Monday, March 17, 2014

The Pearl Pot at the Other End of the Rainbow

And now, for the rest of the story


So, God has brought us to a place of having a Hague-approved international home study to adopt a child from China who has special needs, yet the child He specifically directed us to, the child God used to bring us to this place, would not become our daughter.  A place where we felt like we were about to reach the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, only to discover the pot wasn’t filled with gold after all.  It was empty! 


So what do we do now?


Do we walk away completely and call it quits?


That would be easier to do if we hadn’t spent other people’s money on this quest.  In a matter of weeks, God gave us nearly $5,000 in donations when we were pursuing “Daphne”.  Nearly $4,000 of that was used on application fees, agency fees, home study fees, expedite fees, fingerprint fees (golly, there were six of us who had to get fingerprinted this time!), birth certificate fees, marriage certificate fees…you get the picture.  The money we spent wasn’t our personal money.  It was precious seed sown into our adoption fund by hundreds of people who have hearts for adoption and/or children with special needs.  Monies lovingly given to help rescue a precious treasure from aging out of the adoption system.


So, we had some decisions to make.  With knees bent, we diligently sought God for direction.  He had our yes with “Daphne”, but everything changed from what we thought He wanted us to do.


All we wanted to do was to obey God, but sometimes in the silence of waiting for His direction, it’s hard to know what obedience looks like.  At this point, obedience simply looked like Psalm 46:10, “Be still and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”  We didn’t have to move.  We simply needed to be still and seek Him.


Yet, in our flesh, we felt we needed answers immediately.  We wanted answers.  We wanted logistics.  We wanted His clear direction.  But He wanted us to be still more than anything.  We struggled in the stillness and the silence.  Would we need to give the donated monies back to the original donors?  But wait, how would that work?  We already spent nearly $4,000 on initial adoption fees.  Non-refundable fees.  Fees we paid toward the ransom required to adopt this precious girl who desperately needed her forever family to come quickly.  We begged God for answers, for direction, for guidance, for wisdom.  Yet He told us to simply be still.


We prayed.  We trusted.  We waited.  We sought Him diligently.  We cried.  We questioned.  We prayed more.  We waited more.  Still nothing.  We prayed over children’s photos and profiles who were available for international adoption.  Was there a different child God wanted us to adopt?  If so, He wasn’t leading us to her/him, even as we desperately searched for answers.  We sought wise counsel, we communicated with many adoption/orphan advocates, but still no answers, no clear direction from God.  No peace in walking away.  No peace in pursuing a different child.  Only peace in being still, peace in trusting His sovereignty, even when He seemed silent, even when the answers weren’t coming quickly enough.


As we waited, we stopped fundraising.  We stopped advocating.  We simply stopped and waited on Him, bossing our hearts to beat in sync with His, fully trusting, yet not fully understanding.


Be still is all He asked.  Sometimes being still is the hardest thing to obey.


And then, just like that, when we least expected God to speak, the silence broke.  He didn’t break the silence when we were on our faces before Him.  He didn’t break the silence while we were on bent knee.  He didn’t break the silence in a quiet time of Bible study and prayer. 


Nope, He chose to break the silence through a totally random Facebook message sent to me completely out of the blue.  A message I never expected to receive.  A message from someone I didn’t even know!  A message God would use to quickly put all of the puzzle pieces together.  When we are weak, He is strong.  When we can’t complete the puzzle on our own, He gets ALL of the glory when He comes in to put it all together, in His perfect timing, with His glorious design. 


It turns out this puzzle looked quite similar to the picture on the front of the box, the picture He’d given us a glimpse of, only it was different.  Different by His design.  We’d gotten hung up trying to complete the puzzle with the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, but God took us by the hand and helped us to climb back up to the top of that rainbow.  Then He had us bask in the sun at the top of the rainbow, overlooking everything beautiful from the view.  He had us stay there longer than we were comfortable with, as we wanted to explore the rainbow and get to our final destination.  Yet He commanded us to be still and know Him in that place of silent beauty.  


When He was ready, He allowed us to move from that spot at the top of the rainbow.  Only He didn’t send us back to the original end of the rainbow He’d sent us to before.  He asked us to go down the opposite end of the arc, to the other end of the rainbow.  Still glorious.  Still beautiful.  Still perfect.  Still with promises.  Still the same rainbow, just the other end.  Which happens to greet us with a different pot of gold.


The pot of gold is so very similar to the first.  Yet it’s brilliantly different in His perfect uniqueness.  Yes, this puzzle He asked us to put together had a front of the box picture and a back of the box picture.  He wanted us to see the back of the box, the hidden side of the picture.


Suddenly everything became clear as day.  Each puzzle piece had words on it.  Significant words that made it so much easier to complete the puzzle. 


Here are a few of the puzzle pieces He showed us:

  • “Lillie Pearl”:  On March 6, 2013, God gave us this name.  Only we didn’t have a child to go with the name.  He gave us the name totally out of the blue, while driving.  We weren’t praying or seeking Him or even considering another adoption.  But He gave us the name, He was very specific about the name and its significance, and He required us to be still to discover the precious treasure this name would belong to.
  • Life and Justice Conference:  On March 7, 2013, Matt and I attended the Life and Justice conference in Colorado.  At the conference, we met a precious family from Texas who attended that conference because we had advertised it on our blog.
  • During the conference, God revealed more about the name “Lillie Pearl”.  Pearls are flawed, yet treasured.  Many pearls are cultivated from Asia.  God began to speak to us that our Lillie Pearl would be Asian, and she would have Down syndrome. In the eyes of the world, she would be flawed by that extra chromosome, but to us, she would be a precious treasure. (God revealed these two facts to us about our Lillie Pearl through a variety of circumstances that occurred during the Life and Justice conference.)
  • God asked us to be still.  To wait for Him to bring Lillie Pearl to us.  We resisted looking on adoption websites for our Lillie Pearl.  We prayed for this unknown treasure, trusting God and His perfect timing to bring her to us.
  • On Christmas Day, December 25, 2013, God spoke through these circumstances.  He guided us to believe that “Daphne” was our Lillie Pearl.  He spurred us on to diligently pursue the adoption of sweet “Daphne”.
  • December 26, 2013-January 8, 2014:  We worked with several agencies and social workers to determine who could help us most efficiently to adopt “Daphne” before her 14th birthday, which was March 5, 2014.  Due to the Christmas and New Year holidays, it was challenging, to say the least, but God opened doors and blazed a trail to make this possible.  We would have two adoption agencies:  one agency for Texas (required by Hague laws) and the other agency was the one representing “Daphne” (who didn’t have a branch in Texas).  “Daphne’s” agency explained to us that the first family to submit a Hague-approved international home study would be matched with “Daphne” because that was in her best interest since the main goal was to not let “Daphne” age out.  We prayed and God wouldn’t let us give up and walk away.  He asked us to proceed, despite the potential risks.  I kept in close communication with social workers at “Daphne’s” adoption agency, and they promised to update us if at any point in the process another Hague-approved family submitted their application and home study to adopt “Daphne”.
  • On January 9, 2014, we had our first visit with our Texas social worker to begin the process of obtaining our Hague-approved international home study, which was the first step in the process of adopting “Daphne”.  We were blessed with an amazing social worker who worked diligently to help make this adoption possible, despite the crazy short time span.
  • On January 13, 2014, I contacted “Daphne’s” adoption agency to inquire on her status.  “Daphne” was still available.  We were on target to submit our Hague-approved international home study by the end of that week. 
  • On January 14, 2014, we submitted our international adoption application and fees to “Daphne’s” agency.  Our application would need to be approved before we could submit our home study.
  • On January 16, 2014, we were told by the out-of-state adoption agency that “Daphne” was being matched with another family whose Hague-approved international home study had been submitted with specific intent to adopt “Daphne”.  We were also told our application to adopt from China through their agency had been approved.  Our hearts broke.  The agency encouraged us to pray over the children and select a different child to adopt.  God told us to be still.
  • January 16-January 24, 2014:  A time that seriously felt like an eternity.  As I look back at the calendar, I now realize this was only ONE WEEK!  It seriously felt like ONE MONTH.  A week of silence as we sought God.  As we prayed over children, prayed over ideas, prayed for wisdom, prayed for direction, prayed for His will to be done.  A week of being still that felt like a month of silence.
  • January 24, 2014 at 12Noon:  Completely out of the blue, I received a Facebook message from someone I do not know, encouraging me to contact another mom in Texas named Betsy who had hosted an older girl from China who had Down syndrome.  I was given this mom’s phone number.  No email or Facebook or blog or anything. 
  • January 24, 2014:  GOD SHOWED US WHO OUR LILLIE PEARL IS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  However, there was obstacles.  The circumstances and details of this day are intricately designed by the One who is writing this story.  I texted this mom named Betsy, briefly explaining our situation.  I received an immediate phone call back from Betsy where God knocked my socks off.  You’ll never guess.  I would have never guessed.  IT WAS THE MOM WHO INTRODUCED HERSELF TO US IN COLORADO AT THE LIFE AND JUSTICE CONFERENCE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  The very mom who attended that conference because she saw it advertised on our blog and God kept tugging at her heart to attend!!!  Yes, God had worked out every detail long before we even realized it.  Yes, in the summer of 2013, Betsy and her family had hosted an older girl from China who has Down syndrome.  Betsy had been praying for a family to adopt this precious treasure whom she had grown to love deeply.  Betsy shared so much information with me, including the agency who would represent this precious treasure, who assisted with the hosting program that brought her from China to Texas Summer 2013.
  • January 25, 2014:  We inquired with the hosting/adoption agency (another out-of-state agency) about the adoption of this girl.  We learned that this girl had been removed from the list of children available for international adoption, but not because someone was adopting her.  She had most likely been removed from the list of available children because NO ONE had inquired about adopting her.  She had waited too long, so she was removed from the adoption list.  No one knew about this specific girl.  Her orphanage didn’t even realize she’d been removed from the list, so they didn’t know to advocate to get her back on the list.  At one point in time, she had been available for international adoption, yet because she waited for so long, she had been removed from the list, her referral discarded, and she would forever remain an orphan under these circumstances.
  • BUT GOD!  He shined the light on a buried TREASURE!  He had NOT forgotten her.  Not for a second.  This precious treasure’s orphanage staff asked us if we would really adopt her, and if we would, they would work diligently to update all of her paperwork and records.  They would go to the ends of the earth to save this precious girl from being tossed out, discarded as flawed instead of treasured as a pearl.
  • January 25-March 6, 2014:  God worked out many details.  He confirmed loudly that, YES, THIS girl IS MOST DEFINITELY our Lillie Pearl.  Oh yes, indeed, no doubt about it, He chose our Lillie Pearl and has displayed her beauty to us, and she is most undoubtedly treasured.  We have yet to hold her in our arms, but we know her by name, just as He knows us by name.  The agency representing our Lillie Pearl is a Christian agency we trust.  They asked us not to sign their contract until they could confirm that China would allow us to adopt our Lillie Pearl.  Due to our large family size, our family would need to receive special approval from China in order to adopt Lillie Pearl.
  • On March 7, 2014, we received the most fantabulous phone call, an answer to many prayers.  Our social worker with Lillie Pearl’s international adoption agency blessed us with two pieces of beautiful information.  1.  She informed us that our Lillie Pearl’s international adoption referral was completed and in the process of being translated, so she would be available for adoption shortly.  She was no longer discarded, she was CHOSEN and TREASURED!  2.  Our family received China’s blessing for us to adopt Lillie Pearl, regardless of the fact that we have ten children living in our home!!!  PRAISE HIM FROM WHOM ALL BLESSINGS FLOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


And that, my friends, is the way God brought us to our Lillie Pearl—the pot of gold at the OTHER end of the rainbow!!!  Or maybe we should say the pot of PEARLS at the other end of the rainbow. Smile

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