Last week, I wrote about the beginnings of our adoption and foster care story. This week, I share how Jaso joined our family.
I sat during the choir’s intermission, watching the orphan statistics flash across the screen at the front of the auditorium. I knew about the AIDS crisis. I had met families with adopted children. I had listened to stories of missionaries who rocked motherless babies in crowded orphanages.
But at this particular moment, I was expectant. I had been waiting for God to show me why I still had a deep yearning for something outside of the boundaries of my city; and here, I was looking right into the faces of orphans.
But I knew a few things. I knew we probably couldn’t foster because of our tiny house. I knew we didn’t have enough money to adopt internationally. And I knew that something inside me was shifting – the discontent I had been feeling for months was settling into resolve.
My husband has been an educator for nearly twenty years. He loves kids, and kids love him. When I began to broach the idea of adoption with him, he said “I love kids. I could love more.” It was nearly that simple. He saw my internet favorites menu change from overseas schools and missions opportunities to faces of children crowding around cameras, hoping someone would see them and want to adopt them.
We had been so out of alignment, so set in different directions; and suddenly, even though we had no resource to make an adoption happen, we were aligned and ready to move forward.
Things happened very quickly from that point. We learned of adoption grants and fundraising. We found that, although our small house disqualified us for foster care, it was not an issue for international adoption. Just a month later we sent in our application to adopt from Liberia.
The only money we had at the start of our adoption was an $1800 tax return. We had no other savings and no extra income. We learned very quickly and very tangibly that God resources his call. (In fact, we found ourselves at the end of Jaso’s adoption with $3000 ready to start our next adoption.)
It wasn’t much later that I saw a picture of four-year-old Jaso. She was on a “waiting child” list due to her medical needs and had been living in a small hospital clinic for over two years. We asked around a bit and concluded that she would probably only need a corrective surgery after coming home and that her condition would be resolved. We now know, nearly ten years and 86 surgical procedures later, that we were wrong.
It is God’s mercy that we didn’t have a clear picture of the medical path ahead of Jaso, because we would have thought “we can’t do that” and surely would have missed out on the joy of being her family. (It is truly God’s mercy – and I have learned that there is so very much I can’t do – but God is truly about doing his work through broken people.)
In September, early on the morning of Mia’s 8th birthday, I boarded a plane for Liberia, hoping to be home in a week or two. Six weeks later, after getting malaria, after an agonizing wait for Jaso’s hand-lettered Liberian passport, after running out of money in a country without banks and accustomed to running on bribes, after nearly 42 nights of watching her aspirate in her sleep, and full of desperation to return home to my young children, we finally boarded the plane home.
And just like that, she was sitting in the back seat of our car, sandwiched between Mia and Noah (and not daunted one bit by the language barrier or her own language delays, she was already making funny faces to entertain us all).
Jaso brought so much joy with her. She is easy to love, and she loves easily. Mia and Noah quickly embraced her as their sister. We all learned to wait out her Liberian tantrums, and they now carry on as some of our favorite stories from that first year.
Adoption changed our lives, but I know without a doubt that our lives were changed particularly because we adopted Jaso – she opened our hearts to children with medical needs in a way we could never have imagined. It was easy for all of us to move forward into adoption again after bringing Jaso home.
(next week, I will share how we found our son, Avi)