How did you know he was your son?
It all started with this facebook post:
“Adéye Salem – January 2, 2012 So absolutely heartbroken for one little boy who almost had a family last week--and then didn't. Oh my goodness, knowing where he is and the heinous conditions he is forced to live in just about rips my heart out. I am aching for this child who has regressed SO much simply because of where he is! Life confined to a crib is NO LIFE AT ALL!!!!! Oh God in heaven...how desperately we need you here!”
While reading the comments on the post I was led to a blog post about the little boy. You can find it here. She talked about the awful room he was imprisoned to and how he had regressed because of it. She talked about his behavior and that he was at risk of being transferred to a mental institution.
Now to back up a little, I read stories like this all the time, you do when you become part of the adoption community because the plight of the orphan becomes important and advocacy becomes one of the only avenues to try to ‘save them all’. I see stories so much that it has almost made me numb to them, you almost have to become numb or serious depression can set in. Most stories I read are very sad and I pray for them but I am able to move on with my day. Not with this one! I wept and wept. I was at the computer and my husband was in the living room. I was trying to contain myself because I knew if I even mentioned this boy or adoption to my already exhausted husband, he might think I had gone off the deep end. I locked myself in the bathroom and wept…I prayed…and I knew it…he was our son. It happened just that quickly. I was not looking for it, I didn’t even want it after just being home with a new little one, but there it was.
Okay God, but YOU are going to have to tell my husband. I collected myself and showed my weary husband the story. I waited with baited breath for a reaction. There really wasn’t one. I prayed and we talked and I prayed and we prayed and we talked and we prayed…and so it went for the next few days. Going back and forth with the whys and what ifs. When he was sure I was doubting and when I was sure he was doubting. We had a lot of concerns and we agonized over them but the one thing we could not get away from was God, His word, and His Spirit.
We were scared but scripture played over and over in our minds about dying to self, caring for the least of these, fear not, I will be with you…
Were we excited? Cautiously. We are always excited when God gives us another child, but we are keenly aware that this adoption, bonding, adjustment, and long term care will most likely not be as easy as the others have been. And the others have not been that easy.
But through faith and trust in the living God we committed to bring our son home! He is our son no doubt about it. God is calling us and commanding us in His word to adopt him no doubt about it. We have fallen head over heals in love with him no doubt about it! We really did not need any more confirmation from God because we were going for it. But God in His awesome ways has since showed us, in ways too unbelievable to be coincidence, that Valentin is our son.
I know, I am long-winded but I have to share this. Hopefully I can do so in a way that makes sense. Since adopting, I have bookmarked several blogs. Most are families we have either traveled with to adopt or people we have come to know as they adopt. All have to do with Chinese adoptions because our adopted children are from China. Over a year ago I was turned on to this blog. I love what she writes so I followed her. From there over the course of last year I was led to many other blogs, most I read but never bookmarked. Two stuck out and I bookmarked them, here and here. I would love to follow many blogs but time only permits the ones that really speak to me. No joke, after committing to adopt Valentin I found out that all three families, whose blogs I bookmarked, adopted from the same orphanage and the same room that Valentin is in. Does that send chills up your back like it does mine? God was working this all out before we had any idea. Love it!
Why are you adopting him?
I think the why is pretty obvious, he needs out of where he is and he needs out now!
I think the question is more about our motivation to adopt him.
We have enough experience with God that we believe, and so many of His promises tell us, that we are most fulfilled when we are in His will. That’s not easy to remember especially in our culture. Culture says life is good and happy when you are rich, powerful, and comfortable. The bible says otherwise; you are rich when you are poor, blessed are the meek, many who are first will be last and the last first. It’s all about worldview, is life all about me or is it about serving others? It is all about me or is it about God?
I have been doing a study in the book of James…for those of you that study your bible that’s all I have to say isn’t it? You get why it is so important to put our faith into action. I like what one bible teacher says “The overlapping theme of the book of James is this: Your faith is never more then your works.” Put another way, if you don’t live it, you don’t believe it. In the last few weeks we have been confronted with that, are you going to talk the talk or are you going to walk the walk? So when I saw Valentin’s picture and felt that deep sinking feeling in my gut, I knew what we had to do. We knew what we had to do.
Because our worldview has changed, we see the value of Valentin’s life not in what he can and cannot do, whether he would be a ‘burden’, or how easy he would be raise but in the fact that he is created in the image of God. That God knit him together in his mother’s womb and that God has a hope and a future for him. That is what makes him precious. That is what makes him special. He is a beloved child of God, one whose soul cannot be touched by physical or mental disability.
So why are we adopting Valentin? Because God adopted us first and gave us new life. How could we not adopt Valentin and give him new life, paving the way for him to know Jesus the way we know Jesus.
And I might add, it certainly does not hurt that he is so stinkin’ cute!
Are you sure you can do it?
No, but yes. Does that make sense? Valentin has the trifecta of adoption issues: more challenging special needs, institutional environment (and a bad one at that), and his age. Add to that the fact that he is likely sedated and will need to be weaned off drugs and the picture of a perfect adoption with easy bonding and an easy ever after flies right out the window.
Is it going to be easy? No, not at all. Are we prepared for everything? No, there is no way we can be. Will we fail at some things? Yes. We feel somewhat qualified to adopt him simply because we have dealt with a lot of the over-stimulation, sensory, bonding, institutional, and behavioral issues with previous adoptions. We still don’t have the answers to a lot of our concerns. Some we can plan for, some we cannot. We can educate ourselves on his medical conditions, we can consult doctors and adoption professionals, we can read blogs and consult with parents who have walked similar paths, and we diligently do all these things. We are as sure as we can be that we can do this but at the end of the day, we have to simply trust God. When we look at the situation as God sees it, with a biblical worldview, we have to ask ourselves two things 1. Is this what God’s word and the Holy Spirit are telling us to do? 2. Could we look Valentin in the eye and tell him “No, it will be too hard and you are not worth it.”
The answers to those questions are easy and clear. So are we sure we can do this? In and of ourselves, no…But with God all things are possible.
How much do you need to raise?
I hate talking about this, I really do. Obviously you can see one gaping hole in my character. But so many people ask me and so here it goes, we need to raise the entire $24,000 it is estimated this adoption will cost us. We have been able to cover the smaller upfront fees by cutting back but the big expenses come at the end with travel and all the in-country expenses. It is about a 5-7 week process in country (with the option to come home for about a week during that time) so you can imagine how expensive it is to pay for flights, transportation, meals, an apartment, and just daily living in another country. Plus all the adoption related in-country expenses. In addition to that, our current vehicle, which we have enjoyed being paid off, only fits 5. We will soon be a family of 6, don’t ask me how we are going to afford a ‘new to us’ vehicle. We are trusting God.
Please know that your donations will ONLY go toward the adoption expenses for Valentin. I am thinking maybe I should not have mentioned the vehicle; we will not be using your donations for a vehicle. The donations are to pay for flights, apartment rental, etc…things to get him home. We will deal with the rest later. I like how one mom broke it down, “No amount is insignificant, every penny counts. Think of it in these terms: $5 can buy a meal in country, $50 pays the driver for one daily orphanage visit, $100 for the embassy medical, $400 covers the cost of his Visa that brings him home.”
Again, we would never ask for help if 1. Valentin didn’t need it so badly and 2. If we were not making many efforts to pay for it ourselves by cutting extra expenses (we will not miss cable), selling what we can, buying off-brand and used, etc…
We have been so blown away by how so many of you have helped, sacrificing things to help Valentin, none of it is taken for granted. We are humbled by your generosity. I will have to write a separate post about all the amazing stories that have been shared with us; God is doing an amazing work!!!
A footnote to all this
It is my deepest desire that none of this comes across as haughty. As if we are somehow at the pinnacle of our faith and we have it all together. I assure you we do not. Other then the living God inside us, there is nothing special about us at all (and it does not take a special person to adopt, only a willing one). Just today I lost my temper and yelled at my kids, how’s that for good Christian behavior? We have been known to skip church because we were too lazy. And if you run into us at the grocery story check out line and one of our kids yells, “hurry up lady” you probably know where they got that from.
The fact that God takes our wretched sinful lives, washes them clean, and uses them for wonderful purposes is truly amazing!