While it seems like forever ago now, in reality it was only about three and a half years ago that my wife and I began praying about adoption….
Like all parents my wife and I had dreams of healthy babies, healthy incomes, and a healthy marriage. Well, after fifteen, almost sixteen, years of marriage we’ve at least got one out of three. We may have missed the other two by a wide margin but make no mistake, they weren’t missed due to some run of bad luck or a series of unfortunate events. No, we made choices, intentional choices as to how we would live our lives… or should I say how God would have us live our lives. These were not easy choices to make, in fact we often labored in prayer until the last minute, when God would finally reveal to us his will.
This is how our HIV positive son came to be in our family. For me the HIV factor was never an issue. I guess I had paid enough attention in health class to know that the risk factor was extremely low in cases of day to day living. We came to know our future son through a local family who was likewise in the ministry and had adopted a little girl who was his best friend in China. When they returned home from China they began to advocate for this boy, our son.
This was about the same time that God began to re-introduce the idea of our family adopting. My wife (a Facebook fanatic) was perusing the social media outlet and began seeing these pictures of this sweet boy. We decided to reach out to this family who had faithfully advocated his cause.
It was through this meeting that we learned of his HIV status. Again even after discovering this little inconvenient truth I must admit that I was not bothered in the least about cross contamination or the social stigma that may follow our family forevermore. We left that day and both my wife and I agreed that this was the little boy who God had intended for us.
One year later my wife and I were sitting on the back end of a feverish fundraising campaign where we literally watched as God began to move mountains for our boy and for us, his forever family. Yet we were also sitting on the front end of what I presumed would be a two week journey to a foreign land… a trip I no doubt could do with my eyes closed. As it turns out this trip would be anything but normal, neither would it last only two weeks. And I would indeed spend a great deal of it with my eyes closed, as would our son.
You see during the second week of our trip while going through the necessary medical check-ups required by the USCIS, our son tested positive for TB. To complicate matters even more, because he had apparently had it before, compounded by his HIV status, the CDC in Atlanta was afraid that he may have actually had a type of TB known as MDR (Multi-Drug Resistant). Neither my wife nor I knew what this meant for us. But we would soon find out.
My wife and I stared at each other in disbelief as we learned that one of us was going to be required to stay in China with our boy for an unknown amount of time. We would have to wait for a travel waiver granted by the CDC. While that sounds so simple, I am here to say that the process was grueling. I watched as my wife and daughter got in a van and headed to the airport. The fact that no one could tell me when I would see them again made matters even worse; my heart sank. I walked back to the room with our son and slipped into the bedroom where I wept… alone.
I cried out to God for answers as to why this was happening to us. We had done everything right, we prayed about this adoption, we prepared for this adoption, we were assured of this adoption, only now to have the whole process disrupted and thrown into jeopardy because of a possibility that my son could have TB. It just didn’t make any sense. What was God trying to teach me?
In the end I would discover the answer to this question, but it would come from some very hard lessons that I needed to learn. This is the thing, if a father is to represent Christ on this earth, he must represent Him well and in truth. The truth – that I always knew intellectually but maybe not experientially – was that God would never leave us nor forsake us.
After exhausting all my vacation and being the primary breadwinner I was forced to consider my next steps as we waited impatiently for the waiver.
After two additional weeks of waiting I could stand it no longer and I began making preparations to have my son placed back into the orphanage until the situation had changed. I needed to go back to work, I had bills to pay, a family to feed. Surely God understands this, and surely as you read this you too can understand my dilemma.
Unfortunately my son did not understand…
”How could a father travel halfway around the world to get his son, only to leave him where he was found?”
I sat down to tell my son about the possibility that he may have to return to his orphanage or at the very least stay with a foster family until I could return to get him.
At first he said nothing and showed no emotion about the matter at all, in fact for the last four weeks I had not seen any sign of emotion from him. However when the interpreter left and it was only the two of us, alone, he climbed into my lap with his head on my shoulder and he sobbed. And so did I.
It was at this point that God began asking me the question that will forever resonate in my mind:
“How can you teach him about my faithfulness if you act in this momentary affliction unfaithfully?”
All of God’s promises began to flood my mind and my soul was filled with faith. I called our agency and let them know that I was not leaving my son… I just couldn’t do it. At some point it stopped being about me and became about God and the testimony I was leaving for my son about this God.
Needless to say, we prayed, and we prayed hard. The two of us on our knees and crying out to God for mercy. The next day we got our waiver and soon we would be on our way home.
We both learned something from this experience….
God is faithful.
God hears our prayers.
Had I left him there I would have foiled the greatest teaching opportunity I may have ever had when it comes to my children. I thank God for the strength He gave me to stay, as only God can receive the glory for what happened in China a little over two years ago.
As for the HIV, it is a thing… but that’s all it is, a thing. We rarely if ever think about it. Our son has perhaps the greatest doctor in these parts and his virus is undetectable as a result of the wonderful medical care he has received.
There is of course a shadow that is cast over him as a result of the HIV status, but one must always remember that the shadow is not the real thing; it is a fake representation of that which is real.
On a side note… our son never had TB, it was a false positive.
– guest post by an anonymous baba; image by Emily Adcox