Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Authority?

Last night I was at a meeting with some friends of mine. The subject of submission to authority came up and my mind has been spinning ever since. I've been trying to figure out what to do with all the thoughts running through my mind...so here I am.

I think that this is HUGE in the process of adoption. Submission to authority. It just makes my skin crawl. When you get pregnant and have babies it's all about you. What do you want? Drugs or no drugs? Home birth or hospital? Induction or wait it out? It's all about catering to your needs as the mama. But adoption...it doesn't work like that.

There are a million different authorities that you are placed under during the process of adoption. Agencies doing homestudies, orphanages picking out children for you, countries saying yes or no, or even birth mothers who can and absolutely should have the right to change their mind...And all to often we are left feeling helpless and without even a speck of control.

And we all respond differently to these situations. Some are able to wait so patiently, others (as I often did) are constantly trying to find someone else that they can call or email or bug until answers are given. So how should we handle this? When do we fight? When do we submit? What do we do with the authorities that just seem to be screwing with us?!

During my time in Rwanda, I felt that I was being screwed with. I felt angry and helpless and angry and scared...so much. I had done everything in my power to submit and respect the government there and there I was sitting in an office being told that I had NOT respected them. I was flabbergasted. But what was I supposed to do? I knew I was going to have to fight in order to bring Nate home, but what was my fight supposed to look like?

The issue of authority came up over and over. The idea that I might be saying that someone else had authority over those in the office I was dealing with was thrown in my face time and again. The situation was looking more and more hopeless...but then it happened...I submitted. I had every reason in the world to try and go over this office (and could have had the means) and challenged their authority...but at that moment, in a hallway, as I was being chewed out again, that still small voice was able to speak to me through all the confusion and brought with me a humility that I had never really known before...

"Please, I need your help."

Those were my words to them. I quit challenging the authority. Instead I submitted to it in such humility (and it was so genuine) and moments later I was given the permission I needed to bring Nate home. Okay, so it was really another awkward, tense meeting, more running around to get a correction made and another trip to the office before I was given the physical permission I needed, but things had turned at that time and I was finally confident that I would be bringing Nate home.

Here's my point...

You will go through this. As an adoptive parent you will continually be asked to submit. Your oppportunity to parent will constantly be up to other people's whims. And you need to prepare yourself for it, because it is so hard. But learning this, through this, well, God has changed me, my heart. And I am thankful for those women in those offices. I'm even thankful for Scott, the obnoxious US embassy worker that drove me mad in Ethiopia!! Because on this side of things...I'm just growing as a person.

But more importantly, here's what the Bible has to say on it...

"Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgement...for he [the authority] is God's servant for your good." Romans 13:1-4

It may seem hopeless. It may seem unfair. But nothing is outside of God's authority. And while it may be difficult to submit to another horribly fallen person, it's important to remember that that submission is really a submission to a gloriously perfect God. It may not mean that you walk away from things as I did, with the answer that you wanted, but it does mean that God will be glorified and that is what is truly important.

And keep in mind that there are others following you. Other parents, other children. DON'T SCREW THINGS FOR THEM!! Don't piss people off so that others struggle. Lay yourself down. This isn't just about you.

Adoption exists because of brokenness. It simply wouldn't exist without some sort of break in that "ought" of life. I'm learning so much from having gone through this. Pregnancy and childbirth dealt with me physically in a way that will forever change the way I look at things (or at least my belly!), but adoption has dealt with me emotionally and spiritually in a way that NOTHING in my life ever has. And I want to share more of this part. I NEED to share more of it. I read the books. The processes. The expectations. The possible issues with having an adopted child. But none of them spoke of my heart. I'm having to learn so much of this on my own. Hopefully by writing all of this though, at least you won't have to.

Monday, March 23, 2009

A Helpful Hand

Over the last few months a few families have found my blog that are trying to adopt from Rwanda. They have asked me questions and sought my help. But I have to be honest, I have been in such a fog since I got back, and frankly have been still licking my wounds and healing from the whole experience, and so I have pretty much been no help at all. I want you all to know that I have felt awful about the way that I have been. I don't know what I would have done without the help of people that I found on the internet. They were my lifeline and I truly don't think that we would be where we are today if it weren't for them.

And so I am sticking myself out there now. The fog is slowly beginning to clear and I want to make myself available to others. I'm a little outside the process now, but I feel as though I can point people in the right direction whether they are wanting to use an agency or go the lawyer route. (Don't worry Kiki. I won't be offerring up your services! I think you will need years to recover!!)

More than anything though, what I feel as though I can offer is prayers for your family and some consel or just a listening ear when it comes to all the emotional and spiritual struggles that WILL come your way...you just have no idea.

Adopting Nathan is one of the most amazing and powerful things that I have ever been blessed to be a part of. It has also been a stretching, challenging, and at times even breaking experience. Don't let that discourage you from stepping out in faith if this is where you feel as though you are being led in life, but do let it cause you to fall to your knees and pray for strength and protection.

If you don't believe in God...well, He'll still be there for you too. And I pray that you will remember that when you get to your breaking point.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Emotions and Questions

A dear friend of mine just sent me the blog address of a friend of hers that just got back from a trip taking pictures in Rwanda. My heart twisted in ways that I didn't expect while I read it and looked at the pictures. She spoke of the slums, the poverty, the smell and I found myself becoming defensive...I know those things are there, but that isn't what Rwanda is to me! It is beauty, it is kind, it is hope...then as I kept reading, I found that she saw those things too.

There is a deeper thing going on - a God who is in love with his creation and wants only their good, and so in small ways, he brings it to them. There is resilliance and hope written everywhere. You have only to look into the eyes of the future of Rwanda to experience it for yourself. Amidst loss, poverty, and struggle there is exceeding beauty.

My son is from Africa. I still think of him as Rwandese despite his US citizenship. I think of him as that too, an American, but I think that it is so important to not lose sight of where God started his sweet little life.

Some of her pictures brought tears to my eyes, two in particular. Not because of the poverty or the dire situations, but because they looked like my son. One picture is of an infant...so similar to a picture we have of my boy in his first few months. Another of a little boy looking up at the camera...much older than Nate, but with my son's eyes. They look like brothers...

My son's history is now a part of my own. The scars that I saw on the hands and faces of the people (perhaps the result of a machete during the genocide) have found a place on my heart. These people are now my people. Because even though I sit now at my computer, in my cozy suburban Kansas home, I know that while the Lord in His mysterious ways lifted my son out of those hills and on to our flat plains, Nathan has family still there. I have family still there. Perhaps his birth mother is walking right now, balancing her jerry can on her head, like so many others. Perhaps his siblings will go without food today...

The other day as Nate crawled across our floor (although he is walking quite a bit now), I turned to my older girls and I said, "Do you girls realize that if God had not brought Nathan to us, if he was still with his birth family, that he would probably be crawling around naked on a dirt floor right now?" Can we really grasp that? And what does that mean for us? And what does that say about God?

I will ponder these questions for the rest of my life. I will experience emotions and thoughts when I view these pictures in a way that I never would have if I couldn't look in the face of my son and visibly see those same big eyes...

Adoption has changed my life and I know that I'm not even exactly sure how yet. Right now I tend to just find myself overwhelmed most of the time...still emotionally exhausted from the process we jumped into last year and physically exhausted by my four kids...but my spirit...that is what is really changing. The Lord is using this to change me and only time will tell what this journey will all mean.