Our Family

Our Family
Our Family: Pops, Me, The Teenager, The Boy, The Freckle Faced Ninja, Miss Priss, Miss Sassy Pants, Madi-Lou-Who, & Dora the Explorer

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Break My Heart

Play While you Read

This song just keeps spinning around in my head.  It's been there for several days and I couldn't figure out what it was.  The line, "Break my heart for what breaks yours" just kept playing over and over.  Like a record that was stuck.  

I tried to sing it yesterday (yikes!).  But Gabby just smiled and broke out into the song for me.  Relief, now I know what it is.  As many other songs I hear, those words just won't go away from my mind.  The last verse goes like this:

"Heal my heart and make it clean, 
Open up my eyes to the things unseen, 
Show me how to love like You have loved me
Break my heart for what breaks Yours, 
Everything I am for Your Kingdom's cause, 
As I walk from earth into eternity."

I read the other day that there are an estimated 163 million orphans worldwide.  There are 500,000 children in the U. S. Foster Care system.  It's hard to wrap my mind around that number.  Too many faces to comprehend.  What does that mean?  What does it look like?

Yesterday I met I woman who had a beautiful 20 month old that she and her husband have adopted from China.  That precious child has been with them for 7 months.  As we talked, we both recognized the bond adoptive parents seem to have almost instantly.  It's a different kind of pregnancy and labor.  One of endless waiting.  She saw a picture of her daughter and spent months looking at that picture wondering who was tucking her in at night.  Who was feeding her?  Kissing boo-boos?  I was in tears just listening to those few questions.  How well I remember.

Another friend got to hold a beautiful 3 month old baby.  They never thought they'd want to adopt an infant, but here they were in an orphanage Kyrgyzstan. Half a world away.  Expecting to meet a 4 or 5 year old when someone placed this baby in her arms.  She and her husband fell in love.  4 years later.  Still waiting on the home country to begin approving adoptions again.  The mom and dad are so amazingly strong, I cannot imagine.  4 years of  praying, hoping, waiting, wondering.  Who is tucking her in at night?  What does she like to eat?  Does anyone hug her when she's scared?  I cannot contain tears at the thought.  

Another family had to wait for news of heart surgery on their precious child, a world away, in China.  Paperwork hold ups, lost paperwork, frustration.  Finally after so many months, they were able to go get their daughter.  I read her story of wondering.  Wondering who was comforting the healing baby after surgery?  Was she scared of the dark?  Did she have a favorite teddy bear?  I watch the whole family hold her with such a look of contentment and love now that she is with them.

I met a couple in September who is adopting a child from the Ukraine.  They had to have the paperwork in and many very expensive fees paid before her 16th birthday (October 2011) or she would have been turned out of the orphanage to live on her own.  I remember feeling panic for them.  As they talk with her on the phone, she is so frustrated, trying to understand why it's taking so long.  I imagined this sweet 16 year old living on her own suddenly.  She's only a little older than Gabby.  It made me shudder.

163 million orphans.  500,000.  So hard to wrap my head around those numbers.  Until I hear the stories.  Then my heart breaks.  

I remember our waiting.  Wondering.  Anger at reading what they'd experienced.  And our children are some of the luckier ones.  

I remember being told they had to return to the foster home for a month after a week long visit with us.  I thought I could handle it.  Until I held them.  Rocked them. Cried for them.  Smelled their hair.  I could not send them back.  Send them away like so many others.  

163 million.  500,000.  I want to hold them all in ways they SHOULD have been held since birth.  Children who have known anger, neglect, loneliness, hunger, isolation.  Never security, safety, caresses, nurturing.  My heart breaks.  

Now I know why that song will not leave my head.  God broke my heart long ago.  For these children.  

For Samantha* who replayed her parents violent fight in cartoon strips in her writing journal.  She described her father insisting her mother abort the most recent pregnancy.  Number 4 child.  Too many to feed.  She would wear her father's undershirts to school as a shirt.  Neighbors described them not being allowed in the house during the days in the summer.  Locked out.  Without shoes.  July heat.  While their parents were at work.  She was 6 years old.  Her brother and sister were 8 and 3.  I had the privilege of loving her for 10 months until she moved on to 1st grade.  My heart breaks.  

For Gail* who was in the same class as Samantha.  Who was brilliant and violent.  Who smelled and had lice all year long.  Who was removed for a season for sexual abuse then returned home.  The rainy day our principal had to drive her home is burned in my memory.  No one answered the locked door.  Gail used an umbrella to undo the chain lock on the inside of the door.  Mom was passed out and would not wake up.  I remember holding her through violent outbursts, protecting the other children from flying chairs.  Restraining her but wanting to hold her, get her to cry and share her fears, tell her it would be alright.  All through elementary school she would come back to visit me.  I still see her occasionally, running around the houses near the school.  And I wonder.  Does anyone hold her?  Is she scared of the dark?  Does she remember that I love her?  And my heart breaks.  

For a Compassion sponsored child I read about.  He lives in the Amazon.  Mother gone.  Father went up the river to another village for work.  Took his brother but left him to fend for himself.  Alone.  Living in a hut.  Once a week the father leaves food on his porch but no contact.  No hugs.  All Alone.  My heart breaks.

All of these precious children.  163 million.  7,700.  The faces swirl through my head as tears come again.  I seem to cry easily these days.  As my heart breaks, I wonder where I have been all these years.  Why I was numb to them.  We intended to adopt sooner, talked about doing foster care "one day down the road" and I wonder.  While these babes had no one to hold them, what was I doing?  I cannot hold them all but can I...what?  What can do?  I ache for them, the "unwanted" children.  

I try to imagine a child of 17 here, in America, with no ties to a family.  I wonder what will happen to them?  Will they go back to their birth family?  To violence or neglect?  Will they seek a better life?  Will they drift, unattached?  Do they have anyone to guide them?  Are they scared of the dark?  I wonder.  And my heart breaks.  

I seem to have a perpetual ache in my heart now.  I love my children so dearly and their past seems so distant sometimes.  But I ache for the times they were scared or confused and we weren't there yet to comfort them.  My heart breaks for all the 7 year old boys somewhere in the world who do not have a family to help them understand the hard things of life.  I ache for all the 5 year old girls who just wants to be loved, be told they are beautiful but thinks you have to be "cute" like a baby to be loved. 

I do not know what God has called you to in your life, but I hope He breaks your heart for it, as it breaks His.  It is overwhelming.  But it is a path I would not turn from if given the choice.  As my heart breaks, it is being healed at the same time; becoming more clean.  A little less selfish, more aware.  My eyes are opened and I wonder.

125,000 children in U.S. foster care are waiting for a "forever home" through adoption
There are between 7,700 and 10,000 children in foster care in the state of Georgia alone.
Georgia has about 1/2 it's needed number of foster homes.  

If you feel God has called you to foster or adopt, please don't turn away from that calling.  

If you don't feel called to foster or adopt, but want to help in some way, there are a multitude of ways you can support a foster or adoptive parent (prayer, meals, babysitting, tutoring, transportation, to name a few)!!  A good resource in the North Fulton/Gwinnett area is Promise686, an adoption and foster care ministry begun out of Perimeter Church in Duluth, GA.  www.promise686.org.  They are on Facebook as well.  

a father to the fatherless...God sets the lonely in familiesPsalm 68:6

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