I Loved You to the Moon and Back
This isn’t the kind of thing that’s easy to explain so bare with me.
Before we “met” Roxy in January and ultimately committed to adopt her we had started our adoption process. There was a pilot program in another country for another child. Our sweet boy called Liam. We actually started our homestudy in January 2016 thinking we would go to Ethiopia, South Africa, or Hong Kong. In May 2016 with our homestudy nearly finished we saw a little boy posted.
Long story short, I showed him to my husband and he quoted Isaiah 6:8 to me in a text message.
“Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”
We discussed this boy on the other side of the world and dove in. Because if not us then who and if not now, when? We didn’t honestly know why but we decided to try. Many doubted us as we shared the ups and downs of that process. Dates constantly changed. There were setbacks, hospitalizations, and so much else going on. We often failed to meet fundraising goals. This tiny boy had untreated (no shunt) hydrocephalus. Hydrocephalus is fluid accumulation on the brain. He was losing his vision and hearing. He had a cleft palate and other more minor issues as well. He was in pain. His advocates and caregivers were hopeful but desperate.
Sierra Leone is one of the least medically accessible countries in the world. It is a beautiful place with beautiful people. It also a place with a hard history of civil war and one of the countries hit hard by Ebola. It claims the worlds lowest life expectancy. We can not fathom in America the difficulties they have with seeking the most basic medical care. Nevermind a life-saving brain surgery.
When he got very sick in September we weren’t sure he was going to make it through. I’ll never forget that call, He’d been taken to the local hospital the very same day we were supposed to go to the Hydrocephalus Awareness walk one city over. I can replay every bit of that day in my head.
That Sunday in church, I was angry. I was waiting for news. Despite me, God reminded me that he loved Liam more than I ever could. This stuck with me. Those simple words bounced around in my head constantly and brought me peace I can’t explain. “I love him more than you do.”
When the pilot program fell apart in November we were shocked and devastated. An email went out to all the families in the program. It hit us like a huge wave and it was hard to get our footing. We’d received an unexpected form of funding and were ready to push to get him to the United States as soon as possible. All within days. But, pilot programs in non-Hague countries are the least stable routes for adoption. There are so many ethical considerations, legal hoops, and more to go through. We knew this and accepted that risk. We hoped for the best and braced for the worst.
I don’t think we really thought the worst would really happen.
It did. It happened. It was surreal. We tried what we knew to move forward legally and ethically to no avail. We talked to other parents, made calls, prayed, researched every avenue, contacted government authorities for guidance. The complications and mountains involved in adoption, travel, and medical visa would astound anyone but this was all uncharted. We finally had to accept the reality and let him go knowing he would eventually die without proper medical intervention.
Two months later we had a completed homestudy and an empty room in our house. We didn’t imagine adopting for a long time after that. We were resolved to just wait and discussed it often. We were advocating and fundraising for other kids and trying to get involved with our church’s local programs knowing how huge the need was. This is when we saw brown eyed, curly-headed little “Roxy” and thought we would advocate for her too. Only to end up doing the opposite of our “plans” and committing to adopt her.
Hope was sparked a couple months ago when a team was able to go assess Liam and other medically needy children in the small interim care center. Unfortunately, that news was not what we hoped. These professionals that went across the world to volunteer their time and skill to help were not able to meet his needs. No one was able to do anything but make him comfortable.
We had to wait.
This baby boy we call Liam was brought into the world by his mother in the same month I had a missed miscarriage. We named that baby Elionai which means “my eyes toward God”. Last week, after fighting for his life from the day of his birth, he left the world behind in the same month that would have been our tiny baby’s first birthday. It is a coincidence I can’t fully wrap my head around.
We so desperately wanted this story to be different. What I would do to have ALL of these children here under our roof. I selfishly pick apart the time that has passed and wonder what if. My solace now is imagining this sweet baby boy we loved for a time united with his mother in heaven. I like to think that, maybe, she has adopted my baby there as her own as well.
In the last few weeks, we were trying to do a reveal for “Roxy’s” name but I feel like now is a better time to share it. It has so much meaning that speaks for itself. We will keep her given name as well but I can’t share that yet. When we adopt “Roxy” we will name her Aria Josephine. Aria means “long accompanied song” and Josephine means “May Jehovah add”.
With all that has happened with our family over the last few years I think her name sums up everything so well. She is a light and a song being added to our lives. After so much indescribable loss for her and for us, all of our imperfections and hurt will be brought together and called family. Never underestimate the loss these children face. As hard as this is for us, they have been through so much more.
Rest In Peace, our sweet Liam. I loved you to the moon and back. God loved you more than that.