Finding my delight in the journey of adoption.

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The Mundane and the Amazing

First things first, I need a new name for the blog.  Something catchy that conveys the topic (which is really broad – my spiritual journey, motherhood, social justice, adoption, orphan care, chocolate eating…).  But I have no creative bones in my body.  Please help me by commenting with your suggestions.

 I had such a rejuvenating day today.  BB got up early with Freddy, which allowed me an extra hour of sleep, followed by a cold, rainy run and finished off with a cup of coffee and a Bible study.  I need to figure out how to start every day that way.

Freddy and I had fun visiting my sweet sister at her nanny job.  The little girl (1.5 years old) enjoyed throwing her ball at him and at one point sat on his head.  Freddy, of course, remained smiling and unaware.

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You can see that Freddy still has quite the affinity for hand-towels and washcloths.  Perhaps a job as a bathroom attendant in his future?  Or maybe Bed Bath and Beyond? 

I had a fabulous lunch with a great friend, also a new mom.  A visit from another friend and her sweet girls who entertained the boy and brought peanut butter chocolate chip cookies.  Finally, a visit from a friend who cut BB’s and my hair.  Her passion for helping victims of sex trafficking spurred on great conversation, and I think I may now know where all my stuff needs to go when we move [in 7 weeks!!!!]. :)

All this grace.  Undeserved.  Who am I to merit such rich relationships with people?  Such love poured out on me and my family.  If not for the Holy Spirit, I would have never met these friends.  These precious people who pray for me, chat with me, bring me cookies, and cut my hair.

My cup overflows tonight.  May I never forget such grace bestowed on me.

 

Explanations

I’m struggling with suffering these days.  Not my own, but others.  I have family members who are suffering, and I don’t like it.

I am a seriously left-brained person.  There’s not an ounce of creativity in me.  I am all logic, all the time.  I don’t feel things.  I think them.  And then I overthink them some more.  I want to know why.  Why does this loving God who I place my trust in allow such suffering to go on?  Suffering that seems so arbitrary, so unrelated to anything and clearly not the result of anyone’s bad choices.

I know all the theological answers, but they don’t really answer the question.  Most of the time, I am ok with that.  I know my place in relation to a holy God.  I’m not meant to understand everything.  I can only see one small piece of the puzzle.  It’s like my dog wanting to understand why she can’t eat at the dining room table with us.  I just can’t explain it to her, and if I tried, she wouldn’t get it.  She’s a dog.  [I’m not saying humans are dogs, just trying to draw some sort of analogy to wrap my brain around the issue.]

But it’s frustrating!  I want it to end.  I don’t want the people I love to hurt.  I don’t want them to doubt that God loves them in the midst of their trials.  And I know that my God can stop it.

That is faith.  Trusting in something you can’t explain.  Going back to the Word, to what I know is true.  God loves us.  Jesus wept for his people.  We are in the midst of a redemption story, but all has not yet been restored and redeemed. 

Is it possible?

There’s a lot of press these days about ethical adoptions.  A number of new books have recently come out, a documentary is making a nationwide tour, and the DRC has been seeing some ups and downs with its program (maybe other countries too, but I mostly follow DRC).

On one of my FB group pages, a common question is posed:  How can we ensure that adoptions are ethical?  I love the hearts of the adoptive parents out there.  We all want to have ethical adoptions.  No one gets into adoption to traffic a child.  I personally know parents who have discovered that their adoption shouldn’t have passed muster, and the heartache is great.  But is it possible to avoid this?  The how is so much harder.

Faced with the difficulty of ensuring an ethical adoption, parents can go one of three ways:  give up entirely, go forward in the face of possible shady circumstances, and move heaven and earth to try and do it ethically.  There are certainly pros and cons to each approach, and it’s hard to say which is really the right answer.  The waters are muddy.

And isn’t that what’s so hard about ethics?  Once you are sure that no laws are broken, there’s still an area of gray.  Sometimes the answer is unclear.

This is why I am still on the fence about starting again.  I don’t want to give up, but I am scared of getting back in the water.  I don’t want to screw it up!

As a Christian, I am called to get into the water.  All the way to the deep end.  Yes, we can’t fix all the problems with international adoption.  The whole idea comes out of a broken, messy tragedy.  Same with global poverty, world hunger, sex trafficking, war.  There are no easy answers.  But we have to try, don’t we?  Because sometimes it works.  Sometimes there is redemption.

And, really, what else do we have to do?  Isn’t this why we are on earth?  To work towards redemption and restoration.  I can’t sit home and just focus on myself and my family.  That’s not why I was put on the earth.  I have been given so much, and I have a responsibility to use my resources towards this goal of restoration.

It’s scary.  It’s hard.  I don’t have any answers.  But I will keep walking forward in obedience to the One who does.

New Adventures

So BB has the greatest one liners, but I always forget them by the time I sit down to blog.  I remember this one though:

BB:  You know, babies are a lot cooler than people think they are.

Seven years ago, BB and I had the privilege of visiting our awesome friends S & C in Kigali, Rwanda, by far the most beautiful place we have ever visited.  Thus, our love for East Africa was born (we also visited Tanzania and Kenya).  When we decided to adopt, we knew it had to be Africa, and we sought to adopt from Rwanda.  Just as we were beginning, Rwanda closed to international adoption.

A few years later, here our hearts are drawn back to that small land.  Not to adopt, although we are still talking about adoption in our future.

Remember how I mentioned we were doing an even bigger purge of our belongings than the fast of 2012?  By July, we will have reduced our worldly belongings to a few suitcases as we will be heading out on a new adventure.  We are moving to Kigali!

I’ve accepted a position with an organization (more on this later) to do legal work, and we’ve committed to be there for one year.  After that, who knows?

This opportunity will allow me to serve vulnerable children, which was truly the reason we sought to adopt.  Of course, as with all such adventures, we know we will be blessed more than we will be blessing.

We are excited and overwhelmed.  We are sad to leave our families, but apparently all they care about is Fred.  They keep offering to keep him but don’t ask us to stay…  It’s a crazy thing to do in many ways, but not as crazy as adopting three kids, I suppose.  At least, not as permanent.  We can’t wait to see what God has in store for us.

The flavor of the blog may be changing, although I am really excited to learn more about how Rwanda is serving orphans.  They have been making that a priority and doing some great things in getting kids out of orphanages and into families.  I hope to blog about our life and my work and hope you continue to enjoy reading about it!

Who knows – maybe a picture of Fred with a monkey is in our future!

 

The Elusive Nap

First, a gratuitous Fred picture.

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I’m in a blogging slump, as the four of you who are still reading have seen. I struggle with perfectionism, so unless I can come up with a really witty and thoughtful post, I usually don’t post. I still have so many thoughts about adoption – there have been a few thought-provoking articles lately about Christians and adoption. I also have thoughts on motherhood. But does anyone want to read them? I am drowning in self-doubt.

That’s really my biggest issue these days – self-doubt. I have spent most of my life running from anything that I wasn’t good at and only doing things at which I could succeed. I don’t play games that I don’t win, I don’t try new things. I really hate failing. {side note – who doesn’t hate failing? This sounds a little pompous – oh you other people must love failing, but I just can’t handle it. blah blah.}

I’m pretty much convinced that I am failing as a mother. Fred doesn’t sleep the required amount of time to ensure that his brain actually develops. His poop is green all the time, which either means I’m starving him or he’s dying of a terrible disease. He still sleeps in our bed, which means (a) he will die or (b) he will still need to share our bed when he’s 16. And on and on and on.

I spend 60% of every day trying to get him to sleep, 20% feeding him, and the other 20% worrying about what he’s not doing right. This motherhood thing is basically pure torture that I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy.

Sure, there’s joy. There’s nothing better than his smile and laugh. His smooth, soft squishy skin against mine. His beautiful blue eyes and sweet personality. Of course, I wouldn’t trade that for a few full nights sleep. Seriously, I wouldn’t.

But man, how did I go from a reasonably competent lawyer with multiple degrees, fairly confident in my abilities to being completely brought down to a sniveling puddle of mush by a 16 pound human-parasite? At this point, I barely trust my ability to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich correctly.

I just want to watch a YouTube video that tells me exactly what to do. Or is there some sort of consultant who can come over for the day and tell me how to care for my child? I’m really good at following directions.

It gives me a new appreciation for mothers. I don’t think I ever quite realized the barrage of worries and concerns that comes with this little bundle of joy. I’m not, by nature, a worrier. I don’t care enough about anything to really worry about it. But now! Ugh.

It reminds me of something my sister-in-law said when she was a new mom. The only way you can really sleep at night is to decide that you will survive if your child dies. It’s a morbid thought, I know. But it is true, the child cannot be an idol. Even the child has to be held with an open hand. I can’t stop the hurt that’s coming his way. I can try and minimize it, but I do want him in the battle of life. I want him to become a fierce warrior, able to change the world. But first, he needs to be able to nap.

Fred: 3 months

I’ll probably stop these posts at some point.  We can’t spend the next 18 years commemorating every month of this kid’s life.  I get that.  Feel free to skip this one.  I have some more meatier material growing in my brain for next time.

In the last three months, my life has imploded.  My apartment is always messy.  I rarely eat a meal in one sitting.  I haven’t slept for more than 7 hours straight (and that only happened once).  I barely remember how to put on make-up.  BB and I haven’t had a conversation that wasn’t primarily about poop color.

And yet, my sweet little boy is such a delight.  He’s starting to learn how to grab things.  He can laugh now.  He sees images in the mirror.  He is babbling more and more.  And he has fat legs.  I always wanted a baby with fat legs.

He has a delightful personality.  Even when he’s crying, it doesn’t take long for him to smile.  And he doesn’t mind when Lucy licks his face.

How are the parents doing?  Surviving.  Not sure we are thriving.  We haven’t gotten a routine down yet.  I want him to work less.  He probably wants me to stop complaining so much.  I am desperate for spring to come to Chicago.  We are getting glimpses, but then it drops back down to 35 degrees. I want to fit in my pants and still eat cookies.  I want to have time to read a book without cardboard pages and to spend time in the Word.

It’s so frustrating that we can never have it all at once.  We want sleep when our babies are young, and we can’t sleep when they are old.  We want money when we are in college, and when we get it, we don’t have time to spend it.  We want time to travel the world when we are young, and when we have the time, we are too tied down.

Isn’t that just the way it is with God?  This world is not our home.  We will never be fully content here on earth, and that’s the plan.  I need to stop fighting it and embrace it for what it is.  Looking forward to the true paradise on the other side.

Used

BB and I are dying to know – is there some sort of study that has proven that babies prefer the sound of the pan flute as opposed to actual orchestration? Why don’t these baby toys just play Beethoven’s Ninth by the full orchestra?

I’ve been warned.  Being pregnant, giving birth, nursing, all these things will ruin my body.  I’ll be all used up by the time Fred is 6 months old.  It makes me wonder, what would I be saving myself for? 

I want to be used.  My body was designed (in part) to bring forth life.  My breasts were designed to provide food.  My body is here for a function.  Even if it wasn’t child-bearing, my hands are meant to wash, build, create.  My feet are to meant to walk, run.  My back should be bent.  I’m not a priceless work of art, meant only for observation.

Our culture strives to preserve – save your money, use the candlesticks only for special occasions, keep your skin out of the sun, wear rubber gloves, keep your shoes out of the mud.  We don’t want to get dirty.  We don’t want to be used.  We want our bodies, homes, cars, brains, kept fresh until….until what?  What are we saving ourselves for?

We are about to embark on another 7-style purge of our home.  This one’s going to be bigger, deeper, more painful.  I’m scared.  I love my stuff.  It’s not all materialistic – some of the love comes from the memories the things hold.  The warm coat that’s insulated me at the bus stop, the running shoes in which I’ve logged miles, the skillet that has cooked many a meal, the platter given by a friend, the sweater picked out by my mom.

But then I kick myself.  Here I’m giving away so many items that I was saving for something special.  Why didn’t I use the wedding china more often?  Why have I only worn that necklace once?  I didn’t know that one day I would be called to give it all up.

Our vats are overflowing, and we build another barn to hold it.  Spend it.  Use it.  This life is fleeting.  You can’t take it with you…not in the next life, and sometimes in this one.

We save our money for an emergency.  But (as Francis Chan once asked), is it only an emergency if it affects our family? 

We save our time like misers.  We have to work hard, and we will serve others later.  We will have that date night with our spouse next month.  We will spend more time with the children once we get this last errand run.  What if later never comes? 

Spend it.  Wear it.  Use it.  Jesus’ body was broken, used.  His blood was shed for us. 

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