We first met Jesύs March 2014, two years ago now. Joe and I first met him in the toddler house when we came to volunteer for one week. I remember first seeing him rolling a ball across the floor. Jesύs has a bold, beautiful smile. He has eyes that sparkle. He has hands that clasp tightly and a laugh that is wonderful. Jesύs also has some significant physical and cognitive special needs. Currently he is about 7 years old based on dental reports, but has similar skills of a 3 year old. At the time we met him, nothing was known about him medically except that he was “special”. And he is! He is wonderful! As I watched Jesύs and played with him, I remember feeling not one ounce of pity for him, but instead was just delighted by him. I was so proud with all he was able to do by himself. I thought his 8 words sounded fabulous. I thought all his physical features looked beautiful.This struck me as a strange reaction because there were many smiley, smart cuties that week in the toddler house. As we were preparing to leave at the end of the week, Joe and I took a long walk around the campus, and were reflecting on our time and chatted about Jesύs. Suddenly, the thought came into my mind “What if we were to adopt him? What if I was to be his mom?”
Then right after that my thought was. “No. No way. We could never be so lucky. How could I ask God for so much?”
Looking back I realize that that moment revealed my true heart. And then for months this idea bounced in our heads and spun in our hearts. Joe and I knew that God had given us a different love for Jesus. So for nine months between our first trip to Emmanuel in March 2014 and when we returned with our family in December, we prayed for Jesύs . We signed up to be his sponsor family. We talked about him, and slowly the idea of adoption became a more discussed one. Jesύs has many medical needs and will most likely need lifelong care and support from family. We talked, thought and prayed how this would affect our whole family. We knew we had (and still have!) a lot to learn. Our children. Joey, Guy and Elena started praying for this boy that they had never met, and we all prayed together that God would guide us.
We prayed for God to give us wisdom. Not only would we be asking a lot of this young boy, but was it even possible paperwork wise? Orphanage Emmanuel has a goal of raising Hondurans, a goal we fully support and love. Adoption is not necessarily encouraged and in the 25 year history has only happened less than a handful of times. We did not arrive here with the intention to adopt and were surprised with the direction we were now considering.
Adoption is very difficult out of Honduras. Not only do many children not have paper trails, making it difficult for them to be officially declared abandoned, but trying to get paperwork is near impossible. As we pursued this we found out that for many reasons adopting Jesύs would be possible. His history, age, and special needs would actually aid in the adoption.
We returned to Honduras December 2014 to volunteer at Orphanage Emmanuel without a final decision regarding adoption. All we could say was that God had given us a special love for this boy and then take tiny steps forward in that love. After we arrived we asked permission to spend time with Jesύs. From December through February 2015 we spent three afternoons with Jesύs as a family and every Sunday. We watched our children interact. We learned more about Jesύs strengths and his limitations. We fell more in love with each of our children as we watched them grow in this relationship and we fell more in love with Jesύs.
Mid-January 2015 (10 months after we first met him) we approached the directors about adopting Jesύs. They warned us of the obstacles in this country, but gave us their blessings and said how well they thought he would do with a family. We immediately started the adoption process.
We have been working with an agency in the US for a full year now, as well as a lawyer in Honduras. Part of the serious process of adoption is piecing together the child’s story. We just had rumors about Jesus’ history from other volunteers or staff. Rumors that he had been in institutions since birth, rumors of his medical needs. The only actual piece of paper we had at first was a document that the office held in his file. It was a list of disabled children who had arrived on a bus 4 years ago from another government orphanage that had burned down. No middle name. No last name. No date of birth. Only a first name in a list of 20 others: Jesύs.
God. I said when I saw this paper. You know the inner most being of Jesus. He is more than this. And God does know all of Jesus and all of Jesύs history. Not just because he knows everything, but because he was there. God was with Jesύs as he entered this world and he has walked beside him. As we find more details of Jesύs’ past as we move forward in the adoption, as I mom I feel a great sadness. I feel the brokenness of this world a little bit more sharply.
We submitted our dossier stateside in December and pray and hope that the paperwork will be ready by next year 2017 to have the adoption finalized. We returned to Orphanage Emmanuel to volunteer just six weeks ago, but everything is different. Within hours of returning the news ran through the orphanage that Jesύs’ parents had come. The news had preceded us. We are his parents. Children stop us on the path to confirm that we are indeed planning on adopting Jesύs. We were introduced to him as his Mama and Papa.
The news swirls around us and yet we are unsure if his mind understands. We can tell that he knows we are different. Simply from our time investment so far with us, and by our names. He is happy to spend time with us and has developed a true friendship with Joey, Elena and Guy. But does he really understand? This sweet boy does not yet speak sentences. And even if he could tell us his thoughts the idea of parents and a family is so foreign. It is strange responsibility to plan a future that he may not be able to conceive of. We find ourselves falling in love with this child and our new family.Nothing has quite prepared us for this. Our quiet prayers. Our fervent prayer times. Our social worker, the psychiatrist, the medical reviews, the photos, the paperwork, the hours upon hours of investment. The almost two years of thought and prayers. Nothing can prepare us enough for our family to be growing in this way. We hold our children’s hands and we tell them that we believe that all life is valuable. Joey’s life. Guy’s life. Elena’s life. Jesύs’ life. We try to be careful and we are honest with our four children. This will be hard. This will be beautiful.
Mostly though, we watch the four kids play in the grass, eat food, and help each other along the way and our hearts swell and we feel as though we have won the lottery. We watch Jesύs try to run and we watch him try to form words. I see him persistently try to kick a ball, and patiently sit next to a friend who cries. He is the most gentle child. I see his hands fold around my hands and how he bends his head to listen. When he is not laughing he is mostly quiet.Jesύs, we love you and want to provide and protect and care for you. We want to grow with you and witness your life. This is our promise to him as his parents.
He smiles the sweetest smile and promises nothing back.
Joe and I do not need to watch forever. We see Jesύs. We see the most beautiful handiwork. We feel it in our hearts: there is treasure in this field.Sometimes I hold Jesύs’ hand and am overwhelmed with thanks for this opportunity to love this child. God gives the most beautiful gifts, yes?