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I am a wife, daughter, mother, bilingual teacher, poet, author, women's Bible study teacher, world traveler, orphan advocate, and an adoptive mother.  Our adoption journey has been filled with a lot of hurt and loss, along with even more hope, grace, and healing.  Through it we have experienced more of God than we ever bargained for and have watched Him miraculously redeem our story when we surrendered all the broken pieces to Him.


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Thursday, January 19, 2017

Nineteen

So, piggy-backing off of my last post comparing David and Juan at the age of fifteen, the age of nineteen also captures my heart deeply.

Julian, Juan's brother, took his first steps in life alone just two months shy of his nineteenth birthday. No mom. No dad. No family. No job. No place prearranged for him to go. Not enough money to pay rent for more than a month. No bed. No belongings, other than a few clothes, a backpack, some art supplies leftover from his last college class, an empty bed frame, a few sentimental items from his biological sister who'd since been adopted, and a small laptop computer we bought for him. Absolutely nothing else.

He lived in an orphanage for nearly ten  years. They provided for all of his needs, made sure he had a basic education, and even helped him take his education a bit further. Then the time arrived to cut the rope and send him out on his own. They'd controlled all of his income over the last few years working on weekends, so he left with a small bit of money that wouldn't last long. With so many children, they just can't keep them much past the age of eighteen.

My heart broke for that boy.

We made a connection for him to rent a room from a lady neither of us knew. We sent him money to buy a mattress. pay the first month or two of rent, and to buy groceries--for meals he had no idea how to make.

We lived in two different continents and only had contact via a phone, a computer, and the ability to add money to his bank account. He truly took those steps alone.

Talk about reality slapping you in the face. He walked a hard, lonely road. He's come a long way since then. Not always making the most wholesome choices in life, but at least he's learned how to stand on his own two feet.

Then I look at Juan David, his younger brother, now nineteen years old.

He's stubborn, defensive, and hard to teach, but after you get through the defensive cover, he listens. And he's teachable. And he learns.

We may have missed fifteen and a half years of teachable moments and now spend a lot of our time trying to unteach things he learned the wrong way, or just argue till we're blue in the face before he'll listen--but it's three and a half more years of some sort of family guidance than his brother had.

We get to teach him how to cook, how to track his GPA, how to manage a part-time job, how to drive responsibly, how to manage his money and be a good steward, how to budget, how to save for the future, how to love and care for a family, how to pursue a relationship with Christ, how to make wholesome decisions, how to manage time, how to fill out applications, how to apply for college, how to seek out career interests and opportunities, etc. Most of all, we get to model what it means to be part of a family and how a family always looks out for each other.

We may have missed out on so much of life together those first fifteen years, making a lot of current issues much more complicated than they should be. We may not have been able to raise him since childhood, spending time connecting with one another, reading books, building with legos, playing games, taking trips, going for walks, etc. I didn't get to hold him close when he was scared, kiss his boo-boos, protect him from danger, or just make his favorite snack in the middle of the day. I didn't get to teach him about God as a child, take him to church, or tell him I loved him a million times a day. But I get to teach him now, attend church with him now, and tell him I love him as often as I can. I get to be the one God chose to guide him toward his future during these very critical years of his life, keeping him from having to follow his brother's lonely footsteps.

I wish his brother never had to walk that hard road, and I don't know why God only spared one of them from it rather than both of them. I am grateful, though, for all the opportunities available to my son at nineteen years of age. I am thankful he's not somewhere all alone, scraping for money, just trying to survive and figure out life the hard way. When my mind starts to camp out on the difficulties and complications of adopting and raising an older child, I remember his older brother at his age and am grateful for the last few years we've had our son. I can only imagine what God has planned for him.

When comparing Juan and David at the age of fifteen, it looked like David received the blessing while Juan got the short end of the stick. When comparing Juan and his older brother, Julian, at the age of nineteen, it seems to me that Juan is certainly blessed. It's all a matter of perspective.


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