Sunday, June 24, 2012

I regret my time spent with Fiyori and Kobe's mom.

I regret not asking her what she does during the day. What time she prays. Does she pray at all? Who does she pray to? I regret not asking her who she spends her time with. Who her friends are, does she talk with her family? I regret not knowing what her favorite food is and what dish did the kids like best of what she prepared for them. I regret not asking if they had to beg for money or food. I regret not knowing what she felt or thought the days she had nothing to give them to eat. I regret not knowing what happened during the day when she took them to the orphanage. Did the kids know what was happening? How did she leave them? Did she say goodbye or did she slip out unnoticed when they were playing with the other children?

But I am not meant to know all those details. The tension between wanting to know every last detail about this woman's life and her time spent with Fiyori and Kobe, and the strong desire to honor her without prying and respect her privacy was completely overwhelming. She was kind enough to meet me. And regardless of the gratitude she expressed to me in taking her children, I still embodied the avenue in which was taking them.

from her.

from her arms.

from her care.

But never from her heart.

But what I regret more than the things I listed above, is that we even had to meet. That her children became orphans needing a home. That she had to experience the pain of deciding to take them to the orphanage. The pain of meeting me.

Some people have asked me if I am horribly missing Fiyori and Kobe since saying goodbye this past Tuesday. And I am. But the emotion and thoughts that trump those, are the ones that I think of when I think of their mother. Because every time I think of missing them, or how they must feel with me leaving, or "Do they know I'm coming back??" I wonder what she thinks. How she feels. Because she isn't coming back. She couldn't say, "I'm coming back.... I always come back."

I can't shake their mother.  I haven't looked at the pictures we took that day; I can't bear it. I still feel her hand gripping my shoulders as she gave me a three kiss embrace and the defeated, grateful, weary look she had in her eyes as she showed us their baby pictures. I think of her more than I think of Fiyori and Kobe. I don't know why, and I feel a little weird admitting that, but its just how it is for me.

I know I would still have regrets, even if I spent hours upon hours with her and asked hundreds of questions, because having answers to the tiniest curiosities that Fiyori or Kobe may have one day, such as, "Did she ever have ice cream?" will never compare to the lifetime they were suppose to have with her, and just know, without having to ask, what the answers were.

My sweet friend Courtney wrote this, "Our hearts were made for reconciliation. There is a disconnect between where we are and where we belong. - each of us feels it in some form or another. Only one man in all of history has been blameless. The rest of us suffer through our innate brokenness, both hurting and being hurt by others. That’s why we rejoice in vindication. It’s an answer to our pain."

My vindication here on earth is being used to give Fiyori and Kobe a home, love and safe arms to hide in when the world attacks. But I long for the vindication of Heaven. For He has won the victory over this pain. I pray, I plead and I beg of you to pray with me that Fiyori and Kobe one day are united with their mother in that Victory. That even though they were unable to spend their time on earth together, that they will spend eternity praising the One made the ultimate sacrifice.

Monday, June 18, 2012

She was no more than 8 weeks old, but only weighed 3 pounds. She wore a diaper made of bubble wrap and a dish towel. This baby needed to be in a hospital, but instead she was in an orphanage, the details of her short life unknown.

And this orphanage was a clean, respectable, well cared for facility. It was not over-crowded like most. And yet the resources that are in abundance in the US, are so scarce here that it left this baby girl dressed in packaging material and kitchen textiles. Most babies spend hours upon hours alone, in their cribs, or makeshift beds with little to no stimulation. There aren't enough arms to hold them, play and entertain them. Too many needs. Too many children.

The older children sit and watch as families come and go with babies in their arms. They know that they are second choice to most. They know and will tell you that most families don't want older kids. That the babies are what parents want and that they will probably never have a family. And they say, "it's okay." with small sad smiles on their faces because they don't want you to feel bad or obligated. But the reality is that when they age out of the system, the orphanage opens the big metal gate and dumps them on the street. And you will find them there, weeks later, sleeping... sitting... waiting... because they have no where else to go.

To describe what we have seen, what we have experienced, takes a far greater writer than I. It's overwhelming at least. The need feels crippling. We took two full suitcases to the orphanage our kids stayed at and it was as if it was Christmas. The kids even took the packaging of the toys to play with. The cars were fought over and the jump ropes held tightly for the brief moments they could pretend that they owned them. But in reality, all clothes, toys, books, supplies - they are communal. Their name and story is all they can call their own.

I have had to dig into the Lord harder here, for I can't make sense of the pain. Part of me longs to tell you the time we had with their birth mom, but right now it feels too sacred. I cannot look at the pictures we took with her in fear my heart will rip in two. We wept together. Two mothers. One who was sacrificing her most prized possessions, even though it would nearly kill her and one who cannot wait to know them as well as she does. The strength this dear woman has is beyond my comprehension. She loves K and F so fiercely. It was evident in the way she spoke of them. The way she smile when she spoke of K's silliness, the softness in her voice when she told us why she gave Fiyori the name she did.

The pain in this land is great. The people have suffered much. And there are places that are creating opportunities for a better life. A Hope is an orphanage exclusively for HIV+ kids who are given food, clothing, an education and love. Otherwise they would be outcasts, given no chance for work or even social interaction. They are abandoned their families, thrown out of school and left on the streets to fend for themselves.

But for $20 a month you can provide a child a future. $20. That's all it takes to clothe a child, give him the medicine he needs to live, and provide a good education. Sponsorship programs, feeding programs or even the formula program that has been set up at the orphanage our kids got dropped off is incredible and creates empowerment for the people in Africa. The orphanage sponsors or provides formula to mothers who are HIV+ but have babies who have tested negative to the virus (there is only a 25% chance a baby will have HIV if born from a HIV+ mother) Breastfeeding greatly increases the chances of passing on the chronic disease and so these mothers bottle feed with the formula given by the orphanage. This allows the social outcast mothers to keep their babies healthy and receive care regardless of the social stigma that plagues them.

Melissa, a fellow adoptive mother from Ethiopia, wrote about several Ethiopian ministries that provide avenues for Ethiopians to become successful, self sustaining individuals. I linked her blog once before but please, go there and read. Eric and I may stay on the Bring Love In guesthouse when we come back for our embassy trip. Read about their ministry. Pray about how you can be involved. We are all called to care for orphans. There are so many ways to do it beyond adoption. Adoption is just one way to be obedient. Would you please, consider and pry about how you are to love those less fortunate? We have SO much we can give in Time, money, energy, resources. You just have to open your eyes and see. I am praying that the Holy spirit leads you.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Imagine holding the face of the person you love most. You search their face to remember every detail. The curve of their nose and the way their hair curls. How their eyelashes flutter as they blink, the shape of their ears, and the pinkness of their lips. You want to capture their giggle, the facial expressions you have learned to read before they say a word. The softness of their skin and how big or small their hand feels in yours.

Picture it.

This is all I have thought of for the past 3 days.

Because I know a mother that held and memorized the faces of her children for the last time.

My children's mother.

She hugged them, kissed them, looked into their eyes and had to say goodbye.

Thinking about it makes my heart SCREAM. Scream in anger at Satan for the hold he has on this world. Scream in longing at God for the day when there will be no pain and no tears. Scream for the sheer pain and agony she must have felt. Scream for the questions, confusion, hurt and abandonment my children must feel.

I learned yesterday that our children's birth mom attended her court date and relinquished her legal rights to the kids.

I cried reading that email, picturing her sitting with the judge, as he explains what it meant to give up her rights.

That its for forever.

That her kids will live thousands of miles away and she will probably never see them again.

And then I got another email. One that told me she visited K & F for the last time at the transition home where they are staying.

And my heart felt like it broke in two.

You may not have children, but as a mom already, I can barely visual it. Tears stream down my face right now as I think of saying good bye to Britt for forever. As I think of her pain. Her sacrifice.

I cannot think of a greater earthly love than what it takes to say goodbye to your children, knowing you cannot give them what they need. Knowing that if they stayed with you, they would mostly likely starve to death, or end up alone, begging on the street. Knowing that if you do say goodbye, they could be fed, cared for, clothed, given a future.

But wouldn't the question scream from every cell in your body, "BUT CAN THEY LOVE YOU LIKE I DO????"


If you can, for a moment, enter into her agony. For it is there that you will know how to pray for her. And that is what I ask of you. Eric and I have the honor of meeting her. I am completely dreading it. I don't know how I'm going to keep from sobbing but only by the grace of God. Will you pray for us? Will you pray for her? There are so many emotions, so many thoughts, so many feelings that will be in that meeting. And we want more than anything to honor her. To show respect to her. To reassure her in the best way we can, that we will care, provide and forever LOVE her children as our own. That her love and sacrifice will be remembered and honored in our home ALWAYS.

He will swallow up death in victory; and the Lord GOD will wipe away tears from off all faces; and the rebuke of his people shall he take away from off all the earth: for the LORD has spoken it. - Isaiah 25:8

Monday, June 4, 2012

In one week.

The Lord brought in all $9,000 in ONE WEEK!!! Seriously. I had faith that it would come, but I wasn't expecting THAT!

Almost to the hour from when I posted about our need last Sunday, we received the last donation that fulfilled our need to bring K & F home. I could barely thank the person that gave us the money I was so overwhelmed at the goodness of God. HE IS ABLE!!!!!

You have no idea how much you have blessed our family, loved our E kids and shown us the love of Jesus (even if you don't personally love Jesus;) This week was SO much fun for us to watch as you all stood up with us for orphans. You stood in the gap. We knew from the start that adopting was something we couldn't do by ourselves. We knew we were called to it, we knew we needed to be obedient, but it has been our prayer that the Body would come around us in all areas: prayer, emotional support, helping us process, be there to laugh and dance when we celebrate, cry and speak Truth over us when things are hard. And you have. Oh you have.

It has been a burning desire of mine for the BODY, not just those called to adopt, to stand up for orphans. Even though our family has been called to adopt, not everyone is, and a lot of times that leaves a lot of people wondering how to be obedient to the command of Jesus to care for orphans.

Well, if you gave money, prayed, cared for us, sent us a card of encouragement, gave us supplies to take over, you just did. You have been obedient to that call.

We leave in 4 days. And because of you, we get to take 4 suitcases FULL of medicine, diapers, wipes, toys, bandaids, first aid items, clothes, shoes, and so much more. We get to enjoy time with K and F, not wondering if we have enough money to bring them home in July. We get to watch faces of children who are waiting for families, to squeal with delight as they get bubbles, jump ropes, beach balls and new shoes.

THANK YOU. I have cried many grateful tears this week in watching God use you to answer our prayers. We treasure you and cannot WAIT for K & F to know how you loved them by helping to bring them home.

Two more things:

1. If you have wanted to give but didn't get a chance, because God did it in ONE WEEK,:) you still can. The $9000 that we raised was just to get them home. BUT - we have nothing in terms of preparation for when they get home. We need clothes, shoes, toys, bikes, a carseat, mattresses, sheets, comforters, and all the other things that come with a 3 and 7 year old. And since we've wiped out our savings, (again, no better way spent) we are still in need, but just for things on the other side of when they get home. And you would still get a puzzle piece.:)

2. If you are more personally acquainted with our journey, you know that Eric and I prayed about adopting a 14 year old girl back in January. The Lord told us no, but since then, she has gotten a family.:) It was SUCH a blessed day when I found that out. And that family went to Ethiopia last month for their court date. The mom, Melissa, just wrote a WONDERFUL blog post about caring for orphans. She has explained my heart SO perfectly and I am SO excited to find out more about these ministries while we are in Ethiopia. Please read what she wrote and pray about what you are suppose to do to love and care for orphans.

We love you all. Thank you for loving us SO well and for loving Jesus in such a tangible way.