Earlier this week, we celebrated our little daughter's seventh birthday. I can hardly believe that it's been a solid seven years since that beautiful moment when they placed that tiny squalling baby on my chest, when everyone commented on the generous amount of hair on her darling peanut-shaped head. Seven years have passed since I first cradled that tiny pink bundle in my arms, since I sat in a hospital bed and watched as her daddy changed his very first diaper ever, little limbs flailing every which way, creating a bigger mess than the one that needed to be changed.
Yes, seven years have flown by since that nerve-wracking snowy car ride, the one when I sat in back and checked every few seconds to make sure she was still breathing. And those first few hours when I couldn't believe they would just send us out the door with a tiny little person that we had no idea how to care for.
My first baby. The first piece of my heart that left my body and took on a life all its own.
And it's been seven years now since I first had to let go of my previous belief that I was in control of anything.
I wasn't in control of whether or not I could nurse this baby, of the weight she would or would not gain from one appointment to the next, of the jaundice that forced her to be lit up like a glow-worm for days, or the constant blood draws needed to check those dangerously high bilirubin numbers. I wasn't in control of how long she would sleep at one time, how much she would cry or spit up, or when a blow-out diaper would put a wrench in my plans for the day. And as I fell into a routine of checking in on my little baby daughter every hour to make sure she was still breathing, I was painfully aware that I was not even in control of the next breath she would take.
I had to place her in God's hands and learn to trust in Him.
Having a baby required us to step out in faith.
When our daughter was only a few weeks old, we felt the pull from God to pursue adopting Mr. J and Miss M, who were foster children in my sister and brother-in-law's home. In all honesty, it seemed like a really outrageous idea, considering that we had just given birth to our first child and were perfectly content with our new little family. And these children had been through so much; we knew they would be challenging for anyone to raise, much less young, inexperienced parents like us. But God's will for our family was blatantly strong and evident, and the pull would not diminish no matter how much we tried to reason it away. So we began our next journey in faith and trust, knowing full well we didn't have all the answers.
When the kids came to live with us, our baby daughter was almost eleven months old, and we learned pretty quickly that we were not in control of these new children, either. We weren't in control of whether a tantrum would cause us to be several hours late for Thanksgiving dinner, of whether or not requesting that a child brush her teeth would result in hours of rage, or if we would be hit, kicked or bitten by a raging child. We couldn't control whether or not our son had a melt-down at school or kicked the teacher's desk, or whether he would steal money from the girl he sat next to in class. And as some of these behaviors and attitudes threatened to dominate our lives and our family, we became painfully aware that no matter what we did, we were not in control of whether or not these traumatized children ever began to change or heal.
We had to place them in God's hands and learn to trust in Him.
Adoption required us to step out in faith.
And now, we're being stretched and tested yet again. Coinciding with puberty, our traumatized son's internalized rage and fear has finally caught up with him, and he is out of control. First in our home, then in a mental hospital, and now at Juvenile Detention, where he is currently locked in his room because of his violent outbursts. He continues to insist that he'll kill us if he comes home, and so obviously, it isn't safe for him to be here, either.
We want him to get help. We want him to learn to take responsibility for his actions. We want him to be forced to work hard on getting himself to a place where he can even begin to let God heal the hurt that lies deep inside of him.
And we feel that we've found the best option: a highly structured, highly disciplined, military-style therapeutic boarding school that is built on the truth of God's Word.
Getting him to this school before his court hearing on Wednesday would cancel the hearing and essentially drop the charges that are against him, which are severe enough that they will otherwise follow him into adulthood. It would also keep him out of the juvenile criminal system for at least another year, giving Mr. J the chance to allow God to work in his life before then and to make better choices upon his return home. Our hope would be that our son would come back from this school with the desire to be a part of our family again and to finally begin to work on healing the wounds from his past. But we realize that we are not in control of his choices, his actions, or in how much he allows God to influence his life.
We aren't even in control of whether or not we can afford to send him to this school.
Here is the struggle of trust and faith that we're currently facing: our church family has offered to pay the admission fees and the first month's tuition. They have also set up a fund within the church to continue raising money for tuition, but there is no guarantee that the $2,400 per month tuition will be there each month when it is due. We are currently strapped and have very little income to spare, yet would be required to sign a contract stating that our son would be at the school for at least one full year.
So the question we're asking ourselves today is
"How much do we trust God?"
Do we just leave our son in the juvenile court system and allow them to do with him as they choose? We don't believe this gives Mr. J the best chance to succeed. It feels more like giving up and allowing him to start his life as a criminal at age thirteen.
Or do we place the needed tuition solely in God's hands, knowing that He is in control and trusting that the money will miraculously be there in the fund each and every month?
Please pray with us for God's wisdom and clarity in this situation. We only have a couple of days to decide, and we struggle with the possible financial ramifications for our family.
It's really hard, this stepping out in faith.