Saturday, July 30, 2011

A Heart for Orphans

Lily talks about the Big O quite often. She likes to tell us things about her life and we ask lots of questions. I try to ask her as much as I can before she forgets some of it, so I can record it for her life book. I think that she is just ready to say goodbye to it forever though. The few times she has been around someone speaking Chinese to her she acts really really shy and doesn't really want to talk. This is the way she acted to the guides in China. Before I got to know how smart Lily is, I thought maybe her mind could not comprehend well and that she just couldn't speak. We couldn't get her to talk to anyone in China (translators). But now that I know Lily is very smart, and that she has learned English amazingly fast, I figure there is another reason.

My friend Tian said that maybe she doesn't want to speak Chinese anymore because we don't speak Chinese and she wants to be like us. I think this could be exactly right. I also think being around Asian people makes her nervous. She clings to us and clams up. I think she is nervous they are connected to the Big O. And even when our Home Study Coordinator came (who is not Asian), Lily got extremely nervous. I think she noticed she was a professional and that made her scared. Lily will ask us things like, "Lily never go back to orphanage? Never ever?" I always get in her face and love her and say NEVER EVER EVER. She knows that Jesus told us to go get her and I told her Jesus told us to never take her back. Jesus gets bonus points! She loves this man named Jesus, wherever He is! One day while Daniel was hugging me he told Lily that we are married. And she repeated, "Ohhhhh, maaaaried." She said she wanted to marry one day and Husband asked her who she wanted to marry (just for fun to see if she had an idea what we were talking about). She scrunched up her nose, thought for a moment and said, "Jesus!" We grabbed her and told her what a great answer that was and as she hopped away I said, "You will marry Him one day! We all will!"

Daniel and I want to take the whole family back to Gansu Province on missions in years to come. But we realize that we will have to wait for Lily to not be fearful. She has told us that she never wants to go back.

One thing she does want us to do is to go to China and get a boy there who she shared a room with and called him her brother. We Americans called him David last summer because we couldn't remember or pronounce his name. I wrote about him last year. Lily shared a room with two older girls (who are too old to be adopted) and this boy, David. So far, he is really the only one who she has expressed sadness over, but she has never cried that she missed him.

Lily and I were talking at the table the other day and she was describing that the boy crawls on the floor. I believe he has cerebral palsy. I remember him hobbling around there, but not crawling. She seems to have genuine love for him. Which is great because she hasn't shown a lot of emotion about anything else concerning China. She seems to have be grateful to leave. The months that passed between us accepting Lily's referral and getting there to her, we always wondered if she knew that someone was coming for her. We wondered if she understood family. Or if she knew she would never come back. Would she be sad? She told me that she got to play with Hope there so I know that means they told her we were coming to get them both. And we sent her a cake and a book with all our photos. And when we got Lily that first night in Lanzhou, she acted as if she had always been part of our family. She never acted shy or confused or lonely or scared. NEVER. It was as if she knew exactly what was going on and she embraced it.

Still to this day I am in awe of Lily. After spending a week with her last summer I didn't know much about her mental development. I knew she showed signs of being able to learn and that was good, but her skills were just so delayed and we couldn't speak to her. So when we agreed to adopt her, we were prepared for anything. I can remember telling Daniel that she might live with us forever and may not be able to get a job. And that was fine with us. That's not what we think is perfect anyway. And she can still live with us forever if she wants to. But now that we have her, we are shocked at how smart she is. She is like a rare gem discovered in a dusty cave covered with tons of dirt and hidden. And the moment she was transferred into our care she blossomed like a butterfly from it's cocoon! Like someone had discovered the gem and washed it off and not everyone noticed its beauty and brilliance.

We made the decision to love Lily just as she was (whatever she was). And we didn't even think that we would pray for her to be delivered of any mental disease or trauma, to get her to be the child we wanted. Lily was Lily and that's what we wanted. Because sometimes OUR idea of abnormal, challenged, delayed or handicapped isn't at all what the reality it. I don't care about all my kids fitting into a small box I label NORMAL. (People who know Johnny are probably saying that's a good thing, since he wears long sleeves and jeans in the summer). Letting them become who God created them to be is exactly what I want. I think people spend a lot of money trying to become normal and to get their kids to be normal. As said by others, normal is so overrated.

So little Lily Love has amazed us all. She is becoming a bit softer lately, and maybe it's because she doesn't feel the need to defend herself as much anymore (common for growing up in the Big O). She is bonding with me more and I love her more every day. She wins you over for sure. She is amazingly strong, resilient, and joyful. She makes the most of each day. She is eager to go and learn and watch and do. She looks at all of us when we watch TV like, what are you doing?! What a waste of life (and I agree).

I know that Lily will be speaking to thousands of people one day about her life. My nephew Zach will be too, so they can tour together telling people to make the most of every day. Zach's motto is "You gotta look in the mirror. You gotta like what you see." He also says "You never know how much life you've been given so you gotten make the most of it!" Two kids that some might view as not so normal, kicking all our boodies calling us out from our mundane lives! How often do we complain about stupid things? My favorite pet peeve is saying you don't want that to eat because you just had that kind of food last night. WHO CARES? There are real problems in this life and they don't involve eating Mexican food at a nice restaurant two nights in a row.

If we spend our lives wrapped in our little American bubble TRYING to appear normal to everyone else, buying things we don't need, disassociating with our dysfunctional family members, surrounding ourselves with only people that tell us what we want to hear and don't call us out or challenge us, then I know we will regret our lives when we stand before God Almighty.

The little boy in the orphanage, David, is about to age out of the system. Actually, he's not even in the system because the people in the orphanage may not have felt like anyone could adopt him. So for him to adopted quickly before his birthday will be a miracle! Lily wants us to go. I haven't bothered to explain to her that we cannot adopt again for 18 months because we adopted an older child. I did however tell her that we don't have the money to go back right now. Which is true. We are about to have surgery three since we got them. And unfortunately adoption is expensive. She adamantly said, "Daddy WORK. MONEY!" She knows now that Daddy has to work so much to make money, so now she understands the concept. So she doesn't understand why Daddy can't just work for money for David.

Already, Lily has a heart for others...a heart for orphans. So do I. For some reason most of us reading this were not born into neglect and abandonment. David cannot help that he was born with a disease that caused his parents to give up parental rights. I don't know if it's too late for David. I pray for a miracle. Before I went to China and saw the children at the orphanage I had my idea of what a child that we could adopt looked like. But that's all changed. Because when you realize that you can make a decision that changes someone's life and destiny it makes you stop and can I say no.

That's why so many people that adopt go back for another and another.....and maybe more. Husband says God knows our hearts and that we would take in more if we had the finances. Once you have the heart for adoption it's hard to keep it under control. It's not about building a's about giving them a family!

I realize not everyone can adopt. And I realize that not everyone should adopt. I liked what Mary Beth Chapman wrote in her book, "Choosing To See," about when she was trying decide on adoption. She writes about how she did not feel confident that she would be able to really pull it together and do it but then she thought that a kid with a half-crazy mother is better than an orphan with no mother at all! And when her friend tried to tell her she felt too old to adopt, Mary Beth told the friend that an old mom is better than no mom!!!

So many people are drawn towards the idea of adoption but for some reason or another they just never really go through with it. It's a scary thing, I admit. When we were in China with all 5 kids and Lily was giving me mean looks and clinging to Husband I thought I might've ruined our family for good. But it was worth it. And it will be worth it forever. Even if our three biological kids have to learn to adjust and love and share differently...that's good for them. There is enough love for everyone.

I get excited about things I love in life. If I use a certain product my friends and family have often told me I sound like a commercial for the product. I love to share good things. I love to share goodness! And I cannot tell you what adoption has done to me and for me. Ugh, I hate to think of living my life knowing God told us to adopt and we ignored the call. Everyday we look at Lily and Hope and we get a sick feeling of thinking about saying no to either one of them or never going through with the adoption process.

So now, I just cannot keep my mouth shut. I can't help it. And as Christians, is there not a more worthy cause, a purer religion, than serving widows and orphans. And you can help orphans even if you cannot adopt. Like all the people who helped us raise money for our China trip! We could not have done it without the support. I would've had to go alone to get Lily and Hope. And we have had people help us with dental bills and our coming trip to Ohio for Lily's surgery in September.

My heart is that the Church of Jesus Christ would help support adoptions and adopt all the orphans of the world. It's possible. It really is.

Here is a story about a new program where orphans can come to America and meet potential adoptive families!

This is our adoption agency's website.

This is the organization of our good friend's that you could give to monthly to make eternal differences in other's lives!

There are lots of them....but lots of us.

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