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..."

Friday, June 15, 2012

I'm Not Jesus

That title doesn't surprise any of you, I'm sure.  But hearing those words last night certainly got my attention.

I'm not Jesus.

But I've been trying to be.

This whole thing with our earthly relationships being a picture of God's relationship to us is a beautiful gracious gift, helping us see our God so personally as Father, Husband, Adoptive Parent, Friend, Lover, and Savior.

It's that last one that's tripped me up a bit... savior.  We know that type of relationship on earth, don't we?  We see it discussed in literary circles ("he's a type of savior"), we see it in so many movies (Superman, arguably, in entertainment is one of the best known saviors of mankind).  We hear stories on the news of a firefighter saving a family from a burning building, or an individual donating an organ to save another life, or a child being saved from an extreme impoverished and life threatening circumstance.  We see the "savior" relationship in a variety of ways, the best always being the "saviors" that help those that are their enemies (resonates a little bit deep for all of us, I think).

But none of these saviors are Jesus.  And neither am I.

The gospel truth is this... we as people have been given the ability to save/rescue someone in the temporal, physical sense while we are on this earth, but only Jesus Christ can SAVE people in every sense, now and eternally.  Try as I might, I cannot save any of my children spiritually.  I can guide them, curb them, hold up a mirror to them in hopes they will look up and see who they really are (sinners deserving of hell and eternal death, just like I am).  I can show them grace and love, gentleness and patience.  But I'm not Jesus.  I can't transform them.  I cannot renew them.  I cannot restore them.  Only Jesus can save.  I have my role to play.  Chad has his role to play.  Our kids have their role to play.  We can choose to accept or reject those roles.  God's given us that choice.

Do we want to be saved?  Not just from circumstances, but from death that is eternal?  From the prison of sin we daily live in?  From an enemy so crafty who seeks to destroy our lives and souls?

We long for this saving.  We write stories of happily ever afters where the good guy beats the bad guy.  We sing songs of rescue and love eternal.  Every part of our soul cries out to be saved.  But nothing of this earth can truly save us because there is only one Christ.  And he is the only one that can truly save in every sense of the word.

I'm not Jesus.  It's about time I stop trying to save my kids from eternal death and instead play my role as lover of who they are and all that encompasses.  I need to surrender them once and for all, trusting the God, the lover of my soul, to be the lover of their souls too.

Jesus saves.  Not me.

Monday, June 11, 2012

We're Not Meant to Do This Alone

Today I ran into a friend that has recently adopted from China, and the relief on both of our ends was palpable.  Both of us have had unique challenges and struggles as our adopted children adapt to their new families and as we have adapted to having them in our lives.  I have several people in my life I know that I can share the trials that we've had through this early bonding process, and I am so blessed by their care and love they show to me.  Today, though, talking to someone that really "gets" it... oh, Lord, thank you for that!

So often we feel alone in the journey we are on.  We feel like although some may kind of understand, perhaps we actually are a bit crazy in the way we think.  We second guess ourselves, we wonder if there's something wrong with us to struggle with the issues that we do.  And then God, in His infinite compassion, sends someone that is going through something similar, someone that can completely relate to the struggles we're going through.  Then we know we're not alone, we're not completely crazy to see things as we do, how even as we make mistakes and sin in the process that no temptation has come upon us that is not common to man.  Our hearts can breathe again as we feel the relief wash over us.  It's not all in our heads.  We're not going crazy.  This stuff is hard, and others are going through it too.  When God knits souls together so they don't have to go it alone... wow.  What a gracious God we have.

Our lives are not meant to be lived alone, but in community with God and community with other people.  Tearing down the masks of "things are going fine" and being real... you just never know how you may bless someone else or how someone else may be used to breathe life into you.

Friday, June 8, 2012

What I Love About Aria

In no particular order, but each of these are things I love about this little girl...

* Her sass - the kind with two snaps and a bag of chips
* Her tiny laugh and beautiful smile
* Her gentleness - in her touch and at times in her deep dark eyes
* Her hugs - she is one of the best huggers I've met!
* Her expressive faces when she talks - one word... HAM!
* Her artistic eye - not much gets past her
* Her tiny off-key singing voice - especially when she sings about Jesus
* Her drive - this girl is a go-getter in a lot of things
* Her hope - in all of her brokeness, I can still see the hope inside her heart through her tiny face
* Her Chenglish - Chinese English is pretty adorable on a 4 year old!
Aria, we love you!