Remembering

Jan
2014
13

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Most days I don’t tend to dwell too much on my children’s past as orphans. I don’t know if this is good or bad or normal. I don’t know that there really is a “normal” when it comes to adoption. But the fact is that our daily life is just fairly ordinary, the kids we’ve adopted are remarkably well adapted, and I just don’t spend a ton of time thinking about their past. They are our children. They feel like our children. They respond to us as our own children.

But there are days, like today, when it’s a constant drumming thought in my mind. Days when we sing in church, “In the night when all our hope is lost/You are the One who won’t give up on us/You hold the orphan in your loving arms” and my eyes fill with tears and I remember – so vividly I remember – holding those children in my arms that night in the car in the parking lot of the airport in Entebbe. So willingly they came into our arms, so deep was their need for a mother and a father.

On days like today, everywhere I look I think of Uganda, of Kampala, of the orphanage. I think of the unclean water and the distended bellies and the relentless snotty noses. I think of the house-mothers who work tirelessly to cook, bathe, dress, teach all these orphans. I think of those children by name. I think of them all curling up for a nap in the middle of the day on that big blue tarp laid out over the concrete floor. I think of the one who sat in the corner and wept silent tears because there weren’t enough balls to go around but he didn’t want to draw attention to himself. I think of how afraid Eva and Titus were when we would go into that orphanage. Afraid that we were going to leave them after all.

I think of the family who we stayed with, working themselves to death to save child after child. I think of all the hard work that goes into every day life there. Of how ill-suited I was for life there, with my weak arms, unable to do laundry by hand, my mediocre cooking skills, not able to make anything without a recipe.

I think of the mother of my children. What a strange sentence. And an even stranger feeling. I wonder where she is. I wonder if she thinks of them often. When we were in that courtroom together, could she see that Josh and I are kind, that we love her children? Or does she live every day in fear of what’s happened to them because she believes the horror stories that she hears of adoptions gone wrong? Does she regret her decision to give up her rights? Or is she happy knowing that they have a chance now? These are questions that will plague me for the rest of my life, I’m sure. Questions without answers.

I could go on and on. I think of how thrilled Eva and Titus were about the most basic modern conveniences. Of how they clapped – CLAPPED – every time we turned on a light for like the first month. So grateful for electricity that is readily available. I think of how they danced in the shower the first time we bathed them in Uganda, so excited for a bath (Titus just came down in his footy pajamas and thanked me for getting him a new loofa. What can I say? They boy loves his loofa.) I think of the way Eva would bring her arms up over her head to hide when she cried in those first months. (Was she afraid? Did she just not want to be seen? I don’t even know if I want to know why she did this). What a relief when she could finally cry freely in front of us. Now she cries loudly and openly when she’s upset, because she’s learned it’s okay to do so.

When Josh got home from his trip today, Eva ran and jumped into his arms shouting, “Daddy!” She loves having a father. She took to him immediately, faster than she did with me. Tonight when he put her in bed, Josh looked at her and said, “Hey Eva, can I tell you a secret? I love being your daddy.” And she replied, “Forever.” Oh how little girls need their daddies.

I think of the poverty. The poverty that you cannot imagine until you’ve seen it with your own eyes. And I wonder what would have become of Eva and Titus had they remained. They had nothing. Their mother had nothing. Statistically there is a very high chance that they would have contracted HIV or simply died young of malnutrition and no health care. These are the hardest thoughts. When I look at my own children, and remember how little chance they had, and remember how I selfishly thought of how hard it would be to adopt them. Even now I hesitantly ask God, Will you ask us to do it again? And that nasty old selfishness rears it’s ugly head in spite of all I’ve seen and all I know.

Today marks 6 months since our children first set foot on American soil. Can it only be 6 months? Oh how afraid I was coming home with those children. Would it be hard for them to learn the language? Would I begin to feel a connection with them? Or would the bonding always be such hard work? Would these 4 siblings, these strangers, become real siblings? Would Eva and Titus begin to really trust us? Would they be able to handle school? Would the culture shock just completely freak them out? Would things ever be normal?

I know I’m rambling. Do you see why I’ve said so little about these things before? There are so many thoughts and feelings and I don’t even know where to begin with them. Adoption is a terrifying, life-changing, miraculous thing. It has changed me at my very core. I know that sounds dramatic. It is dramatic.  Life goes on as it always has, with all of the same demands and tasks and responsibilities that were there before these little ones came. And yet there is a thread of adoption woven through every one of those mundane daily moments. Life. These children have life. Life that I have so taken for granted, now seen through their eyes as a precious gift. Given freely and yet at great cost. A cost I’d gladly pay again.

And I have begun to comprehend, to see, what it is that God loves us as a Father. Life. I have life. Life that I so often take for granted when it is actually the most precious, impossible gift. Given freely to me, and yet at such immeasurable cost. Oh, that I would really see what it means to be adopted by this heavenly father. Who was willing to pay the highest price to take me in His loving arms and bring me home. No more fear. No more anxiety. No more poverty. No more death.

Life.

“I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. Yet a little while and the world will see me no more, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live.”

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