This time, I have a confession to make. Next time, a challenge.
One night not long ago, I lay staring upward into the pitch darkness, bitterly hot tears streaming from my eyes.
For this part of the story to make sense, you need to know that over 90,000 people have read about the children of Pleven on this blog.
Ordinarily, the numbers don’t make a hill of beans difference to the story God is writing. It takes effort to learn what the numbers are, and why do I need to know? I don’t.
Recently, however, those numbers did come into the story, so I went and looked them up on Google Analytics to report them accurately.
Over the nearly eight months since I first saw Katie last August, almost 90,000 separate individuals have visited this blog. Over 60,000 of those individuals visited during the nearly five months since we picked Katie up from her orphanage bed in mid-November. That doesn’t count those who subscribe to this blog, receive the posts as emails, and don’t actually visit this website.
Many hundreds of people have emailed me to tell how their hearts have been moved with compassion for the children in Pleven. Many have said that they would do anything to bring one of the children home themselves.
From August forward, every time a new child from Pleven was listed on Reece’s Rainbow, no matter how severe the child’s special needs, a family came forward to commit to them within a matter of a few days. Some of the children were snapped up before they were made public.
It was obvious to us that God was doing a miraculous work in His people’s hearts. Adoptions of children with significant special needs aren’t easily explainable in human terms. These adoptions aren’t “all about us” adoptions. They aren’t “add to or complete our perfect family” adoptions.
These children are being pursued by families whose love is stronger than their fear or self-interest.
As I watched God at work, my hope soared high. Is anything too hard for the Lord? Of course not! Surely God could have families lined up for the rest of the children! Look at what He has already done just in this one orphanage! We’re not talking about millions of orphans here, just a relative handful compared with the thousands of potential adoptive families who are now aware of the children’s great need!
The more families I heard from, the more excited I grew! I could hardly wait for God to demonstrate the value He places on the lives of these children by sending loving families to rescue them. I could see it as if it had already happened. There would be families for the children with special needs in Pleven.
The wheels of governments grind slowly. As we waited for more children from Pleven to become available for adoption, I could hardly wait to show them off. What a privilege to carry these precious lives one or two at a time, to thousands of sympathetic people. People who had already expressed how greatly they care about the children with special needs in Pleven and in so many other institutions all across Eastern Europe and the world.
Then suddenly, after months of waiting, two real flesh-and-blood human beings.
No more space for the imagination now, no space for one’s own romantic ideas of a Pleven child.
Remember what I feared the most after we got the news of Verity’s Down syndrome? My most intense struggles after she was born?
I was afraid that others would look at my precious, vulnerable child and reject her as ugly and of little worth. That hurt, very much.
Sarah’s diagnosis came in, and so did her photo. I eagerly showed her off! But the response…
Her file says she is blind?
She wasn’t quite what we had in mind.
Carissa’s diagnosis came in and so did her photo. The same response…
She’s not smiling.
Reece’s Rainbow staff see possible signs of fetal alcohol syndrome?
She wasn’t quite what we had in mind.
Two innocent girls who want to know, “Can anyone unconditionally love me?”
Just as I do. Just as you do. They want to know what all human beings, with all our flaws, want to know.
“Is there anyone who can unconditionally love me?”
Two innocent girls who don’t know that after many thousands of people looked at their photos, only three asked for their files.
And all three decided NO.
Shelley’s email read, “No families at all seriously interested in either of the girls “
Her words cut me to the quick.
These children are to me as the children birthed from my body.
How many eyes have looked at these precious, vulnerable children and rejected them as unlovely and of little worth?
A sister adoptive mom wrote, “I want them to know over there that we want those children. That they are worth a lot. When we can’t find a home for a child, we are confirming their beliefs. That makes me sick.”
That is why one night not long ago, I lay staring upward into the pitch darkness, bitterly hot tears streaming from my eyes.
“Oh God, what are you doing? I don’t want to lose hope and become cynical. I know You can do anything. Why aren’t you sending families? Why aren’t You demonstrating the value You place on their lives? Why aren’t you showing what You can so easily do?”
The next morning, I flipped to the very beginning of the book of Psalms. What was I looking for? I don’t remember, because here is what He showed me on the previous page…
Then Job answered the Lord and said:
“I know that You can do everything,
And that no purpose of Yours can be withheld from You.
You asked, ‘Who is this who hides counsel without knowledge?’
Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand,
Things too wonderful for me, which I did not know.”
I paged backward.
“Shall the one who contends with the Almighty correct Him?
He who rebukes God, let him answer it.”
Another note from another adoptive mom, “Also remember that while Pleven is alive and looming in your mind, it is directly in God’s line of sight all day and night every day and night.”
My husband’s reminder, “God can handle His own reputation.”
And I remembered Gideon and his 32,000 soldiers. God sent back all who were afraid, and 22,000 went home. Only 10,000 were left. God said that was still too many, and pared that army down to 300 men. When the battle was won against the enemy army of 135,000, it was clear that GOD, and GOD alone, not the strength of numbers, had won the victory.
Oh God, forgive me. “I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees You. Therefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes.”
And now Carissa has a family.
Sarah has a family who is working hard to be able to commit to her.
The fourteen-year-old girl who weighed fourteen pounds when she was admitted to the Tokuda Hospital…has a family.
A little four-year-old boy who some other adoptive moms saw when they were at the Pleven orphanage…has a family.
A little two-year-old girl with severe delays has a family who is very serious about pursuing her adoption.
Family by family, God is calling out His army, and winning the victory in the life of each child.
“Though great distress my soul befell,
The Lord my God did all things well
To God all praise and glory!“