It has been quite a journey that we have undertaken in the last 10 months. We started out by just thinking about what it would be like to add a little one to our family. Then we started taking the classes for adoption and sitting in a small room on uncomfortable chairs for two days straight listening to a lady that new everything about adoption and trying to keep up taking notes. Then we started with the first meeting with the homestudy and continued to work on that homestudy for what seemed like a lifetime. Others around us were completing their homestudies in 1 or 2 months and ours went on for what seemed like a year, but was really 4 months or so. We had documents signed by doctors, by lawyers, by friends and family and then had them all notarized, some of them more than once. We had one set of documents that we had to re do 4 different times. It felt like the paperwork would never ever stop rolling in. We had great people helping us at our agency Reece's Rainbow and we had great people in Chicago helping us get all the paperwork done and notarized.
So the paperwork finally got all done, checked and then double checked to ensure that it was exactly what we needed to send for final review. But before that we needed to put a state appostille on all the paperwork downtown CHicago. And, oh yes, don't forget the frantic call we got from our US based helper that said that we had an incorrect document and we needed to get a new one OVER NIGHTED so that they could re attach to our Dossier and re submit for approval.
So for about 10 months, it was all about the process. It was all about paper and UPS and notary and appostille and dreams and homestudies and roadblocks. It was all about getting there. Then today happened.....
We finally made it to the city where our little one has lived for the better part of the last two years of her life. She was born to a family here in this town of about 70,000 people. She was given up in the hospital at birth by her mother because they were afraid of the reputation and stigmatism that they would get from having a child with Down Syndrome. They even went so far as to register the birth of their child in a completely different city so that people would never know that they had a child that was what they refer to as an "Invalid". Think about that for a second. This mother and father didn't only not want their child, but they did everything they possibly could to make sure that no one would ever know that the child they had was different. They worked pretty hard to make sure that their baby would never be tracked back to them. For what reason they did all this work, we will never know the absolute reason. But it is safe to say that they did not want others around them to think that they were somehow cursed by God because they had a child that was different. Or they did not want the rest of their life to be scared in their community by a child that was different. My first thought for people like this is pity and sadness for such selfishness.
Yesterday was a crazy day of running around and meeting her for the first time. But today was the first day that we had one on one time with her for 2 hours, 2 seperate times during the day. We were with her from 930-11am and then again from 4-6pm. This morning from 930-11 was a really great time for Dena but not so much for me. Lucy Maria Sader was not used to seeing men before and was very scared of me this morning. She really had a negative reaction to me and really clung to Dena for the whole time. I kept telling myself that it was just because that she never sees male figures in the orphanage and that the familiar female touch and voice was much more soothing and comforting to her. But no matter what I told myself, I could not holdback the sadness and frustration that I had because she was not taking to me at all. I felt sad and embarrased and frustrated and disappointed and even a few times felt like I should just stay back at the hotel while Dena goes to develop the bond with her at first and then I could come later. I have never in my life had a child be scared of me like she was and it was just really sad to my heart.
After we got through the play time we were on the way back to the hotel and I was trying to explain to Dena what it feels like to have that happen. She was not really understanding what it felt like but at the same time trying to reassure me the best she could. We had a small lunch together in our room and just briefly spoke about it some more. I could not shake the feeling and it did not feel good at all.
Then something hit me hard and very specifically. It was a jolt or a whisper from God and the only thing I can remember hearing in my head was "It is not about you". As I heard this whisper from God, I said it outloud to Dena and we both just kind of let it go. But I thought about it internally for another hour or so and it just kept hitting me, "It is not about you". As I processed the whisper it became so clear to me that all of my sadness or frustration or embarrassment was all wrapped up in what I needed and not what Lucy needed. I was focused on all the hard work that we had done to get to this point and was looking for the big payoff with a great connection immediately with Lucy and for her to just love us both from the very beginning. I was looking for my needs to be met and not thinking about what Lucy needed or what God was asking of me. What an absolute infant I had been in thinking this way and not thinking about Lucy first. Then I prayed to God for peace and asked for him to meet me right where I was, a child looking for forgiveness for being selfish and self absorbed.
Then later in the day after our second meeting in the afternoon went so much better and Lucy was more open to me, I started thinking about her biological mother and father. I started thinking about how selfish I was and not thinking about Lucy's needs and how judgemental I had been yesterday in thinking about her mother and father and how they were so selfish in their needs to give her up. Some might say that their selfishness was so much more horrible than mine. But selfishness is selfishness. Lucy has had a short life in an orphanage because of the selfishness of two people and what God was telling me and reminding me of today was that she has had plenty of selfishness in her life. Lucy does not need any more adults in her life that are thinking about their wants and needs more than hers. She needs a father and a mother that are focused on and determined to provide a life for her on this earth full of SELFLESS love.
Today was not only a day of joy and love because we had a full day with our new little girl. But it was also a day of learning and humility for me, her father. I learned once again that judging others is not my job, but only Gods job. And I also learned again that this life is not about me. It is about connecting my heart to the heart of God, it is about giving grace for mistakes and it is about giving my life to others in a way that will bring glory to God and bring me that much closer to God's heart!
If we are listening, God is always teaching.....