If you don't believe in "spiritual warfare" try adopting. I promise, your eyes will be opened in ways you never imagined. 1 Peter 5:8 reminds us that "Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour." We have experienced spiritual opposition and attacks in the past, especially in the line of work we do - but I've never felt "stalked" by the enemy before the way I have since we started this adoption process. The truth is, adoption isn't "beautiful" and it isn't "charity". Adoption is hard, heart-wrenching, sacred work. Adoption is fighting fiercely to protect those most vulnerable in this world. Adoption is saying YES to enter the suffering of an orphan - so that their lives can be ransomed.
And the enemy hates it.
I can't even being to tell you all the ways we have been "attacked" since this process began. And the closer we got to our daughter, the more vicious the attacks became. I haven't shared them all on my blog... mainly because I didn't want this to be a place where I constantly complained. But the close friends who I've shared everything with, and the counselor I've been seeing have been horrified by what we've been through. I literally have had at least half a dozen new "assaults" to deal with each week over the past few months.
We have dealt with financial issues - both in the form of unexpected fees (or lost finances) in the adoption process, and in our personal income levels. We have dealt with health issues - for ourselves, the children in our care worldwide, and our families. All in the same week (a few months back), we had children we care for through the Sound of Hope diagnosed with tuberculosis, typhoid, epilepsy, and one hospitalized for an overdose due to a doctor prescribing her too much medicine. My back completely "went out" due to inflammation from stress back in October - landing me flat in the bed for almost 2 weeks. I was in so much pain that I couldn't walk, couldn't sit up, couldn't dress myself. It was unbearable.
The week before we left for Thailand, literally in one 24 hour time span - two long-time family pets died, our car had 3 different problems we needed to fix, my Great Uncle had 2 strokes, and my mom announced that she needed to have surgery on her spine while we are out of the country. (Hard news to hear at anytime... but it was especially hard for me to know that I wouldn't be home to take care of her, and that I would be SO far away if anything went wrong!)
In the midst of all these personal issues - we have faced more obstacles in our adoption than I can even begin to recount here. There have been delays, on top of delays - that no one can explain. We've dealt with lost paperwork, excessive requirements, innumerable errors in paperwork, closing agencies, negligence, and more red tape than you could ever imagine. Every timeline we're given - we surpass it. If I had a dollar for each time someone told us, "I don't know why this hasn't come through yet!" or "We've never seen this happen before!" or "that really should be approved by now" or "your case is really difficult" - we could buy a new car.
We spent our last few days at home (when we should have been packing and resting up for our trip) dealing with a new and unexpected delay/issue/obstacle. I spent hours on the phone with agencies and government offices - desperately trying to expedite our final approval so that we could come home in time for Christmas. Here in Thailand, I spent hours again yesterday desperately trying to fix the same issue. Today, we found out that our approval still hasn't come, and we will likely be stuck here for weeks - missing our first Christmas home as a family, and costing us more money than we had initially budgeted for this trip.
We're exhausted by the stress we've endured. There has not been one segment of this process that has gone as planned. Every time we experience JOY - it is quickly dampened by the news of a new obstacle to overcome. Every single step we've taken over the past (almost) 5 years has been excruciatingly difficult. And these difficulties have affected our marriage, our friendships, our financial stability, our health, and our sanity. This process has brought us to our knees again and again. Our adoption journey has been brutal. And it wasn't a battle - it is a WAR.
So why do we keep fighting? I know so many people think we're crazy. The truth is we don't HAVE to do this. We could probably get pregnant if we "just wanted to have a baby" (we don't know because we haven't tried). But we have believed this whole time, with all our hearts, that our baby girl is in Thailand. And we believe that SHE is a girl worth fighting for.
It isn't crazy to willingly walk into battle if you believe in what you're fighting for. Much like the Armed Forces in our wonderful country (God bless our men and women in uniform!) - we entered this war willingly. This wasn't a draft. We CHOSE to "enlist". That's what people do when they believe that they have something worth fighting for.
The week before we left for Thailand, I spent some time catching up with another adoptive mom. As we shared our hearts, and I recounted some of my latest struggles she asked me - "Knowing what you know now... would you do it all again?" Without hesitation - I said YES.
YES. Not because I want to endure these things. Not because I have to. But because parents do whatever they have to do to get to their child.
If you're a mom or a dad reading this right now... what would you do to get to your son or daughter? If someone kidnapped them... how much would you pay? What would you endure to get them back? What lengths would you go to - to ensure their safe return?
I see our journey in that light - much more than I see it any other way. That little girl whose picture we've held in our hands for 7 months is our daughter. And I don't feel like I'm fighting for the sake of "some adoption" - I feel like I am fighting to protect the life of my daughter. And all that this has cost us? This is her ransom.
I shudder to think what Kate's life would look like if she was not adopted. The past few days in this city, I have seen her in the eyes of so many young women I've crossed paths with. I wonder if she would have ended up on Walking Street... one of the worst Red Light Districts in the world (less than 3 miles away from her orphanage). I wonder if she would have ended up working some dead-end job... struggling to make ends meet. I wonder if she would have gone on to University and gotten a good job - but come home every night to an empty apartment, and endured every holiday alone year after year.
I think of how empty and lonely and frightening my life would be without my parents, grandparents, siblings, aunts, uncles and cousins. I cannot imagine our little girl - or any child - enduring a lifetime utterly alone in this world.
And so, we keep fighting. We keep fighting so that Kate never has to be alone. We keep fighting so that Kate never has to feel unloved. We keep fighting so that Kate has a family, a future, and an inheritance that she could not get any other way. We keep fighting because she is a girl worth fighting for. We keep fighting - because EVERY child is worth fighting for.
Last year, I read this blog about adoption and foster care, and what was written there has wedged it's way deep into my heart. It has been the single most encouraging thing I've read - and I have come back to it on many dark, hard days. Jason Johnson talks here about how saying YES to the suffering that comes with adoption - is very similar to the YES Jesus exclaimed when he was faced with the cross. He said YES - not because He had to. No one forced Him to endure that pain and suffering. But Jesus said YES out of His enduring love for us... because it was the only way to redeem our lives.
When Jesus said YES to the cross - "It was Him willingly choosing the cost of our joy over the price of His pain."
If there had been any other way, he would have taken it. He asked that the cup pass from Him, but ultimately He drank it willingly. And so, I have been reminded of God's love for me each time I've chosen to once again drink from that cup of suffering on behalf of my daughter.
"The truth is that God is using you, a mere human, to solve a seemingly insurmountable human problem. Confusion, frustration and exhaustion are inevitable and unavoidable - but He is faithful and good and right there with you. The gospel doesn't guarantee that everything will be easy, but it does guarantee that there's hope, and that no matter what, Jesus is worth it and so is what you're doing for these kids." - Jason Johnson
We say YES to the struggle, the suffering, the brokenness, the attacks, the pain, the stress - out of love for Kate. And friends, this world needs more people who will say YES to endure a season of pain and hardship - so that other precious children don't have to endure a lifetime of being an orphan. We need more soldiers, willing to go to battle on behalf of these kids!
We said YES out of love for Kate, and we will keep saying YES. (This doesn't mean Kate is indebted to us in any way. This doesn't make us Kate's savior. This doesn't make us super-human. But I hope it does make us a little more like Jesus, because He is someone I do aspire to be like.)
But the truth is friends, this WAR is far from over. It didn't end when we got matched with our daughter... it only intensified. And it didn't end when we flew to Thailand... we have dealt with another round of attacks this week. And it won't end when we meet Kate... or when we take custody of her... or even when we come home. There are many battles in this war, and some we have won... but others we still have yet to fight. Because ultimately - this is a war for our daughter's life, her heart, and her future.
We hope you will continue to "wage war" with us in prayer - as we meet our daughter this week, as we take our first steps as a family of three, and in the months and years to come as we continue to fight for Kate's heart. This is an epic war... and we are weary, but resolved. We will never surrender because we know we have something - someone - worth fighting for.