“…that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death…”
I’m planning to spend the next several posts explaining the various issues we may face with Katerina. If I haven’t already discussed these issues with you in person, you might find yourself reacting in shock. That’s okay; shock is the appropriate initial response from anyone who has a living heart.
The biggest reason I want to openly talk about her issues here is to prevent shock after we bring her home. We were grateful that God gave us time to learn about and prepare for Verity’s needs before we received her. We are grateful that God is giving us time to learn about and prepare for Katie’s needs before we receive her.
But there is something that must first be made clear beyond all doubt.
We used to think of adoption primarily in terms of choice. Just another option for people who want to add to or complete their ideal family.
For some, that may still be true. But we cannot speak for them.
Yes, we had a choice. Just not the kind of choice you might think.
We had a choice about whether to adopt Katerina in exactly the same way we had a choice about whether to have Verity.
When God revealed to us halfway through my pregnancy that Verity had Down syndrome and a severe heart defect, it was His way of saying to us, “You have a new calling. I am sending you a child with a disability.”
We could have exercised our choice and replied, “No way!” Over ninety percent of women who receive a prenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome do make that choice, you know.
When God opened our eyes…
…to the fact that children with special needs just like our Verity who are born in Eastern Europe are sent to understaffed and underfunded orphanages until at some point during their childhood they are transferred to adult mental institutions–places an average American wouldn’t put a dog–where 80% of the children who are transferred die within the first year…unless they have Down syndrome, then the percentage jumps to 95%…
…and then opened the door of adoption before us…
…and then opened our hearts to wholeheartedly loving this child who needs a family so much…
…we could have exercised our choice, closed our eyes, closed the door, closed our hearts, and replied, “No way!”
We wouldn’t have been saying “No” to just another option from our range of options.
We would have been saying “No” to the calling of our Master.
We are not making the bed we’ll be lying in. We are not rescuing Katerina. The Father of the fatherless is rescuing Katerina.
This adoption is a work of God from start to finish. Only faithless eyes and hardened hearts could miss that truth. There is no way we could have engineered even a fraction of the miracles God has done here. We can say “Yes” to Him and pray and work in obedience and love and faith, all this only with the overflowing grace He continually pours into us. But it remains outside our ability to manufacture miracles.
So over the next several posts, as you learn some of what we have learned, both about our Katie-bird and about other children who have had similar issues, we hope that you will understand why we are so full of gratitude to the Lord. Gratitude that He has the power to remove all fear and put His pure love into our hearts. Gratitude that He never gives His people an unfunded mandate. Gratitude that He has been preparing our family for years to receive this child. Gratitude that He has given us the privilege of identifying in this unique way with the suffering of Christ.
Reprinting for you here some words that I wrote nearly a year ago. Some of you may remember them. From this perspective, they look an awful lot like providential preparation.
“Then a dispute arose among them as to which of them would be the greatest. And Jesus, perceiving the thought of their heart, took a little child and set him by Him and said to them, ‘Whoever receives this little child in My name receives Me; and whoever receives Me receives Him who sent Me. For He who is least among you all will be greatest.’”
I had always pictured this scene as Jesus with a typical kid on His lap. I had never pictured Him with a child who has a face that proclaims her special needs to the world. A face that will never be acceptable to some people, no matter what pretty hair bow she wears on top.
What does it look like in real life to receive Jesus? Photogenic social acceptability?
“He has no form or comeliness; and when we see Him, there is no beauty that we should desire Him. He is despised and rejected by men, a Man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief. And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him; He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.”
So to receive Jesus, we must be willing to receive one who is despised. We must be willing to receive one who will suffer rejection, who will not be esteemed.
“Therefore Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people with His own blood, suffered outside the gate. Therefore let us go forth to Him, outside the camp, bearing His reproach.”
Jesus, we love You. We welcome You. If this is where You are, then this is where we want to be, too.