Parenting is a strange process. You spend 18 or so years preparing children, parts of your own soul, to go out into the world and be independent thinkers and dreamers. And then you wake up one day and realize they have, and it’s absolutely terrifying. Control? Gone. At some point children wander across your backyard and into the land of adulthood. I am old enough to know there simply are no guarantees. It is bitter and it is sweet.
I asked my first baby to write a slice of her story to add to my collection here at The Story Place. This story has to do with a calling, not a raising. These babies of ours that are loaned to us by God, the ones we think we have so much control over? I’m here to tell you, He has a plan for them that has nothing to do with us. He asks us to water and tend them for a season, and then step out of the way so the dreams that are planted in the hearts of our children will find wind and fly. I am making the choice not to let fear and uncertainty change the story God desires to write in this young woman’s life. So with that, I share with you the story of my daughter’s dream.
“Don’t handicap your children by making their lives easy.”
Most little girls play with dolls growing up. They play house and pretend they are mommies and carry their babies everywhere they go. I did the same thing, except in Caitlin’s world the baby I was carrying around was Asian.
In my pretend world, my hubby and I had flown halfway across the world and picked up our new baby and brought her back home with us. I still remember the name I had picked out for my Asian baby…Jenny (I think I had discovered the movie Forrest Gump during this time as well). Jenny was my beautiful Asian daughter that I rescued from a scary orphanage in China.
No, it is not the norm for a ten-year old to be daydreaming about adopting a child, but God doesn’t really aim for normalcy does he?
God placed the dream of adoption on my heart at a very young age and my heart has broken for orphans around the world ever since. It is insane to think about all the families that God has placed in my life that have adopted from Asia. I have gotten to watch their adoption processes unfold. I have seen the heartbreak, tears, and pure joy. I know the risks and I know the complications that may ensue.
I also know that there is a woman out there, right now, who will someday have a child and for some reason she will not have the ability to care for them. That’s when I will jump through whatever hoops and conquer various obstacles to bring that child home. I will be able to provide a loving home and give them a future they would otherwise be deprived of.
With God’s grace and faithfulness I will find someone who will want to go through this journey with me. Lord knows, the man I marry will have to be half crazy to get involved with someone like me who has a mission this big on my heart, but I don’t doubt God’s plan. And if that plan does not involve a spouse, then my parents may want to look up vacation homes in Asia, because with no ties, I have even more of a reason to move and serve in a place that needs me.
But hey, I am a sophomore in college and the mention of graduating college, much less marriage, makes me want to curl up in a ball and hyperventilate. So, I’m jumping way ahead of myself. God doesn’t want me thinking about that right now. He has something else for me in store because he’s basically the greatest planner of lives ever.
Get this: I get to work at an orphanage in Thailand this summer. Flashback to little Caitlin carrying around an Asian baby doll. I can just imagine my 19-year-old self telling my ten-year-old self, “Hey Cait, guess what? When you are in college, you are going to get to go to Thailand and play with babies for a whole summer.”
WHY IS GOD SO GOOD? Seriously. I smile like an idiot whenever I think about this. Bottom line is that this summer I am going to Chiang Mai, Thailand to work in an orphanage called Agape. Agape is home to 80+ orphans, most of whom have AIDS or HIV. I will be working with 2-4 year old and infants (seriously, Little Caitlin would freak out, but not as much as I am already freaking out). I will go in from 6-9 in the morning and 4-7 in the evening. I will bathe, feed, clothe, play, kiss, hug, sing, dance, read, cry, laugh, and just be with all those beautiful kids.
I know that my heart is going to shatter when I get to know these sweet babies and I know I will get angry at their circumstances. But God will help me work through these things and I will become stronger because of it. God loves us so much and he knows our heart’s desires. He is faithful and compassionate to us. He has been so dang good to me and I know I don’t deserve it and I am inadequate to do anything without him.
Even though I am excited for this summer, I am terrified. I am going halfway across the world to a country that I have never to been to. To a place where the language sounds like it is made up (seriously, tonal languages are ridiculous). I am going to be living in a culture that is completely unfamiliar. I am basically backing up to the very back of the diving board, running full force despite the lifeguard (my sweet daddy) calling out warnings, and jumping and cannon balling into this summer.
Recently, Bob Goff came to my college campus at Abilene Christian University. He is the author of an awesome book called “Love Does”. He talked about when it comes to loving people, Christ didn’t call us to dip our toes in the water, he calls us to cannon ball in! Which one sounds more fun?
Not only do I have God’s support, but I have some pretty awesome parents who have supported me 150% through this whole thing. They are letting their first born basically base jump from the nest and into the world. I know that it takes an immense amount of courage and am so grateful for their willingness to let me follow this dream.
God is so, so, so good. A verse I have loved for a long time is: Isaiah 1:17 “Learn to do right, seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow.”
I am about to do just that.
This warrior is strapping on her gear and cannon balling in.