The last few years have been some of the toughest of my life. The decision to move to a new country was, as most people who read this blog will know, a difficult decision to make. I worried that the move would have detrimental effects on the health of Levi and Ivey. I was worried because they both have asthma and there aren't many options here for that. There were times in the U.S. when we have had to take Levi to the ER for attacks that our at home nebulizer or even the pediatrician couldn't cure. So, I felt like my decision to come was a decision between giving EVERYTHING to God or living with restless disobedience. I chose to obey. I am not sorry. Levi has had struggles here but none with asthma or anything life threatening. Ivey you can read about in the last post. God is with us.
We have wanted to adopt for many years and for the last three we had names and faces to put on our paperwork. The parents were in agreement for them to be adopted and we began the process to take it to court. Andrew and I thought over the decision of whether or not to have them live with us during our time here. What if the courts said no? What if the embassy said no? Would we just stay here indefinitely raising them in our home?
We didn't know but we felt like coming and living right down the street from them with them knowing that we intended to adopt (nothing is a secret in SL) that they would not understand not being able to live here. We have learned that kids here go to stay with people all the time and that it is not strange to go and live somewhere for a period of time. So, we made sure that they understood that it may not be permanent before they moved in. We took that risk. They were with us when we went to the lawyers office and with us when we went to social welfare. That is where we learned that after 3 years of saying yes to the adoption it turns out that their mother had a misunderstanding about what it meant and that she wasn't sure that was what she wanted after all. Our paperwork has now expired due to such a long wait here and there is no one who can renew it in this country. We also had the surprise since being here that the oldest is two years older than we previously thought. So even if we were to go back to the U.S. to do the home study, by the time we got a house set up for them to study he would have timed out and not be considered adoptable. On top of that he self admitted he wasn't happy as we had been suspecting. Months before we had begun to think that maybe this placement was not what was best for them. We fasted and prayed about it and I have to admit that I hoped the answer would be different than I knew it was. After sitting down with them to explain these things to them we told them that we felt it was best for them to move back to their permanent home-the center. This way they could slowly adjust to being at the center but having us around and visiting. We want them to learn how to live here in their own country. There they will learn all things Sierra Leonian. They are in fact Sierra Leonian-not American. I believe and hope that they will do great things here.
But my heart hurts. I cried through telling them the decision. I cried the first night we went to bed with 3 beds empty. I cried telling our cook when she asked where they were. I cried on my first date with Andrew in a year because I was trying to make it through future planning talks.
Before we came several people asked us how intertwined this adoption and the move here was. They were two separate decisions. We would have done either without the other. We have been also praying and fasting for some solid confirmation on what we should do when our commitment was up in January. We decided. We believe that what we came to do will be complete by December and that we can have peace about going back to the US and so that is what we intend to do. This is also a decision met with very mixed emotions. I am so sad that we will be leaving a people that we really do love. I love our banana lady Fatmata who will be having her second child soon. I love Mr. Joe at the produce stand who never ever wears a shirt. I love the staff at TRS who give so much time and effort to help children in need. Even on their days off. I love Lebanese Auntie Rema who owns the supermarket downtown who was so kind to us and had our family over to her farm for dinner. I love the Lebanese owner of the grocery store down the street who looks just like a sheik. He gives our kids sweets and tells Isatu her latest hairstyle looks nice. I love all the kids at the center and I really really love a certain three kids at the center.
There is so much about this that is sad to me. Obviously, the adoption is a part of it. I have spent years making decisions around a family of seven. I am struggling with a disappointment that I have not yet been able to spend any time at the center. I had assumed that it would be difficult at first but I thought that when we settled in that I would do more there. Our home life required more time than I anticipated and so I have done none of the things I had imagined. These last few weeks there has been a dark nimbus cloud that has settled above me on my otherwise very sunny days here on the equator.
The other day I read something that sort of stunned me. I have read it before but not with this mindset. It is Ezekiel 28 about the Fall of the Prince of Tyre. God is describing this port city of what is now Lebanon. The city had become prideful of its success in trading on the Mediterranean Sea.
As he is describing the city he is also referencing Lucifer the 'serpent of old' also known as Satan. He tells Ezekiel to lament him and goes on to describe Satan in verses 12-19:
You were the seal of perfection,
Full of wisdom and perfect in beauty.
You were in Eden, the garden of God;
Every precious stone was your covering;
The sardius, topaz, and diamond,
Beryl, onyx, and jasper,
Sapphire, turquoise, and emerald with gold.
The workmanship of your timbrels and pipes
Was prepared for you on the day you were created.
You were the anointed cherub who covers;
I established you:
You were on the holy mountain of God;
you walked back and forth in the midst of fiery stones.
You were perfect in your ways from the day you were created,
till iniquity was found in you.
By the abundance of your trading
you became filled with violence within,
and you sinned;
Therefore I cast you as a profane thing
Out of the mountain of God;
And I destroyed you, O covering cherub,
From the midst of the fiery stones.
Your heart was lifted up because of your beauty;
You corrupted your wisdom for the sake of your splendor;
I cast you to the ground,
I laid you before kings,
That they might gaze at you.
You defiled your sanctuaries
By the multitude of your iniquities,
By the iniquity of your trading;
Therefore I brought fire from your midst;
It devoured you,
And I turned you to ashes upon the earth
In the sight of all who saw you.
All who knew you among the peoples are astonished at you;
You have become a horror, and shall be no more forever.
And my first reaction was feeling so sad. I really did lament that loss. I felt like God was giving me the 'I know how you feel'. He, being God, surely knew the risk involved with creating such a beautiful and wise thing. And yet he allowed this being life and a presence in his 'inner circle' where this being would 'cover' or protect, as I am understanding it, God's holiness. I believe he loved Satan. And then there was the loss. The beautiful thing changed. No matter how difficult the struggle was, surely the loss of 1/3 of the angles in Heaven who had turned against him was a day to be mourned. What could be more heart wrenching than losing a child or children? The risk yielded the worst of consequences.
God always has one up on us. There really is no situation in which he is an empathizer instead of a sympathizer. And for some reason it made a difference to me.
And, encouraging isn't really the right word here but I'll use it for lack of a better one-I am encouraged to know that he tried again. He has kept on creating beautiful things that have the capacity of falling apart or jumping ship. It is a way of life. It is life itself to love. Even if it doesn't go so well.
We all look forward to Saturdays when we get to go to the beach together but it is also heart wrenching to have to return them to the center. We feel it is important to have this interem time where it isn't a complete break but a gradual process of leaving. Sometimes we second guess every decision we make.
Please pray for all seven of us during this time.For Andrew and I that we would make wise decisions and be nurturing towards our children during this transition.
For Albert, John and Isatu that they would settle back into the center life well and enjoy being back with their TRS family there. We will remain their forever family and do all of the things that program entails but obviously there is a lot less involvement than before.
For Levi and Ivey that they too would heal from a loss. They mention how they miss the other kids and are definitely lonely without them.
Also, please pray for the four of us who will be returning to the U.S. which will be yet another difficult transition.
Most of all, please pray that old Nimbus will give way to the light at the end of the tunnel. We are tired of him.