A few weeks ago, I told you that my heart is broken. Broken for orphans everywhere. Not a day goes by that I don’t ache to do more. Give more. Be more for them.
I want to also tell you about someone else whose heart is broken. His is broken in a much more literal sense. He is almost eleven months old, and he lives in an orphanage in China. He was born with a hole in his heart, and he was left when he was approximately a month old. This baby boy with a little broken heart is going to be our son.
When we had our first homestudy visit, our social worker suggested that we write the homestudy for two children. Two. TWO?! We told her she was out of her mind. No, we told her. Just write it for one. One adoption and we’re done. There is no way we could ever handle five children. Hahaha! We laughed merrily. Just one. At the next visit, she mentioned it again. “Look, she said. “Let’s write it for two. It doesn’t mean that you’re adopting two. It just leaves the option open. You never know how you’ll feel after you get home.” We laughed heartily and said, “Ooook. Whatever you think.” Our social worker was clearly crazy.
Until she wasn’t crazy. That title had shifted to me.
Before we even went to China to adopt Caleb, I casually tossed out the phrase “when we go back.” After getting our sweet boy and visiting the orphanage, the pull was stronger. And by the time we were in Guangzhou, I think my heart had decided. I clearly remember standing in the waiting area for Caleb’s medical appointment and talking with Zhou, our agency’s guide, about coming back. He joked that four kids was a lot, and I told him to tell the orphanage director that we would be back for a little brother for Caleb. I’m not sure if he actually did, but it didn’t matter. Just weeks after we returned home from China, the orphanage director was in Cleveland for EAC’s Memorial Day reunion, and I stood before her and had Zhou translate the words. “We will be back one day for a Chinese brother for Caleb.”
I’m sure that in the height of the adoption honeymoon phase, many utter these words, and honestly, I didn’t know if *I* was 100% committed to them at the time. Kevin and my mom both swear that they knew we would go back even before we made our first trip to China. I do know that my tears never stopped for orphans. When I read blogs or Facebook updates of adoptive families, I crumbled. Our family had been so blessed. Our transition with Caleb was ridiculously easy, and part of me feels like God facilitated that simplicity because he wasn’t done with us yet.
One night, I was emptying the dishwasher, and I stopped and said aloud, “God, if this feeling is from you…if it is YOUR WILL for us to adopt again, I’m gonna need a sign. A big unmistakable sign.” Twenty minutes later, I checked my email, and there was an email from our adoption agency, out of the blue, saying that they were ready to proceed with our next adoption when we were ready. Only weeks earlier, I had been told that we would have to wait until Caleb’s one year adoption anniversary in late March 2016 before starting another adoption. That wasn’t the only one. I asked multiple times for signs, pleading with God to give me clear confirmation that this was his plan for our family. Every time, I got my signs. They were each like the big “E” on the eye exam charts. So big you couldn’t miss. No squinting or guessing required.
Once it was clear that God’s plan was for us to adopt again, it didn’t take long for him to show us our baby boy. On a whim, I emailed our agency about referrals. Before I knew it, our China coordinator had sent me a file we requested of a baby boy. And this is how it began. One minute we were discussing the possibility of adopting again, and the next, I was planted at our kitchen table plotting out growth charts and researching his medical needs and falling in love with the idea of five kids.
Here’s the crazy thing about adoption. When we started out with our initial paperwork with our first agency, we sat with pen in hand checking off the special needs checklist of what needs we believed we could handle. Cleft lip and palate? Yes. Brain issues? NO. Missing fingers? Yes. Heart issues? NO. The list went on with sight issues, hearing impairments, blood disorders, infectious diseases, prematurity. Our NO list outweighed our YES checkmarks. We were smugly certain that we would adopt a little boy with cleft lip and palate. The end. God worked things out differently, as he often does. In their hearts humans plan their course, but the LORD establishes their steps.- Proverbs 16:9. Our plans were based on what our simple minds thought made the best sense. A surgery or three and that need was fixed. We couldn’t possibly adopt a child with brain or heart issues. The future would be so uncertain! Then God stepped in (after he quit laughing, of course) and showed us to look at the child and not the need. “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”-Jeremiah 29:11. The needs that looked so bleak to us in the beginning paled in comparison to the feeling God placed in our hearts for our China boys. I know other families viewed their files and said, “No.” And I THANK GOD for that. Their NO made it possible for our YES. Their NO bought us the weeks we needed for paperwork to be done and for our hearts to be shaped.
While we waited for the word from our international adoption clinic doctor regarding baby boy’s file, I asked God again for guidance. God, is this our son? He prompted me to read from one of my devotional books on the date that baby boy was abandoned. What I saw stopped me in my tracks. I gasped, and I cried. It was this verse that I now have pinned on my bulletin board.
When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am.-John 14:3. Y’all, some of you may remember from this post that John 14:3 holds a very special meaning to me. It is the verse that I referenced many, many times during the wait for Caleb. How much more clear could God be? He intended for us to adopt again, and he intended us to be the parents of this baby boy with a little broken heart.
I can’t wait to show Caleb this picture one day when he’s old enough to understand the significance. What he holds in his lap is the envelope containing our paperwork to move forward with the adoption of baby boy.
I know there will be naysayers, well meaning of course, but naysayers nonetheless. Skeptics who think we have too many kids. Cynics that question why we would adopt kids who have “something wrong” with them. I forgive them in advance for these thoughts. Our boys are perfect, just as God created them. We are all flawed. Every one of us. And finally, I say to these people who question our intent, “Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.”-Galatians 1:10. “ If we are ‘out of our mind,’ as some say, it is for God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you.”-2 Corinthians 5:13. Let’s stop living our lives seeking the approval of others. God has so much more in store for those who are his faithful servants.
Yesterday, in church, our pastor talked about faith. I had tears in my eyes the whole time, reflecting about how much faith we desperately held on to during our adoption of Caleb. Fears, unknowns, uncertainties. We had to put out those little embers that flared up from time to time…drown them out with faith and with God’s promises. We’re there again, y’all. Sometimes when I tell people about our next adoption and people give me the crazy eyes, I allow the embers to light up. Of course, we’re a little scared. Of course, there are unknowns with baby boy’s medical needs. Of course, we look at our crazy family and think, “What in the world are we thinking?” It IS crazy, but a good, God-inspired kind of crazy. And I have faith that whatever God throws at us, we can handle it. And if we can’t, then he has given us a village of people who kinda dig our crazy and are willing to encourage us and step in when we need it.
The wheels have been set in motion. I have become the crazy adoptive mom again who checks her email every five minutes, even when I don’t expect anything. I get a rush when I see FedEx trucks because those mean important adoption paperwork could be coming. Once we get the go ahead from our agency, we can share more about baby boy. We pray that we can travel as soon as spring 2016. We don’t want to miss a minute with him in our family.