Thursday, October 13, 2011

No Greater Love

When I was a teenager I read an article in the "New Era" (a magazine published by the LDS church for youth ages 12-18) entitled, "A Brother's Love." The article told the story of a family, moving from Wyoming to Montana. As they crossed the Montana state line, a car traveling in front of their truck slammed on its brakes, causing the trailer being towed by the family's truck to jackknife, spilling the contents of the trailer onto the highway.

As the family worked to clear their belongings from the highway, a large truck barreled towards them going too fast to stop and with no way to go around. Their father shouted to them to get out of the way, but 7 year-old Charlie did not hear his cries. Steven, his 10 year-old brother, tried to push him out of harms way but, tragically, both children were killed.

When the doctor told the boys' mother that he was unable to save them, she responded with her testimony of another who had given His life and of His redeeming love; a love that broke the bands of death and allows us to be reunited with those we love.

Upon reading this story, I was overwhelmed with sadness, but I was also reminded of a passage of scripture: "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends" (John 15:13).

I read another article today. This article was written by Dr. Russell Moore, author of "Adopted for Life." The article was entitled, "Don't Adopt!" Dr. Moore explains that, while we are all called in some way to "visit the fatherless and the widows in their affliction," NOT all of us are called to adopt.

At first glance, these two articles seemingly have nothing in common, but at the core of both is this: "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends."

The call to adopt is a call to "lay down your life." If that seems a little extreme, consider the following:

"Every adoption, every orphan, represents a tragedy. Someone was killed, someone left, someone was impoverished, or someone was diseased. Wrapped up in each situation is some kind of hurt, and all that accompanies that. That’s the reason there really is no adoption that is not a “special needs” adoption; you just might not know on the front end what those special needs are.

If what’s behind all of this isn’t crucified, war-fighting, eyes-open commitment, you are going to wind up with a child who is twice orphaned. He or she will be abandoned the first time by fatherlessness and the second time by the rejection of failing to live up to the expectations of parents who had no business imposing such expectations in the first place."

Too many people enter into adoption without fully understanding and accepting the "brokenness and risk" that accompanies the orphan, regardless of the age or the circumstances from which they were adopted. Too often people assume that, because they are "saving" a child from an otherwise miserable life, that child will be grateful and accepting of their new parents, family and home, only to be overwhelmed by a child who turns their world upside down and rejects them because they were once abandoned, neglected and forgotten.

Nothing is more beautiful than watching a child who has experienced tragedy transform through the redeeming love of Christ and a loving, committed family, but that kind of transformation requires you to set yourself aside completely and give everything that you have (and more) to helping that child heal. You do not have to be perfect to do this (I am living testimony of that), you just have to be willing to accept all of the heartache, grief, chaos and upheaval that accompanies adopting/fostering a child. . . .just as the Savior accepts and loves us despite our brokenness.

In the midst of our 6th and 7th adoptions, we have learned to throw "expectations" out the window and recognize that we must fully rely on our Heavenly Father to guide us through the process of integrating these children into our family and healing their hurts, no matter the sacrifice. We prepare our home and family for their addition, but more importantly, we prepare our hearts to love these children unconditionally.

Every time we have welcomed a child into our family it has thrown our world into temporary chaos.

IT. IS. WORTH. IT!

Not everyone is called to adopt (and some shouldn't), but we can ALL answer the call to "visit the fatherless and the widows in their affliction" by giving, supporting and praying for those that have been called to walk that path.

If you feel called to foster/adopt and you are ready to "lay down your life" for a child, move forward in faith, knowing that the Lord WILL equip you with the strength and ability to provide the redeeming love necessary to overcome all hurts; you will be unimaginably blessed.

3 comments:

Jamie J Stansfield said...

seriously I think of you as Superwoman. I am sure you have your flaws but holy cow! You take so much on your plate willingly and here I am whining about surviving this day and I only have 3 healthy happy children! You are so amazing!

Kristy said...

Hi!
This is Kristy, I am the crazy lady who ran you down at Dayton children's this summer! You gave me your card and there were many times that I was going to call you...but life happens! I would to chat sometime or even meet you and your children! To connect with someone like us with lots of kids, adoption, homeschooling, special needs, would be great! We are now adopting 2 with limb deformities.
I love this post and would LOVE to copy or link to my blog. We have struggles with people in our life who thinks because they don't have a heart for adoption means they don't have to come along side others that are adopting even if it is family. My heart breaks because just like you said, we are commanded to do SOMETHING. Well said.

Kaleen Nelson said...

Val,

Thanks so much for sharing this post! I really appreciate it. I hope you don't mind but I borrowed this post for my fertility blog.In honor of National Adoption awareness month I have dedicated the whole month to letting people know more about adoption. If this is not ok just let me know but i couldn't have said it better then you have said in this post about adoption and special needs adoptions.

Thanks Val For all you do!