Tuesday, February 3, 2015

My Story: Being Held Captive

If there were one piece of advice which I could give to encourage my fellow sisters who are in the long wait for their children, it would be this: you are not captive to the journey.

My husband Butch and I had always known that we would welcome children into our family through adoption.  We began the journey in the summer of 2011 and felt the Lord calling us to pursue international adoption from Taiwan.  Most adoption processes during that time took less than 1 year to complete which is unheard of in international adoption!  So, we eagerly dreamed and planned to have our child home by the next summer.  We applied to, and were accepted by, a home in Taiwan who just loved orphans and provided a temporary home for them until they could be with their forever families.

However, unbeknownst to us at the time, Taiwan was changing their adoption laws.  The country began slowing down adoptions and halting some until the new laws came into effect.  One year passed until the home we were working with asked if we wanted to remain on the waiting list because they couldn’t guarantee us a child.  We had to make a choice to continue on the list or leave the program. 

This was such a heavy time.  That’s the only way to describe the heartbreak and disappointment.  We felt like we were thrown several steps backwards.  We didn’t want to start the process over by pursuing a different country’s program.  We weren’t handling it well.  My husband struggled with anger, but I obsessed about the what-ifs.  I monitored other families’ movement within the process.  I organized and reorganized our adoption files.  I distanced myself from most friends and some family.  In hindsight, my life had become captive to the journey.

During this time, I was reading the book of Jeremiah, which the Lord really used to minister to my heart. 

Jeremiah 29: 4-7 says,

“Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, to all the exiles whom I have sent into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon, ‘Build houses and live in them; and plant gardens and eat their produce.  Take wives and become the fathers of sons and daughters, and take wives for your sons and give your daughters to husbands, that they may bear sons and daughters; and multiply there and do not decrease.  Seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf; for in its welfare you will have welfare.’

The Israelites were exiles in a foreign land.  They were legitimate captives to the Babylonians.  I can’t imagine what it must have been like to be held against my will by strangers.  Yet here I was allowing my thoughts and circumstances to hold me captive from life.  What really caught my attention in this passage was that the Lord tells us to live our lives, to show up and be present, and that we will benefit when we seek the welfare of others.  I can’t worry or obsess when I’m intent on living for God and serving Him.  This passage really convicted and encouraged my husband and I because it really helped us to move beyond ourselves.

We asked the home if we could take some time to pray about  our decision and waited for one month to see how the Lord would guide us.  So many loved ones prayed for us too!  And you know what?  The Lord heard our petitions!  Through confirmation of God’s word, we decided to continue on the list, which was the best decision we’ve ever made!  Taiwan started approving adoptions again a few months afterwards.  Six months later in November of 2012, we were matched with our almost 3-month-old son! We named him Silas Lin, and he was beautiful and healthy!  It was love at first sight!

The home told us that he would probably come home within 6-8 months after we were submitted to court, but this didn’t happen.  Instead, months passed without news of progress, and my husband and I were trying so hard to see the good in the journey and not be so confined by the process.  When April arrived, we heard that the courts rejected our case because more paperwork was needed from the birth family.  We understood, though, that the necessary paperwork had been received, and we had been resubmitted to court in May.  

So, now we were eagerly anticipating having Silas home sometime in the fall.  Months passed again without progress.  When August arrived, we received the devastating news that our case was again rejected because the courts wanted specific paperwork from the birth family that still hadn’t been submitted.  The home now had the arduous task of tracking down our son’s birth family to get them to complete more paperwork. 

We desperately worked hard to not be miserable and impatient.  I decided to lead a women’s prayer group at my church, which was a great opportunity to care for others and share about adoption with them.  The Lord also encouraged me through many other adoptive Mamas.   A dear friend of mine who adopted her daughter from the same home encouraged me with these words:

“Our God is our Redeemer.  He not only redeems us from our sins, but I believe that He can redeem lost time with our children too.  Those milestones you’ve missed, He’s going to make it seem as if you were never absent.”

And you know what?  She was right.  About 3 months later (almost 1 year from the time we were matched with him), we got the call to come for our first visit to meet our son.  This was such a precious time to finally meet and love on Silas.  We were able to see his beautiful country and learn more about his birth culture.  It was amazing for our family of 3 to finally be together even if it was for 2 short weeks.  I pray that God strengthens all of you Mamas out there who will have to do it in the future because it’s heartbreaking and really hard.  We chose to trust in God’s protection over Silas and our case.

Two months later, we received the best Christmas gift ever!  Taiwan officially decreed Silas as our child that day, and we were invited to come over on New Year’s to bring him home!  Finally!  Silas was coming home!

We were in the adoption process for 3 years.  It took us 14 long months to bring Silas home.  All of us who have experienced adoption know that the paperwork alone isn’t for the faint-hearted.  It can be easy to feel robbed of one of the most joyful times of your life wading through those piles, fearing the what-ifs, or dealing with the stress of it all. When you just don’t know if you can get one more paper notarized, the hope for your child is an amazing motivator!  And that’s what a captive needs: to hope in the Lord who alone can liberate and provide the most amazing miracles in our lives. 

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