Yesterday morning I was at the airport to send off 11 beautiful Ukrainian children. Knowing what was awaiting them on the other side of their travels, versus what they were leaving here, broke my heart. Standing with the families left behind, I hugged and waved and prayed as we watched them weave through the security line, looking back so many times for another reassuring smile. There are no easy solutions for any of the situations. But families are praying and talking and counting the cost, as they think of the future. I’ve spent many hours talking and messaging and answering questions, troubleshooting different scenarios. It is such a privilege to walk alongside these families who have chosen to love bravely and take big risks. They have opened wide their hearts and homes. And all are considering how to move forward in loving these kids best (please pray for them all!) It has not been easy. But it has been worth it.
Later that morning I walked my son through the community College campus to get his student ID. Although home 18 months, he has still done little schooling. He wasn’t ready. Although I have second guessed many of our decisions, I know that we needed to let him take the lead in his education. He needed time to heal, to decompress, to allow his brain to learn to function NOT in fight or flight mode. And this week he was ready. It will be a slow start, one ESL class at the college. But he is doing it, and doing well. He just plopped down next to me on the couch to show me his schoolwork. So proud. We will ramp up and add more, with the hope of a starting a high school completion/college credit program within a year.
We have so far to go still, but have come so far. His smile is never far from the surface , his heart is peaceful. He knows he is loved. And he has begun to truly think about the future, not just today and tomorrow. To me, this is success.
Little guy is doing amazing. The change in him from a year ago is phenomenal. He loves his family and is thriving in his school. His different therapies are helping to create new pathways in his brain, and healing is continuing in his heart. Every day still holds some challenge or another with him, but he is full of joy (if sometimes a little more exuberant than I’d wish, esp at 7 am!)
I will never be one to paint adoption as a fairytale, happily-ever-after romantic story. It is not. Some adoptions are very smooth and mostly drama-free. Some are not at all as expected, even heartbreaking. Most are somewhere in the middle. With a lot of tears and pain and hard work. Relearning how to parent. How to pour yourself out. How to love with no expectations. And that’s just the parent side…
For months we were running on empty. Barely making it to the next rest stop. Not even sure where we were going. Then one day we realized we weren’t quite as tired, and we were laughing more. And the boys were laughing more, all of them. And life almost felt normal again. A very new and different normal. But good.
But my heart breaks for the orphan. For the 11 we sent back from Seattle yesterday. For the 135 they joined along the way, headed to Kiev. And so many, many more across Ukraine, and across the world, right to our own back yard, in the foster systems of Snohomish County.
I can’t help but ask you, will you please consider how you can join us in caring for them? I know not everyone can adopt, nor should everyone. But everyone can do something. And certainly many more CAN than do. It is not all sunshine and rainbows. But it is holy. It is life changing. It is healing. It is redemption. It is stealing from the enemy these precious treasures, and helping them to find their true selves amidst the brokenness and pain they have endured.
My heart is aching and longing and yearning for the church to open its heart to the orphans of the world. Not just to sponsor a child by sending money to fund an institution, while many such places do very good work. But to open their hearts and their homes so that children can grow up in families and learn the heart of a father and mother. To know someone truly adores them.
If someone knocked on your door and you opened it to find a child there, alone and hungry… And upon further investigation you learned that this child had no family to care for him, what would you do? I believe many, if not all of you, would take that child in and do all you could to meet his needs and love him. And if you couldn’t, you’d find someone who could.
These children cannot knock on your door. But I am knocking. Because their faces and their stories and their names haunt me. I dream about them. I love them. Some I’ve never even met. Some whose stories I’ve learned bits and pieces of. All who need a mom and a dad. A champion. Someone to tell them they matter. That they are important. That they are wanted.
As we say yes to Jesus, He expands our capacity. What seemed impossible a year ago, becomes more than possible. He raises us up to be what He needs us to be, to meet the needs of those He call us to love.
If you’ve ever felt a tug towards the orphan, to foster, to adopt, please don’t push it aside. Please ask the Holy Spirit what He would have you do. It is not just a pet project for a select few. He has made it a mandate for the church. Are we listening?