If you don’t follow me on Facebook or Instagram, you might not know that God has blessed us with a new son. It’s been a whirlwind two months, and there have been moments where I longed to write out all the behind-the-scenes details of this miracle–how God added our ninth child to our family–but the few spare minutes I’ve had to actually pull out my computer were eaten up by other more pressing duties.
In a way, I’m thankful for the quiet. I’ve heard and felt the hand of God in such a tangible way during this time of keeping most of my thoughts and feelings to myself.
The next couple of posts will tell the beginning of Andrew’s story. The amazing thing about adoption, about redemption, about love, is that the brokenness, the emptiness, the hurt, the abandonment–they are only the beginning of the story!
I count it a privilege to get to be the hands and feet of Jesus in unconditionally loving these little ones in my care.
He was born in China on February 11, 2011. Like our other three adopted Chinese children, he was abandoned as a newborn. He has a physical special need that has required multiple surgeries and care, and the 2 and 1/2 years he spent in China were spent in much pain. His nannies documented that he had such a sweet nature but that the amount of pain he experienced altered his personality and caused him to cry often.
He was severely malnourished, a fact which is not uncommon in orphanage care. I have viewed pictures of his crib mates and he was definitely not the only child to be neglected and under-fed. I cannot begin to tell you the rage that this stirs up in my Mama heart—to picture any child in pain or hunger hurts me, but to picture one of MY children this way makes it that much more difficult.
A family in Texas was matched with him and traveled for his adoption when he was around 2 and 1/2 years old. They had him in their care for over two years before they made the decision to disrupt his adoption and find another family for him.
The discussion regarding disruption in adoption is a heated one. A commitment to adopt should be a permanent decision. No child should have to face a second abandonment.
However, for varying reasons, disruption does sometimes happen in the adoption community. In this case, the adoptive family sought out a new family for their little boy. They had followed our adoptions and blogs a bit and the mama and I had emailed back and forth about some of their struggles about a year earlier.
We were out west for meetings, so it was a warm, sunny day in Arizona when I opened the email.
They had decided to move forward with the disruption.
I asked her for more information. For pictures.
There are several moments in time that are imprinted forever in my heart.
The moment I opened the email with the pictures—I knew.
God began whispering to my heart, knitting my emotions to a little boy far away who would one day call me Mama.
I had walked this path before, and I knew what it meant.
Brent and I took many long walks over the next few days, as we talked and prayed and discussed adding this precious child to our family. I honestly think it was more a question of “What will people think?” rather than “Should we do this?” 🙂
At one point, we turned to each other and Brent said, “If people are surprised by the fact that we love children and that we support adoption and orphan care, maybe they haven’t been paying attention to our family.” We had a good laugh and decided not to waste any more time worrying about what people might think. 🙂
I was emailing night and day with the other mama. They were looking for a specific kind of family, and our lifestyle and ministry are pretty nontraditional, so we talked frequently in order to both became at peace that our family was perfect fit for Andrew.
I know they were wanting to make very sure that they were placing him with a family who would adore him. A committed, forever family. They also wanted a Christian, homeschooling family who had adoption and attachment experience.
We were concerned for the needs of our current children (and how our adopted girls would deal with adopting a child from a disruption as this triggered their own abandonment struggles again), our ministry , and naturally, our finances. We knew that if God gave us peace, He would provide. Brent and I talked with each of our children separately and learned their hearts on the matter.
We carefully and cautiously started to move forward. I think there was a bit of trepidation on both ends, as we were almost strangers still, so we started with a skype phone call.
And there he was. That precious round face and lisping voice that I would soon grow to love.
About 2 minutes into the call, Brent looked at me, and I looked at him, and all doubt was gone. Each one of our children chatted with Andrew, and by the time we hung up, we were all at peace and beginning to get very excited.
I love how God writes His will in the details sometimes. You know what I mean? There you are, tentatively walking by faith, and He rewards you with details so obvious you just know it’s from HIM.
It was the end of February. We were still in our travel trailer in Arizona full-time, but just the week before we had signed an agreement to stay at a mission’s house until our move to South Africa.
It’s a glorious fully furnished 2,700 square feet house in a gated missions community.
(We have been in just over 300 sq ft for the past couple of years, so this change was a welcome one. :))
Anyway, when we skyped with the other family, we were already scheduled to drive from Arizona to North Carolina the following week.
They were in Texas, and we had to drive through Texas to get to North Carolina. So we pulled up a map to see where they were in relation to our route.
Get this—we had to drive right through their town to get back east.
Like here’s the giant state of Texas, and we’ve never even had a meeting in Texas, and we only have 4 days scheduled to make that drive from Arizona to North Carolina, and there’s no way we can push the children any further than we already had planned—but we really wanted to meet the other family. So what does God do?
Organizes our trip to take us straight through their town.
Just because He can.
So, that week as we prepared to head back east, I did our taxes and began calling homestudy agencies. We knew we needed to expedite his placement because they had already told him of the upcoming change in families, and they were ready to move him.
I found an agency willing to expedite.
The day before we began driving back east, Brent took the children out for a “daddy day” and I spent 7 hours straight on the homestudy application. (Fellow adoptive moms know what I mean when I say I hate adoption paperwork! lol)
We drove as long and hard as we could those first couple of days so we could unhook at a campground and spend the evening with the other family.
I won’t lie. Meeting him was precious and beautiful and awful and awkward all at the same time. Here was our new son, and oh how we were falling in love with him, and yet he was about to lose mama and daddy and brothers and sister and just everything.
Here was this family asking us to love him with all our hearts–because they knew they couldn’t–and we loved them for seeking something better for him and hated them for not loving him enough to make it work.
It was a work on our emotions and continues to be so even today.
I know what’s going through your minds is what went through my mind many, many times, so before I finish sharing more of his story, I want to address those questions.
First off, no, he doesn’t have RAD. He hasn’t acted out sexually and has no behavior concerns. He does have a very sensitive special need that requires daily care, and the details of that did play into the other family’s attachment struggle. It’s nothing communicable though. The other family struggled from day one to attach to him, and while he was able to attach, they were not. Parenting a child with special needs and trauma issues is challenging. I fully respect that they sought out more resources and tried to change their parenting to match his needs. In the end, neither Andrew nor the parents were able to overcome their trauma from those early months together. His healing was halted and they felt they could not continue faking their feelings so they sought out a fresh start for him.
Naturally, there are many, many more details I am not comfortable sharing publicly. I am very thankful that the other mama shared openly with me so many things that equipped us to be successful.
Regardless of how we all ended up in this situation, we were united in our desire to help Andrew succeed in our family.
In the next post, I’ll share about the paperwork journey of our domestic adoption, and how God worked out every tiny detail of Andrew’s placement into our family. 🙂