We have been dealing with a lot around here lately. Our orphan ministry has exploded which is a total blessing but it also means that we have an event almost every week for the next several months. We are in full promotion mode right now for our city-wide, multi-church event for Orphan Sunday. The Lord has opened so many doors for us and brought so many wonderful people to join our efforts to get orphans on the radar of Christians in our community. We now have adoptive parents representing Russia, China, Ethiopia and Honduras working on our leadership team as well as some amazing families that are praying about adopting out of foster care here in the US.
On top of all that is swirling with the ministry, we recently lost my sweet Grandpa, a war hero whose love affair with my Grandma spanned 68 years. The day he died, I loaded the girls up in the car and headed to my parents' house to help with funeral preparations. While there, my mom and I worked for hours on a slideshow that showcased my grandfather's amazing life story. I went to bed at 1am the night we finished the project only to be awakened at 5am by a screaming child (this is always a great way to start your day). I went to Junia's room and found her screaming on the floor (this then woke up Eden who also started screaming ... did I mention I had had four hours of sleep at this point?). Junia had evidently rolled out of her toddler bed which is just a few inches off the ground (and the irony is she sleeps in a big girl bed at home!) As Junia is prone to drama at times, I put her (and Eden) in bed with me and got them both calmed down a bit. Junia through more tears told me "Mommy, it hurts to touch it." As this sounded like more than the usual drama, I turned on the very bright bathroom light (at 5 am ...) only to see a VERY LARGE bump where her clavicle should be. I then called poor Super Dad who had just returned to our house from a business trip to the opposing coast and who was also running on four hours of sleep to ask what a broken collarbone looked like as he had had one as a child. It was very clear at that point given my mad skills in diagnostics that the bone was indeed broken (being able to feel two distinct pieces is usually not a good sign). Given that my only other alternative was to sit with two screaming preschoolers in an out-of-town ER for 6 hours while waiting to be seen by some disinterested resident, I opted to throw my bedraggled kiddos into the car and drive (at 5 am...) the three hours home directly to the front door of our pediatrician's office so that he could confirm my diagnosis (which he did in about 3 seconds) and help my baby girl.
As I drove bleary-eyed up the freeway through the morning-commute LA traffic, I was thinking about a comment made by a good friend of mine recently. Keep in mind that this friend is someone we know really well, someone whose kids are friends with my kids, someone who is in our social community. She asked me if I thought I would ever want to "have my own someday". Now this is not the first time I've been asked this and I have learned to put on my happy face and self-censor a bit and use these opportunities to help teach people about adoption, recognizing that this is something very foreign to most people who define family by blood ties. That being said, I found this particular interaction more troubling than most because this is someone who knows us well. And yet, she still didn't get it. She still didn't understand that by asking a question like that she was negating the legitimacy of my children as "real children" - children that are "my own". She still didn't understand that God had forever knitted us together as family in a mysterious and amazing miracle, not unlike how He works in the miracle of conception. I left my conversation with her saddened. For all we are doing right now to raise awareness about orphans and to promote orphan care and adoption, it appears our efforts may not have succeeded in our closest circle. As I drove 80-plus miles an hour because my baby was in pain and needed her Mama to fix her, I thought to myself, "If this isn't my child, then who does she belong to?" Seriously, if you ask me if I want "my own" kids that implies that the kids I have are not mine, and if they are not mine, can someone please tell me whose they are? If they aren't mine I am certainly going to a fair bit of inconvenience and enduring a fair bit of life disruption for children that belong to other people. They certainly appear to belong to me when one of them wakes me up screaming at 5 am or when one of them grabs both of my cheeks in her small little four year old hands, puts her nose to mine and and says "I love you, Mama" or when one of them calls for me from her darkened bedroom and says in her smallish two year old voice "Mommy, I want you. Sleep with me, Mama." From all I can tell practically speaking, they are mine. Two governments say they are mine and more importantly God says they are mine and will hold me accountable for what I am doing to raise them. So, dear friend, please don't ask me if my precious girls for whom I have rearranged my career, my social calendar, my sleeping schedule, my bathing rituals, my long-term financial plans and, generally speaking, the sum total of all my life goals are "mine". It should be obvious to you by now that they are and it breaks my heart when you ask that because these children are as "real" to me as yours are to you. They are my life as your birth children are to you and no child that comes from my body will ever have more status as "my own" than these daughters born of my heart.