JT here. I will write this post and know that it will cause everyone to realize how great of a writer Natalie is. And cause everyone to realize I am not a writer (as you will see below). I am sure our readers will be clamoring for Natalie again soon!
I came upon the following passage in a book I just finished reading: "Kisses from Katie." If you have not picked it up, do so. Now. Katie is a 22 year-old woman who lives in Uganda and has adopted 14 beautiful Ugandan girls as a single mom. Her story is amazing and her soul is beautiful. We have some mutual friends with Katie and have known about her for over two years. She is an inspration to many- including Natalie and I. You can find her blog linked to ours as well.
"But God continued to show me that adoption is His heart, and it was becoming mine. Adoption is wonderful and beautfiul and the greatest blessing I have ever experienced. Adoption is also difficult and painful. Adoption is a beautiful picture of redemption. It is the Gospel in my living room. And sometimes, it's just hard."
"Adoption is a redemptive response to tragedy that happens in this broken world. And every single day, it is worth it, because adoption is God's heart. His Word says 'In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with His pleasure and will (Ephesians 1:5). He sets the lonely in families (Psalms 68:6). The first word that appears when I look up adoption in the dictionary is 'acceptance.' God accepts me, adores me even, just as I am. And He wants me to accept those without families into my own."
"My family, adopting these children, it is not optional. It is not my good deed for the day; it is not what I am doing to 'help out these poor kids.' I adopt because God commands me to care for the orphans and the widows in their distress. I adopt because Jesus says that to whom much is given, much will be demanded (Luke 12:48)."
This passage, and the entire book, hit me like a ton of bricks. It sums up many of the feelings that I have on the topic of adoption. It also challenges me, though. When we adopted Tedi, life for us had changed. Not only did we add a member of our family but our outlook on life changed. Suddenly, my eyes had been opened to the 150million kids who did not have a mommy or daddy. Things that were important to me (like money, status and sports- don't get me started on the insane importance we place on basketball in the area we live) took a backseat to advocating for orphans. I thank God everyday that He allowed me to see the orphan crisis up close when I traveled to Afica. I am a changed man. Changed for the better. It is not an easy thing to witness- the extreme poverty and millions of fatherless children. The responsibility that comes with it is not something I can turn off. I am so thankful that God has called me to help love these kids. It is so much better than debating trivial matters like basketball or politics all day!
Recently, I was filling out a form that asked me to list all of my philanthropic work. When I wrote out everything that Natalie and I are doing to give back to our community, it looked like an impressive list. But then I realize that I/we are called to do more. We have all heard the phrase, "I will sleep when I am dead." Sometimes, I think that is our family's motto but I realize there is so much work to be done.
The process of our second adoption has been such a different experience for me. There are several reasons for this. First, life is so much busier for us now. We have Tedi to care for now. Natalie is now a pediatric resident physician and often works 80 hour weeks. My job is extremely involved and busy- which I love. I love advocating for children in our community who have been abused and I am so lucky to actually be paid to help rally our region around this cause. Our first adoption was such a whirlwind that, as I look back on it, seemed to really fly by. This second adoption is starting really slowly. We are prepared for the process to take longer this time due to added travel and the Ethiopian government toughening some aspects of adoption.
As I was at the beach yesterday with my beautiful family: Natalie, my gorgeous, intelligent and driven wife and Tedi, my perfect little boy, I found myself alone and staring out at the Atlantic Ocean. I came to the realization that about 7000 miles across that big body of water is a child who is destined to become a member of our family. He does not us; we do not know him. Yet, he is loved by every fiber of my being. My heart aches for him because of the "trauma" that Katie speaks about. It scares me when I allow myself to imagine the scenarios that may have led to his becoming an orphan. I know that baggage comes along with that. But I'm willing to deal with this trauma and heartache because I have a Savior who did the same thing for me. Jesus knows I am screwed up and full of issues. He does not care and loves me perfectly.
I cannot stop fighting for my son in Ethiopia. We have to push on despite the heartache of the wait and the annoyance of international adoption (like having to answer questions about if I can love a child of another color. Really? Have you met me and my son Tedi?).
Luke 12:48 "To whom much is given, much is required."