We pray you receive just as much a blessing from God following us as we are adopting Sheldon. Please check back regularly for updates on how God is working in our family.
Monday, August 6, 2012
Adoption: The Highest Privilege
By: Jeannie Swafford
This is my first blog. I don’t blog about my adoption because it makes me face the pain. It hurts too much. On our website www.sheldonswafford.blogspot.com only my husband J.C. has blogged. I know that God has asked me to write this blog.
I met my Haitian son, Sheldon in Nov. 2010 and early in 2011 we were allowed to begin paperwork to adopt him. This process has been one of the hardest and gut wrenching times in the life of our family. It seems everything that can go wrong has and does go wrong. I’ve had many long nights worrying and begging God for answers and guidance. The only news we seem to receive is bad. It has been four steps forward and ten back. For those of you who are not familiar with international adoption we are doing this backwards than most. Most people decide they want to adopt, fill out paperwork, and are given a referral of a child who is also paperwork ready. They receive a picture of their child and it is not til close to the end of the process do they meet and adopt their child. When we fell in love with Sheldon he had no birth certificate, no info on what happened to his parents, and he was not in an orphanage that was set up to do adoptions. And we weren’t paperwork or financially ready; but we knew God was calling us. The difference in the way we are doing our adoption has made us very vulnerable because we know our child intimately. We have been to see him ourselves 4 times. Because of our relationship with Long Hollow Baptist we are able to talk with him some by phone and get updated pictures every month. And, unfortunately, he has been told by others he is getting adopted. He is old enough to understand what that means but not old enough to understand the process and why we keep leaving without him. During this process the enemy has been at work. J.C., my husband, got laid off from the job we thought he would retire from. I have been involved in conversations where people criticized me for adopting a child of a different color, for trying to raise money for our adoption, and for having a strong passion for orphan ministry. It’s funny how you get so much unsolicited advice (can I get an amen Rachel Huber). I’ve had people tell me I should sell my house to pay for this adoption. That God is in control and I shouldn’t worry. I have had someone ask me how much longer I was going to keep trying and when I was going to give up. This is a CHILD!! A child, who needs a mother and a father and who desires more than anything to be in our home. A child I love as much as I do as my biological children Josh and Jana Claire. And the last time I left him it is an understatement to say that he didn’t handle it well. So I don’t have to relive all the details, it ended with him having to be restrained twice as we drove away.
So you can imagine my apprehension when all the adoptive families were invited to go together back to Haiti in July. To be clear there are 5 families total from Long Hollow adopting in the same way as I from this orphanage. We were going to bond more with our children, to lead in VBS, to see patients in the medical clinic, and (in my mind) most importantly going to meet with our Haitian lawyer and FINALLY know where we were in the process. Financially this was not the best time as J.C. had recently started a new job after being laid off. This job, while we are glad he has one, is substantially less money than before. I wanted to see my son I had not seen since Dec. 2011 and I wanted to meet the lawyer face to face and ask my questions. So I did something I said I would never do. My son, who went on this trip, sent out letters requesting money for him to go. It was the ONLY way.
We left on July 28 with high hopes. My two sons were going to get to meet. We were finally going to get some answers from our lawyer.
The trip started off with a strong team. Alan Tucker was our leader and his passion for Haiti and his kindness towards the non-members (Me) was so endearing. God puts together the team so differently but so perfectly every time. This team was made up of many young people who brought a lot of laughter, enthusiasm and inspiration to the team. How I wish I had their abandon for the Lord at their age! We had young people that didn’t know one person from Long Hollow go on this trip. I wouldn’t even go to a movie by myself at that age. That is nothing but God ya’ll.
My sons met and it lived up to all my expectations. The bond was immediate. Sheldon wanted his fre (brother) as much as he wanted me. We were a family. They even fought like brothers when Sheldon felt Josh was not giving his enough candy. LOL.
Erica gave me day two of VBS to teach. I was so excited to get to do VBS this time and not spend all my time in the medical clinic. As I began to look at my material I realized I was given the plan of salvation to teach!!! My mom is called “the closer” at our church because she is the one who always so eloquently presents the plan of salvation on the Thursday of VBS. I am not “the closer”. I am not my mom. So to say sheer panic set in would be the understatement of the year. Add to that Erica told me that several other teams had presented the plan of salvation and no one had responded. It sounded like it had literally gotten lost in translation and Haitian churches/people don’t do invitations quite like we do. So after much prayer Josh and I prepared to the best of our ability. We started off strong. We showed Jesus on the cross and the decisions that the two thieves on either side of Him made. We explained that is the decision we all have to make. Do we believe Jesus or do we mock him? I told them how I was pastor’s daughter and though I heard about God all my life until I decided to ask forgiveness and plead for Jesus to come into my heart I wasn’t saved. Then it started going downhill. Dou Dou was translating for me. He was doing a great job. He repeated my words with the passion that only a person who had been saved by grace could do. I could tell he was literally saving me. Finally I said I know in a crowd this size that there are some of you who need to make that decision today. Dou Dou passionately translated for five minutes that one sentence and he walked up and down the aisles pleading for them to come make their decision public. I saw some children get out of their seats and come forward. Dou Dou had been translating for so long I didn’t know what was happening. I thought he was disciplining them and asking them to come sit at the front. But then they kept coming, and they started sitting on the stage. When it was over there were 17 children sitting there. I said Dou Dou, “Are they wanting to ask Jesus in their heart?” He replied yes. I became so emotional that I almost had to step out. By the end of the week 43 children had come to know Christ. It was unbelievable. It was one of the greatest honors of my life to pray the sinner’s prayer with those kids.
I could also tell you about the crazy things we saw in the medical clinic. Abscesses and coughs so bad that if an American had let a child’s illness get to that point we would call DHS on the parents.
Finally it was the last day. The day I had been dreading and at the same time the most excited for. It was the day I had to leave Sheldon. He didn’t cry this time. The transition was seamless and I was so thankful. I couldn’t wait after my exciting week to see what our lawyer had to say. It had to be good news, it just had to be. We are so overdue for good news. Our airplane was late and the adoptive families were getting nervous. It required two planes to seat all of us. Erica, our adoption coordinator boarded the first plane so that she would be there to meet the lawyer in case we didn’t make it. Our 8:00 a.m. flight did not leave until 11:00a.m. The adoptive parents collectively realized that we weren’t going to make the meeting. And admittedly we were disappointed but glad Erica was going to be there to receive the news. We landed in Port au Prince, Haiti and I fell over myself to get out of the plane to find Dou Dou and Erica to see how the meeting went. I ran excitedly over to him to make sure she had gotten there. When I saw Dou Dou, he told me that Erica’s plane was late and that the meeting had not happened. The adoptive families sat there in shock. Not again. This is not happening. I burst into tears. What? Why? The next two plane rides home were long. I moped all day Sat. Where was God? Had I not served him faithfully? Was that not the whole reason for the trip?
I’m embarrassed that it hit me on Sunday the reason for the trip as I sat in church. I promise you what I am about to attach was the title of my Sunday School lesson.
Yes it was called the adoption privilege. A coincidence? I think not. The lesson was talking about the adoption we have thru Jesus Christ. We have all been adopted and we all have the choice to have a Heavenly Father that loves us. So I had heard and shared some news about adoption. It was even better than my one purpose for going on the trip. I was able to share how orphans can have a Heavenly Father that has provided a way for them to be adopted without any of the hitches we have been going thru. They can be adopted today; they don’t have to wait.
I want to hear about Sheldon’s adoption more than anything else. I will still only ask for that for Christmas. But, I also know there were 43 kids added to my adoptive family forever. And for that it was worth it all. Oh how I am thankful for the adoption privilege God gives to each one of us. The reason I adopt is because He first adopted me. I love Sheldon because He first loved us. Amazing grace how sweet the sound.that saved a wretch like me!!