in the city of Zhongshan a woman did the unthinkable. She wrapped up her child, traveled to the Yuelainan Medical Hospital, dropped her one month old infant off and walked away. And with each step her heart surely broke a little more. Social, economic, political and familial pressures that no American can truly understand backed her into a corner that she could not escape. A son was supposed to be a treasured possession, a child to carry on the family name. A blessing that would care and provide for his parents as they aged. Hearts broke when she delivered this child because he was different. He was a child with special needs, and special needs that could not be hidden. They were written right there on his lip and palate for the whole world to see.

And on this day in July her baby's heart, only a few weeks old, was also breaking. The woman who had carried him for 9 months and held him from his first breath was not there to console him any longer. His mom was gone and she wasn't coming back. He wasn't going home.

And so began the next phase of his life in an orphanage, where he would spend the next fourteen months - adjusting to life in a social welfare institute, undergoing surgery, vying for attention. A year old and weighing only thirteen pounds, his heart still not mended.

Then by the grace of our God, a foster family opened the doors of their home to this tiny little boy. A place where he could be loved, held and fed. But this family knew the risk they were taking by welcoming him. One day this child they loved would be removed from their home and sent back to the orphanage or adopted by another family, and their hearts would break.

12,000 miles away another family's hearts were breaking. Longing for their son to be home. Trudging through paperwork, processes, validations and approvals. Clinging to a couple of photos of their boy and the prayers of friends and family.

This is the story of my son, Judah.

In the next few weeks Judah will be removed from his foster family and sent back to the orphanage to "prepare" for his adoption into our family. It's not by our choice, but it is part of the process of Chinese adoption. Oh how my heart breaks just thinking about how much his will also be broken as he is once again torn away from a family. I grieve for the breaking hearts of this foster family who by now know that an American couple is coming and "FuFu" (their nickname for him) will no longer be smiling and crawling around their home.

This is a story of broken hearts. But it’s also a story of hope. In just a few short weeks we will be boarding a plane bound for our son. We know from past experience that the real journey will begin when he is handed to us and his heart breaks again, being torn from the orphanage and placed into what at that moment are stranger's arms. But we are his mom and dad. He has a home. And through the miracle of adoption, through family and through the unending love of Christ, his heart will heal.

My prayer is that God will keep breaking our hearts. Breaking it for what breaks His. Breaking for the broken hearts of the 146 million orphans across this globe. Breaking for all those who still need to hear His story.

As for FuFu, mom and dad are coming. For you and for your heart.