Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Let the New Adventure Begin!

The Johnsons are embarking on a new adventure.  We would like to introduce our son, Qiu Le (pronounced Choe Luh). Our sweet boy is 8 years old and currently lives in Shanghai at an orphanage with approximately 500 other children.  

How did God lead us here???  Ryan and I are still in awe at how God uses His word, other Christian people, and the Holy Spirit to guide our lives.  So here's how our adventure began:  A few months ago, during an adoption parenting conference and weekend getaway, we began to contemplate if and when we would adopt again.  Maybe when the "Bigs" (the two older ones, as we call them) go to college and our little spicy girl is the only child left at home we could adopt again...  We are still navigating our new family dynamics and although Maeli's transition as been amazingly smooth, we weren't mentioning the a-word.  Adopting an older child out of birth order is quite an adjustment for any family (those of you who have, are saying amen!)  I attended the Created for Care conference (for moms of adopted children) in early March, and even after returning home, 4 children continued to surface in my prayers and thoughts, but "my" thoughts were later, years later.  

And then I saw him again.  Again, because the first time I read about him here in November of 2013, we were still feeling the emotional, financial, and physical effects of our most recent adoption (and still are in some aspects).  That precious face and his captivating eyes pulled at my heartstrings.  So I did what I thought was best for him and shared the blog post to help find his family.  

Fast forward to March 14th, a Friday night, and it so happened to be my sweet sister-in-law's birthday.  We decided to hang out at their house and let the kids play.  As we sat around, I browsed Facebook to check out my newsfeed, actually looking for something else when a friend's advocacy post appeared in my feed.  Since she advocated for our oldest daughter (and many other children) I decided to click the link and read on as I do often.  And. there. he. was.  As I read the blog post from her (you can read it here), something began to stir inside of me.  A feeling I knew I'd be taking up with God later that night.  Because for so many reasons in my mind, going back to China wasn't good for "me" or our family.  But God knows what we need and what is best for us, not what we think we need or want...  I inquired about him with Kelly and thought at least I would advocate for him, this time fervently.  The timing of Kelly's blog post coincided with his birthday and as I mentioned, my sister-in-law's.  There was a scripture reference in Kelly's blog post to Romans 8:28:  "And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them."  This verse stood out to me that night and has continued to show up.  We know that God didn't plan for this little guy to grow up never knowing what a family is, and that even during the messiness and brokenness of life, God can work to create something good-great-wonderful!

God continued to speak.  The following Sunday at church our pastor spoke about our choices, and how sometimes we choose to step out and away from God's protection, sometimes right into the path of a life lived less abundant.  However, nothing will ever cancel God's plan to bless our life for good and our pastor referenced Romans 8:28.  I sat there amazed at the connection of this verse and how even though I take my own path many times that God can still make something great out of my mess.  And I also thought Qiu Le, and the loss of two families, the paths that didn't work out for him, and how even in all the hurt and loss, God can cause all of that to work together for Qiu Le's good.  Wow.

That same Sunday while catching up on blogs, I read a blog post from a fellow adoptive mother who adopted two children that had previously experienced a disrupted adoption.  A disrupted adoption happens when a family travels to adopt a child but while in country they don't complete the adoption process and return home without the child.  Her blog discussed how kids who aren't adopted in country after a family travels are stigmatized and other families are "scared" to take a chance.  Her blog post went on to reference Romans 8:28.  Do you see the theme here? :)

You see, we struggle with focusing on all the problems, fears, and what ifs, when God can do so much more than we can imagine if we are truly committed to the things God calls us to.  

One day Ryan and I were discussing the impact of growing our family in regards to the children God has currently entrusted in our care.  Parents are typically quick to protect them, shelter them, even to their own demise at times.  As we talked, we were reminded about the story of the lost sheep and how the shepherd left his flock to go find the one.  And likewise the story of how one son was "lost" and the father rejoiced when he was "found."  This scripture references salvation and acceptance, but it also applies to our "lost" son and what a father or mother will do to bring them home.  Our kids have seen loss, grief, and despair at an early age.  Does this make them grow up faster?  Maybe.  Does it show them God's love when grief gives way to happiness and despair becomes joy of a family.  Of course it does.  Love wins.  Lessons are learned.

Another mother who adopted two older children from the same institute as our daughter wrote about this verse in Luke where the lost son was pursued.  God pursues us.  This happened to be the same day that Ryan and I had this conversation.  Coincidence?  I don't think so.  God using others to guide us?  Definitely. 

In addition to confirmation and an unexplainable peace through prayer and His Word (particularly in Isaiah), Ryan and I attended a bible study recently in which the topic was about the obedience of Jonah.  He knew what God's plan was for him, but even after hearing from God, Jonah decided to go with his own plan.  After his brillant selfish plan landed him in the belly of the fish, God still uses him even in Jonah's disobedience.  The book of Jonah ends with God responding to Jonah the people in Nineveh that are living in spiritual darkness.  God expresses His compassion for the people (probably many children) and charged Jonah with the responsibility of showing compassion for them.  Likewise this really isn't the end of the chapter.  We are the next chapter.  Many of our reservations, hesitations, fears, and doubts were things we have no control over.  We tend to worry about worldly things, things that don't really matter.  

There's also another neat piece of the puzzle.  God is bringing this little guy half way around the world and his backyard will almost connect with a precious girl from Shanghai where they most likely spent time together in the same room.  This is another example of how big God is.  

The wonderful part of all these "connections" are that God didn't have to work hard to make these happen.  He didn't have to make them happen at all.  But He did.  Because He's just that BIG.

God has something amazing planned for our little guy.  His story has lots of difficult chapters and we expect there will be more to come.  However, we know God is bigger than our fears and circumstances and that God can author Qiu Le's story with restoration and joy.  We are willingly, knowingly walking into his story during some difficult pages.  The last 6 years of his life has been spent within the walls of an orphanage.  A place where he has learned to survive.  A place that doesn't provide a loving and stable environment that a child needs to thrive.  We say this not to be viewed as a rescuer, Qiu Le doesn't need to be rescued, he needs a family who will love him unconditionally and will walk through some hard places with him.  We have committed to that, not by ourselves, but through a God that provides strength in our weakest moments.  We also know how amazing the power of prayer and support is.  We appreciate those who will pray and support as well as those who have walked along side us in our previous adoption journeys.  We also want to be transparent about the difficulties of not only older child adoption, but an older child with potential sensory, emotional, and medical needs.  His story also includes a disrupted adoption (a family traveled to adopt, but didn't complete the adoption), a chapter of disappointment and loss, and a decision that was extremely difficult for the family.  This is Qiu Le's story, and it's not ours to share openly, so please respect that the details of his story are his and we want to give him control over his story, especially since he's had little control about his life so far.  

We ask that you begin to pray for him.  Please pray that his heart will be open to love, that his resilience and survival mechanisms will be used for good.  We ask that you pray for our current children.  Although our calling to adopt is certainly a spiritual calling, we understand that our children are also very much affected by our decision to adopt again, especially shortly after bringing Maeli home.  We have felt in recent months that we found our normal (whatever that means, lol).  And then God asked us to move outside of our comforts and follow Him.  We are certainly walking in faith, trusting in Romans 8:28.  "And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them."