Monday, October 20, 2014

one year ago

One year ago, our lives were changed forever.

We had begun our second adoption process, and we had a referral for twins in DRC, a boy and a girl named Omba and Shako. They lived in a remote jungle village in the center of DRC, a place that only received visitors via days-long journeys on roads flanked by broken-down cars that couldn't be removed--begging the question, "where did the people go?"--or flights with only a 90% survival rate (a good percentage grade in Molecular Biology but not a good survival rate).

We knew--we still know--we were called to adopt. We have done it before. Our first process, a domestic adoption, was hard. It twisted, bent and stripped our faith to bare threads, replacing the weak muscle fibers of faith with bigger faith fibers that could withstand more pressure, more uncertainty, more discomfort, even more heartache.

The first difficult adoption process gave us this child, a smiling beam of glory who knows no strangers and teaches us how to experience new levels of joy every day.

We rejoiced with hallelujahs when we got the final call: "You can finally finalize his adoption. His future with you is no longer in jeopardy."

Surely, we thought when we began our second adoption, this adoption won't be as difficult as our first adoption.

We have learned, however, that our strengthened faith fibers are helping us through a second difficult adoption. The first adoption process built them up, but they have again been used, broken down, and built back up even stronger multiple times over the last year-and-a-half of this adoption process.

Because one year ago those twins--who we were already loving and naming and envisioning running up and down our hallway--died.

They died because their village and orphanage didn't have clean water. It's so hard to understand how that is even possible when we live in a country where we can buy water in any quantity we desire in any gas station we encounter, seemingly always within approximately a quarter of a mile.

Our adoption agency jumped in to do their part to serve this desolate area in DRC by raising funds to provide clean water filtration systems to the village, clean beds for the children and cleaning supplies for the orphanage workers to use, thus insuring health and safety were priorities.

And now, one year later, despite the best efforts of our agency and hundreds of people who donated to the cause, it seems that the orphanage still isn't in great shape. According to a fellow adoptive parent who has children in the orphanage, it is understaffed, dreary, unsafe, unclean, and lacking in hope. Older children tend to young children. Children get one meal a day. None of them are getting hugs or kisses from an adult who cares deeply for them. (I should mention here that none of this is our agency's fault. I have no idea where to place blame for this, so I won't.)

And all of this is happening while children are unable to come home to their forever families. It's been 13 months and DGM in DRC still isn't issuing Exit Letters to children whose adoptions are complete. Had those twins survived, they would have lived a dreary life in their orphanage. They would have been hungry. They would have craved love and affection without even knowing it. They would been severely malnourished and closed off from the outside world. (And many children are still living in that hellish version of life...a tragedy in and of itself.)

So here we are, one year later and in the midst of this wait that sometimes seems as if it will never end. My prayers have often become stagnant repetitions of one or more of the following:
  • "Dear God, please bring C home soon. Please keep her safe and healthy. Please help her know that we love her." 
  • "Please bring our final paperwork to us this week so I can go hold her soon." 
  • "Please bring home the hundreds of children who are stuck in DRC. Please soften the hearts of those in DRC who are making decisions about these adopted children. Please be with waiting parents." 
  • Sometimes, it's this: "Lord, if you're not going to soften the hearts of leaders, then please harden them and send them plagues until they let your children go. Then they will know without a doubt that you are the God who reigns over the whole Earth!"
I have seen many DRC adoptive parents lose their heads. Sober-mindedness is scarce, and emotions run the gamut from certainty that children will come home soon to giving up the fight completely. I don't blame for being emotionally ragged; I am quite ragged myself, some days.

I have tried to stay away from negativity. I fully trust God with my everything. I know He is not surprised by any of the craziness in DRC, by the loss, by our long wait, by the human uncertainty. I know He is sovereign and in complete control. Thanks to a study of Moses and the Israelites in captivity, I know human discouragements and limitations do not discourage or limit God. Full immersion in His Truth has helped me keep my head.

But Friday...Friday hit me hard. There was disheartening discussion in a Facebook group full of DRC adoptive parents. People are discouraged. Some have been waiting two or three years to bring children home. It seems that we have hit walls on every side, and glimmers of hope are few and far between. Hope was small. And when talk turns negative, it's hard to resist the magnetic pull.

I tried not to think about the discouragement spewed out on the walls of the Facebook community. However, as I was returning home from a workout that tore up my muscles from every angle and made my head spin, my heart knew--finally acknowledged--it was torn up and weary, too.

Bethany Dillon's Hallelujah began playing on my iPod, and I bawled my eyes out while absolutely surrendering this adoption into God's hands.

"Who can hold the stars and my weary heart? Who can see everything?"

Like my torn up, beaten down, broken down muscles, my faith fibers have absolutely been torn, beaten and broken in our first adoption and in this one. But muscle fibers are strengthened only after being broken down. And focus is clearest only after experiencing a spinning head.

I must tell you now that I fully believe that God will bring Sweet C home to us, and I believe the hundreds of other children who are waiting to join their families will come home, too. I also KNOW God Almighty is, always has been, and always will be in complete control of this situation. I pray He is setting the stage for His glory to be magnified even further.

But He might not bring her home to us, and although we would be badly broken, that doesn't change His love for us or for her.

"Hallelujah! Whatever's in front of me, help me to sing hallelujah."

Hallelujah. We are changed. We will never forget those twins, who we loved from across the world and who helped us understand that God sees the good in broken things.

Omba and Shako, whom we love and will never forget.

Hallelujah. Our faith continues to be strengthened, made new and refocused daily.

Hallelujah, we are weak but strong.

Hallelujah, He is a God who loves Sweet C even more than we do.

Hallelujah. He always wins. He will always receive glory.

**Come back tomorrow for a more Sweet C-specific update and a prayer that has touched my heart and will be on my lips until these precious adopted children are home. 

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