I have been forced to do some soul searching after learning of some sad things that have happened to adoptive families from Acres of Hope this week. Yesterday, Donna had to call two families of first time parents, who were near the end of their adoption process, to inform them that the birthparents had changed their minds, and had reclaimed their children. My heart broke for the adoptive families and for the birthparents. One of the moms that reclaimed her two boys, still can't really provide adequately for her sons. She had to leave the baby at the orphanage because she can't nurse him, and took her older son home with her to a still uncertain future, but she just could not bear to let them go. What grief these mothers of Liberia must face when they find themselves unable to even feed their children. I also pictured these first time parents who had planned to adopt. I imagined their excitement, the decorated nurseries, the referral pictures on the fridge, and the hopes and dreams that died with a phone call.
I must admit that all of this came as a shock to me. Although not the reason why I was drawn to Liberia, I did find some comfort in thinking that in International adoption I would be adopting a true orphan and would not need to fear the emotional pain of a birthmom taking her child back. Later, I found out that sometimes the children are relinquished because of extreme poverty, not necessarily because they are true orphans, but I thought that the birthparents would have revoked their parental rights as part of leaving them in the orphanage. But would I want to keep a child from his mother, if his mother changed her mind or her circumstances changed? No! As a humanitarian organization, should Acres of Hope refuse to return children to their own parents? No! There are just no easy answers in situations such as these, and meanwhile, two families have to grieve the loss of the children they had opened their hearts to, dreamed of, planned for, and allowed themselves to love.
My soul searching came in the shocking realization that I am not free from the risk of miscarriage even in adoption. I have lost four babies already, can I risk the pain of losing a fifth? Some children die after they are referred because of illness or malnutrition. Some kids have birthparents who cannot let them go. I had to ask myself, "Can I risk loving and losing again?" As hard as it is to take that leap of faith, I can take the risk. I have to, because God has called me to obey him, and I trust completely in his sovereignty. I know without a doubt the truth of Romans 8:28, "that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." I love Him. I trust Him. I know that He has called us to this adoption and it is part of His purpose.
I have been thinking a lot about this excerpt about risk from the book "After the Dream Comes True" by Michelle Gardner:
John Piper, in his challenging book "Don't Waste Your Life," says, "Risk is right. And the reason is not because God promises success to all our ventures in his cause. There is no promise that every effort for the cause of God will succeed, at least in the short run. John the Baptist risked calling King Herod an adulterer when he divorced his own wife in order to take his brother's wife. For this John got his head chopped off. And he had done right to risk his life for the cause of God and truth. Jesus had no criticism for him, only the highest praise (Matthew 11:11).
He goes on to say, "And now what about you? Are you caught in the enchantment of security, paralyzed from taking any risks for the cause of God? Or have you been freed by the power of the Holy Spirit from the mirage of Egyptian safety and comfort? Do you men ever say with Joab, 'For the sake of the name, I'll try it! And may the LORD do what seems good to him'? Do you women ever say with Esther, 'For the sake of Christ, I'll try it! And if I perish, I perish?"
So risk is right, if undertaken for the right reasons. Not for self-exultation, nor to become fixated on self-denial, nor to try to win favor with God. Piper adds, 'Every loss we risk in order to make much of Christ, God promises to restore a thousandfold with his all-satisfying fellowship."
So I guess, I'm with Esther. If my heart gets broken in the process of obeying You, Lord, my heart gets broken. I will not fear, but will keep following Your lead, despite the risk. I can trust You with my heart. You've already proven to me that You are trustworthy. And love is worth the risk.