I must say, this is the hardest post I have done yet. In all the emotions and thoughts and prayers, this one has been the biggest to date. Its been a few weeks since actual occurance. I've contemplated even putting this out there for anyone to view - but once again, for my own need to journal it - as well as all the lessons involved ... I figured it was time to voice this. Time to voice it to who? Probably to my own heart, which I tend to shut out of my daily life as much as possible.
Kalkidan. 7 months old. Orphan. HIV+.
We received an email from our adoption agency almost 4 weeks ago now in regards to this precious soul - Kalkidan. It was a mass email that went out to everyone who had their Dossier in Ethiopia already w/ AWAA (our agency). 52 families to be exact. The email asked if anyone would be willing to consider and pray over this girl with "special needs". Special needs meaning HIV. Aaron and I had agreed from day 1 that we would consider and pray over every child they sent our way. Even though we were requesting and desiring an infant healthy male - I always said that if they sent me a referral of a 10 year old AIDS girl, how could I say no? Well, here was that test. Turns out, out of those 52 families, only 3 responded stating that they would even consider it. How sad to us. They also were only allowing 1 family at a time to view her information. We were 3rd in line. This left us with almost 3 weeks to ponder. (The first family was a "no" after week 1. The 2nd family took 2 weeks to decide.)
So what took place during those 3 weeks? Torture....pure torture. No, really..... It was very difficult. We consulted a doctor (our pediatrician, who is also a man of God), an old friend who works with HIV/AIDS patients, our insurance agency, as well as many websites seeking any and all information. We always knew we had to remain open to an HIV+ child. Considering 1 out of 4 orphans were a result of AIDS, the chances of the orphaned child having HIV is definitely there. But now, to be presented with a known case of a child with HIV..... that we hadn't really considered. So many thoughts, so many considerations, so many emotions. Truth be told, we were incredibly uneducated in the matters of HIV/AIDS. To hear that here in the US, HIV and AIDS is no longer a death sentence, but a chronic illness (similar to Type2 Diabetes).... who knew? We have so many drugs available here in the US that can really hold HIV and AIDS at bay. Most people receiving proper care and nutrition, can live a normal healthy life with this disease .... even have children of their own. What a long way we've come in medicine. (Why can't we figure out a cure for the common cold, this is what I wonder? :) )
As I said, we also dug into our insurance company. How much would this cost us? We live in the suburbs in a new construction home - so the money tree isn't mature yet in our backyard. :) The average cost of medication for a child w/ HIV can range anywhere from $30 to thousands of dollars a month. Yes, you read that right. B/c we didn't have detailed information on her health, we were never really able to find out exactly how much it would cost in the immediate future. But still....the cost was still an issue. She would have to travel to Children's Hospital in Denver (one of the top pediatric HIV units in the country we found out) 2-4 times a year. This costs money. We would have to purchase whatever amount of meds necessary. This costs money. We would have to keep in mind that w/ a suppressed immune system, she would be more suseptible to illness - thus more meds and possible hospitalization. This all cost money. How? How are we supposed to care for a child of such needs? We are in the ministry for Pete's sake!!!!
This girl brought one of the biggest roller coasters of emotions I've ever been on. My mind is a scary place to visit, but this is what was happening...
How can we say no to this girl- she needs a mother to love her, to care for her, to provide the life she needs to live, and live well? On the other hand, I've got 3 kids to consider as is. They need a mother as well - one that is fully present, to provide the life they need to live...to live well. How can we come up w/ an average of $500 a month to provide for her medical expenses? On the other hand, God will provide. But then again, who's to say God would provide for us walking into something He hasn't called us to do. Why does God give those without the means ($$) to follow through, the heart to do such things? How do we know if He's called us to do this or not? One of the consequences of suffering is due to our poor choices. How is taking in an Orphan....any orphan a poor decision? What would this look like in the long run? Will insurance change drastically over the course of the next several years (or 18 to be exact), that once she is no longer under our care...will she be able to get the medical attention she needs? What about the possibility of infecting our kids? We know that in all likelihood, HIV is only contracted through intercourse or open wound to open wound. But kids get wounds -multiple wounds. I, as a mother, care for those wounds (and my hands ALWAYS have open wounds due to that darn Purell). Wouldn't God protect us? Wouldn't He provide for us? Would we tell people she had HIV? Of course we would. This is part of our life. We have been called, and have responded to live sacrificially. To a world who lives by the belief that, "My needs come first"....this goes against the grain. But then again, would He provide for something that wisdom spoke against? We wanted a boy. Was that name God spoke to me - Malachi - my own thinking? My own comfort (after all, we had room for a boy)? Was Malachi my telling God I would do this for Him.....but on MY terms? Could our marriage withstand the financial and emotional pressure? Would our 3 children we already have resent us (and Kalkidan) one day? Would our community support us? Would our family support us? Who cares if they support us - God is with us? How can we say no to this child? We are the 3rd and last family to consider her. If we don't take her, she will be sent back to the orphanage, and most likely die by the age of 3 - as there is no medicine readily available in Ethiopia for this disease? How do we say no? If we don't take her, who will? What if no one will? What if she dies without a mother and a father pointing her to Jesus? She needs Jesus. She is going to die. More certainly than us.... I say this meaning, here in the USA, we somehow think we don't have to go through this thing they call death. We are unfamiliar with death. We are unfamiliar with what comes after death. We live for today, and that is all that matters. But this sweet child will die... any day ... she has a disease that will in fact kill her. Somehow that must mean she needs Jesus more than our next door neighbor?!?!?!?!
After weeks of this turmoil, my mind and heart saying one thing - and then quickly another.... God revealed Himself in His usual fashion.....HUGE. Huge to me anyway. Here's what He spoke.
1) I'm selfish. I'm inpatient. I want Kalkidan because I don't want to wait for Malachi (this was actually the very last realization I came to). 2) I have this enormous hole to fill. I want to feel like I'm making a difference in this world. A big difference. This would do that, wouldn't it? But I've got 3 kids to consider. I can't put their lives, and the life of this poor orphan at stake to prove my need to make a difference. (This was one of the first realizations - which thankfully, I quickly realized was NOT why I was continuing to consider adopting Kalkidan.) 3) Yes, God does provide for our needs. But no, God doesn't always call us into every "noble" situation. 4) Just because I don't do it, doesn't mean no one else will. 5) Aaron has always viewed us adopting as our way of "living sacrificially". I nodded my head in a sense of being understanding and "Godly". When, in all reality, I just wanted another baby....and HATED being pregnant. Adoption seemed cool. After all, Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt were doing it. NOT the case. Every day I live sacrificially. In a society where most families have 2.5 children, Husband and Wife work to "make ends meet", and children are more of a pain and expense than a joy.... I stay home with our children to impress on them during the years that matter most - GOD loves them more than we do...and their whole life is due to His sovereign plan. This is sacrifice. Hard for me to understand even still...but it is. Especially here in good 'ol Boulder!
6 & 7 were this biggies for me.
6) God knows Kalkidan (I don't). He formed her in her mother's womb. He knit her together. She was uniquely made by Him. He hem's her in from behind and in front. He loves her more than I already had grown to - AND more than the mother whose womb He actually formed her in! He knows she's an orphan (and He is the one who called us to love the orphans). He knows she is HIV positive. He knows the very last breath she will ever take. He knows that we cannot take this girl into our family. He knows if she is part of His family or not. He loves her. He made her. (This lesson was huge for many reasons. The one I particularly want to detail is Aaron's cousin - Savannah. Savannah is a 15 year old girl who recently has been diagnosed w/ an in-opperable brain tumor. She is (despite a miracle) going to die. We found this out just a week before Kalkidan. How could God do such a thing? What if this were one of my kids? Wait... now He's presenting this option of it being my kid - a child w/ something that won't ever go away. A child that will die. Like I said, Savannah is 15. My kids are 7, 4, and 3. At any moment, God could say - okay, that's that. They are coming home to me, back where they belong. However now, I'm staring this possibility in the face. I would, most likely, outlive Kalkidan - a mothers worst nightmare.)
7) God is not a God of confussion, but a God of peace. There are many verses in the bible that speak to God as a God of peace. Our Prince of Peace. This was the very last revelation He made to me. I had no peace. I had no peace in any of the last 3 weeks. I had no peace in the idea of not taking her, and I certainly had no peace in the idea of taking her. I voiced this to Aaron in telling Him I had no peace in taking Kalkidan. His response was, "Well, do you have peace in not taking her?" And as best I could figure, I decided that I would rather NOT take her with no peace, than TAKE her with no peace. After all, our marriage and our children had to come first. Without peace.... I COULD NOT PUT THESE THINGS ON THE LINE.
So peace, peace is what I pursued over the next 24 hours. And peace I got. The more I recognized this lack of peace, the more I had it. The more I had it in letting Kalkidan go. I learned a similar lesson a couple of years ago through a dear family who lost their daughter... My children are the Lord's. Nothing I do, say, pray or think will change that fact. They belong to Him. He has chosen to share them with me in His lovingkindness. He can have them back whenever He wills. It's no different than Kalkidan. She is His. He will do with her as He pleases. The burden of Her life did not depend on me. The burden of her health did not depend on me. But most importantly, the burden of her salvation did not depend on me. She belongs to the Lord God Almighty. Maker of Heaven and Earth. Creator of the universe. He's placed the stars in the sky and He calls them by name. He knows the lillies of the field. He knows the sparrows. He knows the Orphans. He knows the hairs on my head. He knows Me. He knows.... It ALL belongs to Him. I cannot change that. Thank you Lord, I cannot change that!
We decided, well, actually - I decided...that Kalkidan was not going to be ours. Once this Peace thing came into place, I was okay with her not being ours. I told Aaron that I would keep an open mind to the situation. IF her information got to us, I would once again consider it and pray over it. But until then - I couldn't keep trying to base my decision on "what if's". I was open.
Well, as God always does - He took care of things. We didn't have to decide. After 2 weeks of prayer and consideration, the 2nd family viewing her information decided to adopt Kalkidan. Praise God for good people in this world willing to sacrifice for the sake of His name. Say a prayer for this family, and for precious Kalkidan. May she come to know the Lord who saved her..... not man... or mother.