We knew if we took this job out here it would be enough to get us completely out of debt. I still didn’t want to. I didn’t want to leave my friends. My comfort zone. But I had this feeling that just got bigger and bigger all of the time that we HAD to go. That life had been put together in a way that was forcing us out here.
The feeling wasn’t one of “It’ll be good because we’ll get out of debt and the kids will be in a great school, etc”. It was one of miracles. I kept feeling like we’d get OUR miracle out here. And, because I’m crazy worldly and selfish, I was sure it would be in the way of money. So when I wrote that post that got a little bit of attention I was sure my blog was going to take off and I’d get paid all sorts of cash for something I do anyways.
That’s not what happened. I wrote that post. I wrote it because I was frustrated. I wrote it because I was sad. Then doors started opening. But not the doors I would have picked, much better ones. I was introduced to 200+ new Facebook friends. Mostly parents of children with Down syndrome. Then my feed started churning out more and more pictures from Reece’s Rainbow. I tried to ignore them. I kept thinking, “I can’t do it! It’s too hard to look at them and there’s NO WAY we’d be able to adopt! We already have two kids with special needs.” I wanted to ignore it. I didn’t want my heart to know what my brain was already aware of.
|photo credit: Reece’s Rainbow|
Then came the Cox’s story. Everyone was anxiously awaiting their story on the news. So we watched. And cried. And felt so strongly that we needed to ‘rescue’ one of these perfect children. Lance and I stayed up late looking at pictures. We fell in love with Ashlyn. I keep going back to her picture. I wanted to get her RIGHT THEN. I still want to get her right now. We can’t just yet. But having that little girl’s face haunt my dreams and occupy my every other thought during the day has pushed me in ways that I never dreamed it would.
I knew if we were going to even say we were thinking about adopting another child with special needs, I needed to be ready. I needed to be very much okay with the life I live right now. It meant I needed to buck up and stop being a victim of circumstance. It made me look at my life, my kids, my happiness in a completely new way. Gifts. My kids are gifts. Given to me by a God that is in charge. A God that loves me enough to know that things like charity, faith, patience and really, even happiness, don’t come easily to me. They’re all something I need to work at. God didn’t give me these kids because I was already the type of person who could handle such a thing- if that were His criteria, He would have given them to ANY of my siblings, but Melanie especially. He gave them to me to MAKE me step up and be the kind of person that is worthy of these kids. And I’m really working on it.
So just the thought of having Ashlyn has made me want to be better. But something else came along with that. Knowledge. Once I learned about these kids, these kids who were abandoned only because they came out like Abby, I couldn’t NOT do something. Because of the post talking about my desire to adopt, I was connected to Kelly Dirkes, who is in the process of adopting Charlotte. Turns out, she lived right by me! Another little proof of God’s hand.
So we fund-raised for her. I was a very small part of a HUGE effort by this wonderful community to bring this child home. But being that small part was amazing for me. Knowing that I had helped in such a tiny way to bring home an orphan was a big deal to me. When we learned that their second trip was fully funded while at dinner with her I could have jumped out of my chair. Then, a few days ago, when their entire adoption became fully funded, I cried happy tears. That human emotion thing again.
Happy tears. Like I said, happiness doesn’t come easily for me. I have dealt with depression since I was 12. 12! Not all of the time, and it’s really not all that terrible (except ages 15-17, I was a jerk. Oh, and the week before I get my period I might as well just be left alone). But it makes just being happy a little bit of a battle. In the weeks that we were fund raising for Kelly, and I was working on the blog and whatnot for Kamryn, I was happy. I still felt like I had the weight of the world on my shoulders. It wasn’t just these things. It was Abby having pneumonia and bronchiolitis. Middle of the night Albuterol treatments and lying awake to listen to her breathe. It was Casey’s emotions and difficult breakdowns. It was trying and failing at balancing my special needs kids with my “typical” (and I use that word SO loosely- especially with Peyton) kids. I went to bed every night as exhausted as always. But I went to bed happier than I had been in a long time. Because life stopped being so much about me.
The things I used to worry about- my house looking like it was some creative work of awesome, my weight, how hard things are, etc, just didn’t seem to matter as much in the whole scheme of things. Those things still matter, but not as much.
And that’s the miracle. The change of perspective. Change of heart. I’ve found happiness in places some would think are so sad. Having kids with special needs. These kids ARE happiness to me. But other places as well. I spend a lot of my time thinking about the orphans on the other side of the planet. About what will happen to them if they “age out” of the orphanages they are in. Or about that sweet baby that needed a heart transplant and their family who now needs financial help paying down the cost of these last couple of months. I think about ways to get money- but now it’s not for me. And that’s huge. Because I’m so selfish!
So I’m telling you now the very secret to all happiness- it’s one that’s been there forever and I’ve just been too blind to see it. Serving God. All of these things that happened are not by coincidence. I didn’t get to this point by my own work. I look back and see that Heavenly Father was guiding me. Showing me. I used to think that we’d just be happy if we had more money. Because it would be one less thing to worry about. I was wrong. If I were rich, I would just donate to these causes and not have to spend any time or thought doing it. But I’m not. So I have to ask people for donations. And that by itself is fantastic! I get shown day after day how wonderful people are. How completely unselfish most people are. How giving. Then I get to know these wonderful people who are doing something really really hard. These people that inspire me every single day to be better. And then I get to watch the miracles in their lives.
Our miracle was the opposite of what I had hoped for. I will never be rich knowing that there are worthy places for my money to go (and mostly because I have three starving boys who eat more than you can even imagine). And that’s fine with me. When I was feeling that weight of knowing how many orphans need help, how much money is needed to fund all of these adoptions, then with the heartache I was feeling for Kamryn I prayed. I felt so small in a world where needs seemed insurmountable. My answer came simply, “Use the talents I have given you, and help them one at a time. You cannot do all things. But you can do some things, and that’s enough.”
Charlotte is coming home. Her family is fully funded. So here’s the next family in what I’m sure will be a lifelong list of people we can help. Help me fund-raise for this family:
They are FANTASTIC. They’re bringing home TWO children with Down syndrome! The more I read their blog and see all that she is doing to raise money for other people’s adoptions on Facebook- the more I love her.
They have a fund-raiser right now where you can buy pieces of their puzzle. It’s totally awesome. I like the idea of my name being on pieces of a puzzle that bring home these sweet girls. Also- if you’re an Amazon.com shopper, which you should be because it’s awesome- if you use their link they’ll get 6% of the sale towards their adoption. That’s easy! Go to their blog for the link.
If you don’t have extra money, there are still ways you can help. You can share their story. At this point, all I can give is what I can save in other areas of my life. But I can blog. I can share it on facebook. I can pray.
I saw this quote on someone’s blog (but then couldn’t find it again…so if it’s YOUR blog I ripped the quote off of, let me know, especially if I got the wording wrong):
PS: If you live in Port Orchard, people are working on a fund-raiser for Kamryn’s family coming up here soon. I know there are many of you who have offered help. I’m SO hitting you up for it.