Thank you to so many of you who have sent such encouraging emails and comments, we are so grateful for you. We have, of course, received a couple of nasty ones too. If that continues we will likely take this blog private.
Everyone who knows us and our children have been supportive and knows how much we have given and the love we have poured into these children 24/7 since April 1, 2011. God set our life work such that we could spend 95 days in Ukraine, blessed us with the financial resources to pay their ransom and now the ability to spend tremendous amounts of time with them. For all of that we are so grateful.
This has been a tough journey but we knew it would be when God’s call came. People thought we were crazy to even consider adopting 4 teens at one time, but following Jesus always is and He never calls us to easy and sweet. Spiritual warfare is messy stuff. And if we have learned anything it is that satan is alive, well and thriving and has his evil eye trained on orphans and former orphans and any who try to bring them to Jesus and a life honoring to Christ.
The first blog post on older child adoption I ever read was titled, “Saved or Kidnapped?” It really struck me. How would our children feel? The big questions we are pondering these days…
Are we not holding our children hostage if we hold on tightly to them when real love would set them free to another family that God has prepared for them?
How do we know the difference in them feeling like hostages and when are they testing us to see if we love them and will pursue them?
I have talked extensively with those very involved in our story and with our children and no one sees the two girls as testing but rather as being held hostage because a piece of paper said this was supposed to be it. What about when personalities between children, even bio siblings, is so strained that it makes living within the same family misery? Is it the right thing to insist they stay? For children who have such stressed histories, if this conflict can be avoided and they can live in peace elsewhere what is wrong with that?
A counselor told us our blessing to launch forward into a new life and family is what one of them needed most. Another counselor gave us no encouragement to try to hold onto the other girl. The girls have never indicated to anyone that they desire to be pursued or are testing our love for them.
We have one child in this group of 4 that tests us, we know exactly what that looks and feels like. That child has given us a serious run for our money. We’ve pursued and fought hard to prove our love to that child as well as each of the others. That child acknowledges they are testing to see if we will throw them out. We walked the journey step by step with with that child as they moved intensely through every stage of grief. We have done the same for each of them as that has played out at different times and stages in each child’s journey into this new life.
We know their losses are huge. We know they cannot see the longterm gain for the acute, immediate pain of the amputation of all things familiar. It seems that for the girls we are inextricably linked to the pain having been the ones that took them from what they loved. Both girls say they were pressured to agree to be adopted and come, that is a major difference in them and the two boys and it plays out in every way.
We have prayed and listened to the leading of the Holy Spirit and we are both convinced as are others that these two girls are not testing but rather felt held as hostages. There is no desire by one girl to share a family with the others. We pray the day will come that she can be honest with her siblings and they can be grateful for her watchful care for them for so many years and bless her to make her own way and life.
We told each of them before we left Ukraine that we were not taking hostages and that if they did not want to come they were free to stay. We are folks who keep our promises, they are still free to go if they are sure there is another safe place where they can thrive and find joy.
There is one who wrote appalled that we let a child go after only seven weeks. If you learned that your daughter had been held hostage in a bank teller line, would you say, “it has only been seven weeks”? We all know that seven hours as a hostage is an eternity. For that child, miserable trying to live intimately with a sibling that was impossible for her to deal with, seven weeks was an eternity. This girl is doing well and never given any indication she desires us to pursue her. She is thriving where she is and loves it there. We spent time with her today and she looks us in the eye and smiles and is genuinely at home and at peace in her new family. Our only desire for anyone we love is for them to know Jesus and have as peaceful and happy a life on this side of heaven as possible.
Another significant factor with our 2 girls is that in Ukraine adulthood begins at age 16. At ages 16 and 17 now, both of our girls would have finished school this spring and likely been released from the orphanage into the world for advanced schooling (if they were accepted to a school) and life on their own, totally independent with no support system at all. Being an adult and having freedom to choose their location and home at age 16 is what they’ve known and been conditioned to all of their lives. They see themselves no differently here. To restrain them in our family against their will is clearly taking hostages, of which we will have no part.
The two younger siblings are doing really well in their respite home. The family’s young children are drawing them in to play, learn and cooperate as they would never do for an adult. They are able to come alongside those little ones who are learning the alphabet and basic phonics and learn as they do.
We are giving them time for the new to wear off and to settle in there and let down their guard and we will see how the Lord leads. Our home is always open to them to return. We love them dearly and it is a difficult thing for their places at our table to be empty. We are firm believers that sometimes the loving and humble thing to do is to acknowledge that God may have designed this as a relay race and we are to now pass the torch to the next family to run the next course of the race. It is not our choice nor what we would have chosen but we are at peace that if it is God’s plan we will follow His call. This has never been about us, we want only the best for our children. They are God’s kids and we will not be so prideful that we cannot allow Him to work in their lives.
We cherish your prayers for the two siblings as they move from the newness of their respite family into more realistic days. We pray for a maturity in making decisions far beyond their emotional maturity. Both sets of parents have assured them both that they are welcome to return here anytime. We are leaving that choice up to them.
Our son loved it here and was adamant for weeks that he was staying but decided to join his sister with the respite family when the time came for her to leave. This adorable little guy is having to make a decision no child should have to make and we pray for peace for him and that God will lead him every step of the way. We will not pressure him or put him in a difficult emotional drama but will let God work for the best in his life.
Thank you from the bottom of our hearts for your kind, gentle, loving notes that encourage us to keep on keeping on and to not lose sight that this was God’s call and we have been faithful. Many have reminded us that at the ages of these teens they have to want this for it to work. The girls are struggling to even want to be in the US. Please pray for them to see how God brought them here and has a huge amazing plan for their lives. Pray that they will see Jesus and how very much He loves them and wants the very best for them. He has paid the ultimate price for true freedom for them.
If any of you are walking a similar path or in the process of older child or teen adoption and would like to email us privately (follow his call @ gmail.com ) to chat in more detail we would love to share more of our story if it would be a blessing and encouragement to others.
We seek to follow His call every minute of every day wherever it leads…Lord, keep us humble and we pray earnestly for wisdom to guide and love our children as Jesus does.