Saturday, April 27, 2013

Happy Birthday to Our Son in Bulgaria


Our Sweet Son Benjamin,

Today is your 10th birthday but we won’t get to celebrate it with you because you are halfway around the world. We were supposed to be traveling home with you today, on your birthday, but the agency couldn’t get your birth certificate in time. And now, because of holidays in May, our pick up trip has been delayed another four weeks. I wonder if you still believe we are coming back for you to bring you to “America!” You were so excited when we told you back in December that we were adopting you, but it’s been four months since you’ve seen us.

We left 17 gifts for you…..mostly puzzles……along with pictures of you with me and Daddy. We asked your orphanage to give you one every week so that you would know that we love you and are thinking about you, and so that you would be assured that we are coming back to get you. If they gave you one each week, then your last gift will be tomorrow. We thought we’d be back to get you by now, or else we would have left more. Hopefully they will tell you that we will be there soon.

I don’t think you even know that it’s your birthday today. When we visited you in December you weren’t sure how old you were and we learned that your orphanage is too poor to have birthday celebrations. I doubt the caregivers even know it’s your birthday. All of your brothers and sisters here are so sad that they can’t be with you today and that you aren’t having a birthday party—not even a cake—or one birthday present. So when we bring you home at the end of May we will celebrate your birthday along with your other new brother, Steven. We will have a piƱata filled with candy—I bet you’ve never swatted at one of those before—it’s a lot of fun!

We wish we could call you today to wish you a Happy Birthday. We found your orphanage’s phone number and have been trying to call to see if we can talk to you but there is no answer. We have the phrases “Happy Birthday” “We miss you” “We love you” and “We will see you soon” memorized….though we would have no idea what you would be saying back to us. Anyway, we will keep trying to call for a couple of more hours—after that it will be bedtime for you. Even if we don’t get to talk to you today, we are praying for you….praying that God will allow us to get there as quickly as possible….praying that you are well cared for….praying that you are happy, and that you remember that we’ll be there soon to bring you home with us.

We love you so much Benjamin and are so happy that you are officially our son. We can’t wait to get there and see you again and bring you home to your new forever family. God bless you sweet boy!

Mama and Tatko

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

The Love of Christ Compels Us

Recently an adoptive mom who I’m friends with on Facebook posted something to this effect: “You cannot shame Christians into adopting. If you can get them to adopt by making them feel guilty, then they’ll be full of their own self-righteousness. Christians need to truly KNOW the love of God before they can love orphaned children. It’s not selfishness that is their problem—it’s not knowing God’s love! They don’t have the revelation of adoption because they don’t have the revelation of the awesome, grandiose love of God!” (highly paraphrased by me as I can no longer find that post!!)

That post has stuck with me these past couple of weeks. It always baffled me when fellow Christians would ask us what made us decide to adopt. I’d want to wrinkle up my face, cock my head to the side and say, “Huh?.......... What do you think?  Isn't it obvious??  Isn't it what we're called to?”

I’ve written posts here in the past that had the feeling of “What’s wrong with you people? You call yourselves Christians? Don’t you know that whatever you do for the least of all is what you are doing for Christ? Don’t you know that the type of religion God finds faultless is caring for orphans and widows? Don’t you know that you were adopted into God’s family and that there are over 20 million orphans registered right now for International adoption and that YOU, a child of GOD, could give a home to one of them? Why is the body of Christ so selfish!!!!”

But honestly, I’m so glad that Carolyn wrote that post—it convicted me. Instead of pointing out how selfish the American church has become, better to share with them the deep, deep love of Jesus….......vast, unmeasured, boundless, free!

It's only when we have the revelation of God’s love in our own lives that we can love unselfishly. Without it, anything we do will be in our own strength—and we will more likely fail than succeed….though Christ has a wonderful way of taking our errors and turning them around for his glory! So friends, if you don’t have the revelation of giving your life to care for the orphan, or the widow, or the stranger, or the poor… into the love of God! Bathe yourself in it! Dive in and open your heart to receive it. Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal himself to you. If there is sin that needs to be dealt with, run from it as if running from some dreadful disease. Don’t allow anything to stand in between you and your communion with the Holy God who has adopted you and seated you in Heavenly places with Christ!

Lastly, friends, PLEASE pray with me right now for Carolyn’s son, Danny. This beautiful woman and her husband have adopted many, many children, and have raised so much awareness about adoption of children with special needs, especially children with HIV. Their young son, Danny was just hospitalized for sudden kidney failure and he needs a miracle for his kidneys to be healed and start functioning again.

“Oh Father God…..we lift up Danny to you right now, and trust you for a miracle in his body. We speak life and health to his kidneys right now. We plead the blood of Jesus over him and call for his kidneys to function properly in Jesus’ name! Lord, send your healing power to his hospital room….bring life and make him whole…..and let the peace of God reign! Let him and his family know that you are the God who heals, the God who loves us, and who restores. All of our hope and faith and trust are in you Lord. We thank you that we will see a miracle in Danny’s body…in your Son Jesus’ name!! Amen!”

Monday, April 1, 2013

A Kind of Death

      Saturday night we visited a friend’s church and had two couples approach us asking about adoption. With the first couple, the wife really longed to adopt two older girls, but her husband told us, “I’ve already raised three kids who are now in their thirties and late twenties. I’ve done my parenting. I don’t want to take the risk of bringing two more children into our home. You just never know what it’s gonna be like.” The second couple has been married for 13 years and haven’t been able to conceive. So they are now at the point of wondering whether to pursue adoption or just live a life that doesn’t include children. The husband was asking us questions like, “What’s it really like?” “It’s really hard, isn’t it?” “How do you know how to discipline them?” “They change your whole life around, don’t they?” I could tell that he was looking for someone to affirm to him that yes, adoption is super hard and only a few select ‘gifted’ ones should attempt it. So I said to him, “Yes, you are right….adoption is like death.” His eyes grew super wide, like he couldn’t believe I was being this honest, and that, YES! this was the confirmation he was looking for.” Then I went on, “Bringing an older child into your life will completely change life as you know it. It’s a sort of death to your comfortable way of life, your way of doing things, your relaxing lifestyle. You give up all of that to redeem a life that Christ deems as precious. And remember that Jesus himself said that whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for his sake will find it.” I told him, that yes, it’s a kind of ‘death’. Death to self. But that it’s the biggest blessing imaginable to be able to be the instrument through which God redeems a life and pours out his love.

     Our family is getting ready to go through a kind of death very soon. We are bringing home three precious boys from Bulgaria, ages 12, 9, and 6. We fell in love with them 10 months ago when we saw their pictures and read their life stories. We’ve spent months doing paperwork, going to appointments, and raising the money required to bring these little ones home. And we’re almost at the end. As far as I know, as of today, the Bulgarian judge ruled in favor of all three adoptions (I haven’t heard from the agency so I’m assuming that no news is good news). We will travel in about three weeks to pick up the boys, and everyone in our family is so super excited. Our four children at home pray for the boys every day and are counting down the days until they get here. But only Norman and I know that even with all of the excitement and love we have for the boys, there will be some dying going on here at home. Dying to what we already know and love. Dying to what we are used to and comfortable with.

     It’s not our first time ‘dying.’ We’ve adopted three other times. Each time, life as we knew it changed radically. Of course the excitement and blessing of the child/ren outshadowed the sense of loss that we also felt, but there was loss nonetheless. I think the hardest time was our last adoption, in 2011, when we adopted a sibling group of three. For a year and a half before that I had grown accustomed to my little boy (adopted at 13 months in 2009) being the love of my life. It was just the two of us all day, every day. He was, and still is, such a Mama’s boy and we did everything together. Norman and I felt the call of God so strong on our lives to adopt more children—we didn’t doubt for a moment that this is what we wanted to do. But I remember feeling so strongly that while I was gaining three more precious children, I was at the same time losing my baby. It almost felt like he was dying. It broke my heart to realize that it would no longer just be me and my boy—there were other children I would grow to love and become mother to. Of course, adopting them was the best thing that happened to our family, and they are tightly bonded with us and with their little brother, and I haven’t lost anyone—only gained three more children to love. But being honest, for me I felt like something was dying. And it was…but God raised up new life from the death….a better, richer, more blessed life.

     And now it happens again. I’m used to my four children. I’m used to laying in bed with my now four-year-old as he falls asleep at night. I’m used to sending the boys away to play somewhere so my two girls and I can watch a Jane Austen movie together. We have our family routines and traditions, places we like to go, foods we like to eat, funny things we like to talk about. We like to split up sometimes and the girls do something together while the guys do their thing. Or I take my two boys someplace while Daddy spends time with the girls. We’re comfortable. We’re happy. We’re satisfied. We’re fine. But there are three little boys across the world who have no family routine, no mom and dad to lay in bed with them and scratch their backs at bedtime. They don’t get special time just for them, no birthday parties, no special outings and family traditions, etc. So that’s all about to change. And yes, life as the Garcias now know it will officially come to an end. There are six of us who each need to learn to live with three other human beings who we aren’t used to. And those three little boys each have six new people they need to adjust to as well. So it’s not only a ‘death’ for us—it will be a kind of death for them as well. A loss of everything they’ve known their whole lives. No matter how inferior living in an orphanage is to living in a family, we cannot forget that it must be a traumatic event for them to lose all that is familiar to them. But on this Easter week it’s good to remember that just as Jesus had to be crucified and buried before he could be resurrected to a glorious life, we are fully confident that our God will raise up something glorious and beautiful in this home as well. “For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it.” Luke 9:24 This is the Great Reversal.

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