Sunday, April 14, 2013

A Cry in the Dark

Screams in the dark.  Crying.  I run upstairs to reach her.  I'm reminded how she is not much older than a baby.  And this baby still isn't used to having her nighttime cries answered.

I go to her in her room.  Tears pour down her cheeks.  She is terrified.

I scoop her up to hold her.  I rock her, wanting to rock her for all those nights that her cries weren't answered.  She is like a feather in my arms.

"Do you want to tell Mommy what your dream was?"

She shakes her head yes, but I can feel her heart pounding and her legs shaking.  She is terrified to answer.  I try to soothe her, telling her it's all a dream, that she's safe in her room, in Mommy's arms.  It was nothing but a bad dream.  She can't seem to say a word.  I long to know what's going on in her head.

I try to coax it out of her, reassuring her if she tells me it won't feel as scary anymore.  She fidgets, then swallows.  Her nervous ticks are in full force.  I won't get anything out of her.  I reassure her it's ok.  I simply hold her, stroke her hair and cheek, give her a smile and some kisses, and eventually tuck her in.

Her nightmares have lessened from when she first came home to us.  Screaming at night used to be a regular thing.  Even in her referral, we were told she often cried out during the night while she was in China.  I wonder if her cries were ever answered when she was in the orphanage.  I wonder if she was left alone with her heart pounding, tears streaming down, by herself in the dark.  The thought of that makes my stomach churn, my heart pound a little faster.  And then I wonder if our kids in Haiti have bad dreams too, and if anyone is there to soothe them, to wipe away their tears.

I wish our newest little ones were home.

Every kid should be able to have a mom or dad chase away the nightmares.  Every kid should have someone that will wipe their tears away.  It breaks my heart to think of the years the locusts stole from my children in the orphanage.  And yet, without that orphanage, I can only imagine how much worse it could've been...

The darkness sits on the edges of my vision.  But I know that light will come soon, to chase away the bad dreams, to bring healing to the hurting, to give a family to my children that are still so far away.

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.  John 1:5 

I know that God is restoring my tiny daughter, healing her bit by bit.  I see it, this new person she is becoming.  She has learned to love, to trust a little more, to smile, to play.  She's a smart little one, my tiny Aria.  I'm amazed at how far God has brought her.  And I know that although I can't hold my sweet little Haitian children yet, my God is a Father to the fatherless.  He knows them inside and out, because he formed them.  And hasn't forgotten about them.  He hears their cries in the dark.

Morning will come soon for you too, little ones.

Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning. Psalm 30:5b

And so for now... I pray you have sweet dreams, my children, where ever you lay your heads tonight.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Dreaming...

I'm dreaming of a day when my own blue eyes will look on two sets of gorgeous dark brown ones for the first time.

I'm dreaming of a day when two more little hands will be mine to hold.

I'm dreaming of a day when R & K will first call me "Mommy". 

I'm dreaming of a day when five little Reickard children will gather around the dinner table with folded hands to give thanks to God.

I'm dreaming of a day when my family, built of many nations, will be united under one roof.

I'm dreaming of a day when my fingers will (hopefully) weave and craft pretty braids in a beautiful little girl's hair.

I'm dreaming of a day when my two little boys will share a room and probably break a thing or two around the house together.

I'm dreaming of a day when three girls, who couldn't look more different, are tightly knitted sisters.

I'm dreaming of a day when I no longer have to wonder if my children are warm or fed or loved, but can do those things for them under our own roof.

I'm dreaming of a day when each of my children, I pray, will enter an everlasting family with God as their Father.

I'm dreaming... and I'm so eager for the day it's no longer a dream.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Accepting a New Identity, a New Life

As someone that has been born again into the family of God and made new, I realize that I don't always think and act like I have been.  In fact, sometimes, if I'm honest, I miss some of those old sins, old bondage.  Sometimes I don't know what to do with freedom that I have in Christ that I want to go back to the security of the "predictable" state of living under the bondage of sin.  I guess it's sort of like someone that has been held in captivity for so long doesn't really know what to do with freedom - yeah, I can relate a bit.  I have lived in a prison of fear, of Pharisaical law, of trying to control for so long.  Christ has opened the door to that prison and set me free.  Sometimes, as the door is still open to that prison, I walk right back in.

So I guess I get it.  I get why when a child that has lived in a "prison" of being institutionalized, that freedom is scary.  All that was built up around that child, no matter how messed up, is all that child knows.  They find comfort in it, a false sense of security.  When given freedom and a new life, the door to revert back to old ways - ways of coping and survival in the institution - is still open.

What triggers going back to the old ways?  I wish I knew.  I wish I knew why I went back to my old sinful ways too.  Sometimes I can figure that out in myself, but sometimes I can't figure out why I'd embrace my "old" ways when I have freedom and new life sitting right in front of me.  So it is for those children that have been in captivity for so long.  They have freedom - a family, a new life, true security, true love - all around them.  But sometimes that old life calls back, the old ways are so tempting to fall back into.  The coping skills - really all they could do to get through their old life - are just looking for that opportunity to pop out again.  And so begins embracing old ways and rejecting new life.

I'm amazed at how God talks about adoption in the Bible.  I'm amazed at the freedom and new life - a FAMILY - He offered me.  I wasn't just institutionalized.  I was DEAD.  And He gave me life.  Children that are institutionalized or that have come from terrible situations can feel dead too.  Their coping skills can be to check out, in a sense trying to deaden their emotions so they can't be hurt anymore.  When given new life (in the earthly sense), when given a family, all that pain doesn't just go away. Healing has to take place.  Old ways need to be unlearned.  Trust and security needs to trump over all they've ever known before.  This really isn't different that our adoption into God's family.  All our pain doesn't just go away instantly.  Healing does begin.  Old ways are unlearned.  Our trust and security in our Father grows over time as we know Him more.

Our identities are new, but we forget.  We hear the strong voices in our head - maybe even those around us - that lie and tell us our new lives aren't real, our identities cannot change.

But in Christ all things are possible.  And we can cling to the old, but that doesn't make the new any less real.  We are new.  Those that are adopted have a new identity, a new family, a new life.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved.  Ephesians 1:3-6

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

R and K

How could we have known when we woke up today that we would see the faces of our Haitian children?  How could we have known how we would feel as we looked onto their beautiful brown eyes, knowing the heartbreak they have endured?

Today is no ordinary day.  Today we were introduced to 5 year old "R" and 1 year old "K".  Looking at the picture of these biological siblings, we can only imagine so much of their story.  But what we do see is an older sister protectively holding her baby brother's hand.  We see children that have experienced more loss than many their age.  We see children, so beautiful, so wanted, so loved... but without a family to care for them.  We see children that we long to hold, long to comfort. We see our daughter and our son.

We ask you to join us in praying over big girl "R" and little boy "K".  Pray that God would protect them, comfort them. Pray that they have enough food to eat and that they feel loved.  Pray that God would move mountains to bring them to this forever family. Pray that God would heal their grieving hearts. 

We know they are in an orphanage where they are taught about the love of Jesus.  We pray they know Christ's love while they are in Haiti, and that God will pour out His amazing love onto them through our family.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

A Birthday to Remember

Every year we get one of these cards in the mail for our little son Kael, right around the time of his birthday.

It may seem a bit silly that I haven't turned "off" the mail for him, but honestly this is the only piece he gets.  And it's just once a year.

It used to be so hard to get this card, a sign that for me, the hardest grieving day of the year was coming (his birthday).  It was so painful to get a birthday card for my child that had died when he wasn't here to open it.

Now it's just one of those things I look forward to seeing.  It's one tangible way to acknowledge his very existence, his mark on this world.  And with the silly giraffe on the side, the pile of presents, the words "special gift" below... it brings me joy.  That's what Kael was and is, a special gift.  The funny thing was he had a little stuffed giraffe that we put into his crib during the time he was alive, a Beanie Baby named Jumpshot.  And the presents?  His life is worth celebrating!

This little piece of mail speaks so much to my heart, even if it is "just" a Toys R Us card.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Love

Love, in its purest sense, is something I've struggled to really understand.  So much of human love is wrapped around performance and meeting standards that we have for one another.  Sort of an "If you do good, then I will be pleased and show you love.  If you do bad, then I will be unhappy and my love for you will be strained or even gone."  We all fall back into this, at best only sometimes, at worst then all the time.  We are a people that have mastered conditional love.

But Christ... now he is the one that has mastered unconditional love.  Even when he took on flesh, had his reputation ruined, was rejected by his hometown, had people plotting (and ultimately succeeding in) his death, he still loved unconditionally.  Completely.  Instead of always going towards the outwardly shiny, pretty people, he took a beeline for the outcast... the prostitute, the adulterer, the cheat, the liar, the outwardly broken.  And he loved them unconditionally.  They didn't have to clean up or act a certain way before he came to them.  He came to them regardless.  As fully God as well as fully man, let's face it... Jesus was and IS better than those outcasts.  He's better than all of us.  And yet he humbled himself to love the unloveable, to reach the unreachable.  That includes you and me.  The fact is that the Creator of the Universe, the Word that became flesh, truly IS better than we are.  He is holy, righteous, perfect, and a bunch of other things we can never be.  But we are no better than anyone else.  The outcasts of Jesus' day and the outcasts of today are just as much in need of Jesus as you and I.  The outcasts of Jesus' day and the outcasts of today have the same black heart in need of Christ's blood to cleanse it as we do. The truth is, WE are outcasts as well... some of us just hide it better from one another.  But we can't hide it from God.  We are all outcasts deserving of hell.  None of us are worthy, not one.

The great news is that Jesus blood was poured out for all of us, even while we were outcasts, while we were dead.  And we can ALL be made new in Him.  Not just the outwardly shiny ones, but ALL of us can be made new.

It's one thing to know and believe this, and another thing to live like this.  Pride is an ugly thing, and it lives to destroy true love.  Pride and judgement work to set up the conditions in which others deserve our love.  "Jump through my hoops, and I'll show you love."  "Clean up for me, and I'll show you love."  "Don't show me that mess that is your heart and paste on a smile, and I'll show you love."  We begin to believe these lies and apply them to others, drawing a line in the sand on who we can show favor to and who we should not.  And we believe these lies and apply them to ourselves.  We decide if we just look just so, or keep our real feelings bottled up, or do enough tricks, then FINALLY someone will show us love.  And wouldn't we deserve that love - after all, look at all the work we did in being so shiny to get it!

I'm looking in the mirror, and it's not a pretty thing.  Turns out my shiny was really a bunch of rust and decay... an illusion.  And the shiny I expected others to have... turns out I look an awful lot like the Pharisees who decided who did and did not deserve favor.  Oh, I may not outwardly act that way (it's part of the illusion), but the deep dark parts of  my heart know better.

The mirror is necessary, because in seeing who I really am - a messy rebellious outcast - I see my great need for a Savior.  And in seeing that need, my pride goes down and my heart goes soft, ready to receive the God that died for me.  And in my need for the God that loves my soul unconditionally, I can see that the outcasts of today really aren't different than I am.  We may have different struggles, different sins we battle, different appearances, different circumstances... but our hearts?  Depraved.  Messy.  Broken.  Evil.  Needing a Savior to make us new...

God made me new.  In that restoration He brought into my life, I want to share that same love with others.  And I don't get to pick and choose who gets it on the merits of appearance or performance.  Because if God did that, I would still be dead.  Shouldn't all people, whether fully alive or still dead, be able to see and feel God's amazing unconditional love?  Who are we to pick and choose?

The answer is obvious.  If the Most High didn't pick and choose who is worthy to be loved, we don't get to either.

And one of the scribes came up and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, asked him, “Which commandment is the most important of all?”  Jesus answered, “The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.  And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’   The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” Matthew 12:28-31

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Adoption and Public Opinion

There has been recent news of a family that adopted internationally from Ghana as being detained and jailed, suspected of human trafficking.  Thankfully all charges have been dropped.  However, the controversy that has surrounded this case has not been lost on me.  I read the comments about this family on various sites - blogs, news sources, etc.  These comments were made by people that didn't even know this family, but already made a judgement call on their motives.  I have to say, those comments grieved me.  Mostly because I have read and heard similar comments made by others regarding international adoptions. 

I have also read various ideas concerning international adoption - Should kids be pulled out of their home countries?  Are people buying children?  Are trans-racial families a fad started by celebrities?  Has the evangelical church just jumped on their latest bandwagon by pushing adoptions?  Why adopt internationally when so many kids are available for adoption in the US?  And so on and so on.

I've read stories of racial profiling, where the adoptive parents or grandparents greatest crime is to have a child that has a different skin shade.  I read one blog spot where a woman commented that at her daughter's dance class, a woman refused to be this woman's friend because her child had darker skin and she assumed that child was adopted.  The daughter actually had darker skin because the mother was white and the father was black.  This other woman assumed that the child was adopted and told her she didn't agree with her "buying babies".  What hurt the mother was not just the racism and anti-adoption sentiment involved, but also that the mother herself was adopted. 

I could go on and on, but let me tell you, I'm grieved.  I'm grieved that people are so quick to judge what they don't understand.  I'm grieved that so many wish to assume the worst.  I'm grieved that race is still an issue in our world.  I'm grieved that there is a lack of understanding that ALL children need parents, no matter where they live, and that love doesn't know boundaries.

And I'm grieved that others' strong opinions make me feel like I'm supposed to be apologizing for my family.

But don't get me wrong... I don't apologize for my family, ever.  I love my family, and I believe with all my heart that God has brought each of our children to us, whether biological or adopted.  Chad and I, if you've followed our story, have had our share of ashes in our lives.  We have lost deeply.  When God placed adoption into our hearts, we knew that our kids lost deeply too.  God took our ashes and took their ashes, and made something beautiful out of them.  If we hadn't adopted, look what we would've missed out on... our incredible son from South Korea, who brings life and fun where ever he goes.  Our little daughter from China, who has come so far but yet has so much more healing to do.  Two children from Haiti, found in life-threatening circumstances and saved by being currently cared for in a sound and solid orphanage.  And the future of these kids if they weren't adopted?  That's something I've thought of quite a bit, and knowing their histories and where they are from, the possible answers that have come to me are not pretty, to say the least.

Why do I share this?  Because international adoption, like domestic adoption and foster care, is a very complicated topic.  There are bad things going on in the international adoption world.  Abuse cases do occur.  Sadly human trafficking is actually real within the adoptive world.  Some children are stolen out of their families or even sold by their families.  Some kids get adopted, thinking they are home, and the adoptive parents disrupt the adoption, causing the kids to bounce around - again.  There are bad things out there.  They happen too in domestic adoptions and the foster care system.  But that doesn't mean that adoption should stop.  That doesn't mean that those that are adopting should automatically be under suspicion.  That doesn't mean that all kids don't deserve a forever family.  That doesn't mean that good, even great things, aren't happening too.

I realize that the audience of those reading this blog are people that likely support adoption as well as support our family.  Adoption may be one of the reasons why you chose to read this blog in the first place.  Perhaps some of the issues I mentioned here surrounding adoption have not even crossed your mind before.

Although I do believe that adoption is not by any means the only solution in the international crises of orphaned children (orphaned by means that are complex and varied), or even the only solution for the children that are orphaned domestically, I do believe it is one of the solutions.  And it's a strong solution.  Because quite honestly, if adoption didn't occur, the orphan crisis would be beyond what we can fathom.  Infant and child death rates would go up.  Crime rates would go up.  Human trafficking would increase in horrific ways.  Way too many children would grow up without knowing love, without knowing what it is to be cared for, without knowing where they will wake up, without knowing where their next meal would come from.  If I think of any one of my children in a situation like that - alone, hungry, scared, perhaps abused, sick... the list goes on - I wouldn't let any barrier get in the way of bringing them home.  We need to fight for these kids.  We need to understand that the crisis is complicated and huge and we don't have all the answers in how to solve it. But that doesn't mean we should stop trying, stop loving, stop adopting.

Ever hear of the story of the hummingbird?  I love the way this is put, and it's a great way to end a topic like this.  During a forest fire, most of the animals run away from the immense and overwhelming problem before them.  But not the hummingbird.  The hummingbird, as tiny as he is, works to put out the fire, one drop at a time.  Others stop and stare and criticize his work... after all, what does he think he's doing?  He isn't doing it right!  He is too small to make a difference.  But the hummingbird goes on and continues his work.

"There is something in our lives we can do.  So be a hummingbird..."