Silence. It is an energy source like no other. At times it is the most sought after, beautiful, restful thing our ears can hear. It has the power to restore, refuel, and replenish. Silence can also be quite scary, like the eeriness that occurs just before a ravenous tornado reduces a small town to mere rubble.
Scary or beautiful and whichever way you personally perceive silence, one thing is certain; silence almost always makes people stop, slow down, think and perhaps most importantly…listen; things many of us tend to be too busy to ever really do, let alone appreciate.
This year has flown by and has been crazy LOUD to say the least. For us, it started out with such promise and hope. We were nearly certain that our babe would be home by Christmas. We never thought we would still be waiting at the 2015 holidays and we certainly never envisioned cancer being a part of our lives…again. This year had nothing we really hoped for and instead seemed packed of things we dreaded. Between extra work hours, long business trips, doctors appointments, surgeries, hospitalizations, therapies, radiation, loosing and declining referrals….there was NO “good” silence. I personally thought, “for sure, God is waiting for all this to be done, then, our baby will come”. I am happy to report that mom’s treatment is complete; she is back in her home, and back to some element of normalcy, as are the rest of us. We still have lots of upcoming appointments, procedures, and scans but that’s not for this post. As the “Loudness” of this year has dissipated, an almost deafening silence has befallen our lives. Day after day we wait for that phone call but our agency has remained eerily silent. They were anticipating 10-15 referrals in October, but October came and went, as did November. We pray daily for something, and day after day nothing but silence. We ask God to please speak, move, intervene…Silence. Everyone around us appears to be pregnant or accepting referrals, but we are doing neither. It is easy to get frustrated, sad, weary, and even angry. What is not so easy to do, as I stated before, is to stop, slow down, think…and listen. Now allow me tell you what we’ve been hearing in our Silence, once we finally decided to actually do just that.
I have shared previously the devastation of not only loosing “our” referral but the trauma in declining a referral over medical needs we were certain we could not handle. There were so many, well, uncertainties in the file that were too …well uncertain. We have learned a lot since the start of this journey. The orphan crisis has hit a huge nerve in the depths of my soul and when I (and then Jay) said yes to this, we simply envisioned something entirely different. We started out waiting for a healthy infant from Ethiopia. Only later, nearly 2 years later in fact, did we learn how corrupt adoptions in Ethiopia had become. We learned that “healthy infant children” are not who lie unattended in ANY international orphanage. Corruption began when the desire for healthy infants exceeded the actual healthy infants in institutions. What we learned early on was that there was a great NEED for people open to children with needs. While everyone else in the world may turn a blind eye to them, God spoke LOUDLY that HE had not. After much education, contemplation, and prayer we said “yes” once again; after all, there were minor special needs as well….
Then our wait became silent again…and again the sound was forcing us to look deeper still into what God sees in these orphanages. We learned that minor special needs kiddos, while they are present in orphanages, rarely wait long. We saw that first hand with our lost referral (by the way, this child was never really ours, I say that purely from a misguided feeling that he was ours). For the most part, they have correctable conditions that many of us Americans would not even classify as “special needs” at all.
The children who continue to wait in an orphanage are the sick ones; the blind, the deaf, the lame, the ones with complicated medical/surgical conditions, the ones whose files are outdated and/or their diagnoses are uncertain. A majority of these kids have conditions that simply would cause great change in an already existed family unit. I am going to be blunt for a moment, because I am simply talking about things I have seen (and felt) now being in the adoption circle for nearly 4 years, forgive me for any offence my statements may insight. People often want to adopt children that can be…well fixed. We personally have declined a referral because something scared us into believing that he couldn’t be “fixed”. When we declined, I had a friend very brazenly say to us, “I’m sorry but isn’t that what you signed up for? Special needs are needs that are beyond what is easy and fixable, what exactly are you expecting?” At the time, it hurt like a rusty knife being plunged into my stomach. But looking back, it hurt because…well she was right. We, in many ways, only wanted special needs that were manageable, clean, and easy. We wanted basically a healthy, young, developmentally on tract child with some mild correctable issue, who would fit like a perfect little piece in the puzzle we were already completing. We wanted them to just fit into our lives as our lives currently were. We could handle ripples in our lives, so to speak; we couldn’t handle waves. But these children with minor correctable needs are not the ones that lavish in an orphanage. The ones in an orphanage are those with the scary stuff, wave type stuff..and the longer they wait, growing older and getting passed on by family after family, the sicker and more developmentally delayed they become making it more and more unlikely they will ever be adopted. I will not get into what happens with the very sick (you can imagine) or the aging out teen (at the ripe old age of 14, children are often on their own…for life…alone) on this post.
Well friends, I hate to say it, but that is simply not what we signed up for. It is certainly not what is on our agencies brochure! We have pretty amazing lives…we have great jobs, we don’t struggle with money, we have a nice house, we have an amazing son who is beyond active. We go to football, baseball, soccer games, we travel, we have fun and we are blessed beyond measure. We didn’t WANT to sign up for something that would change, potentially all of that. I think we masqueraded behind the mask of we COULDN’T handle certain things, but truth be told we simply didn’t want to. I mean we live within three hours of three of the best childrens hospitals in the nation and even the world. They have some of the most renowned surgeons and all have well respected international adoption clinics. I am an acute care nurse practitioner for goodness sakes. I take care of the sickest of the sick everyday, but we would say, “This isn’t something we can handle….” At the same time though, we wanted to be used by God to do something great. We wanted our adoption to speak of HIS love, even for the smallest, weakest, and least among us. We wanted to show and feel what walking out faith looks like in real life. We wanted to play a part in God’s story, instead of just reading about it. The realization that we were hypocritical in a lot of ways, wanting to help and be used by God but only if it were on our neat and tidy terms with a child we deemed “easy enough”, was a huge blow and wake up call. And let me clarify…many of our misguided feelings were shown to be just that, misguided. The child we thought we couldn’t handle, he is home now with a family and doing wonderfully….our fear had no basis, we simply didn’t trust God when we felt Him say…”you can do this”. We let our fear of the unknown paralyze us. He did not have a deadly condition, but there were unknowns…(which ironically there will always be in adoption). Thank you Beth, that friend who was so brazen with me, for starting the crack that would eventually break open our hard hearts so that the LORD could truly show us the main thing HE has been working on from the very start…us.
Through the silence and even despite it, I have always heard the voice of God saying, “I SEE THEM”. If our adoption had a theme from start to finish it would be that God does see us, all of us. So much scripture points to the fact that He sees. It is truly us who are blind (to the plights of others) deaf (to the cry of the helpless), and lame (unable to move on behalf others when we know we could/should).
We have no idea what God is intending for our family, but He has a great plan and this Silence is teaching us more about His love for all of us, than anything else in this world ever could. We are growing stronger and so is our faith. We have seen glimpses of heaven along this journey and it is beautiful. We would never have jumped into the adoption of a special needs child from China without this wait and often the silence with it. What’s coming soon is going to be BIG. I can feel it.
We are close friends, the labor pains (so to speak) are here, and we continue to welcome prayers.
My next post will hopefully be about our baby (fingers crossed). Our director has never had a family wait longer than 15 months for the acceptance of a referral and we are on month 13. The end, and our new beginning is in sight!