I waited ten.

In my last post I talked about how ten years ago, our adoption story began.  I was in high school and had just had a life changing conversation with a complete stranger about foster care and adoption.  Never had anything sounded so right for me.  But I was afraid to talk about it, so I didn’t.  God knew though, and He continued to prod my heart.

Just a short few weeks later I had a dream.  Not just any dream, but a vivid dream, one of those dreams where you wake up and wonder if what just happened was real or imagined.  A dream where the physical world where you live is literally invaded by what just happened in your mind while you were asleep.  These kinds of dreams do not happen to me often.  But when they do happen they make you sit up and pay attention.

I have only told a few people in my life about this particular dream.  It is incredibly close to my heart, and I knew I couldn’t share it until the time was right.  Now that we are officially in the process of adopting, I feel that the time is here to share it.  If nothing else to keep the details for posterity.  I know it’s controversial to say that God spoke to you through a dream, but when any experience in your life leads you to apply God’s Word to your life in a fuller, more complete way, the Holy Spirit is at work there.  God does not often work through dreams, but He has been known to do so.

God has been directing my life toward adoption for a long time… I have known about it for ten years now.  And this was the night He revealed His plans to me.

***

The dream started in an underground tunnel.  Dark, wet, dirty… there were roughly twenty of us.  We were being led by a few uniformed soldiers carrying assault rifles.  Most of us were women and children.  They led us out of the tunnel into a wide open area filled with garbage.  It was a glorified trash yard with a solitary bus sitting right in the center.  It was one of those old green buses with torn up seats and no air conditioning to speak of.  Not that it would have worked to turn on the air anyway.  They led us into the bus; it was our prison, probably a temporary one.  And then they left.

She had been next to me the entire time.  Her bouncing, curly, thick black hair and her huge brown eyes.  She was the most beautiful little girl I had ever seen.  She had pretty olive skin and she was so sweet and innocent.  Even her appearance was clean and neat, in stark contrast to the garbage heap around us and the frightened, roughed up people sharing our makeshift shelter.  I felt inexplicably attached to this little girl, and she clung to me – totally trusting that I would protect her.  In dreams sometimes you know things without knowing how you know them.  I knew this girl’s parents were gone, and I knew she was mine to take care of.  I also knew it was her birthday.

Dreams can be convenient things sometimes too.  Like the birthday cake I procured from underneath the seat in the very back of the bus.  It was just a couple rows behind us, and I would keep checking to make sure it was still there.  I don’t know how I got a hold of it, but I was so proud of that little cake.  It was simple, white with dainty red flowers.  There were no presents or balloons, but this girl was going to have a tummy full of delicious cake.  I brought it out and showed it to her.  Her eyes lit up like stars.  The dire  surroundings we were in melted, and there was nothing but pure joy.

I was quickly brought back to the reality of things when one person spoke up and said “The king’s daughter is not going to like that.  You know she doesn’t allow any child other than herself to get gifts.”  One of those dream intuitions happened again; somehow I knew just what this fellow prisoner was talking about.  No sooner had I realized the severity of the matter than a Shirley Temple-esque monster storms up the stairs of our bus.  Her blue eyes reduced to glaring slits and her little rosy cheeks puffed out.  My sweetheart, meanwhile, was sitting on her bench holding her birthday cake, which was just seconds ago a treat, and now was damning evidence.  The “princess” was infuriated.  She didn’t say much, but she left in a huff and we all knew what was coming next.  Someone had to be punished for this injustice.  And it was my little girl who was on the line.

In anticipation of an attack, I gently took the cake back, before the poor darling had even had a bite, and slid it back under the seat.  Half hoping that if she wasn’t holding it the soldiers wouldn’t know who was the offender, but it was of no use.  Two soldiers quickly entered and unsheathed their weapon of choice.  It was a long rod with a sharp end surrounded by three metal circles just under its point.  It was not for stabbing, but for electrocuting.  They took one look at my little girl and proceeded toward us immediately.

She was sitting just across from me.  I grabbed her and shouted, but they didn’t listen.  The rods went up.  I threw myself over her as they laughed at my feeble attempts to protect her.  I knew I couldn’t hold out for long, but I had to try.  After about three jabs in my side and my back… I woke up.  The pinpointed, searing pain lasted for minutes as I laid there wondering what on Earth had just happened.  But in that moment I knew… I had a child to find.  A part of me wanted to fall back to sleep to get back to her and hold her and protect her.  But I knew I couldn’t.  I knew it was a dream and that she wasn’t really there.  She was somewhere else, maybe even sometime else.  The only thing I could do for her was to pray and to remember.  I had to remember that there was a child somewhere to be protected.  A child that was not born to me, but who I loved intensely from then on.

***

Juri1I have kept those memories, and thought of her often, though I have never dreamed of her again.  I knew that dream was a confirmation of what I was feeling after my conversation with the woman a few weeks earlier.  I didn’t know how and I didn’t know when, but I knew what I needed to wait and prepare for.  It has been a long ten years.  Patience has not always been my close friend.  But looking back I am so grateful for that time that I have had to prepare.  And after we are home, and Juri asks me that oh so common and heartbreaking question, “Why did it take you so long to come for me?  I waited six years for you.”  I will be able to honestly look him in the eyes, take him by the hands and say, “I know.  I know you did, and I waited ten.”  Love is patient.

Lord thank you for giving me the opportunity to love my child before I knew him.  Thank you for putting this groaning in my heart that mirrors the pain in his.  Give us both the patience to wait just a little bit longer.  We’re on our way sweet boy… we’re on our way.

Our Adoption Story

Over the next several weeks I am going to be blogging about our adoption journey.  The whole story, from start to finish.  Why several weeks?  It’s a really long story.  Ten years long.  Ten years ago I took a class, nothing spectacular.  Just a regular, soon-to-be-sophomore taking her very first college course (English to be exact).  I was super excited.  My sister and I were taking it together; we had to drive half an hour to the nearest community college.  It was an interesting experience for so many reasons, but I’ll just focus on the one for now.

IMG_3092Our first two class periods, the professor did not show up.  So we drove an hour round-trip, sat in a classroom for probably close to that time, and had nothing to do.  Nothing except talk amongst ourselves.  We met some of the other students in the room, all of whom came from many various walks of life.  Much more culturally interesting than my high school class.  I was the youngest person there, but I didn’t feel out of place because the age range was quite large.

I ended up chatting with a lady in her mid-thirties who was sitting nearby.  I remember next to nothing about her.  I don’t know what her name was or why she was taking college courses.  She had dirty blonde hair; I think it was wavy, but that could be my memory just trying to fill in the blanks.  I don’t remember this lady.  But I remember what she said.  It is so strange to be eternally indebted to a person you don’t remember, know nothing about and won’t ever meet again this side of heaven.

I asked her about her family and what I thought was a basic question: “How many children do you have?”.  The look she gave me I remember, because it’s the same look I get when people ask me (military brat that I am) where I’m from.  Umm… it’s complicated.  She then proceeded to tell me that her and her husband were foster parents.  She said that they typically foster older children, teenagers who are aging out of the system.  She said that she considered all of them her children, even if they were never formally adopted, and that they always make sure the children know that they will be there for holidays, or if they ever want a family to come home to.

She told me about how sometimes it was hard raising a teenager who you just met and who came from such loss and hurt.  But that it was rewarding and a privilege to give these young people the opportunity for a good life from the beginning.  We talked about hobbies, and I learned that she loved cooking – it was how they spent their family time together.  She said that it was great for bonding with their teens.  I don’t remember much else about the conversation; I think that was all that we talked about about her life.  I assumed I would get a chance to ask her more about it in future weeks, but I never was able to.  I mean, usually, classrooms have teachers and you actually do work.  That night, though, there was Someone else at work… and He was planting seeds.

I thought about fostering and adoption all that evening.  I couldn’t think about anything else.  Mother Teresa was a hero of mine, and I always resonated with the story of how her mother and father were poor but took in anyone who was needy, and how that sharing of her life with others in need shaped her as she grew older.  What an amazing ministry, I thought, to be able to give of yourself and your home to young people who are at risk for becoming impoverished and needy to prevent it from happening in the first place.  To catch these precious children of God before they fall through the cracks.

A spark was kindled in my heart.  But I was cautious about bringing it to light.  I was obviously too young to be a foster parent, and I felt probably too young to even be considering it.  Well, to be perfectly honest, I knew I wasn’t too young to be thinking about it, but I was afraid of being discouraged from it if I opened up to someone.  So I kept quiet.  But I was just dying to talk about it!  Little did I know… God was already planning to have a “discussion” with me about this.

Shortly after my conversation with the saintly lady from my English 101 course, I had a dream.  And this time, I didn’t forget the details.  They are as vivid to me now as they were years ago…

READ PART II

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