Tuesday, October 8, 2013

How God Broke Me for Special Needs Adoption

What does it take for God to take us from a place of selfishness comfort to move into a realm of discomfort and unknown where things are intimidating and downright scary?

Sometimes, it just takes a child.

Jovia Richards was that child for me.

Without her, we would not have Toby as our son. And Esty would not be on her way here.

Let me back up.

We had already brought Zeb home from Uganda, and we were attending a conference called More 4 Orphans at the Vineyard in Columbus, Ohio.

I was hoping to meet Wess Stafford of Compassion (I did!) as well as a few of my favorite online friends from Project Hopeful and also Salem Richards, who has adopted 3 special needs children from Uganda.

I also was looking forward to meeting Nicolle Bompart whose husband had just died a few months prior from a gunshot wound while serving orphans in Haiti. I just had to meet this amazing woman! I attended her breakout session for the purpose of meeting her. The subject of the breakout? Special needs adoption. She even said, "If you are here, it's because God is doing something in your heart to adopt a special needs child," and I thought, "well, not me, I'm just here to meet you..." 

Little did I realize that she was RIGHT!

After her session, I found my friend Salem and delighted in a hug. I quickly realized, she had come to the conference WITH her children. And here was her daughter Jovia...who was born without arms and without legs.

Smiling at me.

With dimples.
Before I could think, I heard myself ask if I could hold her.

"Of course!" was the reply.

My heart raced as I bent down to scoop her up. A million thoughts raced through my head. Emotions flooded my heart, emotions that are now untraceable.

But when I held her, felt her warmth and watched her take her teeth to play with my conference name tag, I felt something move.

It was as big as a planet moving off it's orbit. 

I came unglued.

All my previous thoughts of why I personally would never consider a special needs child simply crumbled. This warm, sweet, happy girl was changing me. On the spot.

All the "why nots" left.

I suddenly only saw her. Jovia. A priceless treasure. A person.

And really, that's what needs to happen. 

We need to see the PERSON,

not the CONDITION,


not the DIFFERENCE. 

We come to realize these children are really like any other child.

Any other orphan.

Or maybe, just maybe, they are even more special...because they have been rejected time and time again...for reasons far beyond their control.

Jesus loves the unlovable. "The least of these," He calls them.

Precious children!!!

What I've come to find out is that they are only perceived as the "least of these." In actuality, they are TRUE TREASURES that bring deep joy to families who say YES to them.

And they change you too. In such good ways.

So often people say things to me like, "Oh I could never do that!" when they hear we are adopting yet another child and this one being in a wheelchair. 

I answer, "Oh I cannot either! But Jesus will use me to love and minister to this child in ways I cannot yet anticipate!"

This is what Jovia gave me.

A new willingness.

An interest in special kids.

A desire to parent those whom before I thought were for "other people."

I began looking for who it might be that God would have me love.

And then I "stumbled" onto the blog post where I read about "Bo" who became our Toby.

And the rest? Well, I'd like to say it's all history...

...but it's still in process!

But it IS history: His-story.

God's story of working in and through me to love and parent needy children.

What a wild adventure of walking with Him in places I never thought I wanted to go! But as I follow Him there, I find such great joy that I only want to press deeper in and find more of Jesus!

Want in?? I sure can understand why!!! 

Now sit here a little longer and delight in the awesome video The Archibald Project made on my friend Salem and her precious family! Who knows how Jovia might minister to your heart through this! 

The Richards Family Adoption Story from The Archibald Project on Vimeo.

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