I have been reading certain blogs for quite a while now....Angie, Adrienne, MckMamma. They are really good at expressing their thoughts, sharing their faith and encouraging others who struggle. I am not. When I started to write this post I thought maybe I should just link you to their blogs and say, "Everything they said....that's how I feel." It would have been a lot easier. But the truth is, God is doing great and mighty things through painful situations in my life. It is my desire to bring Him glory through those situations.

So. Here goes.

Today is the one year anniversary of the day we lost (for lack of a better word.....) our son, Nathan. For as long as I can remember being able to remember anything, I have wanted to adopt a child. About two years ago, my husband and I began the process of becoming foster parents with the intention of adopting a child. Not an infant, but one of the "un-adoptables" (DHS's term, not mine....and certainly not God's). Basically, everyone wants infants. In fact, people wait years to adopt an infant. However, older children wait years and never get get a family. We were going to change that. We didn't need an infant. We had two biological children and frankly, we were happy to be out of the infant stage and not looking to go back into it. We decided we would take a boy over the age of ten.

Let me preface this by saying that no one inquires about children this age. We soon realized this when our phone starting ringing off the hook with social workers looking to place an older child with us. Long story short, our paperwork, applications, etc. were put on rush and we had an appointment to meet Nathan two weeks after orientation. Most people wait 6 months to a year after they are fully licensed before receiving placement. It was a whirlwind, to say the least. But, we knew this is what the Lord was calling us to do and that His timing is perfect and so we moved forward, grateful that we would be meeting our son so soon.

I will never forget the day we sat in the lobby waiting to meet Nathan. I was a wreck. My mind was racing with questions like, "What if we aren't what he's looking for in parents? What if he doesn't want to go to church with us? What if he hates me?" Then he walked through the door. I'll never forget the first time I laid eyes on him. This sweet, terrified little boy who wouldn't make eye contact, just standing there wringing his hands. I fell in love. Instantly. He was mine and that was that.

Less than two weeks later, Nathan and his social worker came to our house so that we could show him around and introduce him to the girls. The social workers told us that we could start having him on the weekends starting that weekend. He was living in a group home then and so he would be there during the week and then with us on the weekends. This went on for about 2 months until Jacob and I both finished our training classes, our home passed inspection, and our fingerprinting was complete. Then we moved him out of the group home and into our family.

There were so many positive changes that took place while he was with us. His grades. His love for God and zeal for scripture memory. His sense of humor. In so many ways, he was just a regular 11 year old boy who was an absolute joy to be around. But, 7 years in a broken system had not left him unscathed. I'm not going to go into any details about his history or the difficulties that we had with Nathan while he was here. Of course, there are rules and confidentiality policies. But, there is also the fact that he is my son. It is nobody else's business. Just know that it was hard. It was harder than we even knew could be possible. Ultimately, things happened that we knew were deal breakers. Nathan needed parents, but God made it very clear to us that we were not to be those parents.

And I thought I might die from the pain of having to let him go.

I wish I could say that initially I just saw this as God's will and gladly obeyed. I did not. I obeyed, but it was anything but gladly. I fell on the ground. I screamed and cried and pounded my fists. I yelled at everyone who came near me. I shook my fists at God and accused Him of being a really bad planner. And I tried to make deals with Him. Anything but my children. You can do whatever You want, but my children are off limits. That's right, God was allowed to protect my children from harm and accident, He should keep them healthy, He was allowed to convict their hearts, but He was not allowed to take them back. They were mine. That's when it hit me. God doesn't make deals. He requires obedience. This was an area in which I was failing to obey.

It was no accident that we happened to be studying the Minor Prophets at that time in CBS. Specifically, the very week that this was all happening, we were studying Habakkuk. Not exactly one of those popular books that people go running to when they need answers, but that is exactly where I found my answers. I could write an entire post on what I learned from this little book with the weird name, buried at the end of the Old Testament. But, I'll leave that to the pastors and just briefly summarize. Habakkuk doesn't understand why God is doing what He is doing and He feels like God isn't answering his prayers. The truth is, God was answering his prayers (and mine), He just wasn't giving the answer Habakkuk (and I) wanted to hear. This was pivotal for me. I didn't think sending Nathan back to a group home, when he seemed to be flourishing here, could possibly be God's idea of a perfect plan. It seemed anything but perfect to me. However, I'm not God. I can only see right now. He knows and has ordained the past, present and future. He knows His plans for Nathan. I don't, but I know God and sometimes that just has to be enough. And so I join Habakkuk in saying, "Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labor of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat: the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls: Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation. The Lord God is my strength, and He will make my feet like hinds feet, and He will make me walk upon mine high places." (Habakkuk 3:17-19).

Did God change my circumstances? No. But He never promised that He would. He never said it would be easy. But, He did promise to be right there with me, giving me the strength to bear this trial. And He has been. Even when I questioned His plans. Even when I had tantrums. Even when I lay on my bedroom floor and prayed the ground would just swallow me whole. Especially in those times. "For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One has been tempted in all things as we are, yest without sin. Let us therefore draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and may find grace to help in time of need." Hebrews 4:15-16.

One year later, there is still pain. I still miss him terribly. But there has been healing, too. The Lord is still here. He is still granting mercy and giving me strength. "Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ's sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong." 2 Corinthians 12:10

I am so thankful to those of you who have encouraged us, prayed with us and loved us along the way. God has used you as a powerful vessel of His love in our lives and we are truly blessed because of it. We continue to covet your prayers for our family and especially for Nathan. We don't know what the future holds, but we are confident in the One who holds it!


~ Kati :) said...

Oh Cheri, I cannot even imgine...I know that feeling of being called to adopt, and the urgency of that calling, it is inexplicable...we will forever keep Nathan in our prayers too. :)

Sunny said...

Cheri, you are an incredible woman and I really look up to you and the example of a godly woman you give. My heart aches for you and the grief and sadness you have felt, but I rejoice with you in the blessings and peace the Lord has granted you and your family. "Big Nathan" will always be in our hearts, thoughts, and prayers and I pray that maybe someday, Lord willing, He will show you how you made a difference in Nathan's life.

Love and hugs!

Talia said...

I don't even know what to say... really. I just want to hug you! You are amazing and incredible, just like Sunny said. Thank you for opening up your heart and sharing this with us so beautifully. It is a true testament to the grace, goodness, and perfect providence of our God, even in the midst of horrible pain and grief.

I will continue to pray for you and your family, and for Nathan too. How wonderful that you are ALL in God's care!


Kala said...

The Lord is using you! Praying for you all...

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