Today’s guest post is written by my friend, Jillian. She is an amazing, remarkable, strong woman. Her husband is a Marine who has been deployed more times than I knew was possible. I’ve learned a lot about life as a military wife from Jillian and I’m thankful for the sacrifices families like theirs make to keep families like mine safe and free. You can read about her life, and her incredible adoption journey at Rooted in Love.
His deep African accent let my mind ease slightly as I began to share our concerns about Morgan Yisak’s behaviors over the past year. His accent alone told me I would not have to explain “where he had been” and how it effects “where we are now.” It was my first indication that we would be heard and not judged, it had nothing to do with his degrees or education that made him a neuro psychologist.
However, it was something else that allowed me to let my guard down and speak frankly of the situations we had experienced. The aggressiveness, the poop smears, the self inflicted pain and punishments, the 2 hour tantrums, the name calling, the stealing, the lying, the crying meltdowns, and the security measures we had taken for everyone to be safe could be heard here without judgment. It was his eyes.
His eyes reminded me of Morgan Yisak’s eyes, although they physically did not look the same. His eyes told stories of pain and sorrow, of innocence lost young. His eyes told of memories that haunted and untold stories held within. His eyes cried for people he knew and people he knew nothing of- except their current living situation. Eyes that were worn and weary yet full of hope and life. His eyes were full of empathy, compassion, understanding and knowledge that did not come from a book.
“Severe PTSD and excessive defiance” was not stated coldly or casually. It was thoughtfully expressed and explained as he also added his relief that we had not used an escort but traveled to Africa ourselves and “saw it” first hand.
People have asked how our trip was, and I have 1/2 joked that I could have PTSD from our short week stay in a nice guesthouse with many amenities. To watch as people are dying on the streets in front of you, begging for food from those that have none, to know you can’t use the bathroom for hours because the only restroom is a hole in the ground already full of old feces and urine, in a dark unlit, no vent, closet of a room, with no privacy, and this is their normal everyday experience. I am so grateful for the experience. My heart has been so burdened with that short week stay.
“Severe PTSD and excessive defiance” was truly to be expected. Morgan Yisak lived these truths for years, ones I had only been exposed to for moments. The smell of the ‘fresh air’ alone here could send him into a realization of how far away he was from everything he knew, but also how deep some of his friends remained in it. It is the kind of truth that can take a playful, soccer loving, 8 year old from comfort and family, to meltdown and thievery with no notice.
Many people marvel at us, especially at me as we have dealt with this while my husband was deployed for 7 months and I pregnant. They are amazed that we have “hung in there” and have kept our head above water through it all. They ask how we manage and get everything done: homeschooling, 4 children, pregnancy, deployed spouse, 3 weekly speech therapy appointments, physical therapy, occupational therapy, and the regulars like dentists and orthodontist. People ask “what keeps you going?”
I marvel at my sons. I marvel at their people and their homeland. I marvel at their sheer will to live. I marvel at their broken souls fighting to heal and trust. I marvel at what they are teaching us, our friends, our family, our community.
What keeps me going is nothing short of having a peek of where they have been and knowing I could not have survived it. I fight for them, their healing, their journey as if it were my own-because it is. Ethiopia has 4 million orphans, the world has over 140 million. I look into the face of two everyday and see the left behind and the dying. I marvel that God has allowed us to see the face of Jesus in this personal way, and I press on, better for it. Grateful for it.