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Monday, February 21, 2011

The Ultimate Sacrifice

I (This is Jay for a change) have laid in bed this morning for over an hour praying over the mother, half way around the world, who in less that 48 hours must make the most difficult decision that any parent could be forced to make. The birth mother of two children "M" and "S" are about to fall asleep in an orphanage in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and they have no idea of the sacrifice their mother has made for them, nor of the torment that she must be overwhelmed at this moment with self-doubt and fear.

Once we saw the precious faces of the two children who may soon be forever ours, I fell in love...and having been blessed by seeing videos and stories from friends who have visited Hannah's Hope, their temporary home, I can't wait to hold them in my arms and in a way that only a mother and father can tell a child who doesn't understand a word you say that we love them, unconditionally, and maybe someday they will understand how much their birth mother loved them too.

I have to be honest. I find myself selfish in my prayers. Praying that these two children will soon become our own, and that the process will proceed without delay...and yet I have talked with several people over the past weeks who have lost referrals - mostly from domestic adoptions - where the mother was on the verge of giving up her child and at the last minute, looked deep within herself and in the eyes of her newborn miracle and somehow found the courage to raise the child herself. It is little consolation to the adoptive parents who fell in love and got their hopes up...down to the last minute...only to be deeply disappointed, a scar not dissimilar to losing a baby in their own womb. The love was every bit as real, and the hurt every bit as painful. But in the midst of their sorrow, they rejoice in the Lord, for a child is united with his birth mother, and she has the faith that she can do what God has designed her for - and who am I to say that is ever a bad thing. Because that mother made a choice to bring a child into the world, when she was faced with the choice to terminate her pregnancy, she refused. She loved that child, but something in her was willing to give up her child because she felt she could not care for him in the manner he deserved. In the end, at the ultimate time of decision, she dug down deep into her soul and found the love that I can only pray will endure as she faces the difficult task of now raising that child, probably on her own when over the past 9 months she thought she was not able to do so.

This all leads to my torment. What to pray for the next 48 hours? Our birth mom is coming from a background that you and I can not every fully understand. The depths of her struggles we can't possibly relate to. And somewhere in Gambala, Ethiopia, she lays awake at night in tears, fearing for the safety of her children, praying for forgiveness for being unable to care for her children, for being a failure as a mother...if only she knew that God knows her pain all too well. He has faced darkness and has overcome it. He sacrificed his own son so that no one on this earth should have to endure the pain and suffering that this mother is facing right now.

Do I really pray that this mom gives up her parental rights so that they be ours, or do I simply pray for peace in her heart that she can make the right decision, whatever it may be. I have known these children for less than 2 months, having never met them, and it is difficult for me to pray, when the possible outcome is that their mother welcomes them back into her loving arms and finds a way that she can proceed and take care of them on her own. But that is exactly what I am called to do. Pray for this mother...a young girl who has been through more pain and suffering in her short life than I could imagine. Pray that she can be at peace. Pray that she can make the ultimate decision. If she can face all odds and take her children back, I pray that God watch over her and little "S" and "M", as we may never see their faces again.

However, I am also praying that if she is still unable, in her heart, to provide for these children like she knows they deserve, that God lays the peace on her heart that she deserves. If she only knew of what God had done for us, and the sacrifice he felt while watching Jesus in the hours before his crucifixion. If she only knew the pain that Jesus felt, praying to his father in the Garden for hours...praying that there could be another way out...praying that he didn't have to give up his life...praying that no one would have to feel this kind pain that he ultimately made the ultimate sacrifice that we may live. If our birth mom is out there tormented by her pain, whether she knows the name of Jesus to call out to, I pray that he answer.

I don't know if I would have the strength or courage to make the decision she is making on Wednesday. May she know that it was God who led us to go through this process. May she find some way to understand that God has led our family to Ethiopia specifically for this purpose. May she understand that the faces of little "M" and "S" are etched on our hearts and that we will treat them as our own if she finds the courage to place them in our hands.

Her court date is Wednesday February 23rd, and Tuesday the 22nd as we go to sleep she will be appearing before the judge and facing the ultimate sacrifice...and my prayers are with her.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Court Update! Prayers Please

We got a call a couple of days ago that our court process has changed. Our birth mother will be appearing in court February 23rd. So while we sleep on Tuesday night, she will be appearing in court to give up parental rights.

I don't even know how to express my feeling towards this. Those who have adopted I know can relate, but I can't imagine that moment for her. It breaks my heart. I so want to be able to meet her and hug her and tell her I love her children. And God has a very big plan and we are all apart of it. I want her to know even though I have not walked in her shoes, God called me to this place at this time, and I hope that can give her some peace. It's a very high and low day. My heart breaks for her and yet I long to have these children home. It is hard to have these two very strong emotions at the same time.

Please pray for her Tuesday night as you go to bed. That she will make it to her court appointment, that all paperwork is there and mostly that she is feels peace with her decision.

We do hope to hear something by the end of next week.

Thank you

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Travel Dates, Retreat and little more of my story

I realized I have not put our very exciting dates on here! We will be leaving the States on March 12th! We have a court date of March 18th in Ethiopia. There will be 4 of us traveling. The girls are going with us and are very excited. We have passports and shots done! We are ready! We are going through Rome - always been a dream of mine and I couldn't just stop in the airport! We will be staying in Rome a couple of days then on to Ethiopia on the 15th. We will meet our children on the 16th!! That just gives me chills!!!!! PLEASE pray for court. Passing on the first time and hearing those words "they are yours" is something we desperately want to hear. Those words mainly rely on all the paperwork being where it should be!

I spent this past weekend in ATL at the Created to Care retreat. 250 adoptive moms in one place! Where 2 or more are gathered He is there, well, let me tell you, when 250 adoptive moms are there, HE IS BIG TIME THERE!!!! IT was AMAZING!!!! I cannot say it enough or put into words how wonderful it was!! If you missed it - make it a non negotiable trip for next year.

While I was at the retreat I realized more of my story that I really needed to put into words for me and for my children to read one day and see how God works EVERYTHING for HIS glory - the good and the bad. If you have read my previous posts, you know a huge part of our journey that really started our path to adoption was caring for Jay's mom Coco. She was diagnosed with ALS and lived for 2 years after diagnosis. She lived with us for a portion of that time so we could care for her.
The part I have not told before is how this impacted our oldest daughter. She was 6 months at the time my mother in law moved in with us and 17 months old when she died. During that time Sarah Beth had a very hard time. She went from having a grandmother that could hold her to one that, due to her illness, could not even smile in the end. Many things that a preschooler cannot understand. This caused a lot of stress on me, Jay and thus Sarah Beth. Then, my second daughter was born the week Coco died. Again, more stress on Sarah Beth. Over the next three years a few stressful events occurred - we moved to a new home, I was on bed rest starting at 16 weeks when pregnant with Carter, Carter was a premie and in the NICU, my parents lived us while waiting on their home to be built (really great for me by the way! But just different and difficult on SB) Carter then had a mystery mass on his head that took months to diagnose and ultimately have surgery.

Basically we had event after event that caused stress for Sarah Beth. When children go through stressful times they need down time to look back and realize "okay, I got through that, I'm good." SB never got that time due to so many events. By age 4 1/2 I realized something was really not right. I won't go into all the details, just know she was acting out in ways I had no clue how to handle. Around age 5 we started seeing a therapist for her and I was then told I had a 5 year old physically, but emotionally she was placed at 18 months. She had been so traumatized by her past, she basically became stuck at the first major stressful event in her life. Again, won't go into all the details, but fast forward to now - she's awesome! A very healthy child, physically and emotionally! She is mature beyond her 10 years! It took a good 3-4 years to get her self confidence back, her trust in herself and others, and her joy in life. But now she will knock your socks off! She's an amazing and very talented girl!

How does this tie in to our adoption - this is the very cool part. When your going through events the way we did those 5 years that it seemed we NEVER caught a break, you want to know WHY?!?! I remember my mom telling me it was all building character. (I really didn't want any more during those years!) Also that I was being prepared for something much greater! When we first started this process we were going to adopt a little boy. Well, that quickly changed when God spoke to both me and Jay and we knew we were meant to adopt siblings. Our parameters were for brothers. When the phone call came, it was for a girl and a boy - would we consider them? Y'all know the answer by now, we accepted the referral of a 5 year old girl and 18 month old boy. The 18 month old boy is what I always pictured in my mind. The 5 year old girl - How was I going to do this? That was my thought, but didn't change that I knew God was telling me she was mine.

Adoption is very traumatizing. Something many who have not adopted really think about. It will be very stressful for them to leave the only country they know and come to a very white country, we will smell funny, look funny and nothing will seem familiar. Add the language barrier, strange food, and they don't know us. They did ask for this. And they have to deal with all of this as a child.

A few days ago it all came together for me. The path I have been on the last 10 years have prepared me for more than I even knew. I have parented a traumatized 5 year old girl. I have dealt with the temper tantrums that you never thought were possible. I have been kicked and hit by a 5 year old girl. I have been screamed at, at the top of her lungs by a 5 year old girl. I have ducked when something was thrown at me. I knew that was not my SB in there, just her stress and fear. I learned how to parent her and bring her through. Now, I'm about to bring home a 5 year old girl that will be very scared, stressed and most likely act out not because she wants to, but because she's fearful. I don't know if I'm going to face all that I have faced before, but now I KNOW I have been prepared. I'm ready to love her. I'm ready to care for her. I 'm ready to show her she can trust again. I'm ready for her to be apart of our family.

I have said before, ALS never makes sense. Watching my mother in law die slowly before our eyes was the most painful and depressing experience of my life. But we were meant to care for her. Dealing with the aftermath of what it did to my daughter was heart wrenching. But, God makes beauty from ashes. It is always THE COOLEST moment to look back and realize He's been there all along, never doubt He's using EVERYTHING, weaving it all to work for His plan. I would love if we did not have to experience ALS in our family, for SB to have never gone through those years of struggle and for Hope and Zak to come into our home peacefully and know we are their family and all will be fine. God never told me this was going to be easy. He asked that I follow. And I am.