Simply Obedience

 

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After two adoptions, I wouldn’t consider myself an expert. I would however, consider myself an advocate. A supporter. A campaigner. Sometimes I’m even the woman holding back “What is wrong with all of you? Get off your  couch and away from your flat screen and go adopt a kid!” But that’s not very nice, or accurate, so I keep that crazy girl in my head.

Adoption is part of God’s heart. He has adopted all of us and calls us his sons and daughters.

So when I see attempted adoptions fail, my heart aches. Twice in the past few months have wonderful people felt led by God to bring children into their homes, only to have the situation not end in an adoption. In fact, it ended terribly. The experience was so epic, so overwhelming, that neither family is sure they will pursue another child.

At the end of this difficult journey, both families felt relieved, but with that comes a sense of failure. Of disappointment.

And the question “Where is God in all of this?”

It’s the same question I asked in China as I watched a boy be returned to his orphanage after 10 days with an adoptive family, who wept with defeat and flew home alone.

Sometimes the answer to that question is simply obedience.

The willingness to say Pick Me God! I’ll do this ugly and messy thing in life and then when it ends, I’m willing to be broken, hurt, confused, all because you asked me to. Your ways are higher than my own.

Adoption does not make us holy in the eyes of God. Obedience does.

Keep listening. Don’t be discouraged. You did a good thing, as you felt led by God. Not everything God asks us to do get rounded out in a sunset ending.

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.
Galatians 6:9-10

Jesus says the poor will always be with us.  We are not on this earth to eradicate poverty.  That power is not within us.  Only Jesus can set this world back on its original course.

We are here to become more like Jesus every day.  And yes, that does mean doing good. Often.  Always.  Forever.  Whenever God asks, no matter the outcome.

Because We’re All Just Pilate in Disguise

My bible study group has been reading through the book of Matthew this past year and very appropriately we are just coming up to Jesus’s arrest and trial this week prior to Easter.

Last night a discussion began about Pontius Pilate.  If you don’t know his role in this story, he was Roman governor at the time.  When Jesus was arrested, he was brought before Pilate and it was Pilate’s job to discern if Jesus was innocent or guilty.

Pilate questions Jesus, asking him “Are you the king of the Jews?  Don’t you hear the testimony they are bringing against you?”

Pilate knows that the Jewish leaders have arrested Jesus because they are envious of him.  Pilate acknowledges that he can find no wrong against Jesus.  Pilate responds with “You brought me this man as one who was inciting the people to rebellion.  I have examined him in your presence and have found no basis for your charges against him.  As you can see, he has done nothing to deserve death.  Therefore, I will punish him and release him.”

But the crowd insists upon Jesus’s crucifixion.

So Pilate takes a bowl of water and washes his hands in front of the crowd.  “I am innocent of this man’s blood,” he said.  “It is your responsibility.”

Then Pilate hands Jesus over and turns his back on the entire situation.

And here stands the debate.  By turning a blind eye on the situation, one that he knew to be in error, is Pilate truly innocent?

My group responded overwhelmingly no.

But if he isn’t innocent, then don’t we need to take a look at  all the times that we wash our hands of an issue and say Not my problem.

So many of us choose to walk though this life with our eyes focused in such a narrow line that our cares and concerns don’t go beyond what directly crosses our paths.  And our love for those around us, and well, let’s be honest, our love for ourselves and our things, takes priority over most other concerns around the world.  But should it?

People have asked me why I go overseas to adopt when there are children right here in the US that need help.  I usually say that is just where God called me.  And while that is true, I sometimes feel that question comes from this narrow focus of things over there should just not be our problem.

While driving around Ethiopia during our adoption of Mesfin I saw some huge vultures over the city dump.  They were astounding so we stopped to take some pictures.

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Then my point of view shifted and I saw this.

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Yes, that woman lives at the dump. There are countless numbers of parents and children who live at that dump and scour it daily to find something to eat. We can not just wash our hands of that. She is our problem.

The crowd will insist that you worry about your own. You have enough going on right now.

When retailers like Wal Mart are consistently tied to immoral practices overseas, are we really entitled to just wash our hands of the problem so we can obtain an 88 cent box of mac and cheese?

The crowd will tell you that we deserve that low price guarantee! It’s a struggle to feed 5 growing children.

Slavery is at an all time high in our world today.  There are more slaves at this moment, right now when you read this, then were ever kidnapped off the continent of Africa in the 300 plus years that travesty went on.

The crowd will tell you that is a lie.

I understand that this is a battle never to be won. I’m reading The Locust Effect right now that discusses how violence is the most painful of all issues suffered by the poor. And after every heart crushing chapter I stop and think “God, what am I supposed to do with this information?!” The systems are so broken and people’s ideals are so warped, it is beyond me to ever be able to even touch.

Yet I do know this – I am NOT allowed to just wash my hands and say Not My Problem.

The crowd will insist that you can.

So today you may not encounter someone held in slavery, nor a man perishing in prison under false arrest, nor a family that lives in a dump.  But you will make small decisions about where you shop and the brands of clothing you buy that can help start a movement.  You will pass a widow, or a single mom, or a lonely person and you can choose to do something about that.  You could find a way to change the life of an orphan by helping someone finance an adoption.  Today you can decide to look up and around, instead of in, and you can choose to care and love about all that suffer, even if you can’t see a way to change it and it is all the way “over there.”

All of these things are like the other…….they’re children.

Every year I go through the tradition of the Christmas card. I scramble to find a picture (or, through sweat and tears, get one taken) and then I mail them across the country, not without the hope that one will be returned to me. I still get great joy in finding a little something in my mailbox snuggled between stacks of bills.

Here is what mine looked like this year.

front of the card

front of the card

And a little funny on the back.......us Zabrockis can not take ourselves seriously.

And a little funny on the back…….us Zabrockis can not take ourselves seriously.

I love my family. We are unique and different and created in a special way.

So when I saw Mitt Romney’s family picture, I thought, Oh look. another person choosing to create a family in their own way. Look carefully, Mitt is holding his grandson whom happens to be African-American.

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But that wasn’t how MSNBC seemed to see it. Here is a recap of the conversation.

An MSNBC panel had a laugh Sunday over former Gov. Mitt Romney’s adopted black grandson, Kieran Romney, saying that a recent family photo of the Romneys is somehow symbolic of the Republican Party’s “diversity” issues.

Immediately after seeing the photo, guest and actress Pia Glenn said in a singsong voice, “One of these things is not like the other. One of these things just isn’t the same.”

Harris-Perry and her guests, including radio host Jamie Kilstein, The Daily Beast’s Dean Obeidallah and comedian Judy Gold, found Glenn’s joke irresistibly funny.

“And isn’t he the most gorgeous? My goal is that in 2040, the biggest thing of the year will be the wedding between Kieran Romney and North West,” Harris-Perry said, referring to Kanye West and Kim Kardashian’s baby daughter. “Can you imagine Mitt Romney and Kanye West as in-laws?”

“I think this picture is great,” Obeidallah added. “It really sums up the diversity of the Republican party, the RNC. At the convention, they find the one black person.”

Well, nothing like kicking in the new year being totally offended. The insensitivity of it is painful.

There is no way for any of those guests on MSNBC to understand the reasons behind Mitt’s son Ben and daughter in law to adopt a child. Did one of them struggle for years to have one biologically, then after much heartbreak, come to a rewarding and loving decision to be a parent through adoption? Ben has no other children, so maybe. And while Kieran was adopted domestically, would it be different if that baby came from another country? If there was no other person to parent him so Mitt’s son and daughter in law spent thousands and traveled across the world to become parents to a beautiful child that had no one?

I know there are a thousand questions about whether white people (and I acknowledge that those people are REALLY white) can raise a black child. I don’t know. We’re doing our best. I’ll have our son fill you in when he’s 30 about how it’s all worked out. But I will add just two facts here:
1. All birth mothers have the right to choose the adoptive parent for their baby, and nearly 98% do. Around 67% of all adoptions today are in some way an open adoption, meaning that child will have contact with the birth family. What if there is a birth mother out there that has also seen that picture, and she was the one that CHOSE for her child to be raised in that family? I can not imagine what it took to place her child up for adoption. Shame on you MSNBC for even opening the door to any doubts and questions she may be carrying just because you have an issue with Republicans.

2. In the case of international adoption, I speak from experience. No child deserves to live in some of the conditions overseas. So until all children can be matched with parents of the same identical ethnic background as their own, then I’m standing firm on my opinion of the need for adoptions, regardless of your race.

Becoming a parent should not be a political issue. This is not about being a Democrat or Republican. My children have a set of Republican grandparents, and they love all of my kids because they are children, our children. I can only hope that Mitt feels the same about all of his grandchildren.

In addition, not all offspring are a carbon copy of their parents. Believe it or not, Mitt just might have produced a bleeding heart liberal. Look at how different George W’s daughter Barbara Pierce Bush has turned out. In 2011, she released a video with the Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) civil rights organization, calling on New York State to legalize same-sex marriage. “‘I am Barbara Bush, and I am a New Yorker for marriage equality,’ she says in the brief message, sponsored by an advocacy group. ‘New York is about fairness and equality. And everyone should have the right to marry the person that they love.'” Barbara also has been dating Miky Fabrega from Panama. I’m thinking George W. will be attending that wedding if it ever is to happen, regardless of his feelings on immigration.

Harris-Perry did apologize for her comments. Thank you. But how many other people looked at that picture and thought the same thing?

The media may be able to pinpoint and acknowledge Romney’s “race issues,” as they are so often called. But can Harris-Perry identify hers? Did Mitt’s son Ben have such a desire to be a parent that he did identify his and overcame them for a baby? Can I identify mine? Can you? Because I actually want to. I do not ever desire to make a comment that makes anyone feel uncomfortable about their race, especially those that are growing up in a home where not a lot of people look just like them. I dare say those kids need even a little more sensitivity.

I am muddling through this thing called parenthood. Please tell me I am not the only one. Having kids with different ethnic backgrounds does add a little more thought, concern, care. My African and Chinese children know they look different. We talk about it. We’re not hiding anything here.

But when you get my Christmas card I will thank you kindly to not sing “One of these things is not like the other. One of these things just isn’t the same.”

I’m ready!

I went to pick the boys up from camp last week, and as I sat in the parking lot I took a moment to check my email.  There was one from our adoption agency and when I opened it I read something beautiful.  “Your travel has been approved and they are forwarding us the necessary paperwork soon.”

Then I had the most immediate gut reaction where I welled up in tears and this sob escaped me that I didn’t even realize was inside me.  I took a moment to just cry tears of joy before wiping them away and heading out. I was shocked by my reaction.  I didn’t even remember how much excitement and love for my daughter was stuffed deep down inside me.

That’s because I’ve needed to stuff.  And protect.  And hide.  And guard myself.

It’s too hard to love someone and have to wait this long to go and get them.  In order to survive this journey, I’ve needed to push Iris from my thoughts.  I’ve needed to force her out of my mind.  And I can’t even begin to consider what her life is like every day that I wait for some piece of paper to be filed and shuffled and approved.  My friend just said to me the other day “Saying that your child is in the best orphanage is like saying you picked the best turd out of the toilet”  Amen sister.  It hurts to think of my daughter parentless for even one more day.

And then there’s the guarding that I see myself doing, the fear that I am feeling.  Adoption is hard.  There is no way around it.  We did this four years ago with a child almost the exact same age, and to say that we struggled that first year is like saying natural childbirth doesn’t hurt that much.

We struggled to bond with Mesfin, to even like him some days, as he certainly didn’t like us.  We felt like our family was falling apart, when we thought adoption was going to bring us all closer together.  Our marriage felt the strain……I often wondered if Jon looked at me and thought another one of your top-notch crazy ideas jenny.  There was such a sense of nostalgia and longing for the family that we used to be that a sense of loss sent me to sleep amid tears more than once.

It was hard to see what I was gaining that first year when the loss and disappointment was so front and center.

And so here I go again.  Facing this struggle one more time.  And I know that I am more prepared, but I struggle with the balance of preparation that will help me, and fear, that will only harden my heart.

I know there are people out there who listened to me struggle through my first adoption, and are now hearing this again and are thinking “Why are you doing this?”  (I happen to know people are thinking it because some actually say it out loud  🙂  )

I do it because I believe in redemption. I know that I’ve been called to this mission of adoption.  James 1:27 tells me so.  And therefore, beyond the struggles, beyond the pain, beyond the trauma that Iris will go through, I know that God will redeem our story – at. some. point.  There is a rescue from it all.

I think about the story of Job in the Bible, who suffered far more afflictions and pain then I will ever know.  And he cried out “For I know my Redeemer lives, And He shall stand at last on the earth.”

It may not come easy, it may not come quickly.  And it most likely will never look the way that I intended it to look.  But I trust that the greatest story maker of all time is planning the most perfect ending to this chapter of my life, so I guess it’s time to say I’m ready.

 

Iris, we are one step closer…

I mentioned in my last post that we were logged in for our adoption on February 28th.  We were told it would take 4-6 weeks to have our documents out of translation…..

So on March 14th our family decided to pray for a miracle.  We spent the entire day praying that our paperwork would be out of translation on that day – just two weeks after our log in date.  Well the day ended and we didn’t get a call from our adoption agency.  Ok, it just wasn’t intended to be.

Today I open my email and there’s something from Logan, our adoption person.  She informs us that she received an update from China and we are not only out of translation, but we were out of translation on March 14th.

March 14th.  The day we spent in prayer.  Exactly what we had prayed for.

And I refuse to just sit here and tell you “God answered our prayers” in the same way I would inform you that we are out of aluminum foil or someone needs to clean the upstairs bathroom.

Because this is GOD people.  He said “Let there be light,” and there was light.  He took dust, simple dirt, and formed a human, breathing into him the breath of life.  He gave Sarah a child long after her body was physically able to create one.  He helped a band of unloyal misfits through generations of mistakes because they were his chosen people.  He gave us His son.  He is a man (ok God) with a lot of stuff to do.

Yet, he has time to listen to me.  Me.  A crazy, occasionally faithless, constantly questioning, messing-up person with one hand on the Bible in trust and the other hand forever on the phone ready to dial 911 in case He just doesn’t come through this time.  Me.

So when you read this I want you to picture me on my roof, waving a flag, carrying a bull horn and screaming “The Creator of the Universe has answered my prayer!!!!”

It was a small prayer, a simple prayer, and he took the time to listen and say “Sure Zabrockis…I can do that for you.”

That is one amazing God.

And Iris, we are on our way baby.  Hold on.  Feel the presence of God, because He’s there.  You are a Zabrocki too so He’s answered this prayer for you.

We are one step closer…….

 

 

 

The Waiting Game……

I am so tired of waiting.

When it was up to me, and I had to fill out paperwork, or get something done for this adoption, it felt different.  Like it was just one more thing on my massive list to get done.

Well, I’m done.  And now I’m waiting.  I feel like I’m 9 months pregnant, it’s the fourth of July, and I’m sweltering as I try to bend down and pick up some cheap candy for my kids.  Let’s get this over with!

There are all these little steps that I need to pass to reach the goal.

We were DTC – Documents to China early February. We celebrated.  One step down.

Then there was the Chinese New Year so the government took some time off.

LID- it stands for Logged in Date.  China gives us a date that we are officially in their adoption line.  That happened on 2/28.  Keep in mind that we turned all the documents in sometime in early December.  They spent some time being authorized or some other blah blah blah….

Now we are waiting to be OOT – Out of Translation.  Our documents will soon be written in Chinese.

Next we’ll receive an LOA – Letter of Acceptance.

Then we get visas for our daughter from the US government so she can come into the country.

Then we mail those to China and they give us a TA – I think it stands for travel appointment, but it seems so far away I can’t even concentrate on it.

And then, then I can get on a plane and travel around the world to get my daughter.  I have loved her too long now and I just can’t stand to be away any longer.

Do not be afraid, for I am with you; I will bring your children from the east and gather you from the west.

Isaiah 43:5

God’s timing, right?  Last Thursday I prayed for the call that we were OOT.  Come on Lord I said, I’ll take  a little miracle today.  The answer was no.  Sigh

So I wait.

remember the miracles….

This weekend in church our pastor was discussing what to do when doubts about God sneak into our mind and thoughts.  His advice was twofold: Remember the miracles and Be the miracle.

This advice came at such a pinnacle time for me (a miracle in itself that Jesus had a pastor write a sermon just for me).  Last week was a hard one for me.  I am currently homeschooling 3 of my children and I was having one tested at the public school for learning difficulties.  Testing was over on Friday and when we scheduled a date for discussion, I was sad.  I’m no rookie folks.  This would not be my first IEP meeting and I think they stink like a bag of wet cats.

I spent the next day worrying about her.  Should I home school again?  Send her to public school?  Go back to the Christian school?  Maybe we should move to get in a different district?  Wait, if we did move, would she ever find friends again?  Oh man, will she ever get a date for prom?  And if she does, how will she be able to wear those high healed shoes that she loves so much with her AFOs on?  And do college dorms have handicap accessible dorm rooms?  Wait, if I don’t figure out the only right answer to the school question then she’ll never go to college and her future will be doomed, all because I made the wrong decision.  ARGGGGGG!  ….what will ever become of her?!

Holy batman is that lady crazy.

And then Pastor Harlow reminded me to REMEMBER THE MIRACLES.

And I am a woman who not only believes that Jesus is still in the business of miracles, but he’s been handing them out to me for years now.  And I’m going to write them down.  Now.  Because Jesus has actually saved the lives of these children that I keep worrying about.

When my youngest son was born, he had an apgar of 2.  He was smurf blue and not breathing.  Unknown to myself and my doctors, my placenta was breaking apart.  I went in thinking it was labor, but it was only severe cramping (from the placenta) and the doctor decided to just induce labor.  I had an epidural, and after about 8 hours, it no longer worked.  The nurse had forgotten to refill the IV bag.  Hmmm….. When I could feel the labor I realized I needed to push, but I wasn’t even dilated to 10 yet.  The doctor just shrugged and said, “Well, I guess we’re having a baby.”

Will’s life was saved that day.  No one but God alone knew my placenta was breaking apart and that my son was essentially suffocating in my womb.  The doctor told me that evening that had we waited even 12 more hours, my son would have been stillborn.

Someone came from the house of Jairus.  ” Your daughter is dead,” he (told Jairus).  “Don’t bother the teacher anymore.”  Hearing this Jesus, said to Jairus, “Don’t be afraid; just believe, and she will be healed.”    When he arrived at the house of Jairus…..all the people were wailing and mourning for her.  “Stop wailing,” Jesus said.  “She is not dead but asleep.”  They laughed at him, knowing that she was dead.  But he took her by the hand and said, “My child, get up!” Luke 8

Last August our son Mesfin came down with transverse myelitis, an autoimmune disorder that left him paralyzed from the neck down within 12 hours of symptoms.  Doctors said that it looked grim.  People do recover from transverse myelitis, but it takes years and is usually not 100%.  At nine p.m. they started steroids, the only treatment available, and said, “We will monitor the paralysis of his diaphragm throughout the night, and let’s just hope he can still breath on his own by morning.”

He brushed his own teeth at 9 am.  At 2 in the afternoon, he walked again.  Today, he is simply himself.

“Sliver and gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you.  In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.”  Taking him by the right hand, he helped him up, and instantly the man’s feet and ankles became strong.  He jumped to his feet and began to walk.  When all the people saw him…they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him. Acts 3

My oldest daughter has struggled with ADHD and depression for years.  Finally, about six months ago, a doctor came across the right medication for her.  Within weeks she felt different.  She said to me “Mom, I feel like I’ve lived my whole life in a dark hole I couldn’t get out of and now I can finally see a ladder.”

As Jesus was on his way, the crowds almost crushed him.  And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years, but no one could heal her.  She came up behind him and touched the edge of his cloak, and immediately her bleeding stopped.  He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you.  Go in peace.” Luke 8

And then there’s Faye.  My daughter with spina bifida.  The miracles are too many to count, but it starts with a group of doctors telling us to have an abortion because she would be too paralyzed to breath on her own at birth.  We didn’t, she wasn’t.

When I told my husband of my worries that day, I said, “It feels like I just love them too much.”  And he said, “Honey, you don’t love them too much.  Love them like your pants are on fire.  Then realize that they are not yours.  Stop worrying about Faye.  He’s got it covered.  Remember, He’s the one who made the lame man walk.”

So I need to remember the miracles and in the words of David,

I saw the Lord always before me.  Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.  Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest in hope, because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead, you will not let your holy one see decay.  You have made known to me the paths of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence.  Psalm 16