When He's Not Yours -

A few days before June 2016 hit with full force, I had a terrible nightmare

It started out lovely enough. In the dream, I was cradling a beautiful toddler, a baby girl from China
with wide eyes and silky black hair in pigtails, and I was making her laugh and giggle with all
the kisses I was planting all over her face. She was a joyful heaviness in my arms and lap. 

I encircled her with peace. My friends had adopted her, and she was HOME. She was theirs. 

All of a sudden I realized tears were streaming down my face. 

I looked down at her and felt such an instant disconnect. She wasn't mine. She wasn't CJ
I panicked and searched the crowds of friends with my eyes for my boy. He wasn't there. 

I sat there weeping with this happy little girl in my arms because she wasn't who I ached to hold.
She wasn't my nan hai, my boy. She wasn't CJ. 

I woke up crying. Weeping in the night for the one my soul longed to see. 
To hold the joyful heaviness of him in my arms and lap. My arms were empty. 

And it ached

I've wondered many many times (through endless prayers and tears) why God led our sensitive and
 joyful team to the children in the orphanage who couldn't be adopted. About half of us fell in love
with children that we could never adopt. That when we typed in "Advocating for Orphans" on social
media, our hearts dropped because we couldn't move mountains for them to BE ADOPTED. 

Mary Lee had a little boy who loved her so much it was one of the greatest demonstrations
of the instant bond of Gospel love I've ever seen in my life.
She learned the day we left he couldn't be adopted. 

Two of the little children in Haley & Emily's rooms couldn't be adopted. 

Children that were "aged out" but the most shining and bright of us all. 

More even that I remember Martha & Grace talking about but can't pinpoint their names.

My CJ who was kidnapped away. 

The day we left and said goodbye,
 we all sat weeping in the conference room and knowing we were leaving behind our very hearts
 and that the children we most longed for could not come Home with us now or ever. 

It breaks your heart like nothing else could. 

It was God who ordained the moment that CJ locked eyes with mine and never looked away. 
It was God who ordained that my heart would immediately "get it" and understand His love like never before. 
It was God who knew I would KNOW the Gospel in that moment like a bombshell exploding in joy. 

Here was a child I had never seen. Could do absolutely nothing to earn my love as he lay on the mat. 
I instantly loved him with a love so deep and unchanging that it wasn't my own love. It was God's.

But why didn't God lead us to the children that could be adopted? 
Why did He break our hearts even more? 
Why didn't He choose the ones that we could share their photos and storm the gates 
of the adoption agency and our friends to adopt them and write stories of how valued they are? 
Why did He allow us to fall in love so deeply with children we perhaps would never SEE 
a "good story ending" written in our lifetimes? A story of coming Home? 

I have several theories/answers to this: 

The First is that God was leading us to these children to teach us that He is always GOOD.

"A Father of the Fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in His holy habitation." - Psalm 68:5

I've never longed over a child more than I have for CJ.
 Never have I understood a Mother's love than when I was in the same room with him. 
Never have I known such agony and fighting against letting him go. 

Since coming back, I've had to lay down and surrender all my struggling 
to the Father to the Fatherless who loves CJ more than I ever could. 
And TRUST that God has a plan, a very good plan for CJ. 

Most likely, it isn't me. It hurts that it isn't. But in these "even then" and "if not" and "not yet" 
moments, He is still and always good. "Working for us an eternal weight of glory." (2 Cor. 4:17)

The Second is that I think we had all prayed so fervently (we over-prayed, haha) to understand and SEE
what orphans really ARE in their lives and to know what adoption and orphan care really means....
that God allowed us to know the deep pain of separation and brokenness that comes from a child
separated from its parents and to feel the deep ache in a real way of needing GOD to make it right

We are not redeeming a story written in pain when we advocate or adopt. GOD is.
 It is His business to set the lonely in families and to call parents to adopt. He does it so so well.

It is God who is working all things for the good of these children. Not us.
We are not the Savior. He is. We are not the Redeemer of broken stories of abandonment. He is.

"Adoption is the visible gospel."- John Piper

Third,  I believe God opened up our eyes to SEE how the birth parents (especially the Mamas) feel. 

My small-in-comparison grief and weeping in the night and panicked feeling
 is just a glimpse into the grief and broken heart of CJ's Mama.
Before me, there was an adoring Mama who bore him in love and adoration
and kissed his cheeks and carried him in her arms. Before me, she was

Then someone stole him away. I can imagine the screaming. The panic. The shock. The empty arms.

CJ is not mine. He is hers. Now they can't find each other because China is SO big and because
if you don't have enough money or any idea what province he's in it's basically impossible,
and there are hundreds of thousands of missing babies in China. But he's still hers. 

I pray for her, whom I've never met, because I too, love her beautiful and courageous son.
I love him in a small but mighty way that is a shadow of her love. 
And a greater shadow of Jesus' love.

"How precious is Your lovingkindness, O God! 
Therefore the children of man put their trust under the shadow of Your wings. 
They are abundantly satisfied with the fullness of Your house, 
and You give them drink from the river of Your delights. 
For with You is the fountain of life; In Your light we SEE light." 
- Psalm 36:7-9 -

Fourth, God allowed us to love those orphans so much that they would always be a part of us. 
That even though they will most likely never be a part of our homes; they will always be a part of our lives. 
And most importantly, they are SO PRAYED OVER. More than any other child, we are praying for them.

We are storming the gates of Heaven instead of the gates of the adoption agencies and friends. 
We are gazing at the photos of them on our iPhones because we refuse to take them off. 
We are zooming in and out of the photos and pulling them up when we need to see their faces
and wiping away tears and we are praying for the millionth time that God would shine His light there. 

We encircled them in our arms for a brief week. Jesus encircles both of us in peace.  
The Father of the Fatherless holds them in His arms of protection and goodness forever. 

"He will feed His flock like a shepherd; He will gather the lambs with His arm,
and carry them in His bosom, and gently lead those who are with young." - Isaiah 40:11

We are at home here in America. In a way, they are in the best home they could be in. 
The orphanage is a beautiful place full of laughter and love and life and pictures
 and drawings and happy colors and kisses and people that really do love them very well. 

But it isn't the fulfillment of what we are longing for and praying for, because 
our hearts weren't created for separation from families or from God Himself. 

We were created to be united. Together. Family. For always. 

We weren't made to live in orphanages. We were made to live in castles. 
We weren't made to wander the streets or be stolen for money. We were made to wear robes of glory. 
We weren't made to hide in fear or weep in a foreign cradle. We were made to be FOUND by the Father. 
We weren't made to be just another "missing poster". We were made to be brought in to the feast. 
We weren't made to be alone and forgotten and brokenhearted. We were made to be known and LOVED. 

We weren't made to be orphans. We were made to be family. We were made for Jesus. 

Adoption is a calling, but caring for orphans is a command. 

"Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this:
 to visit orphans and widows in their trouble." - James 1:27 

And the Father to the Fatherless leads us. 

He's leading us to the orphanages where we can't bring home the ones
we long the most for, and ache for in the night, the ones torn from their families.

We are crossing oceans to SEE God's heart for us and we are finding it
 when we realize that WE ARE THE ORPHANS and this is His heart for us.

"I will NOT leave you as orphans; I will come to you." - John 14:18 

He's leading us to the children who need those who HOPE the most gunning for them. 
He's leading us to love, to hope, to fight, to act justly, to seek mercy, to advocate and to pray. 
And He's leading us to long for a Kingdom that can never be shaken. 
Where the orphans are brought in and never leave because they are HOME. 

Please visit America World Adoption if you feel led or called by God to adopt! 
Or if you'd like to learn more about orphans in our world today. Please pray for these children! 

With love always,
- Jean Marie -