• Why?

    Date: 2014.05.25 | Category: Adoption, Elijah, Evangeline Faith, Faith | Tags:

    It’s been an interesting month to say the least.  We headed off to Boston ready to complete Evie’s heart cath and surgery only to have her surgery canceled due to a cold that she caught while we were there.  We received wonderful news from the cath and we were okay with waiting if that was what we needed to do.  The next surgery for her requires very healthy lungs and even then you can end up with pleural effusions.  When Hope had her surgery she had a chest tube for months.  We will wait 4-6 weeks for Evie to be well and then try again.

    This past Wednesday, we headed off to Stanford for Eli’s heart cath and surgery only to have his surgery canceled due to concerns over how his back teeth looked.  We knew there were concerns about his teeth, but there was also concern about how well he would do under anethesia.  No one really knew because he hadn’t had a cath since he was 8 months old in China.  He has no main branch pulmonary arteries.  No one knew if he would decompensate under general anesthesia or be able to handle it fine.  This past year has been complicated. We didn’t do a heart cath in Iowa because we had been told that Dr. Hanley would require his own anyway so we waited.  We initially were to be seen in January, then we got bumped and bumped again until we ended up with a final date in the end of May.


    Eli did great during his heart cath and we were given the great news that he is a wonderful candidate for the unifocalization procedure.  He has four main areas of collaterals each branching off from a single source.  The single sources will be joined together in the unifocalization surgery.  What this means is Eli may be lucky blessed enough to need just one surgery instead of a two or three step surgery process.  Everyone was amazed that he is this old, with his CHD unrepaired, and was still doing relatively well.  His sats are mid to low 70’s.  He regulates himself but is able to play relatively hard unlike Ben who could barely run around the living room without having to sit down.   After the cath, the doctor informed us that a few of Eli’s arteries had grown with him.  She said this doesn’t always happen but that was the reason Eli had been doing so well.  Praises for arteries that grow with little boys.

    Which brings me to the title of this post.  Why?

    When we are in the hospital, we often have the question posed to us.  “Why did you adopt so many children with special needs?”

    We aren’t running around yelling “Do you want to hear about our children?  Did you hear what we did?” blah, blah, blah.  Dan and I both know this is a God thing and all the glory goes to Him.  We know this isn’t about us.  The truth is we didn’t set out to adopt this many children.  We didn’t even have adoption on our radar when the first adoption happened.  As the years have gone by, we have simply been obedient to the call of God.

    This is how they find out, it usually starts out like this.   “Are there any smokers in the house?”  “No.”   “Are there any pets in the house?”  “Yes, two dogs.”  “Are there any siblings in the house?” “Yes, do you need them named or would you like a number?”  “Number is fine.”  “We have twelve children.  Ten are still in the home.”  “YOU HAVE TWELVE CHILDREN!?!?!”  “Yes, we are very blessed.”  “Your house must be crazy and loud.”   “Yes, we have a very loud, loving home.”  “Really?  Twelve children?”  “Really!  “Wow! I could never do that.”

    Usually then what happens is they leave for a bit and come back later to say, “Can I ask you a personal question?”  We never mind answering those personal questions because people are usually just curious as to why.  Our answers vary but the first answer to why is always…

    We are being obedient to God’s calling.  We never set out to do this.  When we got married we didn’t say we are going to adopt this many children. We have just followed where He called us to go.  I can guarantee you when we left to adopt Ben and Maisey we weren’t talking about adopting again.  We were talking about how we had to do all the tours because we would never be in China again.  We wanted to see the culture and know first hand about where our children were born.   I had no clue that God would lead us to four.  I don’t believe anyone starts out thinking they will adopt six children in two years.

    When we started our homestudy a couple months after we got home, we talked about putting four on our homestudy.  I remember laughing because why would we put four?   China only allows two at a time.  There are no sibling groups to adopt, but we felt God was saying four.  So four is what we were allowed to put on that homestudy. We had the most amazing year watching God’s plans unfold.  Who gets the blessing of adopting four children, who aren’t related, all at once?  What a year of miracles it was.

    But this question doesn’t always answer it for people.   If you haven’t ever been obedient to the call of God or if you have never heard Him whisper to your heart and lead you, it is hard to wrap your head around this.

    We let people know what an amazing blessing it is to parent these children.  We don’t feel burdened.  We feel blessed.  We don’t walk around every day in our house thinking about all the special needs our children have.  They are, first and foremost, children.  That is what I see when they run around.  Many times I forget that they have special needs.  When I look at their little faces, I feel completely and utterly overwhelmed with the blessings that I have been allowed to have.

    We tell them a little about institutional life and how every child deserves a family.  We talk about the groups we support that encourage foster homes and group homes with a more family like atmosphere.   We talk about how we continue to learn more and our hearts continue to break for those children who are left behind.  I often mention the books that have helped me understand even more.  (The House of Hope, Wish You a Happy Forever, and Silent Tears)

    We talk about how many children are waiting.  How we wish we could do more.  How if they saw these children’s faces, they would be forever changed.   My life has been forever changed by the faces I have seen both in China and advocated for on other’s blogs and Facebook pages.  David Platt has the best quote about this.  “We learned that orphans are easier to ignore before you know their names. They are easier to ignore before you see their faces. It is easier to pretend they’re not real before you hold them in your arms. But once you do, everything changes.

    Everything changed for us the day we saw Ben and Maisey’s faces and held them in our arms.

    As we were flying home with Eli, I thought about this some more.  I remembered that it was the one year anniversary of the last four arriving in the U.S.  I sat there with little Eli on my lap and contemplated how far he had come this year.

    When you adopt, there are many hard, trying and painful things that happen.  Your children come from a very hard place.  A place where food isn’t plentiful.  Many of our children were severely malnourished and have severe teeth decay because of the malnutrition and lack of oral hygiene.  They haven’t been taught the ins and outs of life.  How many times do you redirect your child as they grow?  How many times do you say “No” and redirect them?  How many times do you say “We don’t take toys from other people.”  “We don’t hit other people.” “We eat with our mouths closed.” “We say please.”  and “We say thank you.”  the list could go on and on.

    As our bio children are growing, we praise them so they know we support them.  We encourage our children.  We love them even when they are being naughty and they learn unconditional love.  We hold them.  We lift them up.  We feed them when they are hungry.  We comfort them when they are crying.  We bandage their booboos.   We hold their hands when they are afraid.

    If you are raised in an institution, you don’t have that input.  You don’t understand why.  Many times you are left in your crib or a chair.  You are fed when they say.  You are fed an amount that they dictate.  You don’t decide what you wear or where you go or what you eat.  You are told what to do and when to do it.  Many of these children have a very hard time deciding anything for themselves.

    Recently with Jasmine we had an issue where she didn’t ask to go the bathroom.  I asked her why she didn’t just ask someone.  She told me that she didn’t know.  Then she stated that she didn’t know she could ask someone.  Jasmine spent her life in an orphanage where she was in a wheelchair that she could not move.  She sat in a corner unless someone moved her.  She wasn’t allowed to go to school or eat with the other children because it was on a completely different floor and there is no elevator.  She had one shower a week.  She sometimes forgets she can move her power wheelchair.  What an institution does to a child is so much more than just not being fed.

    You may think you understand but until you see these children’s blank faces I don’t think you can truly grasp what they go through.  Until you see the way they hang their heads with that blank stare, you can’t grasp what institutional life really does to their little souls.  Until you watch them devour food for hours, fall asleep holding food, and cry if you move their food, you can’t grasp how hungry they are.  Until you see them unable to let you hold them and comfort them, can you grasp what their little hearts have been through and the walls they have built for protection.  Until you see them get hurt and not cry, can you grasp the magnitude of what it means to learn that no one cares or will come when you are hurt and cry out.  All of these things broke our hearts for the orphan.  All of these things made us wish we could do more.

    We wish we could do more because the past two years have been amazing. The past two years have shown us what can happen when children receive love, food, and medical care.  Our hearts were filled with love the first time they came to us so we could kiss their booboo.  The first time they finally allowed us to hold them while they fell asleep.  The trust that they have that we will protect them.  The first smile.  The first laugh.  The love they have for each other.

    Every time we have brought these children home they have become family….instantly.  Everyone was welcomed into the family.  Everyone was loved, no matter what your special need.  These are beautiful examples of God’s unconditional love for us.  How He adopts us into His family no matter who we are, what we’ve done, or where we came from.

    This is why we do it.  Because God called us.  Because by being obedient to his call, He has taken us on a journey that we never would have thought to start on, but one that has blessed us and changed us in ways that we could never put a price on.  I think if you could see what I have seen, if you could feel what my heart has felt, the question wouldn’t be why.  The question would be why not!