Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Absolutely and Bologna

My boy's surgery was a complete success which was an odd reason to find myself sobbing all the way home from the hospital, but there I was. He will hear and, more importantly, he will live, neither of which he would do were he left in his home country of Serbia. 

I'm not being dramatic. The ENT confirmed that the cholesteatoma had already eaten away two of the three major bones of his ear and started to damage the third, though it was saved. It was only a matter of time before it entered his brain and caused eventual death. 

I told someone recently how grateful I am that he's here and able to get this surgery. Predictably, she gushed, "God must have a great plan for his life to have brought you all the way to him to save his life!"

Absolutely...and bologna.

Absolutely because I firmly believe that God does indeed love Bogdan and has a plan for his life. I do believe that God sent us to him. But bologna, because there are thousands of other children whose lives are not saved, who remain orphans, and who die alone. 

Does that mean God does not have a plan for their lives? Does He not love them? Does He not care about them? Why doesn't He send someone to save them?

And this is why I found myself sobbing, partly in gratitude for the boy that has captured my heart, and partly in sorrow for the others that are left behind. 

I'll be honest with you. After pouring out my heart to the Lord, I don't think the orphan crisis is God's fault. I fully believe He loves and cares for and has a plan for each and every orphan out there. I think He does send us and we're too busy to listen or we think adoption is for the super spiritual or the called. We think we're not patient enough or wealthy enough or strong enough or just enough. So we do nothing. 

And I wonder, where is faith? None of us is enough. That is kind of the point of the gospel. On our own, we are nothing, we have nothing, and we can do so very little. But in Jesus, we are children of the living God. We have everything we need for life and godliness, and we can do all things through Christ who gives us strength.

I have to remind myself of this over and over again. I don't have to be enough. Clearly, I am not. I am ridiculously inadequate in every possible way. Thank God, that's okay.

He is enough.

You don't have to be called, either. I don't know where this idea comes from. In our large family, my kids hear me say all the time, "You see a need, you fill it. If you see something that needs doing, and you are able to, do it. If there is a pile of stuff at the bottom of the stairs waiting to go to the top, take the stuff with you when you go upstairs. If you are near the sink and a little person asks for a drink, fill his sippy cup. If you find an empty box in the pantry, throw it away." It's not a difficult concept, right? You see a need, you fill it. 

You don't have to be called to adopt. 

I can't find the idea anywhere in Scripture that meeting a need is something that only a select few are called to do. 

Instead I find this: 
For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me. Then these righteous ones will reply, "Lord, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you? Or thirsty and give you something to drink? Or a stranger and show you hospitality? Or a naked and give you clothing? When did we ever see you sick or in prison and visit you?" And the King will tell them, "I assure you, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!" Matthew 25:35-40

There is no question of need. Over one hundred thousand children available for adoption in the United States foster care system alone. Millions of children institutionalized internationally. Sixteen-year-old girls aging out of orphanages and immediately entering prostitution. Children dying of ridiculous things like benign ear tumors, for crying out loud. A Teenage boy standing up in front of a church begging for a family, for someone just to care enough to take him to football practice.

There is no mystery here. Adoption is not for the super spiritual or those that feel called or equipped or whatever. It's for those who see a need and are willing to fill it. It's rife with complexity, but can start with a simple acknowledgment, as it did for me:
There is a child that has no one. I am someone. He can have me.
I have always been a dreamer. I'm a visionary. I am not, however, one who follows through. I have started more projects than I can possibly begin to list for you, but I can count those finished on one hand. I don't know why international adoption is among those finished. I'm guessing the answer is grace. His strength, His endurance, His tenacity, His patience...certainly nothing whatsoever to do with me. It is with utter humility and gratitude that I reminisce. 

So big, giant, crocodile tears run down my face for this boy who was a stranger to me just a year ago, but now is my son. He is worth it. He is worth all the hoops that we jumped through, the paper chasing, the scrimping, the fundraising, the anxiety, the travel, etc. I would do it all again and then some. 

If you have ever considered adoption, I want you to know, to really understand, that your child is worth it, too. Your child, the one that has not yet stolen your heart simply because you have not yet laid eyes on him or her, waits for you, perhaps in a country in which you have never landed. He's worth it, you know. She's worth it. Take a leap.

I know that adoption is not a need every Christian will fill. We are not all going upstairs or near the sink or reaching in the pantry. I get it. Please do not tell me how you are not in a position to adopt or how unhealthy it would be for someone that you know to adopt, etc. 'Cause honestly? I waffle between Absolutely and Bologna on this one, too. Tell Jesus. He's the only One who can change circumstances and mend hearts, k? We are all responsible for the fatherless, though, and if adoption is not your thing, support those that are trying to fund an adoption, take a meal to those who have recently adopted, provide respite care, sponsor an orphan, get involved in a Big Brother/Sister type program, pray for orphans, etc. Most importantly, ask Jesus what He wants you to do and do that!

Sunday, November 17, 2013


Sometimes, I don't realize how hard things are until they get easier. And sometimes, I don't recognize they've gotten easier until they just have and I realize I have time to breathe again. 

Such is the case with Bo. My last update on our lives with him was pretty raw and real and filled with angst. Since then, he's made some significant progress and our lives have gotten easier. 

He's learned to respond to the word no. He doesn't always obey, but a firm No is often enough to buy us some time to get to where he is and prevent him from inflicting whatever damage he had his mind set on at the time. That few seconds of borrowed time has brought a huge sigh of relief to our home. 

With the added visual cue of an outstretched hand, he responds to, "Come here." Not having to physically pick him up every time we want to change his location is such a gift. He will now willingly come to the dinner table or to get a diaper change and those things sound so small, but it's those little things that add up to making big changes in our world. 

So many other things are clicking with him, too. He's started eating with utensils which is HUGE! Not every meal or for the whole meal, but more often than not. He still makes every bit as big of mess as when he digs in with both hands, but we don't care. We have been working on this for months in therapy and always provide utensils for him at home. Every meal, we initiated a couple of bites with hand over hand and every meal, he chucked the spoon at his first opportunity. One day, he just didn't and ate two bowls of chili with his spoon while I stabilized the bowl and the rest of the family cheered like crazy. 

He started attending developmental preschool three afternoons a week which has been so good for him, too. I took him for his pre-surgery blood draw recently. After waiting for what seemed like an eternity, they finally called him back. There was a child-sized table with a coloring station set up and he immediately climbed into the chair. I cringed expecting him to take big handfuls of the crayons and start flinging them or sweep everything off the table with his arm as he is wont to do. But, he completely blew me away by grabbing the nearest crayon and scribbling on the picture. Amazing! (Two minutes later, when the lab tech distracted me with questions, he took big handfuls of crayons and flung them, but still...)

Speaking of surgery, tomorrow is a big day. Bo is having a tympanomastoidectomy (ear surgery) due to a cholesteatoma which was discovered when he had tubes placed in September. He will have an overnight stay at Peyton Manning's Children's Hospital which will be a new experience for us. Shawn will be staying all night with him which is the right choice given their bond, but a tough choice for this medical nerd and control freak to handle. 

It is always hard to hand your child off to an anesthesiologist. It's especially hard when the bond of trust between you is new and feels so tenuous and you know he will wake up frightened and in pain. He usually tolerates pain pretty well. He does not, however, tolerate oximeters, bandages, blood pressure cuffs, IVs, wrappings, and strappings of any kind and he will have all of those. He has been known to remove coban around an IV with his toes when a nurse turned around for five seconds, so prayers in this regard are greatly appreciated. This is one of those surgeries where the potential risks are the same as not having surgery, only much less so. We know it's the right thing to do, but it's still hard. 

So I guess the increase in function has made things easier in the day to day, but what we risk in the loving, that only gets harder as we have to let go a little bit.