Our third major milestone this summer was marking the one year anniversary of Iris’s adoption. It was the quickest year of my life. We arrived home last August just after her 7th birthday. Here is the first picture we saw of her:
Part III – What my second adoption taught me.
#1 – God has a plan
Yep, even this time around he did. I have spent a great many years dreaming about going to China to adopt a little girl. By the time we got around to the adoption, China was a 5 year wait unless you went special needs. I wasn’t mentally ready at the time to add another child with special needs to our house. I just had a major mental block there. That’s because God intended to send me to Africa to get Mesfin. When our hearts were open to another adoption I just knew China was where we would go.
I’m so thankful that I listened to God’s plan. And it wasn’t easy. When you dream of a child for so long as I did a daughter from China, it takes time to make the mental switch to another country. I had to mourn this daughter that I yearned for so much. She wouldn’t be.
But God knows the desires of our hearts and even though I had put it all aside, He was just asking me to wait.
#2 – Sometimes adoption actually DOES save a child.
Although I believe that no one should go into adoption for the sole reason of saving a child, AND that children are better off with their biological parents in the country of birth if possible, I can’t ignore the millions of children that sit in orphanages with little or no future. In Russia and Ukraine, 16 is the age that you are forced out of the orphanage. 15% of the kids commit suicide, 60% of the girls end up as prostitutes, and 70% of the men go to prison for major crimes.
Parts of China do their best to help a child be successful after the orphanage, but the ones with special needs are hopeless. Iris would have little chance of getting married and would face much discrimination in the workplace. Iris has a mild knee deformity that causes her leg to be slightly bent. That’s it. But she wasn’t perfect enough. We have friends in Ohio who adopted a Chinese 11-year-old with spina bifida and she wasn’t allowed to go to school. They felt her handicap was too great. She sat in a diaper and wheelchair all day, every day, never leaving the orphanage. What would have ever become of her at 18?
We are called to be a father to the fatherless. Adoption is an answer.
#3 – The journey can be the easiest in life
Yep, that’s right. We were so prepared for another major adjustment, yet Iris sailed right in like she owned the place. We are so similar that I think it is more likely I was kidnapped for 12 months, kept drugged, impregnated, and then gave birth to this girl as opposed to we just randomly picked her out from a stack of files.
And the sarcasm my friends. It is a wonderful gift God has bestowed upon me and she is also brilliant at it. How is this possible? The Chinese are not particularly known for their biting sarcasm. I’m telling you, she came from my DNA.
#4 – Wounds remain
Iris’s sorrow is over choice. Through tears she has told me that adoption is just so hard because she didn’t get to pick any of it. She promises she would have picked me if it was possible, but it is all so scary because no one ever asked her what she wanted.
Iris also spent the first 5 years of her life with a foster family. Then the governing agency said it was time for school and so she left that family and went to an orphanage for school age kids. Then they chopped off her long hair. I hear that story often. She misses them.
Both foster parents continued visiting her at the orphanage once she left. They called her and brought her gifts. But they did not prepare her well, for she was even unsure if she came out of her China momma’s belly.
No, I told her, there was a mom that had you in her belly and she had to give you up. Then when you were two days old you went to live with your foster parents.
I don’t want to talk about it, she replied. I don’t need to miss two mommas that gave me away.
When she was told she would be coming to America, Iris called her foster parents and says they cried, exclaiming We don’t want you to go! Of course the mother said that because she would miss her. But what Iris heard was I am so mad at you for going! No matter what I tell her, she will not believe that her foster parents still love her, instead believing they harbor a lot of anger towards her for leaving.
#5 – Forever will never be long enough
I know you just read this about Mesfin, but it’s true. Every project in school where they do a time line or a biography and I can only come up with a year, five years, of memories makes my heart hurt.
On her birthday I will always remember that there are two mothers in China that ache for Iris. One that felt her grow for 9 months and one that spent 5 years clearly covering her with love.
I get the forever. And I will do it to the best of my abilities in dedication to the women who came before me, for a shorter time, but loved them both as deeply as I do.