Archive for January, 2010
Well, after being locked up in the house sick for the past week (with the exception of two 1.5 hour excursions) I emerged this morning ready to conquer the world. OK…not really “conquer”. And, not really “the world”. But I could walk upright without my head exploding and without rendering a cough that makes small children cry. That said, there was a bit of a spring in my step that I lacked just a few days ago.
You see, for me to be confined to the house for a day makes me a little gloomy. Two days – irritable. Three or more days sends me on a downward spiral toward a state of Eeyore-ness. (Yes, the donkey from Winnie the Pooh.) So, getting out of the house today offered me the opportunity to get some life back into my bones. Of course, it’s cold and rainy, so maybe I didn’t get as much life as I wanted, but it’s better than it was.
I got out of my cave, but then I realized something. It was a self-created cave. There is nothing miserable about our house – actually, it’s a great house. Sure, I was sick, but it’s possible to be sick and happy. I got to spend most of those days with my wife and baby. I didn’t have many responsibilities to worry about (a luxury only afforded to those who are sick) and I had lots of time to think or dream about whatever I wanted to. Instead, I chose to go to an unhealthy, gloomy place where dreams for the future, hope for today and even the whispers of the Almighty choose not to tread (or where I choose not to see and hear them).
Nevertheless, I went there, but now I’m back. From outer space. And…um…I will survive. Here’s to all of you who have had or are having similar cave experiences. Go outside, take a deep breath and remind yourself that your cave is your own creation. Go deconstruct it!
But Joseph said to them, “Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God? You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. So then, don’t be afraid. I will provide for you and your children.” And he reassured them and spoke kindly to them.
As I listen and watch the news reports coming out of Haiti, I am struck by the number of people eager to help the people of this shaken country. Countless numbers of people are responding to this devastation by opening their wallets, their homes, their expertise and their hearts. Many of these people are followers of Jesus – doing the kind of stuff that he told us to do. Many others are not followers of Jesus. Perhaps they follow a different religious philosophy or are simply driven by their human nature to help those in need. Whatever the case, those on the ground in Port-au-Prince aren’t picky. We’ll help people now and sort out the stories of faith later.
Back home, it’s a different story. Here – far removed from the realities of a devastating earthquake – we have radio talkshow hosts trying to politicize the catastrophic loss of life (and our response to it), TV show hosts claiming that the people of Haiti brought this on themselves, newspaper columnists who feel this is a great time to talk about how the culture in Haiti is one of irresponsibility and countless numbers of others who are having vehement arguments over whether or not it’s “our responsibility” to take care of “those people”.
OK, fine. Everybody has the right to say whatever they want to say – even if what they want to say is completely ignorant and potentially dangerous (see, I just did it right there…said what I wanted to say). My main beef is not that they said what they said, but that all of the examples sited above claim or have claimed in the past to be “Christian”, which presumably means that they ascribe to the teachings of Jesus Christ – although the term is often applied to mean “American” or, perhaps “Republican”.
I sometimes wonder if these Christian titans have bothered to read the “Good Book” at all. If they have and if they believe what it says, I wonder why they’re asking the questions and making the statements they’re making. Should the question be “What political advantage will my opponents get from this?” or should it be “How can I come together – even with those of vastly different philosophical or political opinion – to help these people in need?” Should the question be “Did these people get what was coming to them?” or “How can I (someone who has been fortunate enough to NOT get what was coming to me) get these people the supplies they need to live?”
You see, in the story of Joseph told in the book of Genesis, not too many of us would have blamed Joseph if he had sent his brothers away with a harsh rebuke and empty hands. After all, they had left him in a pit and then sold him to a band of gypsies. He had every right to be angry and, at one point in the story, seems to be tempted to do them harm. But in the end, Joseph realizes what we all should realize: I’m not God!
It is not my place to decide whether these people “deserve” to live or die. It’s not my place to decide to help or not help them based on what advantage I might stand to gain from such assistance. I am not called to be judge or jury. I’m not even called to be the police. Indeed, we are all called to be paramedics – not looking to place blame or to investigate the situation, but to assess the needs and respond accordingly.
Let’s do what David did and reassure the people of Haiti and speak kindly to them. Let’s use our power and position (yes, we all have it) to accomplish the work of God, “saving many lives”.
“Don’t make a mountain out of a mole hill.”
It was a favorite expression of my mom when I was young. Having a son with a flair for the dramatic and the ability to blow just about anything out of proportion, my mom had her fair share of mole hill battles. As I look at the world today, I see that so many things in life are just mole hills, but we give them so much importance as to make mountains out of them.
There is the mountain of infertility that so many couples (Melody & I included) try to overcome. Yet, once we got to the other side and embraced the call to adopt, the idea that we may never have a child biologically becomes very…um…mole hillish. Likewise, once we had made the decision to adopt a child, the mountain of fostering seemed like one we would never top. Then we came to the stark realization that we could choose to risk heartbreak (which we could endure if we had to) for the sake of providing a loving home to a child, even if temporarily. Suddenly the risks of foster care seem like mole hills.
Then there are the financial mountains. Every month, most weeks and some days, we face that giant mountain of bills that threatens to consume us. Yet, in the midst of that battle, we commit $30 to an orphanage in Kenya, give $20 to relief efforts in Haiti and continue to faithfully write our tithe check to the church. Seeing the results of dozens, thousands and sometimes millions of like-minded people making the same small gifts we made somehow causes that mountain to shrink. If I am rich enough to provide someone else with clean water to drink, then I certainly have “enough”.
Of course, we are surrounded by mole hills – mole hills that we’ve elevated to mountain status. In scaling the insurmountable in front of us, we so often are able to look behind us and see how diminutive our past challenges really were. Here’s to all of the mountains we have yet to climb…and to discovering just how many of them are actually just mole hills.
Our baby Lucy is two months old today. As we celebrate the joy (and sleepless nights) she has brought to us, I want to share with you a letter I wrote just a few short months ago. It was a particularly frustrating day (there have been many during this process) and I wrote this letter, which I only shared that day with my incredible wife. I share it today with you because I know that some of you are where we were that day, some of you have been or will be soon. For others, it may simply be good to catch a glimpse inside the mind of an adoptive parent to maybe understand what it is that drives us to make the choices we do. There are others more passionate and those whose journey has been far more difficult, but this is just a bit of our journey…and a bit of our calling.
The adoption journey that we have been on has been a long one, but it has taught us many things. We have tried, through it all, to remain open to all possibilities and to stretch and grow in the process. As a result, we have wrestled with many of the tough questions of adoption: “What are the challenges of having a multi-racial family?” “How do we handle the unknowns of a child’s medical or psychological history?” “Are we willing to do what is necessary for our child to develop emotionally and physically, even if that means making a greater sacrifice than we’re even currently aware?”
The answer to the last question is a resounding “YES!” You see, we’re not adopting just because we want children, although we do. We’re not adopting through CPS because it’s less expensive than other means of adoption, although we’re happy it is because it allows more opportunities for more families to adopt and more children to find permanent homes. We’re not looking to adopt a child of another race because “that’s what’s available”, though we are fully aware of the high number of minority children entering the system every day.
The reason we desire to adopt a minority child through CPS is that we care for these children. We have a loving home ready and waiting for a child who is in desperate need of a loving home. We understand that raising a child, no matter what his or her background is or needs are, presents parents with daily challenges that sometimes seem insurmountable. And yet, we look to the great examples of our friends and family who have walked through incredible adversity to make a way for their children to grow up in a loving, safe and nurturing environment.
We don’t see the world through rose-colored glasses. We don’t view children as constantly laughing, smiling and playing. We understand that every child brings with him or her a personality that will range from euphoric to enraged, a body that will regularly produce dirty diapers, runny noses and physical ailments and a mind that will grasp some things easily and struggle with others. Furthermore, we understand that every child is a “special needs” child and that it is up to the parents and, many times, medical and psychological professionals to help determine just what those needs are and the best course of action to take. We understand that raising a child means taking on the responsibility of another human being’s life and we take that responsibility very seriously. Yes, we are aware of the gravity of the condition that some of these children are in. That is the very reason that we want to rescue them.
In this journey, we are fortunate to be surrounded by family and friends, not only to lend encouragement and a helping hand, but also to advise us on the special circumstances of our family. In our immediate circle of friends, we have 10 multi-ethnic families, 7 of which are adoptive families. We have adult friends who were adopted into multi-racial families and who are very open about sharing their experience with us from the child’s perspective. We have a church family who has embraced not only multi-ethnic and adoptive families, but who have embraced the mission of adoption and caring for orphans.
Very close friends of ours have been adoption advocates for years. They recently set up a non-profit organization to help other families adopt and have raised tens of thousands of dollars in the past year alone to help fund adoption. Into their otherwise Caucasian family, they have added an African-American/Caucasian little girl and twin Asian/Caucasian girls. Other close friends recently adopted an African-American girl into their home. Other friends have adopted multiple African-American children. The bottom line is that we are a part of an incredible multi-ethnic community that not only accepts, but encourages and embraces diversity in our community and within our families.
As for us, we have spent the last three years discussing what it means to be a multi-ethnic family. We talk about it with our family and friends. We ask questions of other families and spend time with their kids. In our minds, we have made a shift to multi-ethnicity even if we don’t yet have children of a different ethnicity.
For us, however, it goes way beyond ethnicity. We are called to help children out of bad situations and out of “temporary” situations into a permanent, loving home. We take this responsibility very seriously. When we say “yes” to a child, it is a full-throated “YES” backed up by all the books we’ve read, prayers we’ve prayed, conversations we’ve had and children we’ve held. It is a “YES” to a long future with that child, whatever complications may arise. It is a “YES” to sleepless nights and tiring days, a “YES” to challenges and obstacles and a “YES” to the hopes and dreams of that child – hopes and dreams that may or may not be achieved, but which are always worth fighting for.
We have no illusions that this road will be easy, but we know it is worth it. We know we can’t rescue all the world’s orphans, but we can rescue some of them. We know that trials and pitfalls are in front of us, but we stand resolute to hold tightly to each other, to our children and to our God to see us through. This is why we are adopting. This is why our answer is “YES”. To that 2 year old, set of twins or group of siblings, our answer is YES. Please let them all know that our answer is YES.