Sometimes I can’t bear CNN. I can’t stomach Facebook. My heart can’t hold another story of gut-wrenching loss, more video of violence, another photo of a child swollen from hunger, yet more stories of families fleeing from hate in their homelands. I can’t read another word about ugly politics or strands of hateful, intolerant status updates. Sometimes this broken world is too much for me.
But God graciously immersed me in the world of adoption, and so very often he uses adoptive families to turn my eyes from humanity’s bad to its beauty. He uses faces of orphans turned daughters to lift my eyes to love. He uses medically fragile, fatherless, little boys that love transforms into miraculously healthy sons to remind me that He redeems.
Love by choice is splashed all over my Instagram feed, church and community. Love on display in its purest form in a thousand stories, families and redeemed lives.
I see parents pushing tirelessly, but war wounded, through obstacles and red tape for children they love, but have not yet held.
I see dads saying yes to adoptions that aren’t in the budget, and laying aside protective fears regarding the impact of medical needs.
I see moms pushing through the hard wait by researching about attachment, medical needs and a new country’s culture.
I see families who learn big lessons about God’s provision when funds are miraculously provided.
I see families struggle to fundraise, but who move forward still, learning different big faith lessons as they scrape and sacrifice to write big checks.
I see adoptive moms who work tirelessly to raise funds for other families.
I see adoptive parents who willingly say yes, knowing it will mean specialist appointments, g-tubes, wheelchairs, prosthetic fittings, chemo, HIV meds, catheterizing, enemas, transfusions, EKGs, OT, PT, medication filled syringes, and too much time sitting prayerfully outside operating rooms.
I see families bravely climb into planes bound for the Far East, taking giant steps into the unknown.
I see parents stand in civil affairs offices, surrounded by people speaking a foreign language, feeling the weight of their longed for, beloved child for the very first time. There’s fear, there’s a million questions, there’s lives forever changed, but there is raw, hard, beautiful love.
I see the supportive, cheering adoption community anxiously refreshing computer screens every Monday morning for the courageous love shown in Gotcha Day photos.
I see teary, beaming grandparents, aunts, uncles and friends welcoming little strangers into their families and lives in airport terminals.
I see siblings who welcome new brothers and sisters into their homes and share toys, time and mom and dad.
I see jet-lagged, shell shocked parents whose lives have been turned upside down, but who keep right on loving kids too afraid to be loved.
I see couples who sleep with a daughter in-between them for months until she feels secure.
I see dads walking their kids around in church hallways because little ones just aren’t ready for the stimulation or separation.
I see families who adopt older children even though the world suggested that it’s a bad idea.
I see brave warrior boys showing up for regular, life saving blood transfusions.
I see Instagram photos of adorable kids donning adoption fundraising t-shirts.
I see families adopting again, and then again.
I see couples giving up weekends to sit in conferences to learn how to best parent kids who’ve known trauma.
I see moms who push and plead to be the first face their medically traumatized child sees post-operation.
I see an adopted teen who sets a big goal of helping one thousand aging out or medically fragile kids.
I see families who organize races to fund other family’s adoptions or to pay for medical care for fragile little ones who still wait for families.
I see adoptive moms and dads advocating for waiting children.
I see friends who change their profile photos to remind friends to pray for the adoption community’s sick kids facing big surgeries.
I see moms and dads who continue to cheer and champion their kids from hard places as they grow and change and process and bloom.
I see adoptive moms generously answering a million questions for those who come after them about their adoptions, kids’ medical needs and attachment experiences.
I see dads travelling across the globe to love on orphans, advocate for waiting children, and teach English.
CS Lewis penned, “To love is to be vulnerable.” My adoption community restores my soul, fills me with inspiration and swells me with pride through its big, vulnerable love by choice. Because it has seen and knows, and refuses to be indifferent to the needs of the orphan. They love with hearts wide open in civil affairs offices in Nanjing, hotel rooms in Guangzhou, hospital rooms, therapists’ offices, IEP meetings, rocking chairs, and beside toddler beds at 3AM. They rally for each other, pray for each other, give back, and spur one another on.
I see the hard too. I’m not ignorant, or immune, to all the gut-wrenching challenges, grief, loss, hurt, and struggle, but I see families choosing to say faithful, courageous, knowing yeses anyway. Choosing to keep going through battle-like processes, international trips, homecomings, stretching transition seasons, long nights and grief soaked conversations. I see love by choice.