Thursday, November 14, 2013

Adoption Update: Special Needs? Wait...what Kind of Special Needs?

A big apology to all two of my blog followers.  I realize I haven't posted in almost 3 months and, much like the rest of the world, you're on pins and needles waiting for my next post.  Now that we're out of the 1-Bedroom 700 sq ft house, my big stupid brain has more room to think, soooo here's what you've been waiting for.

Apparently, the twists and turns of life are not over.  Apparently I was wrong when I was young and thought I'd have everything figured out by 35 (granted...I don't turn 35 for another 3+ months, so there's some hope).  Apparently God isn't done teaching me lessons (go figure).

My latest lesson, which I shared at church a couple Sundays ago is this...I'm selfish.  Yes, selfish.  Now before you jump on the phone and call the local newspaper in shear shock, let me explain (kidding, of course).

I've always known I was "a bit" selfish.  I've put myself first plenty of times and manipulated many people to get what I want, so figuring out that I was selfish wasn't a huge step for me.  But recently, I had a conversation with my wife that rocked me, even though it was one of the simplest conversations we've had.

So here we go...  About a month ago, my wife and I decided we wanted to "officially" start the adoption process and that, this time, we would open the door to a "special needs" child.  Becca asked me what special needs I was comfortable with and I answered candidly.  Now you can't really fault us on this, as it's a huge decision and I realize this sounds harsh, but trust me... this wasn't a case where we created some sort of shopping list for our next child.  This was an honest question which I thought I was ready to answer, until I actually did.

I started off with, "Lost limbs, cleft pallet (easy fix BTW), mild-deformity and.."  Becca cut in, "What about down syndrome?"  Obviously, I was caught off guard, but answered honestly.  "They're (yes, I said "they're", like people with down-syndrome are some separate species) ... so much fun, but sometimes they never leave the house.  I mean, I want to retire someday and travel with you."  Aaaaaand that's where it hit selfishness.  (Note:  There is nothing wrong with retirement and travel.  This is MY conviction.  God calls each of us to care for the widows and orphans.  He doesn't call all of us to adopt.)

In saying those words, I realized I was actually putting retirement and travel ahead of some child who has no one and nothing.  Retirement?!  Travel?!  I'm focused on those things, instead of a child who really has nothing but simple joy in them?  A child who could remind me everyday of the faith and innocence I once had, before the world crept in and setup camp in my brain?  A child that can literally make anyone smile?  A child who God could use to steal away my selfishness and make it disappear?  Needless to say, I stopped dead in my tracks and thought, "WOW.  I'M FREAKING SELFISH!!!"

To make things worse (ok...better), God pointed out to me that literally everything, every sin I've ever encountered and struggled with has centered around selfishness.  Oh the familiar sting of realizing I'm an idiot.

So here I sit, reading stories of highly capable children and adults with down-syndrome who are living and have led perfectly normal lives, while dealing with the constant attack and insult of the word, "retarded" ... knowing I may have to deal with someone calling my "possible" future child that same stupid word.  I try and imagine my response and the best I can come up with is this.

"Sir/Ma'am, my child has down-syndrome.  He/She isn't retarded.  They are full of a joy and innocence which neither of us can possibly imagine.  The only "retarded" person you see in front of you is a man who almost gave up the opportunity to experience this sweet child and build into them.  I hope you have a nice day, Kevin."  (Note:  I randomly picked that name.  Sorry Kevins of the world.)

And that's the truth.  Look, I'm not naive enough to think bringing home a child with down-syndrome will be easy and to be honest, it might not even happen.  I'm not totally ok with the idea yet and maybe that's the point.  Maybe God is just working on me to the point where I'm ok with it.  Our next child may be perfectly healthy, they may have one less arm than me or they may have a cleft lip.  The fact is that I need to not only be ok with whatever child God has for me, but I need to be excited for that moment where I hug that child for the first time.  To be honest, in my mind it's really no different than the moment I met every one of my other children.  I knew there would be hard times.  I knew there might be a moment when they're being made fun of or picked on.  I knew their lives and mine would never be perfect.  So what's stopping me now?  Answer: Selfishness.

For now, I suppose I need to work on this whole selfishness thing and hope that in the meantime, I don't miss out on whatever God has for me on the other end.

Here's where you come in... Please pray for Becca and I, and really our entire family, as we set out on the second of our adoption journeys.  Please pray that whatever child God has for us, that we will be excited about him/her (Emmy really wants a sister).  And please pray that I will take my eyes off the mirror in front of me and refocus them on the One who created me to make a difference.  (That's right...big stupid-brained me was put on this earth to make a difference.  Go figure.)

Oh...and that whole "retirement and travel" thing?  I'm pretty sure when I close my eyes for the last time, I'll awake in the ultimate paradise getaway, complete with an eternal stay.  So yeah, I'm good with that.

Thank you!