Saturday, March 26, 2011

Today, I'm Thankful

baby feet Pictures, Images and Photos

A year ago today, I was pregnant. And then, a year ago today, I wasn't. A year ago, my nightmare became my reality. My child was with me one moment, and then irretrievably and painfully just gone. And there was nothing I could do to stop it. The thing I had many times imagined, to prepare my heart just in case, had come to pass. And now I'm changed.

I think back over the last year, over the changes that have come to me and my family. And I can now say, with confidence and not the way I did at first as though I was trying to convince myself of its truth, that I am thankful. I am thankful for so very many things. I am thankful for the blessing of the child we conceived and lost a year ago. I am thankful for the trials and building year for our marriage. I am thankful for the second child we conceived last year, and all too soon lost. I am thankful for the burden the Lord has placed on Curt's and my heart for adoption and the children we are chasing down even now. I'm grateful for the balm that adoption has been to us. I'm thankful for the hope of holding my children who were here for just a short time in eternity. I'm grateful for being broken and for the healing that only Christ can offer. I cannot imagine suffering the loss of our tiniest little blessings without the secure hope of an eternity where our family is gathered together in worship of our King.

I'm just a little too empty today to come up with a compelling explanation for the last year. The year was big, painful, amazing, blessed, blessing, long, and slow. And there's so much wrapped up in all that has happened, I hardly know where to start. So here are some words I shared with a friend who recently lost her tiniest one. I hope she won't mind me sharing them with you as well.

The pain from the loss of a tiniest little one is indescribable. I wish I had been better prepared for it. But no one told me. I never imagined. There's no funeral for loved ones to mourn with you. There's no celebration of life, there's no official acknowledgement of the time we had with our tiny ones, and closure is hard to come by. There are so many questions and feelings and emotions and thoughts. It can be overwhelming.

Here are some ways that our precious Father comforted me. Curt and I rejoice that we will never agonize over our fourth and fifth children's salvation. They are already in the King's Court, and we know that better is one day there than a thousand elsewhere. Their lives are real, they lived here on earth, they are precious and wonderful gifts, and they live even now to praise and worship the same God who we praise and who gave them to us for eternity. They will always be ours, and we will for a short time be separated. I will see them; I will hold them; I will know them and call them by name. In my heart, they already have names. I imagine sometimes what our table will look like in Heaven with our whole family gathered.

There is a blanket of silence and solitude surrounding a mother who has lost her child as you have. Dear friends still just don't know what to say. And whether they do or not, it seems that they forget. Or they think the mother forgets. But there is not a day that I don't consider my precious lost ones. And there's not a day that I don't look forward with hope to the moment that I see my Savior and that He introduces me to the children I never held.

Even now, I am weeks away from the due date for our second child we lost in the last year. And I can tell you this: the Lord does give comfort; He is merciful. As Elisabeth Elliot said, "God never withholds from His child that which His love and wisdom call good. God's refusals are always merciful -- "severe mercies" at times but mercies all the same. God never denies us our hearts desire except to give us something better." We so love and desire to hold our babies, but what we receive in their place, we trust, is more precious. I am far closer to Curt and to my Jesus for having received and lost our children. By His Mercy, I know Him more.

I share this not so that you'll pity me or any mother who has lost. I share, so that you can know that the reality of that loss is probably so much worse thank you think, if you haven't experienced it. I want to encourage mothers who have lost their babies that there is healing, comfort and hope. I want to encourage their friends to remember and comfort the ones who have lost. And I want to remember my own lost children, children I count as my own, even though they're not with me right now.

So that's it. It's been a year. A hard, good year. I'm so grateful for the lessons I've learned about where our hope truly is. Our hope is in a Savior from our sins, sins which separated us from our Creator, a Creator who loves and values us so highly that He gave His only son to die for us and reconcile us to Him. And I'm so thankful.

Thanks for visiting.


Friday, March 18, 2011

International Adoption Is Not A Roller Coaster

When we started down the road toward our Ethiopian adoption, we read that it's like a roller coaster. I've probably even called it that myself, but now I beg to differ. Roller coasters are exciting, fun, thrilling, short, and sometimes scary, but only in a you-know-everything-is-OK kind of way. Not international adoption. At least not ours. I have found the process so far to be frustrating, exhausting, challenging, costly, disappointing, daunting, surprising, eye-opening, mind-blowing, confusing, encouraging and heartbreaking. There is no map to preview, no firm script for how it will go, no promise of the timing down to the minute. There is a lot of waiting though, so if you've ever been to Carowinds in July, that might be one similarity. While this process has been punctuated by the occasional thrill, I still find the roller coaster analogy unwarranted.

So much has happened with our own adoption process and with international adoptions (IA) in Ethiopia over the last two weeks, I hardly know where to start. We knew a month ago that we were a long way out from getting a referral (which means being matched with a child or children who need a family). But we did not expect a maelstrom of blockades to the process which frankly threatened our future, at least in the short-term, of continuing with our Ethiopian adoption.

On the very day that we received in the mail the last document I was waiting for before we write that BIG check and send in lots of paperwork, we learned of significant changes announced by the Ethiopian government agency responsible for Ethiopian international adoptions. The announcement appeared to mean that IF we could continue with our adoption process, it could be several years before we could bring home our child or children. The particular government agency involved is one with a very small staff that bears the weighty task of processing, investigating and approving thousands of international adoptions per year. Given the number of pending adoptions (small compared to the number of orphans waiting) relative to the tiny staff (even smaller still), something had to give. So a bit of shifting around has occurred at the agency, and what that means in the short term for adopting families and waiting children at any point of the process is the matter of a great deal of speculation, discussion and angst among international adoption circles.

Since I cannot begin to piece together and articulate the political, historical, cultural, ethical, financial, and myriad other forces involved in this turn of events, suffice it to say that it is complex.

So, on the great adoption river, if I may apply a new analogy, we've been in a bit of an eddy for the past couple of weeks. This was not our first eddy, incidentally. In any case, we were swirling and not going anywhere, considering our best next move, and praying praying praying for the orphans who wait in the balance.

As we wait, we are not wringing our hands, but remembering that our God is bigger than any human institution, that He has gone before us and is laying out our path before us, that He has created in us a burden for not just orphans, but the orphans and people of Ethiopia, that He will hear and consider our prayers and petitions, and that His promises are unwavering and independent of human circumstances, hallelujah.

Curt and I have decided that we should continue on with our Ethiopian adoption, and we'll do so unless and until other roadblocks appear in the coming days or weeks and we must change course. Throughout this process, I'm grateful for a husband who has not been affected by the fluctuations in the international adoption climate as I have. I'm grateful for friends who have pointed me to Truth. I'm grateful for other families who are walking this road with courage. And I'm grateful for the amazing advocates who work with and for Ethiopian orphans in country and abroad.

We are asking for your prayers for Ethiopia, which is experiencing a substantial amount of tumult in the past weeks. We also would appreciate your prayers that our family would officially be approved by our adoption agency to move forward with our Ethiopian adoption. We ask you to pray for peace in Ethiopia, for Truth to be spread there in every last village, for children to be rescued from economic and spiritual poverty. Please pray for our family as we cling only to our Father's promises and what He has already done for us, since as it would happen, we have little else to hold.

And finally, for your viewing pleasure, a gotcha video reminding us that Our Father makes all things new:

Home At Last from dan owens on Vimeo.

Thanks for coming back, and thanks for praying for us!