Today is the kick-off day of National Adoption Month. During the month of November, you'll most likely see lots of adoptive families advocating for orphan care (which is fabulous). You'll probably read lots of touching testimonies, full of the joyful side of adoption (which I love).
However, the testimony I’m sharing with you today isn’t your ordinary adoption testimony. It involves a journey of pain, confusion, despair, even a disrupted adoption. But even with all of the hard aspects of this testimony, more than anything, I feel it displays the magnificence of God’s sovereignty and faithfulness. He has a plan to make beauty from ashes, even when it doesn’t feel that way sometimes.
“…and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair…” ~Isaiah 61:3
This is one of those rare, raw, incredible testimonies that I feel very privileged to share with you today. It reminds me a little bit of the journey we’ve walked with Chrissie. Although the details are not all similar, the pain of the journey is, as well as the beauty from ashes similarity. The other similarities include joyful obedience, despite the outcome, the rescue of an orphan with special needs, discovering God’s plan along the way, as well as discovering that His outcome doesn’t always look or feel the way we expect it to, but it is always His best, His sovereign and trustworthy plan.
Autumn, over at No Knots, shared this testimony on her blog, and granted me permission to share it over here on my blog since Chrissie is a part of her story. Thank you so much, Autumn, for allowing me this privilege.
Saturday, October 22, 2011 (written by Autumn)
The story you have been waiting for.So if you are a Christian I'm sure you have heard the saying "following Christ is hard." I heard this growing up my whole life. Having been raised in a legalistic church that saying always had to do with the choice between right and wrong. Now that I am a grown up (shhh, don't tell anyone) those words mean something completely different to me. Yes, sometimes following Christ is hard but for different reasons.
I feel like the Lord has taken us on a roller coaster journey these last couple of years. We didn't have to get on. We didn't have to say Yes but we did. Was it hard? ummm Yea! Was it heart breaking at times? Yea!! Did it hurt? Was I scared? Did I have doubts? YES, YES, YES... Can I see God's hand in all of this? Now....Yes. Is it rewarding? Absolutely. Would I do it again (say yes to a calling)? I certainly hope so.
So here is the story.....
Caius at 5 months, after 1st open heart surgery before G-tube
Caius was born Oct. 09. We were surprised to learn that he had Trisomy 21 and a MAJOR heart defect. We lived with congestive heart failure and pulmonary hypertension for 3 months. We spent most of those 3 months in different hospitals having to take 2 ambulance rides when things got really bad. It was during this time God planted the seed. A woman who I had never met came to visit us in the hospital from the local DS association. She shared with me that she had adopted a child with DS internationally through Reece's Rainbow. That was the first time I had heard about RR.
By chance, I started following Adeye's blog when she was bringing her girls home and also Lorraine's blog while Chrissie was in the hospital. I was just in awe of these two women, their faith and their strength. Josh and I had spoken about adopting but it was always in the future and never for sure.
Josh took me out on a date one night but since I was still pumping to give Caius breast milk and he was allergic to everything there was nothing I could eat (or drink for that matter) so we sat at the bar in the restaurant so we didn't take up a server's table (yes I was a waitress through college). Now God wouldn't talk to us while sitting at a bar, right? Oh let me tell you He can and He did. There were TVs everywhere and the largest screen had an expose on the orphan crisis in Haiti. Josh and I are reading the subtitles (the volume was off) and I'm balling my guts out. I look at Josh through my tears and say "God's funny huh?" Josh replied, "He sure is persistent." That was all that was said.
When Chrissie went to be with Jesus we attended her funeral. It was on the way there when I prayed a prayer that I remembered Lorraine saying she prayed. I prayed that my heart would break over what breaks God's heart. I feel this is an extreme prayer in today's society because we (me) are so desensitized to terrible, terrible things going on around us. I mean I would cry over Animal Planets Houston SPCA show but not over starving and dying children. hmm... Nothing miraculous happened after that, in fact the Lord didn't speak to me again about it until a few weeks later.
Adeye's pic of Yuri in orphanage
He did again through the famed "I left my heart there" post by Adeye. We were watching a show and I was surfing the web. I started crying as I read the post. I asked Josh to turn off the TV so I could read it to him. There we were balling our way through this post. We would stop and pray about what to do because the information was just too much to handle. I felt God tell me to ask Josh if we can adopt these boys. In my head I told God, "no, I'm not gonna ask cuz he will say no and then that is it, I won't be able to ask again. If I don't ask the possibility is still there."
Adeye's pic of Bohdan in orphanage
We read on. God told me to ask Josh again. I told God, no for the same reason. Two more times this happened and I finally gave in and asked. I wasn't completely obedient though. I asked Josh if we could fill out the paperwork to see if we were qualified to adopt. To my surprise he said "Yes."
The next day I called RR. I explained our situation about Caius and how he had another heart surgery coming up in a few months to completely repair his heart and how he was still on a feeding tube. To my dismay the lady at RR advised us to wait until after things settled down with Caius before we started the adoption process.
Adeye's pic of Yuri in orphanage
That next weekend was miserable. All we could think about were the boys in Adeye's post, Wade (Bohdan) and Yuri. I called RR back on Monday and explained that it might be smart to wait until after Caius' surgery but that we felt called to move forward anyway. So we did. We filled out the paperwork and were even approved for our home study even with everything going on. Yay!
So now the fundraising.... Where are the heck are we going $30,000!! Oh silly me. I had all these plans for fundraisers and I was getting them all ready. To start the beginning of our fundraising we sent out a letter advising of our intentions, introducing the boys and asking for help. Within 2 weeks of sending out these letters ALL the money had been given to us. Let me repeat this.... WITHIN 2 WEEKS ALL $30,000 HAD BEEN GIVEN TO US. To this day we have no idea who gave the largest sum which totaled 80% of the total amount. It was given anonymously to the church we had attended previously.
We have just recently found out how God was working with my family during this time. There are some people in my family that have the means to help us substantially but NONE of the funds came from them. They have recently told me that as they were praying about what to do that God told them to 'Be still' not only financially but also with their counsel. My Aunt in particular really wanted to help but didn't exactly agree with us bringing 2 special needs boys into our home at a time when we were already dealing with so much. She tells me that she really wanted to counsel us on the craziness that we were getting ourselves into and yet God wouldn't let her talk to us. She says there is no doubt in her mind that we were doing exactly what God wanted because of how He wouldn't let her try to talk sense into us. :o)
first time we met the boys December 2010
We traveled in December and were gone through all the holidays. The condition of the children were rough and we wanted to get them out of there fast but fast was not in the cards. We were there 3 weeks. Visiting the orphanage was hard, it was exhausting mentally. I couldn't wait to get my boys home. I just knew everything would be better once we got home.
My sister-in-law went back with me to get the boys after the 10 day wait period. We had 2 weeks in country and then a 43 hour trip home. It was misery. Then we get home and everyone goes on with their lives and their work and it is just me and the 4 boys. Two of which have just come from another country and are in shock, one of those having far more medical issues than we expected. Needless to say the next 6 months were the hardest of my life. I literally thought I wasn't going to make it. After seeing numerous specialist we finally found out what was going on with Yuri. But that didn't help us get him help.
I spent most of my time trying to get him services, in school, therapies, a walker, Medicaid, anything that would help him and give me a break. But it was like there was a brick wall there and there was nothing I could do to get him help. On top of this, Yuri was aggressive towards the babies, Caius and Bohdan, mostly Bohdan. He would hit them or head butt their faces so they would cry and then he would lay on them to listen to them.
Asher stopped spending time with the family and spent the days by himself staying as far away from the new boys as possible. Rarely, he would interact with Bohdan and even try to pick Bohdan up if he went farther than Asher thought he should go but he wouldn't be around Yuri at all. Yuri destroyed the house. With his limited sight and lack of comprehension of toys, everything became a projectile, generally at one of the other children. With two kids not moblile yet it made things very hard. We rearranged the house, all of it, just to accommodate his needs. Not to mention, He threw up many times a day. Please understand that when I say threw up I mean it, not just spit up, projectile. I covered most of the rugs and things with multiple sheets to help with clean up.
This was not what I had envisioned for our family. Why wouldn't anything give? Why couldn't I get help for Yuri? Why wasn't the family meshing? Surely this isn't what God planned when He called us to these children. I was at a loss and I was defeated. My little human pea brain couldn't grasp anything other than I was a failure. I had failed God, I failed RR, I failed my family, and I failed my children. It was a terrible place to be.
It was so hard to contact RR about adoption disruption. I had contacted them previously a couple times asking for advice but this time it was different. I was contacting them specifically about disruption. Someone started using the word rehoming and that made me feel better. RR got me in contact with Rachel. A dear friend of mine whom I owe a lot. She talked and counseled with me for hours. She got me in touch with Michelle.
Michelle and her husband, Noah, had adopted three special needs children last year and now felt their calling was respite. Just to help families breath and sort out their feeling after an international adoption. This sounded good to me. I didn't want to give Yuri to a family forever. I just needed help and that is what she was offering. She was going to keep him for a month, help him get a walker and get on medicaid. This would give us time to breathe and regroup so when he came home we would be ready and hopefully he would have the services I was struggling to get him.
It was a good fit for us because Michelle and Noah DID NOT want to adopt again, so we didn't feel threatened that they might try to keep Yuri and if rehoming did seem to be the route we would take, then they could help us find a home suitable for him. Oh us funny humans!!! Keep in mind we were advised not to mention anything on the blog about this because believe it or not there are people out there who prey on families going through a hard time after an international adoption.
It was hard handing Yuri over but we felt at peace with them and both Josh and I seemed to 'click' Michelle and Noah. They are super great people so that made it easier.
Let me tell you about our house first with Yuri gone. Bohdan came out of his shell. There was a mischievous, darling, mouthy, curious child in there. I guess without his big brother there to stop him he had the courage to explore all life had to offer. Asher took a bit longer to recover. It took him about 2 weeks but then he was back to his normal self and spending time with the family. Josh and I felt relief. It was like a different house. There was such a peace in our home. Many people commented that the boys were different and the house was more calm. Imagine that calm with 3 small boys, ha!! Anyway, it was then we knew that Yuri wasn't supposed to be ours. But whose?
Now I will tell you about Yuri, he did throw up twice on Michelle's head as they were driving back home after picking him up (Sorry Michelle) but since then he hasn't thrown up. ?? He actually fell asleep on the car ride to their house. ?? He NEVER did that with us, in fact he generally yelled the whole time we were in cars. Within the week, she had him on medicaid and had him walking in a walker. By the end of 3 weeks he was eating his meals by mouth. ??? He was not doing this for us at all. I asked about him being aggressive towards her other children. She said he was twice to two different kids but it didn't work out so good since he is the smallest so now he doesn't even try. hmm... When he left us he was on a strict diet of no dairy!! To help keep down on the puking. But now at the end of the month he was eating dairy. ??? He was a different child and he was thriving!
Did his chemistry really change? Did his development really improve in such a short period of time? Did he really get all of the help in a month that I had failed to get him in 6 months? Really?? No, this was just God.
I shared with Michelle that we felt it would be best for our family to rehome Yuri. She then shared with us that they had fallen in love with Yuri and wanted to adopt him. So I guess the question would be... Did God really just do this?
Yuri, content. His eyes say so much
In my human pea brain, I put limits on God. Surely if he calls you to adopt a child then you get to raise that child, right? Surely, He wouldn't call you all the way across the world to a child that wasn't yours. Surely? Then Michelle said something to me that made it all come together. She told me that they had said they would NEVER go over there to adopt again, NEVER. She then told me 'thank you' for bringing her her son.
PEACE!! Now it all makes sense. Yuri is home with his real Momma and loving every minute. I went to visit a few weeks ago and Yuri was happy to see me but he preferred his Momma. It did my heart good to see him doing SO well. He had even gained about 5 lbs. He is a super chunk!!
Yuri and his Momma
Thank you all for your prayers and your patience for this post. I can't explain how heart wrenching it was to go through this ordeal and in the end to give up Yuri. I have just now gotten to the point of talking about it without balling the entire time. Now it is just a little balling. But I am SO happy that Yuri found his forever family. Thank you Lord!!!!
And yes, I will update about Mr. Bohdan shortly. He is doing great!!