Friday, 13 May 2011

The Backstory

Here is a list of things that I think God has been using to prepare our hearts (I'll speak for Jeff because, well, that's what I usually do on this blog) for Nic's diagnosis. I'm sorry it's just a list...I'm too tired to make it all fit together (bottles in the middle of the night are exhausting).

We did an extensive amount of research/training before we adopted Tommy, all of which covered the many medical and emotional issues that children adopted internationally can face. We have entered this process both times prepared for struggles.

When we started the process for adoption number two, we seriously discussed being open to a child with HIV. One of us was a little more hesitant than the other, and thus the idea was set aside. The one who thought it was a good idea firmly believed that by round three, or at least round four, they would be able to make a convincing argument for HIV+ adoption, and that we would bring home a child who was HIV+. Progress was being made on that front. So, can you see how sickle cell isn't that big of a leap for us? We were already talking about "signing up" for specialist visits, medication, and hospital trips...and now we will be doing those things, just not with the child or the disease that we had imagined. I'm not saying that sickle cell isn't a big deal, or that this isn't a huge shift in the life we dreamed of for Nicolas, but it isn't the huge shift that it might be for our family if we were firmly committed to only adopting "healthy" children.

When we accepted a referral with no information other than gender and a tentative age, we knew that sickle cell was a possibility, along with a host of other illnesses (TB, Hepatitis, Syphilis, lead poisoning, etc). We were well aware that we were taking a risk, and we felt (and still feel) that it was a risk well worth taking. DR Congo is one part of Africa with high rates of sickle cell trait and disease, and thus the diagnosis was not entirely shocking.

In Congo I had a great deal of time on my hands while Nicolas was napping. When we were in the dorms I sat in there with him while he napped, and either wrote ridiculously long blog posts or read. Two of the books that I pulled from the guest house library happened to deal with people whose lives took unexpected courses with some fairly amazing things resulting from those surprises. One of them asserted that Christians often regard conflict in their lives negatively, refusing to acknowledge that all great stories have conflict (think of your favorite book or movie, and I'm willing to bet that the plot relied on a fair bit of suffering to move it forward). We all say we want God to write great stories with our lives, but if we really want that we have to be willing to deal with discomfort, and sometimes pain. That has been on my mind a lot in the last few weeks, not in the "wow, I hope really bad things happen to me" way, but in a "focusing on re-framing the way I react to conflict in my life" way. It helped to have that weighing on my mind when we got the news.

We were just in Congo. There suffering is pervasive. The poverty is horrendous and overwhelming. If I have to take my child to the doctor more than most, force pills down his throat twice a day, and end up in the ER/hospital a few times a year...this is nothing compared to what most people living in poverty in the developing world face. I get to take that same sweet child home to a climate controlled environment with sparkling clean water, flushing toilets, soft beds, clean clothes, tons of toys, and a refrigerator stuffed full of food. It puts things in perspective.

Nicolas is ridiculously lovable. He is so sweet, cuddly, cute, jolly, and all around easy to love. Also, he has the longest and thickest eyelashes framing gorgeous big eyes. Have I mentioned he's adorable? I'm not just saying that because he's my child, you can ask my DRC roommate Kelly, who "hated me and my [easy] baby." Obviously, we would have loved Nicolas even if he was ugly and difficult, but having a child with a sweet temperament facilitates bonding. Being reasonably rested because your child sleeps decently facilitates bonding. Having a child you love to stare at facilitates bonding. We were a long way down the attachment and bonding road before this diagnosis. We were head over heels for this boy. Thus, I can say with full confidence that we reacted to this diagnosis the same way we would have if he was out biological child. It stinks, but man, we love him so much that we will do whatever it takes to help him have the best life possible.

We have already whole-heartedly loved an "imperfect" child. Loving and losing Leah changed our lives, not just in re-routing our course toward adoption, but in changing our understanding of what it means to love. It also taught us that sometimes the most beautiful blessings come alongside deep suffering. We know from our past experience that whatever pain and difficulty this diagnosis brings God will use, and that he will sustain us while we struggle.


Tom said...

We love you and look forward to seeing your soon.

Holly said...

I've enjoyed reading your blog and all your thoughtful words. Thank you especially for this post. I really appreciated it.

Sweet Apron said...

Thank you for not allowing your pain to harden your heart.
And I must agree about the cute factor-Nic is one of the prettiest babies (yes, pretty!) that I have ever laid eyes on. I love how he grips the ergo as he'e cuddled up against you. He knows his mommy, he knows she is pure safety & love and he is hanging on!

ktruelove said...

This is a really beautiful post Amy. I know you guys love your boys so much and I'm so thankful for your family. ps- jolly is totally what I think of when I see pics of Nic-- can't wait to meet him and those lashes in person;)

Nicole said...

LOVE this post. Praying for you all!!

Heather said...

Great post.