I’ve written previously about the need for adoptive and foster parents (and all parents, for that matter) to see their children with eyes of compassion. Jen and Loren Decker understand this. I met Jen over a year ago at a conference, and then got to spend time with both her and Loren last November when they attended the train-the-trainer course for the Empowered To Connect Parent Training.
Jen and Loren recently brought their son, Jonah, home from China, and two weeks after arriving home Jen wrote some of her thoughts. Jen’s attempt to step into the shoes of her son and to see the world from his perspective illustrates well what we, as adoptive parents, must be able and willing to do. Her words and the reality of what Jonah must be experiencing made me cry…but they are also a beautiful reminder of the amazing transformation that God is working through the lives of committed and loving parents who are willing to see their children as God sees us — with eyes of compassion.
I got a little emotional yesterday over all the loss Jonah has faced in the last few weeks. I am sure part of the reason he is so sick is because of all the stress he has been going through. Some of you may be thinking…stress? What stress? He was an orphan and now he has a family…that should have ended his stress. Or maybe you are thinking that he is just a baby and babies are so resilient. Well, children are amazing and can move through transitions much better than many adults, but the truth is his whole little world was turned upside down. Lately, I have just been trying to remember what day it is and get my kids through 3 international airports, past the jet-lag and get little Jonah back to health, but today I was jolted back into the abrupt disorder in his world.
I sent two cameras to the foster family asking them to take pictures of Jonah’s world and life. I did it because I want him to have those pictures someday. I also did it because I wanted to have some idea of where he came from, but I have to say, as thrilled as I am about this whole thing, when I saw these pictures I felt like a home-wrecker. This looks like a happy family (even though they knew the arrangement was temporary…the grown-ups did….the kids have known nothing else). The surroundings are relatively primitive…the kid had a hand pump well outdoors for water and lived in a two room house, but don’t you dare say he should be happy to be out of there or that our home is so much nicer because we have carpet, heat, indoor plumbing, etc. This was all he knew, his foster sister was like a twin as they were the same age. Little Jonah’s world came crashing down on him two weeks ago today and he is counting on me to remember this for him in the future and be sensitive to it today.
Honestly, if I put myself in his shoes it all looks different. I cannot imagine being removed from my home and family, taken to a strange building in a new city and given to new people who smell, talk, dress and behave differently. Then be forced to live in the intimacy of a hotel room with them for a few days before being packed up, put on a plane (which I have never seen in my life) and taken to a new location, another hotel room where I get sick and scared, and when I cry out for my family by name they cannot hear me. Then get put on a train to another hotel then on a VERY LONG PLANE ride obviously so far now that I cannot find my way back to the only people who have loved and known me. Then I land in a new world that smells different, looks different…none of the people look like where I come from and then get in this contraption (a mini-van, of course) and they strap me down like some sort of torture…I cannot escape…why am I strapped in…Where are they taking me now? I am taken to a building, with lots of rooms, and toys and beds, what is this place? I am so sick and so tired, I sleep but not well, do they know I am sick? Then in the morning they strap me down again and take me to a doctor where I am subjected to scary tests and medicines. All this and everyone around me seems…happy? Excited? Camera’s constantly clicking…as if everyone is happy about me…everyone but me that is.
Don’t get me wrong, I have tasted some new things that I kind of like, and the new people seem nice and like they care…but for 10 minutes I would just like something familiar….something the “same”… and when I cry sometimes I am just plain sad…so maybe I don’t want your stupid snack or another busy toy.
…my sweet boy. I am so thankful he was so loved and I am so thankful to have these pieces of his past so I can cherish them with him and honor where he comes from. Today I will venture to the Chinese Grocery and try to find some familiar foods. I think I will also try to refrain from the camera and the constant fanfare. It is for me. I am excited, but he is hurting.
Please pray for Jonah…pray for us as we make this adjustment and keep praying for Jonah to feel better, we are seeing lots of improvement but he is still pretty sick. The trip is over but right now is the hardest part of this journey.