being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus."
On the way to the hospital this morning for Titus' surgery I played through our Seeds Family Worship album. These songs drawn directly from scripture have been a source of peace, comfort, and wisdom for our family throughout our adoption journeys and have become part of the soundtrack of our lives. Today the song from Philippians 1:6 stayed with me as I've been anxious about the recovery period for this surgery (mainly the food issues we'll face on a liquid diet with a little one who is almost always preoccupied with food). God spoke to me through this scripture/song, assuring me that this is part of the "good work" that God is doing in Titus' life. It is painful and stressful, but there is no other way to close his palate and give him an opportunity for normal verbal communication without it.
When I was an exchange student in Venezuela I befriended a guy who lived between my house and my school. I think his mom was the lady who sold icecream through her front window. At least he was always there. He was a social outcast of sorts. He didn't speak well, and my other friends told me to be sure not to learn Spanish from him, and really suggested I shouldn't even hang out with him. Looking back I realize that he had an unrepaired cleft palate, although I didn't know what it was at the time. What I did know is that he had a kind soul. On days I wasn't with other friends, he would walk me from the school back home, communicating with waves and smiles and labored Spanish (on both our parts). Language is something we often take for granted, but without reliable speech the doors to education, employment, relationships, and quality of life are so much more difficult to walk through, unless there is someone to open them for you.
Did you know that in Titus' home country, medical care must be paid upfront or services will not be provided? Many families face the heart-wrenching choices of watching their children suffer and possibly die from correctable medical needs, or abandoning them so that they can receive life-saving services. There is no medical insurance, payment plans, medicare, early intervention, etc. There is very little support for families raising children with special needs, and even less for them as they become adults with visible physical or cognitive differences. As I sit here by Titus' bedside and listen to his medicated breathing, I'm reminded that this gift has come at a high cost to his birth family. That, too, will always be a painful part of his story.
So much pain, so much loss, such a little guy to bear the weight of it. While I don't believe God willed for all of these things to be a part of his life, God is all about taking broken things and making them beautiful again. I am convinced that all this pain is part of a marvelous work God is doing in him; part of his redemption story. And God will "carry it on to completion". It will be ongoing, until the day he sees Christ. After he's healed from this palate repair there will be speech therapy. Lots of speech therapy. There may be more surgeries. There will be frustration. There will be tears. There will be emotional burdens, attachment problems, anxiety, fears that run so deep he may never outgrow them. And questions. so many unanswered questions.
And God will carry it on. Continuing to allow temporary pain to provide long-term healing. Healing for Titus, healing for Mei, healing for Eric and I and for our other children. The thing about adoption is you embrace a child with extreme trauma and invite pain in to every part of your life to bring about healing. No one under our roof is immune to it. Some of our close friends have not been immune to the pain of the trauma and healing of our family. For each one of us it is part of the good work that God is doing. The best kinds of good work start with pain - the discomfort of a good workout, the pain of a corrective surgery, the pangs of childbirth. It is only with this perspective on pain that we can continue with joy into another adoption while we're all still healing from the current changes and challenges in our family. And so we invite it, we embrace it, we wait for healing. Carry it on, Lord!