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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