I had planned to write a different post tonight - a lighthearted account of what daily visits with Isabella were like during our first trip to Ukraine. Instead, my heart is heavy now, burdened with grief for my friend Carla and her family.
Fourteen months ago they adopted Henry, also from Ukraine - they brought him home just before his first birthday. I contacted Carla via email right after they returned to the U.S. and told her that I was interested in a little boy from Henry's orphanage, and hoped that maybe when she got settled in a couple of weeks she could email me back with some information. She immediately responded and included her phone number, asking me to call her. When I called, we talked for well over an hour. She was the first person I ever talked to out loud about the possibility of adopting a special needs child. She was so eager to share her experience, and I was so grateful for her openness - her enthusiasm for adoption was contagious. I remember how she said she immediately loved Henry so much, that she would lay down her life for him just as she would for her other six children.
That little boy we were interested had a family step forward and adopt him shortly after our conversation, but Carla was one of the people God used to prepare my heart for the child He had waiting for us - the child I did not yet know about. Fast forward a few months - I met Isabella and we decided to pursue her adoption. But we were almost stopped in our tracks by the home study provider, who did not believe in adopting special needs children out of birth order. Being on a small island with few home study providers, I thought we were out of options. I was in despair, ready to give up. I emailed Carla, and again she said "Call me, hon."
She was so full of wisdom, so gracious, and still so enthusiastic about adopting these precious children who are unwanted and unloved, relegated to a life of institutionalization unless families step forward and claim them. When I hung up the phone, I felt a renewed sense of resolve, and was again ready to fight for the approval we wanted. Of course we eventually got it, and the rest is history. Carla's support throughout the entire process meant so much to me.
Today, Carla lost her precious Henry - he is home in Heaven now. He was recovering from major surgery when he developed an infection and was readmitted to the hospital last week. He coded twice today, and attempts to resuscitate him the second time were unsuccessful.
I can't imagine the heartbreak they feel - I can't find the words to express my sorrow. But in the midst of the grief, I am thankful that Carla had the courage to go get this baby boy and make him part of their family. For fourteen months he KNEW LOVE, knew what it was to be cherished by his sweet Mama.
Henry, your legacy will live on in our house. God used you to spare at least one other child - my child - a lifetime of institutionalization, loneliness, and neglect. Instead she gets a family, and hope. Had it not been for your mama's encouragement...for her passion for orphans...for her love for you... I would have given up on Isabella. Instead I will be bringing her home in two weeks. When I look at my girl, I will think of you. Rest now in the arms of Jesus.