Main Diagnosis; male child, spina bifida, hydrocephalus, atrophy of the brain, missing corpus collosum (nervous tissue that connects and allows communication between the right and left sides of the brain), atrophy of the optic nerve (irreversible damage to vision), congenital heart murmur….”Right after birth the child was abandoned by his parents for raising in an institution. It was born premature with hydrocephaly and spina bifida in poor condition. It concerns a child lagging behind in the neuro-psychical and psycho-motor development. His intellect is low…..”
Two years ago, we read these words about Israel and we were scared. Honestly this appeared unwise, this looked crazy….and yet, we grasped hands and jumped into the unknown because God had whispered, “go”.
There’s a point in life where you will have an opportunity to do something crazy, scary, unsafe, raw… And you will look at the certainty of your day to day, and the temptation to sink back into security will be strong. I encourage you to jump, leap, close your eyes and pursue the unknown; the wonder of life. Don’t let your ears hear the cries of those who have settled into security; your goal should be to live! Follow God’s narrow path and trust the still, small voice. Trust that living comfortably was never your calling. TRUST the Savior of the world and choose the very things that the world finds unwise and foolish.
I was asked if I think Israel understands what happened in the orphanage. My initial reaction was denial. I want to be able to say that my son doesn’t remember or was too young to internalize what happened his first 4.5 years of life. But, I know that would just be a lie to help me feel better. And truly, I think it’d make us all feel better. I think it’s hard to wrap our heads around the suffering he endured. It’s hard to see this beautiful child and realize that he was picked to die. And in self-righteous indignation, we can be angry and shake our fists at the injustice. But, if there’s one thing with adoption, it shines a very large mirror and reflects back truths that we don’t necessarily want to see. We all might want to look at Israel and see an inspiration, but this is not what he is; Israel is a reflection. He is showing us that when we choose to live safe with our eyes closed, there are repercussions.
When did Jesus ever call us to be comfortable? The answer is “NEVER”, He never called us to follow Him in comfort and safety. It is a myth of American Christianity, and I know what I say is not popular. If you are living in the comfort of your American Dream, you are not living the life God has called you to.
I will honestly tell you that I was scared to death to adopt Israel. To put it simply, I knew he was beyond my capabilities and I doubted my abilities to parent him. His was a file that was passed over many times, and he was not considered adoptable. In the international adoption arena, he is considered “difficult to place”. The hardest children to find adoptive homes for have the following; spina bifida, hydrocephalus, cerebral palsy and are males. Israel had 3 out of 4. And being a seasoned foster and adoptive parent, I read between the medical lines of his file. I read possible attachment disorder, probable painful choice, likely a decision I will regret, he may live with me forever, he may emotionally hurt our family. And yet, I couldn’t get him out of my head and I knew that God was giving me the choice.
The decision to bring Israel home has not been without it’s hard times. I have cried and I’ve been angry at the injustice of his treatment. We have struggled with the abuse he sustained and the medical neglect has been severe. I am not a perfect parent and there are days that I am tired. But I will tell you that I would never change my decision. I do not regret the LEAP, and it is why we are doing it again. It is why we are returning to the same town for a little girl that needs a family more than I need a new car, a large savings account or a full night sleep. We are going back because I want to LIVE, not just live a long life.
Many ask how they can find a child like Israel, and I smile because there is no other child like Israel. But, there are other children. Lots of others who sit beneath the labels and black type print that colors them undesirable and burdensome. There are many other kids who have become a stack of diagnoses that will forever chain them to loneliness and eventually death. I hope that if you are standing on the ledge and you hear that quiet whisper…I hope you LEAP! I hope you “go” to the raw and scary place, because God isn’t sitting in the comfortable. He is not in our polished pretty churches talking about Target bathrooms while sipping a latte. No, the God I serve is sitting with the hurting, the weak, the marginalized; He’s touching the broken in the grime, the muck, the sin, and the dark…and that is where we are called to serve.