Monday, January 24, 2011

The Whole Story - The Choice

(This is part 5 of our Malawian drama. If you need to catch up, just click on the titles for An Intro, Getting There, Meeting Ernest, and Still Day One.)
I’d like to say that because it was dinnertime we sat down to a nice meal that Wednesday night, but food was the furthest thing from our minds. (Could be why Danny and I both came home 7 pounds lighter. An effective diet plan, but not one I would recommend!). Instead, we began discussing just what it would be like to parent a child with cerebral palsy.
This is where our story is touched by one of the strangest aspects of adoption: special needs become a choice. Had one of our biological children been born severely disabled, we would have stopped at nothing to love and care for them in the best way possible. If Reagan had had a seizure on the plane on the way home from Vietnam that significantly impacted her mind or body, again, we would have loved and cared for her as we do now. She was already ours, and we had committed to parenting her no matter what. When we thought we’d be adopting from China, we completed a long, thorough checklist of the special needs we thought we could effectively parent. Honestly, there weren’t a lot of things we didn’t check off, but neurological disabilities were not on our list.
We believe that God has given us minds to make decisions when there is a choice to be made, and the will to accept His plan when the decision has been made for you. A mother of a child with cerebral palsy left a long comment on one of my previous posts defending what I’m sure she saw as an affront to the condition her son is stricken with. I have only compassion for the difficulties she and her family have endured, and understanding for the love a mother has for her son, no matter his capacities. However, the key difference between her situation and ours was Choice. God gave her a son with special needs. God gave us the responsibility to make a choice that would bring Him the most glory. That includes considering the impact Ernest might have on our family, our marriage, and the children He’s already entrusted to us. Because we’d not yet made any commitments – legal or otherwise – we were not yet responsible for Ernest, and thus left with a choice.
By God’s grace, the other side of that choice did not involve leaving a little boy on the streets. The scene of this whole drama is an incredible orphanage. Despite the director’s total disregard for the truth, our family, and the other children we might otherwise have had the opportunity to adopt, Annie provides a beautiful home for many needy kids. It truly was one of the nicest buildings of any kind we encountered in Malawi. Though Annie would later throw her entire staff under the bus, insisting that it was impossible to find any Malawians to work there for any reason other than a paycheck, it was clear to us that many of the women there really loved the children. When we started to lean towards walking away from Ernest, our hearts were comforted by the fact that he’ll forever have a home in such a wonderful place.

7 comments:

A Complete Thought said...

I know the difficulties of this very thing. Our first son was desperately ill for 2 years. Our marriage suffered. Our finances suffered. Our lives suffered as we watched him suffer. After his death, when God turned our hearts to adoption, we were petrified of additional suffering of any sort.

And so we made hard choices on those adoption forms as to what health issues we felt capable of handling. When God brought a child into our lives for adoption, he did have some health issues but we were able to see how God had worked in us to do what was necessary at that moment.

But those choices were nonetheless difficult.

I appreciate how you have authentically dealt with an elephant in the room issue regarding adoption. The process is not "shopping" a child, but it does require the conscious agreement of both parents for the real needs of a child and the family as a whole. What might have happened, what could happen are all non issues for the facts of what is laid before you and a decision is called for in that moment.

Thank you for sharing your story. Your heart for Ernest is clearly seen. May God continue to lead your family in all of its next steps.

Chris and Michelle said...

Thank you for writing out this experience, Laura. My heart goes out to you and my thoughts are stirred up by it.

Jessica said...
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Jessica said...
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Heather M. said...

I think you were very brave making the decision you did. It's easy to go with your heart...harder to think things through & think of everyone envolved. Hard. Yes. Selfish...not hardly. Hope you are all healing...I'm sure it helps to write out your thoughts....

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