“How blessed are those who dwell in Your house! They are ever praising You.” Ps 84:4

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Lost in Translation

When do you ever just sit down, just to sit down? Without any intent to do anything, just to sit and breathe and be. I sit down to eat, sit down to watch television, sit down to help Alex with homework, sit down to write, correspond, and a myriad of other things. These days I often am sitting down to sew too, which I am still finding rather ironic, and this past week I sat to finish some year end accounting for the ministry. 
But this morning, after two and a half rather painful hours of doing homework with Alex while trying to pretend that it was fun (I had him convinced for awhile when we made words with scrabble tiles before writing them down), I was tired. My body hurts and is retaliating for the hours of bike riding we did last week. I sat very contentedly in my favorite rocking chair in the living room, just staring out the window. From this spot I can watch Alex ride his bike over to the neighbors where his little buddy Edwin lives. In between our houses is a corn patch that is looking quite promising despite the relentless wind we’ve had for the past few days. Along the road the pine trees wave their branches as two horses dip and raise their heads as they plod slowly by.
It’s a quiet moment, yet nearly impossible to remain in this thoughtless space. I started thinking about what I would write about today - sometimes I feel the need to communicate but don't always have the words to do so. I wondered if Alex is going to be ok, what his life will be like when it is already as difficult as it is in public with the stares and comments. I wonder what he will do, where he will do it. 
Alex with his biological parents, age 3
I wonder if his mother was as heartbroken to lose her boy as I am to have lost mine. 
Alex at 16 months
It’s not a thought I want to entertain long, but it is there. Originally Alex had been taken from his home by social services because of a lack of care, but it was supposed to be temporary. In those first years the family came to visit, brought him little gifts of fruit and juice, luxuries for a large family living on the meager wages brought in from working in the fields. Eventually the time came for him to go back, they had met the requirements (land, shelter, etc) however by this time he had been with me for two years. Two very formative years, years he was by my side 24/7. Some said I was spoiling him, but he was just so small and afraid to be alone, and after two years the bond was deep between us. I could not imagine him going back now, what would that be like for him? I would never be able to explain it to him, he would be crushed. What would it be like for me? 
So I intervened. I asked his father if he wouldn’t consider letting him stay. If he wouldn’t consider the fact that his tiny son had already acclimated to a completely different life, and if he could understand that with his skin issues Alex would need a different kind of life from the one he had. Alex won’t be able to work in the fields, too much time in the sun and he is overheated, with painful cracks between his fingers and toes and anywhere two thick pieces of skin meet. 
First Christmas together
I was surprised when he said he understood, and that it would probably be for the best. I made sure he knew what my intentions were, as spanish is his second language as it is mine.
He knew, and he and his family left in one direction, and their son and I in the other. I was too over-joyed, too relieved to consider her feelings for long. I mean, it crossed my mind that it would be difficult for her, but not until now have I really thought about how her loss may have affected her life, how it still probably does. Especially now that they have not visited or seen their boy in nearly two years. Whenever the subject comes up I try to talk about it with Alex, but he does not express his feelings often. Sometimes at night when I put him to bed he wonders about them, but usually when I ask he says he’d rather not visit them. 

But the other night when we were saying good-night he said rather abruptly, “I want to go and live with my family.” His announcement stopped me heart in an instant, and closed-throated, I could only stare at him. The thought of losing Alex has been the source of fear and panic lately, and the thought coming from him hit me hard. 
“It’s just that, well I think they miss me. And I miss them. Because we miss Miguel, because he is gone, and so I think they are sad.”
My little vaquero
When do children develop such deep thought? How could he struggle with the names of all the numbers, and then come up with such a profound sentiment? He is amazing, this boy, this child becoming a young man. He loves and cares and sees beauty in simple things. He plays and laughs and hurts and weeps when he is afraid. 
I still couldn’t speak, so I just nodded and squeaked out an, “Ok”, and left his room. 
So this is the where I am now, today. Was I wrong? How conflicted Alex must be, wanting to love and please me while knowing that there are other people to whom he has an allegiance. His family as well, knowing that he will have different opportunities with me yet missing his presence in their family. As Christians we are often so gung-ho to get out there to ‘fix’ things, when maybe they only appear to be broken. My heart and desire has been to grow a family with children who need one, but am I only taking things that don’t belong to me? 

Now, please don’t write me comments saying, ‘Karen you didn't do anything wrong, you have done so much for Alex’, etc. I don’t write this for accolades or a pat on the back for encouragement. I’m not saying what I did was wrong; to me it isn’t. Rather, it is an example of sacrificial love - love his biological mom and family had for him to be able to give him up for what they hope is better for their son.

Right and wrong can be so hard, so many shades of gray when looking at a picture in 3D, colored with logic and good intentions. Many believe that God has a specific plan for our lives, which I do as well, but I don’t think it is specific in the way that we humans imagine it to be. I believe that God has a plan for us to learn, to understand certain aspects of life and be able to separate Him from the chaos, preparing us for when we will live with Him again. I can see that God’s will for our lives is multi-faceted, that whether we make a decision to do one thing or another is not what is important, rather what we have taken away from it, and how we were changed by it.

That's my boy

The next morning after Alex had made his surprising announcement, he woke up early and came to cuddle with me. My feelings hurt, I asked him if he really wanted to go to live with his family. 
“Well, not like live with them forEVER” he calmly replied. 
“You just wanted to go to visit?” I questioned. 
“Ya, visit. Hey Mom can we have pancakes for breakfast?”


  1. Thank you, Karen, for giving expression to these thoughts. I am an adoptive parent, adoptive grandparent and we have worked with birth parents and adoptive parents for over 25 years. I too have the thoughts and feelings you expressed so eloquently. I know the fear of "going there" with my mind and emotions, let alone in the real world. As you know I have family in Mexico also who experience what you are experiencing. Some of their kids have gone back to their families of origin gladly, some very sadly, and some are thinking about it. Others, however, are terrified at the idea that they may ever have to. There is no "one size fits all." Each individual and each situation is unique.

    Some of the consternation, I think, is about the concept(s) of belonging and the expectations and emotions that go with that. We all have a need to belong, to be connected by some kind of unbreakable bond to some one else. I believe it is part of being made in the image and likeness of God. He is not alone. He is in what to me is the mystery of a triune, unbreakable unity. And although "they" have always had that, it was not enough. They said to themselves, "Let us make mankind in our image, after out likeness."

    A Christians, we have an unbreakable unity with God in Christ. No one will ever pluck us out of his hand. It is stronger that life, stronger than death and stronger than human relationships, even family. "When my father and my mother forsake me, then the Lord will take me up." (Psalm 27:10)

    But as humans, belonging is not equated with "owning." My parents did not "own" me. God "lends" us children - biologically or otherwise - and we believers "lend" them right back. ( see 1 Samuel 1:26-28) As you well know, no matter how strongly we attach (and that is very good to do)we have no control over how long the "loan" is.

    I do not have this all figured out, but I think we need to love children with all our hearts, not holding back, and be prepared for the fact that with deep love comes deep joy and satisfaction, but also deep pain. When they hurt, we hurt. When they leave we are torn; when they choose poorly we are anxious. Love makes both permanent art and permanent scars on our memories and emotions.

    To love another is to seek their good over our own. But what is "good" for a child removed from his parents? Clearly there is no one right answer, and if there is, it may change over time. And who is to decide? The biological parents, the attached caregiver, DIF, the child? Some or all of the above together? None of us has perfect insight, nor has any human combination. God alone has that, so however we can best discern it from Him on behalf of the children, that is what we must pursue. I pray for you - for wisdom, for courage, for comfort, for release from fear, for the peace of God and joy in the journey.

    1. Thank you Lorne, you have such wonderful insight on many things, but especially this issue. Every situation is completely unique, and situations and people are always changing. It comes down to knowing and believing that God does care, He is in control, and trust that if I am wrong He will correct me. I am realizing that I borrow a lot of trouble by always looking to far ahead, I need to enjoy all the todays that I have with this blessing of a boy. :) Thank you for your prayers my friend.

  2. "Right and wrong can be so hard, so many shades of gray" (Karen Wind). ..."with deep love comes deep joy and satisfaction, but also deep pain." "To love another is to seek their good over our own." (Lorne).

    Deep thoughts. Made in God`s image: what a privilege; what a mystery; what a lot of questions I have for God on the other side. Thanks for sharing.

    Tears are okay. Jesus shed them too.


    1. There are a lot of questions, and I agree I definitely will have my share of questions for Him too, but I am glad for them. If I had no questions, there would be no search for something bigger than me, and what an empty life that would be! Tears are ok, though exhausting :) Thanks Florene, love and hugs to you and the kids