Thursday, June 11, 2015

Stepping into the darkness

She wouldn't even look at me, and without her having to say it, I knew. She resented me for having taken her away from her friends, China, everything that was familiar to her- and my heart sank. The girl that was described as cheerful, optimistic, and kind was gone, leaving an empty shell in her place. We had worked so hard to bring her home, and all she could think of was going back to her home.

I woke up from my dream with the same feeling of heaviness I'm becoming used to. The difficulty of what we're doing is beginning to set in- of raising a substantial amount of money, filling out piles of adoption paperwork, with five children under the age of eleven who are home for the summer. Juggling three monumental tasks that are each a full-time job in and of themselves.

Harold B. Lee said, "You must learn to walk to the edge of the light, and then a few steps into the darkness."

The comfortable security of the light is far behind us, and we are now navigating in what at times feels like overwhelming darkness of uncertainty. Uncertainty of how we'll secure the needed funds, and how we will bring home one child, without neglecting the others. And sometimes that uncertainty dances back and forth between the line of discouragment and despair.

But then come the flashes of light that remind us that God hasn't forsaken us- that the darkness we feel is only a temporary veil to test our faith.

It came  the other day in the form of a dear friend who stopped by with a handwritten note with words of encouragement and her favorite scripture. A $50 bill was folded inside, and she apologized that it was only a drop in the bucket of what we needed. I struggled to hold back the tears as I later wrote her that the impact of a drop in the bucket is relative to how empty the bucket is, not only financially, but emotionally as well.

It came as I was working on adoption paperwork, and came out of my room to find that my boys had cleaned the kitchen and tidied the house to surprise me.

And then it came again when another dear friend stopped by to give me the surprise that more than 70 friends and acquaintances had come together, without my knowledge, to organize a yard sale, a bake sale, a farm day, a haircutting day, and a jewlery sale. She told me I wasn't to worry about the details, that they were being taken care of. She had been on the receiving end of similar blessings several years before, and said how much she enjoyed being on the giving end this time. That night as I lay in bed, tears of gratitude flowed. If they could only know how much their kindness meant to me.

In my despair I had forgotten the other half of Harold B. Lee's famous words, "...then the light will appear and show the way before you."

In Sunday School a few weeks ago, I told my class that as we study the scriptures, that it is equally important to study the Lord's promises as it is to study the commandments. The promises are the safety line that we cling to when obedience seems out of reach.

Somehow this will all come together. I know it will. I don't believe in a God who leads His children towards paths doomed for failure. I may not see the finish line, or even a clear path to get me there, but somehow we'll get there.

"I would show unto the world that faith is things which are hoped for and not seen; wherefore, dispute not because ye see not, for ye receive no witness until after the trial of your faith." (Ether 12:5-6.)

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Something to prove

I came across one again today- one of those stumbling blocks that I'm becoming all too familiar with. I've heard that this happens to families after they commit to an adoption- this barrage of opposition. Every time it rears its ugly head, its a little different from the last. A master of disguise, it morphs itself into so many forms: self-doubt, financial set-backs, time restraints, outside criticism. The list is endless.

The first time I felt it was when I told someone that I would be starting to do photography again for clients as a way of earning money for the adoption, and a stinging comment was made about my work. I despaired the rest of the day, wondering if I was being delusional in thinking that anyone would ever pay for my work.

And then there was the time when adoption costs were beginning to mount and Dennis had borrowed a trailer from a friend to pick up a piece of equipment he needed for one of our fundraisers. And wouldn't you know it, he blew not one, but two tires on the trailer. And just like that, a painfully large amount of money we had set aside for our home study costs, went sailing out the window.

Then came the time we were on a tight deadline to have our passport pictures submitted to secure our commitment paperwork for our daughter. Costco was going to be closing soon, and we were trying desperately to get out of the house to arrive in time. Just as we were walking out the door, Dennis looked out the front window, and saw that a man driving by in a pick-up had tipped the trailer he was pulling, scattering its contents all across the road. "I just can't leave him there like that. He needs help," he said simply. I truly love how helping someone in need never involves a decision for my husband. Two hours later, Dennis walked back through the door, dusty and tired, but the job had been done.... and we had missed our window of time.

Today it came in the form of a person who, over the course of many years, we have come to trust and respect.

"If she's almost eleven, and has remained un-adopted all these years, it makes you wonder what's wrong with her that they're not telling you."

"You'll see, her medical issues will be only the tip of the iceberg."

"The Chinese culture is a matriarchal society, and she will over-run your children."

"Her file is probably completely fabricated by the orphanage in an attempt to cast her in a positive light so that they can get pawn her off onto someone else."

As I listened for almost 30 minutes, with blood pressure rising, I sensed something happening within me that hadn't happened before. I wasn't hurt by his words or doubtful about our decision, I felt furious. Not for me, but for her. My mama bear instinct was raging under the surface.

How dare you talk about my daughter that way? Say what you will about me, but I'll be damned if I'm going to let you tear her down! She may not be perfect, and when she gets home we will have to stitch back together the broken pieces of her life, but she's MY DAUGHTER, and I will go to hell and back for her!

...But being the coward I am, I simply listened and calmly asked that when she gets home, that he treat her just the way he would treat any of my other children. Gah! SO.MANY.THINGS.TO.SAY! Why am I such a coward?!?

In my last blog post, I said I had nothing to prove in our decision to adopt. But today, I completely and unequivocally take that back. As a matter of fact, I DO have something to prove now.

I want to prove to him that while adoption may be a cobblestone road of broken hearts, it can still be a beautiful journey- one that changes and blesses lives forever. I want to prove to him that God is in control and in the details of our lives- and in the life of a young orphan girl in China. I want to prove to him that these unrelenting stumbling blocks that keep coming our way will someday create a staircase of stepping stones, if we push past them with faith and hard work.

This is the beautiful little girl that we are working so hard towards making our daughter. I love her with the same affection I felt towards my unborn children when I carried them in the womb for those many difficult months. Thank you, sweet girl, for giving me something to prove.