Saturday, November 1, 2008

Isn’t it funny how your perspective changes when things happen to you?

Is it strange to start this with I’m Sorry? Who cares, I’m sorry. I would like to apologize to each of you for not always taking your needs seriously. Isn’t it funny how things can get really important when it happens to you? It seems that I am so guilty of living in my own world, saying with my mouth that I love people and want to serve them, but does my actions always match up to this big mouth of mine? 

As some of you know and have seen via our Facebook statuses, Brooke and I have been asking for your prayers. It has been an interesting season of our life (once again), and you have been faithful to keep us in your prayers. Until my Uncle Frank House died of cancer, I never took cancer as serious as I should. Until, my daughter Britain had to have tubes put in her ears, I never knew what its like for a parent to sit in wait with a desperate need to hear, “She made it through ok.” In July of this year, I wrestled with my own fear of going under the knife (Laser) to have my Gall bladder removed. Facing my own mortality, I asked for your prayers to make it through ok. Why must I have to experience something before I understand the fact that there are needs in my life, and most importantly, needs in others lives that need prayer? Trust me, God is bringing me to a place where I am realizing the need and power of prayer, again not just for my needs, but for the needs of others, and for the needs of our community (community is not equal to just Franklin, TN). 

To better understand where Brooke and I are in this season, it may be helpful for you to know some history of how we got to today, October 26, 2008. This summer, my family and I attended our Saturday night services where Brooke and I knew that our life was about to change. That night was the first of a two-week series on Adoption. The first night talked more about our need to understand the concept of Vertical adoption. How God has adopted us as Son’s and Daughter’s into His family. The Next week was to focus on Horizontal adoption. It was amazing to find that Brooke and I walked out of that first service completely on the same page without even discussing it. We always go to church with Mom and Dad, and after we usually head to diner together to a venue of Britain’s choice. Not that Brooke and I didn’t want to have a discussion on what we had just heard in front of Mom and Dad, it was just easier to wait to download when we got home and got Brit in bed. Well, like I said, it was this summer when all of this went down and that can only mean one thing. Britain’s programming for the summer meant only 3 options. Sleep, Eat, and Swim! Not sure that any of us really wanted to go to the pool that night, but after dinner, much to a persistent Britain, we found ourselves at Mimi and Papa’s pool.

I am not sure why Britain wasn’t born with gills because I know she would love to just live in the water. However, it was in that water that God put a special family into our life that would eventually be a huge part of revealing so much to us! Stunned, I found myself amazed that God wasn’t done with my heart that evening. Church would continue for the Byers family in the choppy 5-foot waters of the Hardison Hills community pool. 
In walks in what we would find out as the Robinson family. It wasn’t the fact that they had a 2-year-old child that could swim like Michael Phelps (ok, that’s an exaggeration). For me, it was because they were Indian. When I mean Indian, I really mean, Native American, and when I say Native American, I mean that they just don’t have olive skin and dark hair; I mean this family looked like they were straight out of Dances with Wolves! (Ok, maybe another exaggeration). Anybody who knows me well, will know that I have always had a huge love for the Native American Culture, and even was an American Indian Studies Major in college, and danced all over the Southeast at Pow-Wows. A year or so prior to this evening, Brooke and I walked through a season in pursuit of adopting a Native American child. As we soon found, there are not a ton of agencies out there that specialize in Native American adoptions mainly due to a federal act that prohibits white families from adopting Native children in fear of assimilation and a loss of a very rich and beautiful culture. It seemed like a dead end for us, so we gave up on our pursuit. 

Meet the Robinson’s! This family was amazing in that there was something very powerful about this family. More than the fact that there were real Indians living in Williamson County, there was something more. Although Brit loves the water, she can’t swim yet. Since one of the Robinson children, no more than 2 years old was a champion swimmer, it was a natural open door for my wife to suggest that I start up a conversation with the gentleman. Again, anyone who knows me, knows that I don’t know a stranger, but I was SUPER reluctant and almost in awe that their were real Indians swimming in the same pool as us! Fearfully, I made my way over and started a dialogue with the man, who I found out was named Charles. Charles is very tall, at least 6’2” and has long black hair. He has a very gentle way about him though despite his appearance. He explained how their youngest child at the time, now Britain’s age, fell in some water and his wife, Siouxsan (pronounced Susan) was pretty far along in her pregnancy with their youngest. In panic she searched around the muddy bottom to rescue her child, finally able to pull her to the surface. They said that never again, would their children not be in a place where they can’t survive if they fell in. They enrolled them in a class here in Franklin that teaches young children how to survive if they fall in. It is truly amazing. 

Still bewildered by the fact that there were real Indians in the same pool (which will make more sense in a bit), I was quickly amazed, more shocked, to find out that Charles was a minister, and that he and his family has a ministry of going out to Reservations during the summer to do Ministry! Again, I think my mouth was open the entire time, a real Indian in this pool who happens to love Jesus? Am I dreaming?

I by no means am saying that Native people don’t love Jesus, it is just that God himself placed this family in the same pool as us just a couple hours after a message that confirmed that Brooke and I are not to give up on adopting a Native American child. After sharing with Charles all that had transpired that evening and my history with the culture, he himself was blown away and was committed to helping Brooke and I find our future son! That next week his family embarked on their 2-month journey out west to do ministry. I was confident that their mission would be to find our son! Days turned into weeks, and weeks turned into two months and we heard very little from the Robinson family due to the lack of communication in the areas that they were in. Discouraged, Brooke and I wondered if this was just another dead end. Towards the end of the summer, I was cleaning out a filing cabinet and found a business card that I had put in there almost a year prior. I used to work at a booking agency here in Nashville, called GOA. There, we booked a lot of today’s top Christian artists. One of which was Mark Schulz. Mark, having been adopted, was and still is a huge advocate for adoption. He does a number of events throughout the year to help various agencies, particularly Bethany Christian Services. Bethany has agencies all over the US and one in particular called in one day while I was still at GOA to book an event with Mark. 
Over the weeks following the first message on adoption, the night we met the Robinson family, God began to give Brooke and I a clearer vision for who we were looking for. There have only been a few times in my life that I felt God speak to me, and this was one of them. Lakota Sioux, a boy, from an unwed younger mother, was what God put on our heart. God used the movie Juno to really drive home the single Mom factor. Not hearing from the Robinson family for so long and me stumbling upon this business card from a lady named Judee Howard, an Adoption specialist in South Dakota (Lakota Sioux country) was in my mind, not a coincidence. I made contact with Judee. She had remembered me from booking the date with Mark, and also remembered that I had shared that Brooke and I felt led to adopt a Native American child over the phone. I shared with Judee all that had happened to us over the past few weeks and she was inspired to help us. She said that it would be a tough process, but to not give up hope. They had just placed an Indian child with a white family the month before, so we knew it wasn’t completely impossible. What a breath of fresh air, this call was. At this point, Brooke and I started the “official” process of adoption by getting our application together. There is a LOT of paperwork, and lots of details that we have to cover, not to mention it’s very expensive. 

Fast forward a few weeks and we have made some progress on some of the things on our adoption to do list. One Tuesday night, which is family night with my family, I got a call that would change my life. Charles called, much to my surprise, to let me know of a situation. He knew of a mother that was young and in need of some help. To protect her privacy, I will use an alias going forward. Sarah is a young mother who has had some difficulties over the last few years. In need of some time to figure a few things out in her life, Charles asked Brooke and I to consider fostering a little boy for a while with the small potential to adopt him. While it was a tough decision, Brooke and I wrestled for several days about the decision to foster the little boy. The tough part of this has been how this will affect our daughter Britain. Since that night, that we heard that first sermon, Brooke, Britain, and I have been praying fervently every night, that God would send us a little boy/a brother to Brit, who was Lakota, and from a young unwed mother. We knew that it would be a long time since; the adoption process takes a lot of time (which we have) and a lot of money (which we don’t have). We have always known that God put this desire in us, and that He would provide a way financially for us to afford the $20k to adopt Baby Tusie, as Brit calls him. We didn’t know how a little boy coming into the home and then at some point see him leave, how that would affect Britain. It was the toughest decision that we have made in a while. It felt as if we were closing the door on a family in need, who was standing out in the cold, soaking wet from the rain. I dreaded the meeting with Charles and his wife Siouxsan to let them know that we were not able to foster the little boy.

I have been working with World Vision on and off since February of this year. Last weekend, I was out with an artist named Angela Thomas. She is a wonderful women’s speaker and has a huge heart for the orphan. We saw almost 50 kids sponsored at the Women’s Conference in Midland, TX. It was a 2-day event, and I was able to fly out of Midland, to be back in Nashville last Saturday night. As soon as my plane landed, my girls greeted me. We got loaded up in the family nerd mobile (our minivan) and headed back towards Franklin. Not 5 minutes into the drive, my cell phone rang, and it was Charles on the phone. I knew something was up because it was after 9 when he called. “Hey Chris, I have something that I want you and Brooke to pray about,” Charles said. My heart hit the floor. He told me that his friend, with the little boy, had lost a family member and that she needed to go home to the funeral. It was a 30-hour bus drive back home to SD, and it wasn’t something that would be a good trip for a baby, or his mother for that fact. He asked us if we would be willing to keep the little boy, for a little while. Being that it was the same child that he asked us to consider fostering before, now this decision was back on our plate.

As I shared, I had just got off the plane from a weekend encouraging people to take care of orphans. How could I spend so much time encouraging others to do something that I am not willing to do myself? Charles asked me to pray about it with Brooke and let him know by 7am the next morning. Sarah, the mom, would have to get an early start on her 30-hour bus ride. Brooke and I asked Charles and his family to pray for us. We asked them to pray that if this was a decision that we were not supposed to do, that we would be restless and unable to sleep. Needless to say, Brooke and I slept like babies! Without blinking, I called Charles promptly at 7am last Sunday morning, and said, “Sign us up!” 

Last Sunday, Nashville hosted the TN State Pow-Wow. Charles and his family were competing and asked that we drive out to meet the baby boy and make sure we were up to the task. I would hope to say that we were the only ones that left the Pow-wow with more than we came with. We instantly fell in love with little man. He was hesitant maybe for a second, but soon seemed to be ok with us pushing him around the Pow-wow grounds in his stroller. 

Here we are, one week later, and as I type this note, he is sound asleep in his crib. We have had the baby’s room ready for a while now. We figured that if we didn’t have a daily reminder of what we were praying/working towards; it would be easy to put on the back burner and just go on living life. Brooke and I both have been on a huge roller coaster ride of emotions this week, as we have fallen in love with this little boy. He is so precious and has melted our hearts! Britain has been so incredible with him. We have loved on him as if he was one of ours. We have prayed more this week than I think we ever have. We have sought your prayers and have hoped more than ever before.

Again, I find myself asking for your forgiveness. It’s happened to me, and now I believe all the more in prayer. I know that people have been faithful to pray for this sweet little boy and us. I beg you to partner with us in prayer about what the Lord would have in store for us, and this beautiful little boy. I failed to mention that it has been incredibly hard to decipher why the Lord would put a Lakota Sioux, baby boy, from a young unwed mother literally into our arms. As some of his friends have seen him interact with us, there has been a mention of how peaceful he is with us, and how they have never seen him this happy. He and I have become super close this week, as I have had the privilege of taking care of him while Brooke is at work! He has made it so hard for me knowing that he is potentially going to leave us. He cries when I leave the room, and it breaks my heart. His smile sticks to me, much more than I ever thought possible! His giggle is one of the best sounds I could ever hear in the whole world. I love him!

Please pray for the Lord’s will to be done. As super spiritual as it sounds, it truly is our desire through this process. Brooke and I have been praying this hard prayer this week. It is so difficult for us, because our will is that he be our son and this have a fairytale ending. Although this child isn’t mine to give, I can almost relate to Abraham. He knew that God was asking him to do something very difficult. He had to trust that God was in control and that Isaac was in good hands. It is going to be extremely hard for us to give little man back. It will require us to trust that the Lord is much bigger than us and that He doesn’t need us to take care of him! We truly want what is best for this child. What a passion and burden we have. Not just for this little boy, but also for Sarah and his Dad. Please pray that Jesus would have a profound impact on her as she is away. Please pray that she would allow Him to move in her life and that the impact would motivate her to grow and mature in her faith and in general. How amazing would it be, if a miracle can take place in their life and us witness God unite a family, bringing his biological father back into the picture and have them reconcile and fall in love with Jesus as a family? I confess that the Spirit that lives within me is doing the typing at this point. There is nothing in my flesh that wants to let go of this child. It has been very difficult for me (us) to see the Lord bring him into our lives, knowing he will soon leave. 

We have been so amazed to see the Lord’s provision during this time. There are too many stories to share of how the Lord has used people and circumstances to affirm this decision. Please continue to pray that we will have the strength to endure this season of the unknown. Pray that our hope will remain in Jesus alone and that we can trust in God’s providence. We have to trust that God gave us this passion and desire to adopt. If we remain faithful, he can be glorified even through the hard times. As I mentioned, the adoption process is very expensive. Regardless of what type of adoption we end up going through (private or through an Agency), it will cost us a lot of money. It has been a tough year on our finances, but again, we believe that He will provide for this adoption. In the short term, we have all had the sniffles, and have had our share of health issues this year. Please pray that we will stay healthy. Lastly, there are a couple of obstacles that stand in the way of this little child becoming our son. If this is what God wants for our family, and if it is best for him to join our family, God will have to ensure that these things happen. Sarah and the baby’s father will have to mutually agree to allow us to adopt their child. The biggest obstacle that we face is the Indian Child Welfare Act. Even with consent of both birth parents, there still remains a lot of red tape for us to work through to adopt him. 

Thank you for taking the time to read this update. If you have any questions or would like to support us in anyway, please feel free to send me an email to Brooke and I will do our best to answer your questions. Again, thank you for your prayers for our family. What a learning experience this has been.


gruvmann said...

Know you are loved; know you are supported- we love you guys!

Jeff and Judee said...

Chris & Brooke, how fun it is to read your blog and see how God is working! He's so much more amazing than we can ever imagine. Blessings, Judee (from SD)