Colin & Noelle

Colin & Noelle


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Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Adoption: Where Mourning & Rejoicing Go Hand-in-Hand.

This month, Colin and I have reached our 4 month mark on the waiting list. We’re presumably within days of an updated number. And we had managed to get through the waiting with no major emotional breakdowns thus far. All good things, right?

Well, yesterday morning I sat down with my coffee and pulled out a notebook to do some prayer journaling. I like to do this from time to time so that I can look back on how those prayers have been answered, or perhaps pray through them again. My intent was to pray for our child, in whatever stage of development they might be in. Then as I put my pen to paper my heart just spilled open in a completely different direction.  Things came out that I hadn’t really verbalized to myself – things I didn’t fully recognize were in there.

You see… Adoption is hard.
And I don’t mean the paperwork. Or the fundraising. Or even the waiting. Or any of “the process”.

Adoption, itself.
Because as beautiful as it is, adoption always stems from loss.

With this awareness, I was prayerfully writing away. I was thanking God for being in control and knowing our baby completely, long before we ever meet them. And then I began writing about how helpless I feel. How out of control it all seems to me. Because deep down, I know that this process isn’t about us finding a perfect little child to fit our family. This is about us providing a family to a child that has lost everything. Before we bring them home, they will in some form or another experience the loss of their birth family. They will then come home with us to the United States where they will experience so much more loss; loss of familiar sights, smells, foods, language, and sounds; loss of their culture and heritage. These are losses that children can feel even as young as infancy and that affect them so deeply – and never completely vanish. This isn't a new concept to us, but the reality of it hit me deeper than it has before.
We don’t yet know the circumstances that will surround our child’s early life. We don’t know what kind of loss they will endure before we get to them. But one thing we do know is that the closer we get to them, the closer they are to suffering the greatest tragedy they will likely ever face. As we excitedly count down each month and look forward to moving closer to the joy of adding to our family, our child will be out there at some point, suffering. We’re eager to get closer to that moment – but it will be at the cost of another family being torn apart. How am I supposed to feel about that? Even though I know that tragedy happens and it’s not our fault, I find some guilt in rejoicing.

I think the biggest sense of guilt for me comes in knowing that so many of the conditions that lead to the need for adoption are conditions that we could alleviate in some way. I think of this family – our family in a sense – and I think, “What if they’re starving and they need food?” Then I look in my stocked pantry. “What if they die due to lack of clean water or some preventable disease?” And then I realize how accessible and affordable our water is – and how we could likely pay for many of their medical needs just off of the loose change we have lying around. And yet, no matter how heavy my heart hurts for this family, I couldn’t give them any of these things if I wanted to because I don’t know who they are. Last night, when sharing this with Colin, I broke down.  I told him that the reason I feel so helpless is because no matter what I might want to do for them – I can’t. If this was any other loved one of ours, and I knew that food or clean water or simple medicines could save their life, there isn’t one of them that I wouldn’t be able to reach out to and help in some way. If this was anyone else I loved, I could assess the problem and do something.
[I realize that if this was possible, and I could meet their needs, this would probably mean no adoption for us, but again… that’s the double-edge sword of adoption. Rejoicing and mourning. They seem to go hand-in-hand.]


These things have been constantly on my mind. Right, wrong, or indifferent… there you have it. I’m not sure if most adoptive-parents-to-be feel this way, but I get the idea that many of them do. It may not be a “pretty emotion” to write about, but it’s real and I think it’s worth talking about and recognizing. Not even for my own benefit, but for our child’s. I have a strong faith in God. I trust that no matter how badly it hurts, He has reasons that are far beyond anything that I could comprehend (Isaiah 55:8). I recognize that despite the fact that I know nothing of our child or their family – He knows them more fully than I could ever dare to imagine. I will be praying for them. Honestly, that’s the best thing I can offer because God’s resources for them far outweigh anything I could ever hope to give them if given the chance. So yes, I feel helpless. At times, I feel frustrated. But I don’t feel afraid; I feel peace in the midst of grieving for this family. And I’m truly okay with that. Mourning can be healthy if we take it to God and allow Him to work in our hearts in those hard moments. If anything, it provides an abundant dose of humility.

But as for our child – it won’t be so simple. Especially early on in life. Not only will they deal with trying to grow up understanding everything I’ve already written about, but they’ll be raised in this American culture where people talk about how “lucky” our child is to be here. While adoption is a beautiful blessing, we must fully recognize that it only exists because tragedy has already occurred. To pretend that it’s always some blissful event and focus only on the joys, is insensitive to the child and memory of their first family. So let’s resolve to look at adoption for what it is – not through rose colored glasses that censor out the pain and suffering. And let’s resolve to talk about it. And pray about it.

Thank you for letting me go to such an honest place,
Noelle :)

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Some blessings come in Jars.

I've been trying to find the time to sit down and share something special.

On Christmas Eve, Colin and I headed to our church's Christmas Eve service. As we walked inside, we saw our friend Candace motioning to us from the information desk. She showed us a box and a card that someone had left for us. We opened the card to read, "For your adoption fund. Read the story - pay it forward. Merry Christmas!" No signature. No indication of its origin. Nothing.

A little surprised and unsure of what to think, we took the lid off of the box to find two large mason jars full of spare change, some rolled up bills, and a little piece of paper that read "Christmas Jars, a novel by Jason Wright"! I was floored. Looking back, I almost want to laugh at how awkward we probably looked standing there, unsure of what to think or what to do next.

After the shock of it all wore off, Colin brought the box to the car, and we went in to enjoy a lovely Christmas Eve service. The whole time my mind kept going back to that. "Who could it have been?" "What is this 'Christmas Jars' story all about?" "Why didn't they leave their name?" "How could I thank them if I couldn't identify them?" And then I went through just about everyone I know at church that knows we're adopting (so practically everyone!). I still don't know. And I still can't personally say thank you. But I can say it here: THANK YOU for such a precious gift, our dear Christmas-Jar-Donation-Bandits. Not just the money, but the joy that comes in knowing that others are thinking of us in this season of life. For having a heart that wants to be generous and doesn't care about getting any recognition from it (although I am still going crazy trying to figure out who you are!)

After the service, as soon as I got settled in the car for the ride home, I pulled out my phone and immediately looked up this Christmas Jars book online. I wanted to understand. Long story short, it is a fictional novel that encourages the idea of anonymously paying-it-forward by collecting your loose change over the course of the year into jars. Then on Christmas Eve, choosing a family to bless with the change. If everyone who receives this gift, turns around and does it for someone else each year, imagine how giving our world would look. You can find it here on Amazon, to purchase or learn more. We look forward to reading it and having the opportunity to pass it on! :)

Monday, January 7, 2013

Melkam Gena!


Today, January 7th, is Ethiopian Christmas! So we wanted to wish all our family and friends a very "Melkam Gena" -- or "Merry Christmas".
We're not doing much to celebrate this year, although we hope to mark this special day in the future with our child once they come home to us. This year, with the (American) holiday season busy as ever, a break down of our only decent computer, and hosting visiting family, we have been keeping pretty busy (hence the lack of posts over the past month) and have wrapped up the holidays in our household. [I still have phone calls to return to some of you -- I promise I'm working on it!]
But despite our hectic schedules lately, I wanted to take a quick minute to share a little bit about Christmas in Ethiopia.
*Ethiopian Christmas happens every year on January 7th. (Ethiopia is on an entirely different, 13-month calendar system, by the way!)

*Many Ethiopians fast the day before, leading up to Christmas. Fasting is very common in Ethiopia. I have no facts off the top of my head, but in the name of crummy reporting, I will say that I have heard that Ethiopians fast more days out of the year than the days they do not.
*Christmas Eve / early morning Christmas Day services are a big part of the holiday. Many will attend all-night services or awake very early to make it to service.
*Christmas is actually not the "biggest" holiday in Ethiopia. Timkat (coming January 19th) is known as the Feast of Epiphany (celebrating Christ's Baptism) is one of the largest holidays in Ethiopian culture. I've also heard that Easter (April or May) is a bigger deal than Christmas. Ethiopian New Year (September 11th) and Meskal ("Feast of the True Cross" -- September 27/28th)  are also notable holidays. Christmas is not what it is here in America.
*Exchanging gifts is not customary.
*Ethiopians will dress in white, traditional clothing on this day.
So wherever you find yourself today, whether you are celebrating Ethiopian Christmas, or simply going about your day, we hope you're having a great one, and that your holiday season has been full of many blessings!