Wednesday, January 20, 2016

When there are no good answers

I know I really need to blog when I don't know where or how to start. As many of you know, we just spent a month hosting three kids from Ukraine. That is a month that I will not ever forget. Our hearts were stretched way more than we thought possible. We had so much support from our little community (and even from our further away heart community). You guys allowed us to do the day in and day out loving and nurturing for these three precious kids. I wish this blog could be about all of the little ways we, our girls, and these three felt the love of all of you. How they felt worth. It was amazing. I also wish this blog could be about the million funny, beautiful and heart-wrenching moments we experienced in the last month. It was, hands down, the most alive month of my life. I am sure we will be processing and savoring many of the experiences far, far down the road. 

Since this blog can't be about those other topics, I should probably get on with it. I just really don't know how to. Here goes--if you have ever read my blog posts before, you know I don't know any other way than to be raw and real. Grab the tissues or close the screen now. 

When we started experiencing delays in the adoption, we decided to host the kids while we waited. It was another big expenditure (which many of you helped fund), but we wanted to all be together for Christmas--shoot, we wanted to all be together, period. We also, through the desire for more education on adoption, had become more acutely aware of some of the unsuccessful adoptions out there. Pair those stories of caution with my degrees in psychology and we thought hosting would help us put our worries aside as we moved forward. Our thought was that if we provided a very structured, consistent and calm home for a month--one that gave a very realistic representation of our life--we might either see that it clearly wouldn't work, or we would see signs that it would. We were very realistic going in, as we did not expect to resolve any of the deep wounds these kids carry in a month of hosting. We were hopeful for small signs of progress, but more than that, we were hoping for no signs of brokenness that we couldn't help them overcome. You have to know that we expected wounds, we expected one to two years of unrelenting hard work followed by many more of being selfless for these kids. We prepared our three here for many ugly possibilities, including how to handle abuse. We expected deficits--in learning, in life experiences, in accepting love. We were not afraid of what was required of us on this journey. Let me be very clear here, we fully intended to adopt these kids. We were "all in". They were, in our hearts, already our kids. They had been hosted three times as a unit and a few times individually. All families had fallen in love with these kids and felt they were adoptable for a family. We did not expect to find anything that would keep us from adopting, but needed, for the sake of our family, to not be afraid to pull out if we could not ensure safety. 

We were fully committed for the entire month. One of my biggest regrets is that we didn't see it earlier so that we could explain, in person, to the kids why we can't adopt. I did not see the most disturbing behavior until we were staying in the hotel in Texas the night before they flew back to Ukraine. At that point, I was so exhausted that I couldn't even process what I saw. I was so concerned with meeting their emotional needs as they left for Ukraine that mine were on hold. When I returned to Wisconsin and began to talk through my unease with Mike, the behavioral patterns became more clear. I also reached out to two different psychologists, not to rely fully on my own training since I was so emotionally attached. I then reached out to our adoption director for her input. We spent several days in prayer and have leaned on the wisest people in our lives. There has not been one person who has not understood and encouraged us to heed the warning. The psychologists and our adoption director all strongly advised us to stop the adoption proceedings based on the behavior we described.  Despite this, I have spent the last few days trying to talk myself out of the decision. Trying to figure out a way to make it work without jeopardizing the safety of our family.  
As I type this, I feel like I am trying my best to explain my heart so there isn't judgment, rather than convey what really matters. What does matter is that there are three kids out there that we promised the world to and we can't deliver. Three kids who are so broken and hurt, through no fault of their own and we can't fix it or even hold them close while they hurt. We can't prevent a world full of future hurt. They are in a situation that sets them up for failure and we can't remove them from it. Two of the three are so ready and open for a family and Ukraine won't split siblings for adoption (not that they would agree if we could). Two of the three have so much potential for amazing things and we can't help them reach that potential. The third has so many things going against him. They are all unfair and out of his control. They are all possibly workable except that he has so much pain that he wants to make others hurt like he does. This is the part that breaks my heart the most. It comes from a place of so much pain, I don't want to give up on him. Realistically, though, we can't be what he needs while at the same protecting the other 5--let alone having anything left to provide for the others' needs. His best chance would be a loving home with no other children. 

We have really struggled with the whys. Why did God bring them into our life? Why did we feel led to tell them we were adopting them? Why did our lives seem so destined to be led out together? Why didn't God give us a "no" before when it would be less painful? I still don't have the answers, and I won't pretend to. I may never have the answers. My friend, Christa shared this song with me the other day. You know how I lean on songs for prayer and focus., well this one is perfect for me right now. Maybe it will be helpful for you, too. The song is "Trust in You" by Lauren Daigle. I don't know why I am always amazed by the intricacies in God's plans, yet am thrown for a loop every time when they don't go the way I envision. Even though I know His plans are always good, I struggle with letting go of my ideas. As she asks in her song, how do we go on when He doesn't move those mountains we want moved? 

Here is what I do know and trust. I have never met a person with faith like K's. She is 14 and is amazing. The stories she shared with me are incredible. God has been constant in her life--very present, guiding and protecting her (and in doing so,  also protecting her brothers) in palpable ways. He has a plan for this child, that is way bigger than mine. We were clearly led to be a part of her plan, just not in the way we thought we were. He has not led her this far to hurt her and walk away. Please continue to pray for these kids. Their story thus far is full of heartbreak. It has also been so touched by love. Everyone I know who has touched their lives has fallen in love. The love they felt from our community was not in vain. It is one more positive experience to shore up against the negative. They know there is good in this world--they felt it with every meal, every gift, every experience they had while they were here. We will continue to support and love them in whatever ways they accept. Even if they are too hurt to accept our presence in their life, we will understand that and continue to pray for them. We cannot stop loving them; we don't know how to. Despite the hurt, we wouldn't want to, even if we could. 
   I also know and trust that God has a plan for our family that is equally big. He has    
   opened our eyes and our hearts in a way that cannot be shut. We are not going to rush 
   into anything. We need to take some time to grieve this loss and wait to be led. Trying 
   to control or influence God's plan has never worked out well for anyone.  
This is the hardest post I have ever written. Our family is devastated. Our house now feels like their house. It is full of memories from last month. We are raw. We are trying to attend to the grief of our girls, but struggling because we have so little left to give. Last month, while amazing, took a lot out of us. It was exhausting. Instead of taking a breath and looking forward to their return, we are grieving the loss of our family of 8. Watching the pain of our three here is so difficult. I wish I could take it away, and yet I know in the long term it will be one of the things that teaches them to cope with future loss. It doesn't make it easier. Then my heart travels across the ocean to my other three hearts. I cannot hold them as they cry. I cannot answer when they ask, "Why?" All I can do is pray that God scoops them up in His huge and capable hands and wraps them with His love. I can't help but also pray that He gets on with the amazing part of His plan for them sooner rather than later. 
   One more thing, we know that many of you have invested financially in us adopting 
   these kids. The adoption site that we used will only reimburse us for actual expenses we 
   have (we send receipts). The majority of the money covered the cost of hosting the kids
   last month as well as upfront costs of adoption (home study, etc). If we adopt in the 
   future, we will have a head start with our home study complete already. All money left
   in the adoption fund will be dispersed to other families that did not raise enough to
   cover their adoption expenses. Therefore, all money donated has or will go toward the 
   care of orphans. That being said, if any of you would like to be reimbursed, please let
   us know. We don't want there to be any animosity about money. You can also rest 
   assured that what you donated helped bring the kids here and gave them a month with 
   a family that truly cares about them and will look out for them in the future. 

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