Wednesday, August 29, 2012

When Grace is a Gorilla

Okay, so I realize it's been over a year since I've written on here. Much has happened, but I still have not felt like I needed to reopen the shop. So for now I'm just using the space to write some thoughts - for my benefit, and maybe for others as well.

First things first, my brother and his wife have a baby girl! Almost two years ago we raised money for their adoption expenses, and as I type this my sister-in-law is in Ethiopia staying with a friend and awaiting their daughter's visa so they can come back to the US! I had the privilege of traveling with her to Addis Ababa a month ago to meet Liya and help out for a few days as my brother is deployed and unable to be there. God is so gracious in giving them a precious baby girl. For pics and info you can follow their blog here.

Erik and I have also been praying for years about adopting. We know we have been adopted and given all the benefits of being "heirs with Christ." So the Lord placed it on both our hearts and I think we've always known we would adopt one day. This year we started looking into it more seriously, but both felt the time just wasn't right yet. Even after seeing all the precious children waiting to be adopted in Ethiopia, I still felt we needed to wait. I didn't know why (still don't) but Erik thought the same thing.

The past 5 days have been an exhausting roller coaster for us. We were presented with an opportunity to adopt a beautiful, precious 9-month-old girl from Ethiopia. Because this child is listed as having special needs, she needed to be adopted ASAP and it would have been a very quick process. Our gracious Father guided us through four days of ups and downs, doubts, insecurities and questions. We kept walking forward, not feeling like He had said "no" yet, and wondering if this was our daughter. I tried to protect myself from getting emotionally attached, but it was impossible not to visualize this child in our home, eating at our table, sleeping in her pink bedroom. 

As you can guess, we are not this baby's family. We were told yesterday that she had been placed with another family. It was kind of a situation of first come/first served, which is understandable. We have faith that our Sovereign God controls all things. If we were meant to be this child's parents, it would have happened. Of course that doesn't mean I didn't weep uncontrollably when I found out she would not be our daughter. Heartbroken is not too strong a word to describe what we both felt. And it's okay. And we are trusting.

And this is the beautiful thing. Five days ago, my trust in God was not what it is today, and Erik would say the same. In our minds, the timing was terrible. I just stopped working, I'm writing a book (more on that in the future), he's working and simultaneously writing a feature-length screenplay (hopefully more on that later too), we have two busy kids, very little money (by our standards, which is a whole other post) and life is crazy. So this was a difficult process of Him graciously revealing that we don't trust Him - not truly. And it hurts to realize that. It's like walking along in the dark, heading toward a steep cliff, when suddenly a 500 lb. gorilla comes out of nowhere and knocks you to the ground, saving your life. But obviously this life-saving process hurts a little. I mean, I've never actually been knocked to the ground by a gorilla, but I can imagine. Anyway, you're grateful for the end result - you're not dead - but the process knocks the wind out of you and probably breaks a few bones. And that's where we are. So blessed and grateful for the gorilla-like grace that shows us our lack of trust, but a little sore from the process. And waiting expectantly for what He has in store. 

"Jesus, Jesus, how I trust Him / How I've proved Him o'er and o'er / Jesus, Jesus, precious Jesus / Oh for grace to trust Him more."

In addition to the craziness of adopting a child suddenly, there were the special needs to consider. Over the past year God has laid on my heart the desire to adopt a child (or children) who are HIV+. Erik's sister is a PA specializing in infectious diseases, and we have had many conversations about HIV and AIDS and I've learned so much from her. Erik knew my heart, and while I don't think he was quite on the same page when this process began, he is there now, thanks to God's work in both of our lives. This precious girl is HIV+, which is really why we considered and prayed about adopting her in the first place. 

Now, if you're freaking out a little, it's okay. It's totally understandable. Unfortunately there is a crazy lack of education regarding HIV. We are all still thinking of it like we did in the 80's, which means we assume you get HIV from shaking hands or spit or snot, etc, then a couple of years later you die from AIDS. Praise God this is no longer the case (actually, it was never spread via those means). So in case you are like we were and you don't know the facts, here they are:
  • HIV is considered a chronic but manageable disease with proper treatment.
  • Children who receive treatment are expected to live a normal lifespan.
  • HIV has NEVER been transmitted in normal family living conditions (not thru tears, saliva, mucous, or other bodily fluids)
  • You NEVER have to fear contracting HIV through casual contact with an HIV+ person.
  • HIV is spread in three main ways: sexual contact, IV drug use through the sharing of dirty needles, mother-to-infant (pregnancy, birth or breast feeding)
  • All around the world orphans are overlooked for adoption because of their HIV+ status
  • Medications called ARVs can mean the difference between life and death
  • With medications HIV can be effectively managed to the point that the virus is undetectable
  • There is a term for the miraculous transformation HIV+ people undergo when they begin receiving the medications they need.
  • The Lazarus Effect is a term commonly used to describe people who were once on the brink of death who have been restored again to health through medication
(Info from For more info, go here.

I don't know about you, but after I found this out I was shocked. My lack of education was severe, and I was amazed upon hearing these statistics.

So we hope and pray that God will continue to give others a heart for HIV+ orphans, just as He has supernaturally given us the desire to bring one (or more!) into our home. We continue to pray about the future, and ask you to pray with us. We trust He has given us this desire for a reason and we thank Him for graciously teaching us to trust and obey.

Special thanks to Brian and Mel Snow, who walked with us through this process, and who are adopting 3 beautiful girls from Ethiopia. We can't wait to welcome these girls into our church family! Love you guys.