Tuesday, March 7, 2017
For the Children...
I really don't want to write about this topic...not yet. I prefer to write in hindsight rather than as things are unfolding. Mark and I discussed today how we finally hit the point with our pregnancies that we publicly announced early. Either way we wanted our loved ones to know. It kind of feels like those butterfly in the stomach feelings because we still don't know what will happen. It's too early to know. We would appreciate if you tread sensitively with what I share here tonight. This opportunity is interlaced in a topic that is weighing heavily on me. My keeping silent only feeds to the obstacles both face as families who are willing to support children and children who need a loving family. Ready or not, it's time to write tonight!
Mark recently shared with me that two years ago when we decided to adopt he almost expected a baby to just show up on our doorstep. In some ways I had similar feelings. Two years ago we were greenies and all stary-eyed about adoption---both the actual process (which is at the root of my post tonight) and also the outcome of the adoption triad, as it is referred to (meaning adoptive family, birth family, and adoptee/adopted child). We have learned more than we expected because of our choice to adopt. Initially we were only expecting a baby through a domestic (in the US) adoption. As we have explored all our options in bringing our child into our arms, we have become aware of things, heavy things, we were previously ignorant of.
In the past two years we have been exposed to foster care...of the difficulties and heart aches that bring children into the system...abuse of every kind, neglect, drugs, etc. That hurts to consider the things nightmares are made of... these dark experiences... are some children's realities. These children and their parents need willing families.
In the past two years we have become more sensitive to abortion. What if women and families knew that there were eager families who would gladly receive that child? How many lives are just thrown away because a mom/family doesn't know there is another option? Even though it is difficult in different ways, it still is another option. How many lives are ended as there is no one protecting the innocent who cannot speak for themselves? These children and their parents need willing families to not only support them, but also to advocate for them and speak out.
We have many refugees in our area and we heard about an opportunity to foster refugee children. We decided we wanted to send one of us to the orientation to get more information. Mark attended and shared this summary:
-Most of these children are teens.
-Most are refugees, some are in the system because of sex-trafficing.
-The plan is for them to "age out" of the system (Most have parent(s), they just aren't in the US with them. They don't need to be adopted, they just need a safe place to be until they reach adulthood).
-Most don't speak English; if they do speak, it is minimal.
-They are required to go to public school. Can you imagine? The language and cultural barriers they are expected to push through?
-Most have been in refugee camps for years as they have had the required background checks cleared to be admitted into the US.
These children need willing foster parents.
It is too early to know for sure, but we have yet another situation we hadn't previously considered. We have many questions that need answers and we need to know more before we can say yes or no; however, we have been offered our first real child (our first offer was a scam). It is NOTHING of what we were expecting. It's a 3 year old girl in South America with a chronic illness. If she could come to the US or a country where treatment is available, she could have a relatively normal life expectancy. That tugs hard at our hearts. Additionally, this opportunity is through an agency, so the fees are $28-30k. There are many dimensions we need to address, cost obviously being a big one. We need a firm "no" to be able to walk away from her knowing with confidence it isn't our child or a firm "yes" to know that we will have what we need, not only to get her here, but also to support her for the rest of her life. This child needs willing parents. UPDATE: A couple in Italy has submitted a letter of intent to adopt her. We are so happy for her and relieved that it looks like she will be adopted. What a merciful way to shut that door: that we didn't have to walk away and worry about whether or not she would be adopted if we did.
With the above decision weighing on my mind and heart, when Mark relayed the refugee foster care summary, I just cried. I wish I could say yes to everything we have been exploring PLUS bring this little girl home. I wish there wasn't so much complication to the process...so much red tape. I wish money wasn't a barrier...that any child who needed a good home, could just be welcomed into a loving home...that families who support children with physical, emotional, or mental special needs could have every resource readily available to be able to say yes more easily without it being too much to the family they already have. As I prayed that night, I relate a bit to Alma. I wish I could do more. For the first time, I see the great need for willing people to support children. Like Alma, I too can be content with what God is already asking me to do. Even without adding another child into our home, I have the sacred privilege to love my children and to stay close to them. But here tonight, I can do just a bit more to alleviate this burden.
My heart is heavy.
It is heavy for all of the children who need good homes. Who need someone to love them...to be in their corner. It is especially heavy for those children who come from extremely difficult situations. How can we ever expect them to be productive adults if they don't have a willing person to help them sort through the wreckage of their young lives?!
So tonight, I plead with you...whoever you are...to take the time to consider on what you can do. Better yet, ask God what He wants you to do. Maybe you will receive the confirmation that you are doing what you should. If so, ignore my words. But maybe, just maybe, The Spirit will whisper that you can do more.
Maybe there will be a whisper that you could be on "the front lines" and open your heart and your home to a/another child. Maybe you can be completely open-ended on what that looks like: any age, any circumstances, known special needs, foster (temporary) or adoption (rest of their life commitment). Maybe you can still be on "the front lines," but it needs to be more specific in age, circumstances, or non-special needs to be able to honestly commit. Whatever that looks like, it is perfect for you. How about hosting an orphan or becoming licensed to give respite care for foster care? There are so many options to allow children into your home permanently or for a time. As we have spent that past 2 years learning, there are many routes to this and we would love to support you if you have questions or want help getting started in exploring options.
Maybe there will be a whisper that you need to take a supporting role. We personally have friends adopting from Colombia. Right now they are needing to raise $30k of their own. (They have their daughter who they are in the process of adopting). Can you jump on their page and donate even $5? They are doing some creative fund-raising and have even asked for donations of items to auction or sell at a craft boutique. Can you make even a plate of cookies or do you have an item around your home that they could auction or sell? And look at this amazing site! It's a non-profit (meaning all of your donations are tax deductible). Look at how many deserving families are willing to welcome a child into their homes! Consider donating to our friends' adoption, someone off the adopt together site you feel drawn to or inspired to donate to, or somebody else's adoption.
Do you personally know someone who is hoping to adopt? If you are reading this, then you know us well enough to consider taking action on what I am going to ask! :) Where we don't yet know for sure what avenue our child will come, the best help you can give us right now is to share our info. Share our adoption blog. Share our movie clip. We mailed out adoption "pass along cards" with our Christmas cards. Please carry it in your wallet and give it to who you feel inspired to share it with. If you didn't get any, just ask and we will drop them in the mail for you. We have had a flier designed to be hung with permission at places of work or businesses. We will gladly mail any of those if you are willing to hang them for us. You can go to our adoption blog and endorse us as people/parents. It's set up so it can be done anonymously and doesn't require a blogger account. It you need help with sharing any of these ways, just ask! You never know who within your circle of influence, especially social media circle, may be in a situation or know someone in a situation that could bring us our child. If not us, then do you know anybody else? Ask them what you can do to best support them. When you come across someone's hoping to adopt info can you please, please take the few seconds needed to share it? YOU may be key in bringing a child into a loving home by any of these seemingly simple acts.
Maybe The Spirit will whisper less direct supportive roles. Maybe it isn't that you need to support someone who is willing to bring a child into their home, but that God needs you to support His children in other ways. For example, I have the most Heavenly opportunity every week to teach the children ages 3-11 years old in my ward as the primary chorister. Some of these children have witnessed domestic violence. I'm not just talking in theory. They have talked to me about. Their parents have talked to me about it. There are children who come whose parents are divorced or divorcing. It hurts to know as I look into their tender faces that there are easily many other heart-wrenching situations I am unaware of. When I do all I can to come with The Spirit, I believe they can feel it. I can be the instrument for these children to feel love, peace, and even have fun...regardless of what they are witnessing or experiencing the rest of the week. They can feel God's indescribable love through me. Maybe your answer will be something similar to this... That you can do more in your interactions with children to love them... To do for them what God and Jesus would do if they were in Their arms even though they are in yours.
And maybe something else will come entirely different than anything else I have brainstormed here. Go with that because that is where God needs you.
One person cannot scoop up all of these children, but I know as we each do what we can, God can work through us to work miracles.
Last week as my troubled heart mulled over that various situations I am aware of once again, I was lead to Moses 6:55 & 56
"And the Lord spake unto Adam, saying: Inasmuch as they children are conceived in sin, even so when they begin to grow up, sin conceiveth in their hearts, and they taste the bitter, that they may know to prize the good.
And it is given unto them to know good from evil; wherefore they are agents unto themselves, and I have given unto you another law and commandment."
The footnotes reference D&C 29:39
"And it must needs be that the devil should tempt the children of men, or they could not be agents unto themselves; for if they never should have bitter they could not know the sweet."
As much as I wish I could spare all hurt from God's children, especially the young and innocent children, that isn't God's plan. God allows suffering for many purposes...to protect agency, that we can learn the difference between good and evil, to give us experiences that can be opportunities to come to Christ and opportunities to allow Christ to help us become more God-like, to learn compassion and empathy.
God has a perfect plan that doesn't somehow exempt little girls in third world countries with chronic illnesses or refugee teens in a foreign country. Bitterness IS part of The Plan. I pray these children, and all others with difficulty before them can have someone in their life who can encourage understanding of God's individual plan for them and support them as they sort through it. May we do our part to bring this about! May God strengthen us as we seek to align our righteous desires with His will!