When this whole idea of adoption started to inch its way into our heart (which happened slowly, over MANY years), we really had no idea what we were in for. When we finally gave in to the calling and step forward to add to our family through adoption, the plans WE had for how that would happen turned out to be VERY different from the plans He had. Never in a million years did we expect that our adopted child would:
A. Be from a country clear across the world
B. Have been born with a heart defect and
C. Be EIGHT years old when we brought her home.
But, His plan is perfect and He brought us full circle, and filled our home with the indescribable joy that this child brings. I mean, just look at that smile!
And along with the joy, the challenges. Luckily, by this point we clearly see His hand in all of this, so navigating our way through the process of bonding is a lot easier. Because we know He will see us through. The challenges we expected. And frankly, they have been a lot smaller than was anticipated.
What I didn't expect was the way my heart would be forever changed in the process. I thought once we brought Abby home, that a whole chapter would be closing. I don't mean at all that she'd get home and we'd live happily ever after. I know in that sense, we're just getting started. We have a long way ahead of us, a lot of mountains to climb. What I mean is, I thought we'd be done with the whole adoption thing. Bring Abby home, and focus on bonding and helping her adjust, and go on with homeschooling, and living our daily lives. I thought China would be special because that's where our daughter was born, and of course we would teach her to love and appreciate her culture. But that would be that. Boy, was I wrong.
(OK, mom, sit down and take a deep breath. We are NOT adopting again).
I am not for a second planning on bringing another child into our home anytime soon (never say never, right?). But my heart has been completely broken for those children out there who still wait for families. My eyes have been opened to a whole side of life that we don't like to think about in the busyness of our daily lives. As Abby's English skills have increased, she has shared more and more about her life in the orphanage. And I ache for the children left behind..........
Some of the children in Chinese orphanages are blessed to be placed with foster families that show them the love of a family, at least for a time. Abby was not one of those children. She has no memories of anyone telling her "I love you", of anybody hugging or kissing her. EVER. She was eight years old when I met her. Nobody had ever told her she mattered. Only by God's grace can she be the loving, affectionate child that she is today.
As if what I was experiencing first hand and hearing from Abby was not enough, I recently finished reading the book Silent Tears: A Journey of Hope in a Chinese Orphanage by Kay Bratt. She spent several years volunteering at a Chinese orphanage, and witnessed what day to day life is like for children in these institutions. With every chapter it was furter confirmed in my heart that bringing Abby home and then turning my back on those children that are still there is just NOT possible.
I know I can't bring every orphan in the world home. I do know I can become a prayer warrior for them - and I have. I do know that there is a lot I can do to help them find families, and to help those that don't have some kind of a better life. And, very unexpectedly, I take off on a new mission that I never saw coming.......