I've been praying and thinking about a lot of issues for a few weeks..if you're a regular reader here and you read my post called risks, it hinted at some of the things I've been wrestling through. And hopefully you got the point at the end: that although I've been struggling, I do believe the risks we take in life are worth it, even if the end result was not something we gambled for.
One of the risks I mentioned was orphan advocacy. If you've been reading Lily's blog since the beginning, you know that much of my writing shifted a year ago, from journaling my feelings and journey with Lily and her diagnosis of Down syndrome, to writing about orphans with Down syndrome in Eastern Europe and many other nations of the world. These orphans have no hope for a family or a future without the generous donations of people who read about them, and it's been my hope that by sharing their plight I can somehow help them find families...even if we can't adopt.
I've read about adoptions gone wrong on other blogs, but up until this month I'd never experienced it in the children I advocate for. And to be honest when I started reading about other adoptions that didn't have such a pretty ending as the ones I've blogged about, I began to get very nervous about asking people to give.
If your family is anything like our family, sometimes finances require a lot of faith. Some months in the Rice household we honestly have to just believe God to help us through, and this year's economy hasn't helped much. Don't get me wrong- God is always faithful to provide, and even when we think we're struggling, we are so much better off than most of the world.
But in light of that struggle, I know how hard it can be to make a decision to just give your hard earned money away. If you met me in real life you would probably laugh at the contrast you saw in my blog personality versus my real-life-personality. I'm the mom who never wants to ask anyone to babysit or do nursery at church. I hate asking people for favors, and I absolutely will never ever ask anyone to donate to something if I have to do it verbally. But my little bloggy is a different story- because writing has always been one of my greatest passions, and I don't have to look anyone in the eye when I plead from my heart- give to these children.
So here's where I've been struggling- I don't like asking people to give when I can't guarantee the outcome. If I ask readers to give and give to a particular child, and through no fault of Reece's Rainbow or the adopting family or anyone else involved, that child becomes unavailable for adoption - I am very concerned about the people who gave. I don't want anyone feeling that they gave in vain, or questioning what they gave to. Because as I said, we know what it means to sacrifice other things to give.
I talked a lot of these things through with an experienced blogger and adoptive mama last week. She made this statement and it really stuck with me- adoption is a moving target. There are bumps in the road, sometimes unexpected detours, and sometimes there is a complete new destination than the one originally planned. (and I know I just completely mixed my metaphors there;)) Just as with any parenting journey, there are no guarantees.
I've been pregnant 13 times...only 10 of those pregnancies ended with a healthy baby in my arms. Were those other three pregnancies worth the risk, even though I'll never see those babies til Heaven? Absolutely. If I would have decided 17 years ago that two back-to-back miscarriages hurt so much that I never wanted to try again for more children, I would have missed out on Tyler, Jonathan, Caleb, Abigail, Noah and Jackson. And if I weighed those risks again after losing a baby two years ago and decided there was too much potential hurt involved...I wouldn't have Lily.
So what I'm trying to say is...I can't guarantee a happy ending for every child I advocate for. I've heard of parents who raised all the money they needed for a child, sacrificed and planned and restructured their entire lives to adopt- and the child died before they got there. We live in an imperfect world inhabited by imperfect people. It's just reality that things happen beyond our control, and even when we pray and have total confidence that things are going to go the way we planned, life has a way of proving us wrong.
Adoption is a moving target- but so is life.
So this is the story behind the story...the reason I wrote that letter to Lily about risks.
I had incredibly high odds of having a baby with Down syndrome, given my age and her heart defect and other soft markers. One in three, I believe were my odds at our 20 week ultrasound. I looked those odds in the face and said she is worth it. Every tear cried, every midnight prayer offered up, every sudden plunge into the unknown on that roller coaster of a pregnancy, was worth having my beautiful baby girl placed in my arms and knowing she was mine.
Are the risks high in orphan advocacy? Is it worth asking people to see the need, see the child behind the picture, give even when it hurts, when we know that sometimes the end result is not what we had planned for?
Lily wasn't what I planned for. I asked God to give me a baby without Down syndrome- fervently prayed before all of my pregnancies for a baby with no chromosomal "problems". And God gave me Lily. I believe that with all my heart.
And I can't pretend that woven into that intricate pattern, this design called my life, there wasn't a golden and beautiful thread called orphan advocacy. Sometimes that unfinished and intricate design looks a little messy on this side of Heaven. Sometimes we wrestle with the Creator- because we wanted the design to look like this and not the way it's turning out.
And maybe my eternal-optimist-of-a-husband has rubbed off on me all these years, but I do believe at the end of the day it's all good.
Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish exceedingly, abundantly more than we might ask or think. Ephesians 3:20
Is it worth it?
Kareen, before adoption
Peter's orphanage picture
Peter at the orphanage today...court date the day after Christmas, Gotcha date (prayerfully!) January 6th !
And thank you, Mandy Rhodes for answering that question today...is it worth it??
THEY are worth it.