Amy and I made a decision at the beginning of our adoption process to be as transparent as possible, without sharing every personal moment that has and will happen to us. Our hope is that people's eyes will be opened to adoption. I really believe, in my heart of hearts, that every follower of Christ should have something to do with orphan care....there's just not much getting around that in Scripture and the heart of the Gospel. That doesn't necessarily mean adoption though.
With that said, there have been moments we've done our best to cherish in our own hearts. We do not get that 'delivery room experience' with J. That doesn't make her birth into our family any less important or special, but it has made us do our best to keep some of our pictures and personal moments more private. But many of you have been in this process with us. You've been so faithful to pray for our daughter and our family and we are forever grateful for it. You've surrounded us with love and encouragement, and it has made these last 12 months incredibly special. So what I'm about to share with you is one of those more 'personal' moments. You've journeyed with us and we want to share with you what God's doing. What I am about to tell you has happened by the grace of God and He was so good to force our hands in this situation.
J's dad made it to his Embassy appointment, as many of you have read by now. That was a HUGE miracle. There are many other families that have not had much luck finding the biological parent, and the fact that her bio dad was found, and was willing to come testify that this was the life he wants for his child was a HUGE step in the direction of bringing her home. We never have, and likely, never will meet this man. We are so grateful for his choice to allow our daughter to live. We are so grateful that he made the courageous choice to drop her off at an orphanage humbly instead of pridefully trying to take care of her, which would have likely resulted in an incredibly difficult life, and possibly even death for our daughter.
It's estimated that nearly one in five children don't live to see the age of 5 in the Democratic Republic of Congo. That's their reality. They live in a world where parents bury their children every single day. Maybe your heart has never broken for the orphans of this world....let that thought set in. 1 in 5 kids....and the other 4, in the Congo, are child soldiers, child prostitutes, and do whatever it takes just to survive. Malnutrition, a lack of clean drinking water, and inability to afford or even travel to get proper healthcare has stacked the odds against millions of children in the Democratic Republic of Congo. So his choice to allow J to be adopted has likely saved her life....and whether he knows it or not, has given her a chance to hear the Gospel! So needless to say, we are incredibly grateful for this man that we may never meet face to face.
While he was sitting around and waiting for his interview over the past 2 weeks or so, the question we feared most was asked....."Can I see J?" Can I stop you right there and help you process what this meant for us? We were expecting small parenting decisions in the beginning of our life as parents...does she like chicken and rice or chicken and noodles....will she wear the shoes we bought her or want something different.....how will we help teach her English more efficiently....where will we take her on her first day 'out?' And all of the sudden, we receive a call from our agency telling us he's done his interview, he's done his part, he now wants to know can he tell his daughter bye for the last time. And immediately I did what most any parent would do....I became papa bear and swelled up with pride and frustration, Amy started to cry, and we both decided this would happen over our dead bodies.
This man wanted to show back up possibly days before we meet our daughter and ruin all of the perfection that we thought that day might be. This gave J's 'Papa" (papa means daddy in Lingala) the chance to see her again before me. And me....J's PAPA would never have a chance to explain the situation to her. We were mortified at the thought. It could cause trauma....what if he sees how beautiful and happy she is and wants her back....what if this does more damage than good...and the selfishness of me thought, 'SHE'S MINE NOT YOURS.' But we committed to pray and seek out godly counsel. We talked some about the decision, and it became really clear, really quickly.
I want to insert a little thought for you here....my little spiritual thought for the day. I believe that God brings people into our lives and maybe one of the only purposes is that we might be a blessing to them. I'd venture to say that most of us have had, or may are in the middle of having, people in our lives that probably don't deserve a second chance or a handful of grace. You may not feel like you are living in an 'extreme' case like this seems to be, but I'd guess you probably have circumstances not far off from where we found ourselves on Friday afternoon.
And in that moment when I wanted to resist what was right and cling to this world and my 'right' to be dad, I knew God was giving us the chance to share grace with someone. So we called our agency and swallowed our pride....we did set up a few stipulations, and then we said, 'God forbid I'm ever in this situation....but if I am, I sure hope someone would treat me with grace.' In fact, can I tell you I was in the same situation at one point of my life. I was in desperate need of grace and God owed me nothing....but He gave and gave anyways. And we had the chance to share the grace of God to someone else....at least that's how we see it. Jesus told us in Matthew 10:8, "freely you have received, freely give." That's our command....to freely give.
We wont share how the meeting at the orphanage went for J's bio dad. We'll keep how amazing God was with this situation as a 'delivery room experience.' But I felt the need to write this today, and finish off by reminding you that there may likely be people in your life that the Lord is prompting you to share a little grace with. Maybe you're holding out on forgiving or restoring a relationship that needs it...who knows! God forbid you ever be in their position....but if you are, wouldn't you want someone to treat you a little more like Jesus would have? The relief and blessing we've already experienced has been amazing....give it a shot!