February 2, 2012

Five Mothers

Once upon a time, in a country far, far away, a beautiful newborn boy entered the world into the waiting arms of his young mother.  Now, normally a child will have just one mother who will love and care for him during his entire life, but occasionally God has a different plan.  He blesses some children with more than one mother.  This particular baby will have had five different mothers who will have loved him before his first birthday.  This is the story of an innocent child making an incredible journey, touching the hearts and lives of those five mothers along the way.
Possibly because of poverty and life’s difficult circumstances in that small village, Mother #1 recognized that she would be unable to give her infant the care that she knew he would need.  With loving selflessness, powerful courage and firm faith that God would lead her child to a family who could sufficiently provide for him, she made the heart-breaking choice to place him for adoption.  Her honest admission, the painful decision, and subsequent arrangements to find the best care for her baby were truly heroic!  Most likely, the child is never far from her thoughts, and she asks the Heavenly Father daily for protection over his life.
During the next several months, while the professionals at the adoption agency diligently worked to match this sweet boy with just the right family, Mother #2 experienced the joy of holding him in her arms and caring for his every need.  She sacrificially opened her heart and her home to this child who needed her love, snapping precious photographs and capturing those first few weeks of his life on videotape, all the while knowing that his time with her would be temporary.
Meanwhile, in a distant metropolitan American city, the Lord was shaping the lives of three different mothers, orchestrating events that would cause their lives to intersect and remain forever connected.  One was a lovely middle-aged professional woman, who had no children of her own.  After she and her husband determined that they would begin the adoption adventure, they spent the next few months completing paperwork, attending parenting classes, and preparing their home for their new arrival.  It was with great enthusiasm, surrounded by excited relatives and friends, that they boarded a plane and headed to the faraway land where they would meet their new child.
Oh, the emotions that Mother #3 felt when she caught that first glimpse of this baby for whom she had been waiting!   He was every bit as beautiful as she had imagined, and her heart overflowed with love as her empty arms were finally filled with the weight of his perfect body. 
Hmm, wait a minute.  Is his body perfect?  Something doesn’t seem quite right.  It’s probably nothing, but perhaps it would be best to visit a doctor to make sure everything is okay.  Oh, no!  A parent’s worst nightmare!  Tests confirm that everything is not okay.  Mother #3 and her husband spend countless hours in agonizing discussion, keenly aware that because of their age and demanding careers, they are not going to be able to make a lifelong commitment to caring for this child.  But how can they leave him in a third-world country with limited access to medical technology and almost no probability of ever being adopted?  Unthinkable.  They bravely resolve not to leave him behind.
As Mother #3 exits the airport in her home state, the lines on her face bear evidence of the exhaustion of many sleepless nights, the weariness of traveling thousands of miles with a little one in her arms, and the burden of the awful decision that she and her husband have been forced to make.  She can’t take the child to her home, because she knows that caring for him during the months it might take to find another adoptive family for him would be entirely too painful.  So she wraps him snuggly in his blanket, tearfully kisses the top of his head, and places him into the arms of Mother #4, a foster parent who is at the airport to meet them.
It’s not every day that people get a front-row seat as God puts his sovereignty on display.  However, that is one of the greatest rewards of being a foster parent . . . as I simply obey His call to care for these children, I watch in awe as He takes seemingly impossible situations and perfectly arranges the details into a work of art.  It is a tremendous honor that He would allow me to play a supporting role – a prop, really – in his masterpiece.  What a privilege that He allowed me to be Mother #4 in this child’s life.
I knew some of the circumstances that had led this little guy into my life, and I knew that the original adoption agency was seeking adoptive parents for him.   During the months that he was in our home, my husband and I prayed for him every night, trusting that the Lord hadn’t brought him this far, only to forget about him now.  We had no idea who was going to adopt him, but we had full confidence that the Lord knew!
As a side note, the obvious question is:  Why did my husband and I choose not to adopt him ourselves?  For one thing, we can’t possibly adopt all 45 children who have come to our home.  But probably the biggest factor was the circumstances in our own lives just then.  As every marriage has its different seasons, my husband and I were struggling through a bit of a rough patch, and we knew that it wouldn’t be wise to make such a permanent commitment during that time.  Nevertheless, we wanted to continue serving the Lord and loving the children that He brought to us.  We are a living testament to the fact that (1) God somehow uses imperfect people for His glory and (2) He can even use difficult circumstances like a strained relationship to accomplish His purposes . . . but that’s another story.
There’s nothing glamorous or glorious about being a foster mother.  My days include the same duties as mothers all over the world – washing laundry, preparing meals, running errands, and trying to keep the house from looking like a tornado passed through.  One day, when the baby had been with us for several months, I woke to another monotonous day, never knowing that it was The Day that would change this child’s life.  As I routinely walked the aisles of the local grocery store, filling my cart with necessities for my family, a lady noticed the dark-skinned child in my arms and we struck up a conversation.  I offered a brief background, mentioning that I was caring for him until an adoptive family could be found.  “Oh!” she exclaimed, “I have a friend who has been thinking about adopting.  Would it be okay if I called her?”  “Um, okay,” I said, though privately I was thinking, “I’m sure nothing will ever come of it.”
How could I have known that on the other side of town, another mother had been praying for a child she had never met.  She had already experienced the joys of childbirth as well as adoption, yet in the midst of her busy life of raising of family, she sensed that had room in her heart and home for more.  Up until now, however, the Lord had answered her prayers with “Wait.”   So without the peace from God, without the right set of circumstances, and certainly without the financial resources to be able to afford an adoption, she obediently waited.  Like me, she didn’t know that morning when she got out of bed, that this was The Day that everything would change.  It was The Day that God’s answer to her prayer would become, “You don’t need to go searching for a child;  I will bring Him to you.”
The woman from the grocery story did indeed help the two of us get into contact with one another, and our families made arrangements to meet at the food court in a nearby mall.  No one observing us that Saturday would ever have suspected the reason these two families were having lunch together, nor could they possibly have guessed the role of the little one who was being tenderly passed around between us.
During the next few months, the couple met with their attorney, updated their home study, rearranged the children’s bedrooms to make room for a crib, and began to get “cautiously excited” about the possibility of a new addition to their family.
The next time we met, it was at an appointment with a specialist at a world-renowned hospital.  (Yes, God even arranged for the child to live in a city with easy access to modern medical technology!)  As the doctor reviewed the medical reports, explained the prognosis and outlined the concerns in the tiny room that day, I could see in the mother’s face that his words were almost irrelevant.  What could he possibly say that would alter her forgone conclusion?  In her heart, she had already become Mother #5.
Several years have passed since the child’s miraculous journey.  The adoption agency has since gone out of business and the faraway country has since closed its doors to international adoption.  In God’s perfect timing, He arranged for all of those people and circumstances to align during one small window of time . . . from a mother’s arms in a tiny village thousands of miles away, through the nurturing care of several mothers in between, to the welcoming embrace of his adoptive mother.   If I hadn’t personally witnessed it, I never would have believed it was true!   I have great respect for the courageous mother who gave birth and then loving chose to give up her child for adoption.   I am amazed by the persevering mother who was willing to make a life-long commitment to caring for him.  And for me, personally, I am truly grateful to have been a small link in the chain of women whose lives were forever impacted by the privilege of being his mother.

1 comment:

  1. Amazing to glimpse behind the tapestry that God is weaving all the time in our lives - perfectly orchestrating all those details to work together for our good. I still treasure the verse you gave to our little man: Jer 29:11 "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." and also Ps 139:13-16 "For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be"