Friday, December 24, 2010

Meeting Isaiah & Ruth

AHHH!  Our I-71 came 2 weeks ago from Homeland Security and our Dossier is safely in St. Vincent and I am still only about 1/2 way into our adoption timeline!  I better start writing and FAST!  So as a disclaimer, until I catch up, I probably won't be inspirational, motivational or entertaining...only informative. :)

The country we are adopting from requires 2 visits.  We got matched in mid-August, and mid-September we began planning our first visit.  We were planning to travel the 2nd weekend in October, but one night, we were on the phone with our adoption director and jokingly, I said, "We can always go next weekend."  Well wouldn't you know it, she said, "Why not?"  That was a Wednesday night.  By the next morning, our plane tickets were bought and our trip was booked...for the following Thursday!! 

We had no official paperwork in, our child abuse clearance forms had not come back yet, and our child care for Jaxon and Chloe had no back up plan and no room for error.  But there we were, boarding a plane in the very, very wee hours of September 17th.  I'm not going to bore you with the details of getting there (only because the trip coming home is so entertaining) but after a couple of slight mishaps, we finally roll into town a little after 11 pm.  We were picked up at the airport by Mrs. Martin, the head of the head adoption board in St. Vincent and Mr. McLeod, our driver for the weekend.  (Don't get any romantic ideas of us in the 
Mrs. Martin
back of a town car being whisked around town in a driver with a top hat and tails!  It was an old mini van with no AC that he maneuvered through streets that felt like the size of an over sized sidewalk on hills that I don't think I could even walk up!  
 But he is wonderful and he kept us safe and entertained for the time we were there.)  From the airport, we were taken straight to our lodging where we had a brief meeting with Mrs. Martin, discussing the timeline for meeting the children the next day. 

At 11 a.m. sharp the next morning (Friday) we head to the children's school.  It's hard to put into words how we were feeling.  If you've ever adopted, you understand.  It's a strange mix of excitement, fear, joy and anxiety.  We wondered, "What do we have them call us?"  "What if they don't like us?"  There were SO many questions!  All of which were about to be answered. 

Kid's School

At the school we find out that the children do not know we were coming that day.  I'll be honest, there was a moment of panic, thinking that we should NOT be surprising them like this and we should leave and wait till they get out of school and back to their foster home, and then meet them.  But the excitement of knowing that they were only a few yards away, overtook the fear and off we headed to find Isaiah!

The school is set up like a horseshoe, with every classroom opening to a courtyard.  Let me explain "courtyard."  It's an open area of concrete, mostly broken up.  There were no balls.  There was no play structure.  I saw no jump ropes or hula hoops.  Not even sidewalk chalk.  At the time, I was so preoccupied with meeting my children that the reality of their situation didn't hit me.  It wasn't until later when I was having to explain to Isaiah and Ruth what a park was and specifically, what a slide was, that I realized the complete absence of childhood play "things."  Brian and I both immediately felt burdened to bring things back for the school when we return and we were even told by Mrs. Martin that it would be greatly appreciated if we could. 
**This is an aside...We will be collecting any donations - from school supplies (crayons, markers, paper) to small recess play things (jump ropes, chalk, balls, etc...) to take back with us.  If you feel compelled to donate, we feel compelled to deliver it! :)**

So up to the 2nd story in the middle of the horseshoe we go.  You can only imagine the attention we drew as we passed every classroom, each with their door and windows wide open (no AC).  Classes stopped momentarily to see what 2 white people - one very bald and one very blond, could possibly be doing at their school.  (Needless to say, it made Isaiah & Ruth the talk of the school for days to come.) :)  We entered Isaiah's classroom but he wasn't there.  As we were standing outside the door talking about what to do next, he turned the corner and started coming towards us.  My heart & stomach leaped into my throat!  I recognized him immediately and said to myself, "Wow!  That's MY Son!"  I'm sure from his perspective it was a little overwhelming.  Me, Brian, the principal and Mrs. Martin all waiting for him.  But he gave us the biggest hug and then was instantly surrounded by his classmates.

Isaiah (on the far left) with classmates
The principal told him to go collect his things so we could go find Ruth and then leave for the day.

Isaiah's classroom
From his classroom, we traveled downstairs and to the right side of the horseshoe to find Ruth.  She was not in her classroom either.  But when she turned the corner, she got a little skip in her step as she came towards us.  BIG hug from her!

How Beautiful is she?! :)
We said our goodbyes to the school and made our way to the foster home.  The car ride was relatively quiet, but not awkward as you might think.  We were all sitting on one row in the backseat, with Brian and I on each end and the kids in the middle.  Ruth just kept looking up at me with these beautiful brown eyes and smiling.  Then she would look at Brian and stare for a while and then look back at me.  I can't wait to one day ask her what was she was thinking on that car ride from the school to the home. :)

At the foster home we had lunch, prepared for us by the Harris's (the wonderful foster parents). 
(P.S. To all my friends that knew me years ago, Mayonnaise still freaks me out just as much as ever and when it is served on your plate, covering ALL of your fruit, you greatly offended your host when you can't bring yourself to eat the food.)

After lunch we got out the presents we brought for the children.  There were Lego's, a football, crayons, bathing suits and clothes.  The football was completely foreign to them, but after a few short minutes with Brian, they were getting the hang of it.  Though Isaiah just couldn't understand why in the world we would call a ball a football if it came more in contact with our hands than our feet.  Ruth - WOW!  She picked up the football, and with perfect form sent a spiral right into Brian's arms.  Needless to say, there was one proud papa that afternoon! :) 
We spent about 4 hours playing and coloring and just spending time the children.  Isaiah was sick so his energy level was pretty low but he was a great trooper.  His favorite thing though was discovering Brian's i-phone contained games.  In that moment we realized that 8 year old boys really weren't the that much different, regardless where in the world they might be. :)  He also was fascinated by our camera and took about 100 pictures.  Which we love because he truly recorded our afternoon and our surroundings through his eyes. 
Ruth could have spent hours coloring with us.  Again, we realized that 5 year old girls really aren't that much different, regardless where in the world they might be. :)  The difference, we discovered, was this ability to hear a beat, any beat of any song, and starting with her head, moving to that beat.  Her shoulders quickly followed and before you knew it, her coloring abandoned, she was up and dancing, her entire body moving, in incredible rhythm to Toby Mac's, "Made to Love."  We're hoping she will teach us a few of her moves. :)   
Look at that point!! 

Late afternoon came and we had to say our goodbyes.  But we promised to return the next day where we would actually pick up the children and take them for the day!  (So fun, but that is another post!)

Oh, and in case you were wondering, we never had time to figure out what they should call us.  Mum and Dad, came out of their mouths within about 10 minutes of meeting us.  :)

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

"Lottery Ticket"

There is another adopting family that God has completely burdened my heart to pray for.  On Sunday night, I received an email from the mom of this family and the tears of sadness for their struggle and tears of frustration in unanswered prayer just flowed.  Their situation weighed so heavy on my heart, I did something I don't usually do - I showed my husband the email.  And I asked him if he would join me in prayer for them.  Maybe he could offer a different angle, a different approach to binding the spirits and renouncing the lies that have surrounded this girl.
Brian began to pray.
He did offer a new perspective on what to pray for this family.  A perspective that only could be offered by a husband and a father.  It was beautiful to see his heart truly burdened with this family's situation.  What made it so much more real, and something he picked up on, is that this could very easily be us in a few short months or weeks.  So Brian's prayer moved from this family to Isaiah and Ruth.  And he prayed something that I feel is important to share.  So many times we pray against the spirit of fear and anger and insecurities, against the inability to bond and attach, which are all very real and very important to pray against.  But Brian prayed something I've never thought about before.  He prayed, "LORD, I pray against all spirits of expectations on the hearts of our children."  This may seem insignificant and simple to most.  But many of these children, particularly the older ones, can see adoption, especially adoption that gets them out of poverty and into a country they wanted to come to, as a lottery ticket.  That all their problems will go away with one swipe of the pen as they are given our last name.  That our money and our house and our schools will automatically make everything perfect. 
But it won't.
Though we bestow upon them a new identity in their last names, it doesn't erase the years of neglect, abandonment and feelings of unworthiness.  It doesn't automatically soften their hearts to love and to accept love.  And because it doesn't happen the way the child has built it up in their minds, their little hearts don't know how to respond. 
Maybe we are failing miserably, only time will tell, but we are trying to show Isaiah and Ruth now, before we ever bring them home, that their "lottery ticket" isn't the stuff they are getting and the country they are coming to.  It's us.  A family.  A father and a mother and a brother and a sister.  Their "lottery ticket" is unconditional love and a safe place to work through their fears and their insecurities.   

So to this girl and to every child struggling with self worth, the inability to love and let yourself be loved, insecurities and anger, I am pleading with my Savior to break you.  In no way is this a harsh prayer.  I pray this, so that in true and unguarded brokenness, He, and only He, will be able to fill you and put you back together again, with more gentleness and love than you will ever know. 
That as Christ rebuilds and restores the places that have long been devastated in you, He will place upon your head, a crown of beauty instead of the ashes that have defined your life for so long.  That Christ will clothe you with garments of praise instead of the despair that you have become so accustomed to feeling. That you will be given a new name, known only to you, in promise of the man or woman you will be become. 
This is not just my prayer for you, it's God's promise and it's the reason Jesus came to this earth.  He came to "bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners."  Oh sweetheart, the prisoners are not those trapped in a jail cell!  Though by the world's standards that is what it seems to mean, it is not!  It is those that are held captive by the enemy and his lies, those held captive by the shame of their past, those held captive by fear and the inability to let their heart trust and love and heal.  This type of captivity can be even worse than physically being incarcerated, for the sole reason that no one can see it.  And it makes it that much harder to seek freedom for those whose hearts and minds are held captive by "the accuser of the brethren."  
Jesus says that, "In this world you will have trouble."  But he continues by saying,  "Take heart! I have overcome the world."
Though you might not believe it now, you will one day be called an "oak of righteousness."  And you, dear child, WILL display the splendor of the LORD.

I also lift up a prayer for ALL adopting families.  That as Christ heals and restores your children to all the glory they were meant to posses, that He will also equip you with the patience, and the strength, and the discernment and most importantly, the prayers needed to withstand the attacks and to endure the time it takes for healing to occur. 
This is a spiritual battle were fighting.  "For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms."  
"You will not have to fight this battle. Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the LORD will give you... Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Go out to face them tomorrow, and the LORD will be with you."
So put on the full armor of God so that we can take our stand against the devil's schemes and fight from our knees!