Monday, February 9, 2009

In Africa

This post is going to be really hard for me to write for two reasons. One, the reason I blog is because I am so passionate about adoption, I’ve always figure that if God can use us at all to ‘help’ someone else along the way than I am all for that. Yet, because I also have to respect and protect our ‘private’ lives I have to be very careful how much I ‘share’. So, that puts me in a tough spot on how to share.
Secondly, putting this out there is totally admitting my weaknesses… and well, there are many. I will warn you now they are not in the least pretty.
Not pretty at all.
So, here goes…my best attempt to share- the good, the bad and the ugly- without really sharing.
I might as well get it out there first- I have never been one who completely understood disruptions. I think a large part of that is due to the fact that my precious nephew came into my sisters family (therefore my family) through a disrupted adoption. This kid is nothing but amazing. Perfect- no, but none the less- amazing. If you heard his story, if you knew him- I guaranteed you too would question ‘disruptions’. Yet while I know it’s wrong to ‘judge’ someone else-being as passionate as I am about adoption, I guess that part of it didn’t fit into the picture I had drawn in my head of adoption. I didn’t want to go there- I didn’t want to even think about that being possible. That is, until a precious family that I know had to walk this road…
and when this part of adoption became a very real possibility for us as well. It was at that point the Lord gave me a whole new view of disruption-the side that many families have had to face. Many beautiful families- who love God with all their heart- who truly, without a doubt are just as passionate about adoption as I am- have to walk that road. Without any choice of their own, it creeps in and destroying their biggest dreams. Despite their continuous prayers, their tears, their heartache, their hard work and dedication- disruption becomes their reality. They must release their child - only to be left carrying the hurt, carrying the weight of the world on their shoulders.. and once again finding themselves falling to their knees asking God why? Why- when it was all they had dreamed of? Why- when they had given their all and poured their life into that child? Why- when they had been obedient to God’s calling. Why?

Today I am able to understand this in a whole new way- thanks to God. He gave me a small taste of what these families endure and I am ashamed to say that I didn’t always understand. We came to a place with one of our new children where not continuing to parent them became a very big reality. Any way we looked at it- we had all of the right reason to go that route. While I cannot share the details, I will tell you that pretty much every person I am close to- good, Godly Christian woman, said the same thing- they would absolutely understand if we chose to not finalize the adoption. We were in a situation where safety became an issue and that, of course, put a lot of pressure on my husband and I as parents. Lots of pressure to do the ‘right’ thing for everyone involved.
We were hurting and we were scared. Our dream, our picture of ‘how things would play out’ had been squashed before our very eyes. I didn’t want ‘this’ being a part of my life. Quite frankly, I didn’t want to deal with ‘it’ at all. It was bad- it was ugly, it was wrong- and ‘I’ didn’t want to have any part of it. Once again, I wanted to put on my running shoes, or hide under my covers- just go on with my life and pretend that ‘this’ never happened to us.
So, I reasoned with myself- that we could just that exact thing. After all, we had every reason to move on. Nobody would judge us if they knew the truth. They would understand, and I was sure they would do the same thing themselves. It all made perfect sense. It really did. We had every reason.
Every reason, except for one.
God had called us to this… and God had not yet allowed us to release this child.

Again I wish I could share. I wish more than anything I could tell you how clearly He spoke to me- how obvious He made Himself known. I wish I could tell you how through scripture, through an experience I had one day He ‘showed me’ something I never knew before. He spoke to me in a way that literally took all of the fear, the hurt, and the anguish we had been feeling- and gave us a peace like no other.

I know there are times when God does release a child now from your grip- as was the case of a sweet family I know. Where their part was done. Where the answer was no more. Where He reclaimed that child and she are no longer theirs. And as painful as that was, they had to act in obedience. I have a whole new respect for people who love a child so much they are willing to acknowledge and obey God when He says ‘let go’ regardless of their own wants, their own desires- and their own pain.

And then there are other times where God asks you to continue. To stand beside this child regardless of how hard that may be. Regardless of your own dreams, your own feelings- regardless of the fact that you are less than qualified. He simply asks you to continue on.

I love how one mommy explained it like this:

"Do you ever look at your kids and your circumstances and just have to say to God, "Okay - this is my Africa."? I know I'm called to be the parent to all of my kids. Sometimes it doesn't make sense. I'm realizing certain bits of information were not given to us before we made the decision to take our children (information that would have led us to say, "No, thank you" immediately). Yet God made this one crystal clear. He has asked us to do it. And some days ... all I can do is say, "It's my Africa. It's devastating. It's putrid. It is foreign. It feels completely impossible. Yet it is my calling."

So here we are- walking this road we never thought we’d end up on.
We are humbled and changed- but changed for the better.
Will it be easy? No way.
Some days do I still feel like hiding under my covers? You betcha.
But then I remember that my Africa is waiting…
And I am called.
So I put both feet on the ground and focus my eyes on above…once again offering all that I have-my hands, my heart, my mind, my feet, to serve Him in any way He asks and trusting Him to show me the way.

Are you too facing your Africa? If so, how can I pray for you today?
“The Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.” John 14:26


Recovering Noah said...

What a beautiful, inspiring post Amy.

I hope you know how much we love your family and that we think about you every day. Can't wait for the kids to get together and play again.

Hope you have a wonderful, blessed week.

Leslie :-)

C said...

Amy, I just about fell over when I read this today. You have been on my feed reader for months. I READ YOU!

Then to discover that you are the "friend of a friend" that I have been praying for and encouraging. It's a small, small world.

You and I both live down the street from one another in Africa and didn't even know it.

Angela :-) said...

Having been through some pretty terrible experiences with kids placed in our care, I sympathize.

However, I must respectfully express my offense at the comparison to Africa--especially the description that follows the mention of it. Having been to one country in Africa to pick up two of my precious children, I can say without a doubt, that it is an amazing place!

Angela :-)

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing your heart. I am inspired to keep going! We have 3 boys in pre-adoption placement currently and I totally understand the privacy thing...and my husband and I are not on the same page where it comes to the final plans for these guys...I am wanting to persue adoption and he has doubts (nutshell version here). So if you would say a prayer that God's plan would be clearly laid before us, we would appreciate it!! Thanks for inspiring me.


Audrey said...

Amy, thank you for sharing. God does show us the way if we seek Him continually. We get going down a path, believing that we are in His will and suddenly find ourselves making a turn that we never saw coming. But, if it is His plan, it is always right - even when it doesn't make any sense to us or others. We can't judge each other - you are so right about that.

Regarding the Africa comment - I know that Africa. I have seen it with my own eyes - that Africa. I love it with all my heart but there is a devastation and brokenness that far surpasses any other place I've been. Yes, Africa is beautiful and the people are amazing. But it is also all of those other things as well. Those are the things that some of us feel called to address first hand.

Praying for your sweet family today. I do love you, my Sister in Christ!

Anonymous said...

I can relate... I do not understand disruption. I haven't read a story or reason yet that helps me to understand it. With the availability of resources, facilities, clinics, I find it hard to understand the idea of further hurting the child.

We've adopted both internationally and domestically (foster to adopt) and honestly, we have such strong feelings about the responsibility that when we take in a child for the initial pre-adoption period, it's permanent, period. Of course, we do a lot of praying, listening and research.

I guess I don't see it as my dream or desire, so much as I see it that the child NEEDS a family, NEEDS to see and know love - unconditionally.

We have a child that we adopted that was and is a very hard child. He's affected everyone in our family, but it's been a year and a half now since he moved in and things are definitely better - but honestly, life would be incredibly easier if he wasn't in our family. Insanely easier. Do I have the thoughts of regret? At times, but mostly I keep reminding myself that he's God's child and he's a child and needs love. It's that simple to me.

Thank you for writing this - I can only imagine the pain you are going through right now.

Barry and Amy said...

Thank you so much for such an honest post.

Praying for you!

Live to love and laugh said...

Sometimes we don't know what to do. We lean on God and the answer becomes so clear.
In this situation it is not a matter of disrupt or not. This is a time where you can choose to obey God and know life will be challenging or let this learning experience pass you by.
I can't imagine how you must be feeling right now but one thing I have leaned upon these past few months is God knows. God not only knows how we feel but is able to give is assurance of His will for our lives.
There are days I still get up tired and wonder how I will deal with the issues that face me and the concern others have for me and my child. But God doesn't expect me to do it alone.
When I took on this trial with Jake he didn't tell me it would be easy but rather he would give me strength if I followed his will.
My dear friend God promises you the same thing. He has given you the direction to go on and now he will give you the strength and wisdom to continue.
I am praying for you and your family each day.

Anonymous said...

Amy, thank you for sharing as openly as you could. On Wednesday we have to make a very tough choice of whether to continue to pursue adoption with a girl we have been in the process with for over a year...and known for 4. She is just not ready, and we can't make her ready, so we have to make the tough choice of whether to move on or not. Please pray for wisdom for us.

Kathleen said...

You always seem to blog just what I need to hear to be encouraged about different situations in my life. I too have an "Africa" in my family and although there are many days when my husband and I want to give up, he calls us right back to the job of being mother and father. I know that our home was chosen for this special child, by HIM, but there are days I throw my hands in the air and ask God, "are you sure you picked the right gal"? My once harsh judgement of famiiles that have gone through a disrupted adoption has soften and change. God has shown me such Mercy and he expects me to show the same mercy to others in need. Sometimes children, for whatever reason, have to be removed from their home to protect their safety and the safety of others in the family. We have been called to follow Him on this journey of "tough parenting" and it is the hardest thing we have ever done. We ask him daily for his guidance and protection.I have grown so much in my walk with Christ due to this journey and because of this I am grateful. To know my father deeply and depend on Him greatly, that is my comfort and hope....

Created For His Glory said...

Standing in the gap with you and holding up your arms when you can no longer yourself!

Living a similar life,

Amy said...

Amy we have never met but there is a bond in Christ. I have been in Africa before and know that the Lord lead us through. Hang in there, hang onto the Lord.

"Praise be to the Lord, to God our Savior, who daily bears our burdens." Psalm 68:19

Your posts allow the body of Christ to bear your burdens through prayer.

Praying for your family.

Anonymous said...

So happy to hear that you have such a peace with what God has called you to do. It is such a good reminder that God is in control...He never said it was going to be easy, but He does promise that He will be right there beside you, guiding you, each step of the way! Like so many of us have heard before, if God brings you to it, He will bring you through it. I will continue to pray for you as you walk through this tough situation.

Having adopted two absolutely gorgeous children from Africa, I get what you are saying about "facing your Africa" and take no offense to it all. Sure, the people of Africa are beautiful, the whole adoption experience and trips to Africa were nothing short of beautiful, but you are is a country known for devastation and in general, is not the most desirable place to be. I know that you, in no way, meant to be slamming Africa... It is what it is

Press on, you good and faithful servant...praying for you each step of the way!

Love you,

Anonymous said...

So happy to hear that you have such a peace with what God has called you to do. It is such a good reminder that God is in control...He never said it was going to be easy, but He does promise that He will be right there beside you, guiding you, each step of the way! Like so many of us have heard before, if God brings you to it, He will bring you through it. I will continue to pray for you as you walk through this tough situation.

Having adopted two absolutely gorgeous children from Africa, I get what you are saying about "facing your Africa" and take no offense to it all. Sure, the people of Africa are beautiful, the whole adoption experience and trips to Africa were nothing short of beautiful, but you are is a country known for devastation and in general, is not the most desirable place to be. I know that you, in no way, meant to be slamming Africa... It is what it is

Press on, you good and faithful servant...praying for you each step of the way!

Love you,

Angela said...

We are praying for you and your family!! I can only imagine how close God must be bending down to hold you all near!!

Lifting you up--

Andrea Hill said...

Oh Amy, how sweet HE is and how HE always speaks to you through scripture. I am so glad you chose this road and I am always so inspired by you to go on and on during these times we face in our own home. I do feel your prayers upon us so often. Please know that I am here for you too during this long road ahead. Love you.

Oh and I meant to tell you the other day when you talked about obediance... Have you ever listened to the song from Mercy Me "Bring the Rain"? Just poppeed into my head.

Rebecca said...

I can say that God has used my daughter (adopted through foster care) to show me my short comings! Even though she is the biggest challenge I have ever faced I would not change a single thing about her! I will pray for you because I have had the same questions. Then God says so quietly "Hold on I will show you how to love her". God bless you!!

Holly said...

Well Amy, you know some of our story...what I have shared anyway.
You know that ours is an unusual disruption...we didn't bring home our daughter from Africa and we didn't finalize her adoption so technically we disrupted.
I read through most of the comments you've gotten and I still struggle with the feeling that I must explain, must defend our choice not to adopt the child that God clearly sent to us...but we had just as much peace and many many signs that sending her away was indeed what we were supposed to do and God is our defender. In the end, she left that place too and is now in yet another family...we believe her last...and we have learned much.
She NEVER would have gotten where she's at now if we had not obeyed the call of God to bring her into our home for a season. I am not being prideful in saying is just what it is. Not only is God working in W's heart but He is totally changing hearts for His glory in the family she is now in!
Amazing stuff!
And what you experienced with your nephew...being adopted from a disruption and doing so well....well this other family who has W. is also experiencing this same blessing!! God has used it all for good and EVERY home this daughter of His has been in...He has used for good...for the families and for has NOT been hurting her as Anonymous mentioned.
I don't pretend to have all the answers. I know that there are a lot of haters out there who would like to stone us for "giving up too soon" but we know that we know that we did everything God asked us to do and He is blessing all the pains in ways we never even dreamed to ask for.
I have no clue what His plan is for you...for the child that you have considered disruption for....but He does. I just wanted to throw out there that disruption is NOT always a horrible thing. Many families...MANY have been blessed by adopting a child from disruption and many children have come to healing through another placement. I don't know that this is the way for you...but just know that the ways of the Lord are often the roads less traveled and the paths oft misunderstood by others...even Christian sisters and brothers. At the end of the day girl, you and your hubby only have to answer to HIM.
May He give you the strength you need for whatever lies ahead.
None of your challenges have caught Him off guard. May He continue to equip you and be the lifter of your heads.
With MUCH love,

Flamingo said...

amy, your honesty is what ministers through your blog.

i admit that i too judge some disruptive families and i have not even yet officially adopted. but yet i can not imagine the pain and frustration that must be involved to come to such a huge decision.

i have not been down that road. and i will be honest...i hope i never am and can just take everyone else's word for it that it is hard;) BUT if ever i do find myself on that path, this post will be an encouragement to me and i will know who's door to "knock on". i will pray for you tonight.

Anonymous said...

Praying for you, girlfriend! You pray for me too....Life is HARD!

Lisa h.

Adeye said...

Oh goodness, Amy---I feel your pain and the tenderness in your heart as I read your post. I can only imagine how hard this is for you and your family. BUT, God bless you for running this race with perseverance!
I understand what you mean about disruptions and the opinions that some have of them. We recently adopted our daughter from a disrupted adoption (she was returned to her orphanage after 5 days with her family in China). We have noticed how everyone just LOVES to have an opinion about the previous family. But, you are so right---it all comes down to whether God CALLS you to continue, or not. Obedience is EVERYTHING! Obedience unlocks God favor, provision, faithfulness and blessing. I may never understand exactly why our daughter's first family left her in China, but God worked it all out because now she is ours, and for that I am so grateful.
He will take care of you as you parent this child. He is the enabler! Keep your eyes on Him. He never said this journey called 'life' would be easy---but He did promise He would be there to help us. Trusting that He will equip you with every tool you need to parent this child. You are His good and faithful servant.

Positively Orphaned said...

Hang in there! You are doing the right thing. You are on the right path. You are a blessing to these hurt children.

Jman's momma said...

At times this whole blogger world has seemed strange. But when I am able to read this and to just send you a note saying I am hurting with you and your sweet little ones. I am praying for you. To read the real stuff people are going through and have the comfort of knowing I am not alone in my struggles or pain.

Praise God so many are willing to throw it out there. It means something!

Praying for you guys - without getting personal, if there are specific things we can pray for let us know.

Love you girl, and I pray we are friends IRL one day.


Doreen said...

Amy , i truely admire your strength, courage and faith..and obviously so does God, He blessed these children with the most amazing mommy i know and for a reason...... You will get through these tears and hearts will mend..

Unknown said...

Amy - beautiful post! Praying for you and all that God is calling you to do! Remember when God calls He is faithful to do all that will be needed. Let go of what you can do and trust in what He is capable of doing. Is there anything too impossible for the LORD? No way!

Hugs and love,
Who has gone through her own Africa many times in the past two years!

Laurel said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
junglemama said...

SO glad you heard God's clear direction for your life in these difficult times. It will get better.

Kari said...

Thank you so much for sharing from you heart and your pain. Praising God for His clear voice giving you peace in His Calling for you.
Big Hugs to you!!

Becky said...

thank you for this post!!! i am dealing with a recent diagnosis of my (biological) baby girl with a syndrome that will likely result in some pretty scary behavioral issues. God gave me this little girl, but I am sooooooo unqualified! I know adoption is complicated in different ways than my situation, but I wanted to comment because I think a part of the Spiritual journey feels the same.

Where I think He speaks loudly to me in situations like this is the response that "Yes, of course you are unqualified. Rememeber the broken jars of clay?" God has been telling me that HE will make me qualified, and I am praying that I will decrease so HE can increase and show off in tough situations.

Thanks for your blog!!! Found you through Abby's blog and I love your children!! :)

Anonymous said...

I am passionate about adoption and my heart aches for those who have to make such difficult decisions about disruptions and more so for the children involved. It is a lose, lose situation all around.

However, as a person from Africa who is currently living in America, I did honestly take offense about your description of Africa as a putrid, devastating, foreign and completely impossible place. I don't know if I can entirely blame your perception because all the images I have seen on American T.V. show images of naked, starving children in Africa who have runny noses, distended tummies, sunken eyes and visible ribs. My disapointment is with the posters such as Heather who have been there. Heather says she adopted two children from Africa, but did not even bother to find out that Africa is not a country but a continent with 53 different countries. Instead, she decribes it as " a country known for devastation and in general, is not the most desirable place to be. I know that you, in no way, meant to be slamming Africa... It is what it is." Some people will always perceive a situation the way the want to perceive it. No amount of fact will alter their mind. It is very easy to look at Africa as something foreign and putrid, but how many people have actually gone to a ghetto, trailer park or to the Appalachians in America and seen the total devastation and hopelessness there? It seems always hard to see what is under your very nose and look for something exotic and out there. For me, it was more sad to see extreme poverty and homelessness in the richest country in the world, than it was to see poverty in the a "third world" country (and I have been to several). Am I any happier in America, because it is not putrid and devastating? I don't know. All I know is that I had deeper friendships and people geniunely cared for each other and were very hospitable. In Africa, if I visited someone's house, they would go to the extent of getting groceries on credit from the corner store so that they could make me a meal. In the richest country in the world and in some extremely wealthy homes, I have visited and most times left without even being offered a drink of water! I never grew up being bogged down by consumerism and was grateful for what I had. Did I have a much better standard of living in Africa? Well, I had a maid and driver, while I cannot afford house help in America even though I have a graduate degree and have a well paying job. So devastating? I don't know.

It is this very attitude of do gooder Americans that damage the image of America overseas and not the foreign policy of one political party or the other.