I have to share a story of something that happened with our sweet Jubilee recently.
Now I realize the thought of adopting a “lifer” is scary to many. The picture of empty-nesting, carefree travel and retirement can sound so luring, appealing and divine. But friends, every day I say to myself, “I could have missed this.”
When we began to pursue Jubilee, we knew that she would be a lifer. Her file was pretty clear. So why did we go after her? Because we stared at her teeny-tiny little face and all we could think was, “What will happen to her when she ages out? She will be battered, abused, mistreated, exploited, possibly sex-trafficked and destroyed. We can’t live without her! And really we need her as much as she needs us!”
And the paper chase was on.
Above is one of the first pictures I saw of Jubilee!! She was six when we started pursuing, so this was an old picture when we first saw it. But don’t you think Birdie and Jubilee kinda’ look alike? Isn’t she adorable?
Here are some update pictures (below) we received from Ch*na while we waited and because of losing our home to the fire, it took close to 2 years to get her home!
Jubilee’s been home now for seven years. Truthfully, her adjustment wasn’t easy. We’re pretty sure she was not treated well in some of the places she had lived, which broke our hearts. It was hard for her to trust us. Her special needs mean that learning anything is tricky. Little did we know she is also severely hearing impaired and couldn’t hear anything – which made life even more complicated for her.
Somewhere in there I nicknamed her “my shadow”. She is always wherever I am, usually just close enough to almost feel my arm. I love that she loves me so deeply. I love her beyond words. Her fragile life, her tender heart, her loving spirit, so refreshing in our culture. I couldn’t imagine our lives without her. I never ever tell her to give me some space. I know that one day I may not have my shadow beside me.
Almost daily Dw will tease her, “I’m your favorite, right?” Without hesitation she grins back at him, “No! Mom is!” (Score mom!)
She now has had so many surgeries, I think I stopped counting somewhere around a dozen.
Her diagnoses are complicated. To compound it all, she has the fame of a so-very-rare genetic disorder! So rare that it doesn’t even have a name and there are only 200 known people in the world who have it.
But slowly over the years, Jubilee has learned to trust, reads lips amazingly, (she does not like her BAHA hearing devices at all, ever!), is helpful, kind, loving, tender, funny, friendly and joyful! This girl is such a treasure!
So the other day something happened that was one of the most beautiful things I have ever been part of.
But first to back up a speck:
For a long time now (years) our family has been praying about something very specific. It’s a “Red Sea” parting kind of prayer. It is not impossible, because God is the God of the impossible. And when it happens we will all weep with gratitude.
Anyway, quite unexpectedly I received word that something in this situation had suddenly changed – and not for the better! I went to my room and was sobbing. I mean, sobbing. The heartache, the disappointment, the grief. Oh Lord! You will not abandon us! I will trust you! And it was in that quiet with the Lord that the thought came to mind, “When I part the waters, you will know, that it was only me.”
After sobbing for a while, I went out to the living room where the kids had been waiting to begin worship before our family Bible study. Of course they had seen me leave the room. So I briefly, through tears, explained the situation. Their faces bore what I felt! As I choked back more tears I mentioned, “I am going to be fasting over these next few days. If you would like to join in fasting for God to move, you are welcome to. You can fast a meal, two meals. Whatever you want to do. No pressure.”
One by one they quietly agreed, “I want to fast!” and “I will!”. I honestly didn’t pay attention to who said they would. I just heard many of them.
Given my broken heart at the time, truthfully, I hadn’t turned to tell Jubilee what was going on. I didn’t even think to explain it while facing her. My eyes and heart were both swimming in tears and I couldn’t really see much of anything, nor could I think straight. And because I was so distraught, it never crossed my mind.
So a few days passed.
One of my treasures fasted the next day. Another fasted a meal. I really didn’t pay attention to who was or wasn’t or who did or didn’t. Their hearts have been contending with us in prayer for years and so whatever they were to do, it all was between each of them and our mighty God.
A few days later, on a Saturday afternoon, Dw was working and the kids and I were sitting down to eat lunch. As they came to the table, someone spoke, “Jubilee’s not coming.”
I questioned curiously, “Why? What happened?”
“I don’t know. She lost the wii game, so I think she’s mad,” one of the boys answered.
I started to get up to see where she was. Because of her hearing loss, sometimes she just needs mom to explain something to her. Before I could even leave my chair, I glanced up to find Jubilee kinda’ pacing by the island. As I approached her, I didn’t think she looked upset. So my heart was wondering what could be wrong? Bewildered I questioned, “Are you mad?” Shaking her head from side-to-side, “I don’t wanna’. I not eat. I fast. I want ________! I want __________ !”
My eyes welled with tears. She had completely understood what was going on. (I mean, she has diligently been praying with us for years for this. It is the first thing that she prays for each time it’s her turn during prayer.) But here I was in complete shock – she had understood, had remembered some were fasting, understood why we fast and had thought it through to decide that this meal she would fast for this weighty situation! And this confirms she understands how God moves when people fast and pray!
I looked at the food we were about to eat and told the kids, “Guys. Eat without me. I’m going to worship, pray and fast with Jubilee.”
Jubilee and I headed to my room, where we sat cross-legged facing each other and for the next hour we prayed together, sang beautiful worship songs and praised the God who parts the waters.
Jubilee’s understanding of the entire situation has left me humbled, grateful and speechless. Although I knew her deep concern because of her constant praying for the situation I really could not have guessed that she would put it all together and on her own, initiate fasting. I am in awe at her maturity.
To think that we could have said, “no” to our rare treasure. We could have said “no” to having a lifer. We could have said “no” to the uncertainties. We could have said “no” because of our age. We could have said “no” because she was “older”.
But boy-oh-boy would we have ever missed out. We can’t imagine our lives without her!