Monday, November 4, 2013

Beauty for ashes

We have some good news to share with you, but before we share it I need to unpack some things. (Stay with me.)

We still hurt for the twins we lost in Congo, and we will never forget them or the strong conviction they have given us to fight for orphans. The pain of loss comes at awkward times. Sometimes it comes when I'm scrolling through my camera to find a picture of the boys at home. My eyes flash across the pic of the twins and I hurt for what might have been. Sometimes it comes when I see twins in public. (I don't feel like I have ever seen so many twins in my life...they seem to be everywhere. I must say, though, that my friend had twins--a boy and a girl--recently and I was THRILLED to finally meet them Saturday.) I felt so strongly that siblings--girl and boy twins!--were perfect for us because they would have each other for support through the difficult process of adoption and the ups and downs of life that stems from heartache (losing their birth mom before ever making it out of the womb and enduring the loss of playmates and friends from their orphanage, for starters) and being "different" in their family. (Let's face it, we were white parents adopting African children...they would look different!)

But God is completely in control and holding them now (and really, that's so much better for them, despite what we wanted). He has given us an adjusted and new dream, and in the midst of losing our grasp on the old one we were able to be a part of something bigger than we could have ever imagined. Our adoption agency raised $15,000+ for an orphanage we never would have known existed if we hadn't chosen to get outside our comfort zone and say yes. We were able to help, as indirectly as our help may have been. And we are thankful.

Obviously, we are still dealing with the loss of a dream we thought would come true, but we have been given peace without fully understanding God's plan (and it is ok that we don't understand). We also have some evidence for the truth of Isaiah 61:3...God gives "beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified."

And we pray He is glorified in our choice to continue our adoption journey. When we learned of the deaths of Omba and Shako we were so disheartened that we had nothing to say on the phone with our program director. One of the only things I actually remember hearing Brad say was something along the lines of this: "I can't speak for Jenny here, and I may be naive in saying this, but doesn't it make sense to move forward on another referral--if one is available--so we can get another child or two out of there as quickly as possible?" I agreed with this assumption, and so did our program director. We ended the conversation by saying we'd be in touch regarding our openness to another referral in the near future.

Twelve hours later we had decided that's officially what we would do, and after a day of double-checking with God I texted our director to tell her our hearts and minds were open to another referral. It just didn't make sense to wait any longer when we knew there were kids who were dying on the other side of the world as they waited for families. The quicker we got started, the quicker we could hopefully get one or two of them home.

Our director immediately asked if we would consider "C," a 3-month-old girl whose picture I had already seen posted on our agency's Facebook page. I hadn't paid much attention to that post except to say a prayer that the little sweetie would find a perfect family soon. (She had some unusual arm movements that might indicate a neurological problem, and I hoped families would be open to her.) She was beautiful. So would we consider her now? Yes! She sent us more pictures and additional information (including the fact that she was abandoned). We said yes.

I showed Brody her picture. He asked, "Where's two babies?" He was asking about his brother and sister, whose picture he had seen a thousand times. I couldn't answer. He's two and simply wouldn't understand, and I couldn't put into words what had happened, anyway. (Christian Parent Fail #372: Not explaining to your two-year-old that his little brother and sister are being cradled by their Heavenly Father.)

So we've had this referral for a short while, but we struggled with the timing of sharing the info in the blog world for a few reasons (although apparently Brody keeps spilling the beans about "my sister"). First, we wanted to make sure we could effectively communicate the needs of the orphans deep in the African jungle without distracting anyone with information about our personal story. After all, we know God writes our story, and we want it to glorify Him. We (I) also didn't want anyone to think we simply forgot about or replaced Omba and Shako. Of course we haven't. They will forever be in our hearts and on our minds as motivation for continuing through the tough times in adoption, and I will still cry for them at times. They were perfect little babies who died far too soon. Lastly, what if the story of sweet little "C" ends in heartache, too? We thought about waiting until after we had passed court or something more "official" to decrease the chances that this would end poorly, too. However, when I set out to write this blog, I wanted to keep it as transparent and real as possible; otherwise it's not really painting a true picture. I feel that we must share most details of our journey so people can see every bit of it--dips, highs, curves, mountains, valleys, and the lowest of lows included. So come alongside us and see where this journey leads.

We've got a sweet baby girl waiting for us on the other end, and we need your support and prayers to get to her.