I often ask you to pray for the kids who are heavy on my heart – the kids without families. My students. The ones I love and hope to see in forever families. Ever wonder what results from those prayers? You are in for a treat today. Here is a guest post from a friend of ours who can tell you from first hand experience what happens when you, my amazing blog readers, pray.
Dear followers of this special blog who pray:
I’d like to say that these days I don’t have the life I was going to. For one thing I’m homeschooling, a thing I don’t particularly love. I’m also juggling eye-opening tantrums, both public and private. And, as I guy who’d rather change activities every five hours, I’m sometimes changing them every five minutes and finding it a challenge.
My soul is worn.
And my plans were better.
Maybe they weren’t super-clear plans, but, as this past fall we joyously marked the conclusion of 15 years of babies and pre-schoolers in the house—boy, did our ears ring that day—I had all sorts of plans that could have made use of that quiet. Any number of dusty pursuits that could have been brought off the back burner.
But. My plans aren’t what happened.
What did happen was the impossible. Or, at least, something that, just one year ago, I would have called inconceivable in the extreme. And our house is quiet no longer.
The paperwork says he’s fourteen. Though he looks certainly younger, and his emotional, psychological, or social age—whichever you please, I’m not being technical, here—seems usually closer to two. Our ears are ringing plenty, now, too, though not from quiet. For this guy—perhaps not unlike a kid you’ve known?—didn’t come with a volume control (or many other kinds of control, for that matter). So it’s not just our ears, but our heads, even our whole selves, ringing some days.
And it’s largely your doing.
Adoption is hard, isn’t it? At least the worst of the feral screaming and self-injurious flailing seems to be over (or so we hope). But it’s still difficult, for he’s a kid from a hard place, and the transitional throes of switching to beloved son from institutional inhabitant can be extreme. And even when he is fine, we at times still aren’t. An energetic, self-absorbed, as-easily-wounding-as-getting-wounded entity of tireless underfoot-ness—no matter how happy—truly can make your day drag by.
But saving one kid is good, right? It is. It truly is. And, way back when, that’s what we signed up for: one. One adoption.*
How did this guy ever become number three?
That wasn’t my plan. In fact, you could have pretty much said about me last year that I was anti-adoption. Not again. No way. Not us. But. You were praying.
And, more unexpectedly than snow in summer, God spoke. To—of all people—our oldest teenager (the one who’d said he’d run away if we ever considered adopting again, and to whom I always replied with laughing assurance about that being the last thing he needed to worry about):
“Mom, I think we’re supposed to adopt this one.”
He was putting together videos—to help update their files—of six older kids from the local orphanage. The boy that our teenager was talking about said in his video that he wanted an American family, a big family, and a family with younger siblings. Our family was check, check, and check, and my wife’s heart began to melt.
But not me. Not in the least. Sure, I’ll pray this kid gets a family, but that family as sure-as-shootin’ ain’t going to be ours. No way were we going to think about adopting another kid. And a teenager to boot? Be serious. Even my wife concurred as readily as I did that our family was stretching its limits beyond what we could handle already.
But you were praying. And her burden grew.
She resisted it. Asked repeatedly for the burden to be taken away, and I was all encouragement: “It will go away, dear. It will. The burden will fade. There will be another family for him.” I knew: All I had to do was outlast her. Outlast that completely irrational burden brought on by übercompassion and her over-sensitive heart. “Honey,” she pleaded with me one day as her burden only got stronger, “would you consider at least just praying about it?”
“Uh…no?” Why would I pray for something I didn’t have the least intention of considering?
But you were praying.
And the rest of that long, long story (that I now call “God’s 2×4”)—of how a boy called Manning come to be in our family, and how I was the only one who needed to be outlasted—has been told in other places already.**
Sometimes it isn’t our compassion that saves. Some of us don’t even have a whole lot of what might be called compassion. God can save just the same.
You prayed for Manning, and, because of it, things and powers and hearts that were not otherwise going to be moved were moved. A boy on the verge of a life sentence to institutional existence was spared. Though he might possibly have known abuse and neglect and hopelessness as companions forever, now this same boy notices and repeats (well, shouts, rather) the word “Jesus” every time he hears it in speech or song. Though not long ago he may have been doomed to never mature beyond hurt and anger and revenge and manipulation, now we’re building up trust. Just tonight he put his headphones on my ears so I could know which was his favorite Chinese worship song: “Isn’t it moving, Dad?”
It’s largely your doing, you know.
You prayed. And he’s home.
*The story of the Johnsons’ first adoption (and how that unexpectedly became two) can be found in Lily Was the Valley: Undone by Adoption, available on Amazon in both Kindle and softcover formats.
**Those who would enjoy reading the full story of the genesis of this most unlikely of third adoptions can do so at dannrobertjohnson.com, the earliest ten entries.
Your next project? Pray for “Hemingway” my youngest, happiest and sweetest student. He is four years old, a Down Syndrome super star who loves painting with the color yellow. He is waiting for his family to take a step of faith and come get him. Pray that he isn’t destined to life in an institution. Instead, may a family see his sweet face and recognize the value of his life and embrace him into their family.
You can contact Amanda (firstname.lastname@example.org) a social worker with Children’s House International to get more information on how to adopt him.
Just a side note: if our family can get approved to adopt and overcome the hurdles…ANYONE can. Seriously. I am sure the Johnsons would say the same!