The Child | The Need | The YES
Warning: This is a long post. I am going to be raw and real, sharing the scary, but showing the true joy of letting go of fear and letting God take control... Because in the dying to myself, there is an abundance of grace and love.
Taking the step to say YES to adoption is scary. Especially saying YES to an older child with a known special need. If you watch This Is Us, you get a itty-bitty tiny window into the lives of adoptive parents and adoptees. It's messy and scary. You feel every emotion under the sun, but every step is SO worth it. These children, every-single-one-of-them, is worth it.
The night we said yes to adoption and filled out the initial application, we were also saying yes to opening our hearts to a child with a need that would make it difficult for him or her to be adopted...
The day my friend Janay came over with her sweet kids, and I had the opportunity to interacted with her son from China, was the day we filled out our application to adopt. But during our conversation, Janay really hit my gut when she said, "Boys. Boys need to be adopted. And not just boys, but boys with special needs."
Special needs... Could I do that?
I KNOW - it is a selfish question. Because in ALL honesty, life was "easy." Life was comfortable. And saying yes to adopt was big enough, right? But now we're talking about taking on something that ultimately we are choosing to say yes to. Something that is LIFE CHANGING.
Could I do it? I'm not Mother Teresa.
Yes - Yes we could and yes we can. Because we can do all things through Christ who gives us strength and HE has led us to this decision to adopt. So HE is going to be the one to guide, direct, strengthen, and give us wisdom through this process. HE would bring our child to us. And on that day I died to my desires, my "reality" because these children are worth it.
Okay - Let's do this!
For the first 6 months of our journey, WHO we were adopting was a mystery. He was out there, but knowing WHO he was had not been revealed to us yet. And as a part of the process, we would specify our age range and go through page after page of medical needs and mark, Yes - No or Willing to Discuss, on the special needs we felt comfortable taking on. A real raw process that feels massively gut wrenching, but so absolutely needed. Our agency has been AMAZING to work with in guiding and helping us through this process. They helped us understand that being honest with what we felt we could take on was extremely important.
Then on May 17th I was scrolling through the hundreds of children who are waiting for parents and saw him. His cheeks. His smile. And audibly said, "That's my kid." I didn't know his needs. But he grabbed a hold of my heart in a very powerful way that is difficult to put into words. I inquired about him and asked to see his file and before receiving it was told he had PKU.
The University of Washington PKU Clinic best explains what Phenylketonuria (PKU) is: "PKU stands for Phenylketonuria (PHE-NYL-KE-TON-URIA). Phenylketonuria is an inherited disorder. About one in every 15,000 infants born in the United States has PKU. People who are born with PKU are normal in every way except to stay healthy they must follow a strict diet which limits phenylalanine (Phe for short), a common part of most food. People with PKU have an inactive liver enzyme. Phe is only one of the many amino acids which are joined together to form proteins. Normally, when a person eats foods containing protein, their body uses the amino acids from that protein for growth and repair of body tissues. Often we eat amino acids in excess of the body's needs. These excess amino acids are chemically changed by enzymes into other compounds or used for energy. Since individuals with PKU are missing the enzyme for normal phe break down, the excess eaten in foods accumulates in the blood and begins to damage the brain.
If blood phe levels stay too high for a long time, the damage to the developing brain is severe and irreversible. The harmful effects of PKU can be prevented if a diet low in phe is started in early infancy and maintained throughout life."
Here is a short video created for kids that also helps explain it.
When we were first presented with what PKU was, it honestly scared me. Partly because I Googled PKU and YouTube'd it, which wasn't a good idea. Instead of being properly educated, I freaked myself out and saw the mountain that felt impossible to handle. I mean, we're meat eaters. We have a half a cow in our freezer. How do I do a low protein vegan diet?!
And Jerry just kept saying, "It's dietary. This seems manageable..."
But again, I freaked myself out on Google. God, how about a "need" that's an easier "fix?" Not something lifelong...
Well, God had other plans.
I (not we) initially said, "No." I was SO bummed because when I saw his face, I said that he was my boy.
The following two weeks were torturous. I would constantly think about him. I would look at his pictures, watch a video of him and feel so sad. I SOOOO wanted him to be a part of our family.
Then one Friday morning as I was speaking to Jerry over the phone, he immediately starts telling me about a conversation he had with a friend at the men's Bible study at church. They had "randomly" been discussing our adoption process and Jerry shared with him about the little guy who had caught our attention and explained that he had a metabolic disorder. Our friend chimed in and said he was pretty sure mutual friend's of ours son had the same metabolic disorder. Jerry said, "Why don't you just call Carrie (the mama) and ask her if it is manageable." My response was, "But I thought we were a 'no'?" And Jerry replied, "It doesn't hurt to call."
That was Friday. The next 4 days would change our lives.
I sent a quick text to our friend sharing the conversation Jerry had had and was wondering if she would be comfortable talking to me about it. Her son did have a metabolic disorder, but not PKU. HOWEVER, she mentioned that a mom, who attends our church, has PKU and would be a great resource.
Let's pause here for a second.
A mom. In my community. Who attends my church. HAS PKU...
What are the chances?! I mean, there are approximately 15,000 people in the U.S. who have it. And one of those 15,000 now lives in my community and attends my church... And at this point, I wasn't aware that the University of Washington, which is 40 minutes away, if one of the leading PKU clinics.
Okay - let's proceed.
So I find my new PKU connection on Facebook. Add her as a friend and shoot her a message about the little guy who has caught our attention and ask her if she would be willing and comfortable discussing what it is like to live with PKU.
Her response is this: "Please don't freak out with things you read or see online-- they are almost all home made, or extreme scenarios. It's a lifestyle change-- weighing and measuring food, and always having an alternative menu for one person. But, here and now in the US where we have gluten free products, coconut EVERYTHING products, and are close to one of the best PKU clinics in the country, you are really set up to succeed."
There's a PKU clinic NEAR me?!
And from there the connections begin snowballing. She introduces to me to another mama with PKU, who has adopted two kiddos with PKU that adds me to a group specifically for parents adopting children with PKU and my itty-bitty world blows up in the most amazing way. One thing after another the doors fly open. Resources start swinging wide, and connections start connecting. Even checking on our insurance regarding the special PKU protein formula and learning that not only do they cover it, but Washington State passed a law stating that it was illegal for insurance companies to deny coverage for those who need metabolic food, such as PKU.
That was Saturday.
By Sunday I am an emotional wreck because God's doing mighty things, showing us that HE will provide when we say YES to this sweet boy. Even our pastor preached a message that felt it was intended just for me. I was literally sitting in church feeling like God brought me to a cliff with a path that was completely fogged over and He said, "WALK." And I argued back (cause that's smart...), "But I can't see where I'm going." And He said, "Do you trust me?"
And the moment I said yes, peace took hold of the fear and kicked it to the door.
Does that mean I don't get nervous. By no means. But I know that God's got this. He will equip us and provide, because He has since the beginning. And every time fear tries to creep in and take hold, God provides by surrounding me with reminders that HE's got this. He has already surrounded us with immeasurable resources and has shown us how manageable this is. Not to mention, this does not define who my son is. We ALL have obstacles in life we have to overcome. Some needs may be lifelong and huge or come later in life... But it is how we CHOOSE to face those obstacles and use them in life.
That doesn't mean those obstacles can't feel overwhelming. Because God knows I have had many through this journey alone. But it is in those moments that I have to choose who I am going to place my faith in. My fears? Or the one true God who holds all things in His hands and has invited us to be a part of His plan in a messed up world: to Love God, Love People, and Live Generously? Yeah - I'll choose the later.
Adoption is scary. Taking on a known need is scary. But in Christ, fear is conquered and He will equip us and not give us more than we can handle. He knows us better than we know ourselves. And I have to walk in that DAILY, surrendering to my own needs and wants and follow Him. Trust and Faith isn't a once-n-done act. It is a daily act. Daily I have to place my Hope and Trust in Him. For me, that is the only way. And man, let me tell you, when you do, God does some amaaaaaazing things. He moves mountains. He conquers fears. He heals and restores... The list goes on and on.
I understand that not everyone will be able to adopt or welcome someone with a need into their home. But I can guarantee you, that you know someone who is and you can support them. You can say YES to adoption by providing them with a meal, sending a card, supporting their financial adoption needs, babysitting, giving them a hug, praying for them... For us, the random hugs, messages, cards, notes, texts, etc etc etc has been HUGE for us.
As many of you know, we are 16 days away from boarding a plane to bring our little guy home. I would be completely lying if I didn't say I was feeling every emotion under the sun. It is this HUGE emotion of complete love, excitement, overjoyed, tears, wrapped up with anxiety, nervousness, and faith. But I am ready. Ready to take it on. Because he is worth it. They are ALL worth it. And if not me? Then who?