Wednesday, July 13, 2011

My journey to a decision to adopt from foster care

Ryan and I have recently started classes to adopt from foster care.  For me at least, this journey has been long in coming.

I never had an epiphany, or this one singular moment where I just knew this was the right decision for me and for my family.  Instead, it's been a LONG series of moments, of experiences, of stories that have edged me closer to this decision to adopt.

The first moment that opened my eyes was as an older child. I don't remember how old I was, or even the title of the book, but I remember reading a novel based on a true story of child abuse. I read how this little girl was tied up to a pole outside, kept for hours without food or drink. If she went to the bathroom on herself, she was beaten mercilessly -- but she was never taken in to use the restroom.  The story was told from her perspective -- a sad, demoralized little girl who loved her parents and could never understand why they hurt her so much.

Images from her story have stuck with me ever since.

I remember thinking, even as a child, that I wanted to adopt. I guess in my mind, it has always been a part of my "someday" plan.

Then, in May of last year, I learned about sex trafficking.  Here's how God helped open my eyes . . .

It all started with TLC (Yes, I'm talking about the TV channel!)  I was watching a show on the 2005 tsunami with my husband.  It was one of those things where you wanted to turn it off, and pretend that something this atrocious would never, ever happen.  Yet there's that part of me that just had to watch. As though I owed it to the victims to hear their stories, to validate their painful experiences.  And so I watched . . .

Their was very little dramatization -- just real-life videos and personal testimonies from victims.  One couple from Europe was vacationing in Sri Lanka for Christmas with their 5-year-old daughter.  The wave came in to their hotel room, filling it up.  The woman was holding her daughter, belly-to-belly, with the girl's arms and legs wrapped around her torso.  She held on for everything that she could. But in just one moment, her beloved daughter slipped from her arms, and vanished from the room.  Three days later, they found her body on the beach.

I sobbed as I heard her story. And as the stories progressed, I became angrier at God for allowing such suffering.  Days later, I was still not emotionally recovered from the experience.  At church, I tried to worship God, but my heart held back.  I watched a mother nearby pick up her 5-year-old, belly-to-belly, with the little girl's arms and legs wrapped around her torso. In that moment, my heart screamed to God, "Lord, why would you do this?  Why would you let thousands of children die a horrible death? Why would you rob families of their children?  These children are innocent ... why didn't you DO SOMETHING?!!!  I cannot worship a God who kills children!"

I'll never forget how calm His voice was, even in the midst of my visceral rage.  He spoke quietly, yet pointedly to my heart . . . "Thousands of children are dying every day. They are hurting. And they need someone to help them.  Do not ask my what I am doing, until YOU are doing something, too."

It was as if someone had splashed cold water on my face. (I don't even want to know what someone might have been thinking if they had been watching me during this particular service!)  I was shocked to hear His answer . . . and all I could think of next was, "WHAT?"  What is causing suffering to thousands of children?  What is killing them?  And what could I do?

Within weeks, my brother returned home from Southeast Asia.  He told me about about how houses in regular neighborhoods had little red lights on their doors.  Children would be playing outside . . . young girls ages 8-12, dressed in tee shirts and jeans. If the red light was on, that meant the child outside was for sale.  That was the first in a series of answers to "WHAT?"

I found out about sex-trafficking in the U.S. I found out that children who have already been sexually abused were at high risk for being exploited -- many of whom are from foster care.

I hosted a sex-trafficking awareness night.  But that wasn't enough. I committed a certain percentage of my Arbonne sales, but even still, that doesn't feel like enough.  I lend out the book, "Renting Lacy."  I am HOPING against HOPE to be able to speak at Arbonne's Global Training Conference to thousands of women about sex-trafficking.  I have picked up pictures of prostitutes from the Las Vegas strip, cutting out their faces only and praying over them.  Still, not enough.

Now we are starting foster care with hopes of adoption. I have no idea where this journey will lead us.  I don't know how our children's lives will be changed, and how our lives will be changed.  It isn't as if I'm on this endless search to be able to do "enough."  But when I do have the conversation face-to-face with God one day, I want to be able to say, "I did my part. I tried my best to help. I couldn't help them all.  But I helped at least one."