Wednesday, December 10, 2008

What They Have Lost

Yesterday we were given a beautiful gift from our agency. They sent us a group of recent photos of all four of our children viewing a photo album of us, their new family! We gathered around the computer to see these new pictures -- it was a profound experience.

First, to see all four children together was such a treat. We had not seen them together for a picture since early summer and they have all grown so much. The older two seem to have an affection for the babies; and, I have often worried that they would not. The four of them arrived at the orphanage when the babies were just 3 weeks old. And after their arrival, they were divided up -- the babies in one building, L.M. (the five year old boy) in the boy's compound and G.T. (the 7 year old girl) in the girls' compound. With only 3 weeks to bond with them, we have wondered about the attachment that has occured among them. But, from the pictures it seems clear they love their baby siblings, which is an answer to prayer.

I remember the first time I saw pictures of our children on June 2nd of this year. We had been praying and hoping for more children for years. As we set our eyes on these beautiful, frightened little people, we felt a sense of awe. These children belong to God, they are His precious treasures and at that time, although the practical implications of taking on four at once scared us, we felt this enormous sense of blessing and delight, that they might be ours.

Now, over 6 months later, our children are finally introduced to us. I think I had not really thought through what this experience would be like for them. Now that I have seen their faces as they hold this album with pictures of their new mom and dad and siblings, it has really caused me to contemplate the all encompassing loss they have experienced. I know they have been told all along that an American family would likely adopt them. But I'm sure it has been difficult for them to truly grasp what that means. Just the sheer appearance of us (pale and white, even for caucasian standards!), smiling and looking cheerful as the intact little group of four that we are, they must wonder, how do we fit in with this strange family on the other side of the world? Why do they want us?

On a deeper level, it dawned on me that this day of them discovering us is quite the opposite for them than it was for us. For us it was like being handed the most amazing gift you've ever received and you repeat in your mind over and over, "I don't deserve this!" But for them, having lost both parents, their home, their extended family, their friends -- everything they knew -- are they happy or sad, peaceful or anxious at the prospect of us?

I think what caused me to wonder this was the look on G.T.'s face (the 7 year old girl, the oldest). She isn't smiling. She looks afraid and even a bit shocked. I think that seeing us made it all too real for her. Perhaps she was holding out hope that Mom could somehow come back for them. But seeing us and being told that we would be coming to get them soon, maybe that was a bit of reality that was too hard to process that day.

I cannot read her mind, but I know that when M and I saw her face, we grieved. It was a reminder that although adoption will be a beautiful blessing to us and eventually for them, too, that loss and sadness that has occurred in their lives in order for them to become ours is too deep to ever know or comprehend.

I was very sad and even disturbed last night as I thought about them, especially G.T. But this morning I found comfort as God reminded me of who He is and what He can do in our lives, in their lives. As God annointed Isaiah to, "... comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion -- to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORD for the display of his splendor." Isaiah 61:2,3

What great hope! That hope that God annoints us with the Holy Spirt. And as they come to know and love Christ, he can come into their lives and comfort them and exchange beauty and gladness for their ashes and mourning. And what excitement we have in knowing that God will use our family to make these children 'oaks of righteousness' to 'display His splendor.'

Without this great hope of Christ, where would any of us be?


Shannon Family said...


Maybe it’s because I felt all of those same feelings just a short time ago or maybe it's just the reality of the situation, but I wept when I read this post. I remember seeing Beckett look at our pictures, expressionless, and being, admittedly, sad and disappointed. I guess, selfishly, I hoped he would be wearing a smile. But much like Tigist, he looked sad and a little afraid. Now, being on the other side of the adoption journey, I realize what a blessing it was for him to see and hear about us, even if he was initially scared. It was a way of preparing his heart for what and who was to come. At 2 1/2, I'm sure he didn't do a lot of soul searching but I still think it prepared him for Gotcha Day. At 5 and 7, your kids need more time to wade through the range of emotions and the reality that they're mom won't be taking them home. And I can’t say for sure what her response will be when you arrive but know that it has everything to do with the loss she has suffered and nothing to do with you. Pale skin or not, she has seen mainly white (pasty white) families come and go. I mean, hey, she saw Brandon and smiled at him, right? We will be fervently praying for you and for them, for the transition, and for the time when you meet. You are a blessing to them, and them to you.


Karen said...

Motte & Beth,
WOW! How precious to read your words. I so appreciate your honesty and openness. What an amazing experience you are going through with this adoption. God is working in your hearts every moment as I know he is working in your Ethiopian children's hearts as well. I am thankful to share in this experience with you - as a friend - a sister in Christ - a fellow citizen of Zion. I can't imagine all that any of you are experiencing, but I pray with you and share with you and rejoice with you and am excited for you all. I can't wait until you bring those precious children home!

Dorinda said...

Still praying for your journey! Thanks for sharing.

The Andersons said...

Again, what a picture of the gospel adoption continually is. I couldn't help but be reminded of what the Lord felt giving his only son to die for us and how Christ as a man felt leaving his earthly family. Our adoption into God's family was the ultimate of all sacrifices. And now we have the honor as adoptive families to understand that a little bit more. There is a bittersweetness to the gospel that I can so easily forget. I can see it a bit more with the bittersweetness of adoption. I have a feeling we will grow in our gratefulness for these pains and God's sovereign grace will be even more precious to us all.

We are praying for you as your court date approaches. And we are praying for your new family and that the Lord would be allowing all of you to bond already!

Scotty and Kerry

Amy Jo said...

What a beautiful post. Thank you for sharing your heart so intimately. Your new children will be incredibly blessed by your compassion towards them and the significant losses they have experienced. Adoption truly does bring you to a different place - learning how to hold both incredible joy and deep, deep grief in tandem. I pray God's sweet and abundant blessings upon you and your entire family! So beautiful!!!

(BTW - I just received a link to your post from Sara at Football & Fried Rice. So glad she passes along your link. Especially today! God is working new things within my own family and Ethiopia is a BIG part of it!)

Looking forward to following your journey. Peace & JOY, Amy in OR