It is Thursday evening and we’ve lost hope that our adoption ceremony will be tomorrow. It absolutely must take place on Monday in order for us to all travel home together!
I woke up before the sunrise with an ache in my belly and sweat on my brow. The vomiting quickly followed. We had plans to wake up early and go to the zoo. Kira, Chase and I were planning to visit the orphanage and hold some babies after the zoo. Our favorite Serbian doctor is in a choir that sings with a local orchestra and she invited us to a concert tonight. To sweeten the deal, she got permission from her conductor for Chase to play a piece on his trumpet. On top of the vomiting, I could hear the rain pounding down on our roof and cold wind blowing in through the bathroom window. Before the day had even started, I knew that our plans were not likely to happen. It was to be a day of rest.
Today’s down-time has provided an opportunity for some reflecting and I realized that there have been some interesting moments on this journey that I have yet to write about.
I have mentioned my daughter’s affinity for kokoska (chickens). We were told on day 1 that she loves them and on all of our visits we dealt with her begging for them. On our last visit to the foster home, Jovana pulled me aside as I entered the door. She looked me in the eye and said very quietly, “We have guests.” I was a little confused. I knew that the social workers and some of the family friends were there. They had all greeted us at the door. What guests could she be referring to, that I did not already know of? “Boba brought Sofija a gift. Chickens!” Boba has been her nanny for the past year. Chase is absolutely certain that her last name must be Fett. Boba loves Sofia. So much so, that she gave her chickens to take to America. Yes, that’s right folks. We gained not only a daughter, we became the owners of three baby chicks.
The poor baby chicks did not fair well. We took them back to our hotel in a box and Sofia wanted them to go with her to the hotel playground. She squeezed them. She threw them like baseballs. And when Seth began to cry because she was hurting them, she laughed and stomped on them. That was the only moment that Seth has said that he did not want to adopt her throughout our entire journey. His exact words, accompanied by tears and wailing, were, “I don’t want to adopt her anymore. She’s a murderer.”
We assured him that the chicks were still alive (although barely) and that we would not allow her to kill any animals (God, please help us keep this promise. Amen!). They were still alive that afternoon when the social workers offered to take them away and I think we’ll just choose to remember them that way.
Note to self: Avoid small animals in the near future.
On our first few visits, our daughter was determined that Chad was a handyman and she checked his cargo pockets over and over again for his hammer. The word for handyman in Serbian sounds like “Maister”. So, for three or four days, she called him both Tata (Dad) and Maister. On Sunday, came a new name. Chika. It means uncle and every time that she is in timeout or told no, that is his name. She points her finger, bobs her head and goes on and on in Serbian about Chika. During our last visit from the social workers on Tuesday, they asked her who each of us is. She called everyone by name except for Chad. His name that day was “Chika Maister”.
At the end of our park adventure, on our second night back in Belgrade, she acted on her love for all things aviary and began chasing birds. Within seconds, she was half a football field away from us and Chad was running with all his might to catch her. Kira, Chase, Seth, a few dozen people at the park and I watched in horror and screamed as she ran towards a very busy highway with absolutely no fear. There were four lanes of cars and buses speeding by in both directions and trolleys going down the middle of the road. We all saw her little life flash before our eyes and I envisioned Chad and I sitting in a Serbian jail after being charged and convicted of neglect. As she approached the flowing traffic, she tripped over the curb and landed inches from a passing car. Just as Chad reached her, she stood up with a goose-egg on her forehead and a skinned up nose. As he carried her back towards the staring crowd, all you could hear her screaming was that it was Chika’s fault. We’ve got a ALOT of work to do in the boundaries, danger, and personal responsibility departments!
While visiting the foster home, we watched our daughter, who just turned five, stand at the stove and make pots of coffee. At our ministry appointment, in the midst of receiving every sad little detail about her short life, we were told that she is very good at household chores. I think that Chad and I both let that one go right over our heads because of all the other information we were trying to absorb. Since we’ve returned to Belgrade, we’ve discovered what they meant. This little girl, who has no concept of right or wrong and who has already managed to scar us with her hitting, scratching and headbutting, is capable of washing dishes, vacuuming and helping with the laundry. We’re not talking putting away the spoons and forks from the dishwasher, she stands at the sink and hand washes every single dish. She will do this repeatedly, until the dishes are sparkling clean. Yesterday, she moved all of the furniture and vacuumed every single corner of the apartment. She also helped me hang the clothes on the outside drying rack and then helped me bring in the dry clothes and fold them. And…she made the beds. I don’t know whether to cry, or scream, “Hallelujah!” It breaks my heart that she has missed out on so many important lessons and valuable experiences, and the skills that she has are way beyond her age.
I hope and pray with all that is in me, that the Godliness and character of my older three children pour into this little lost child. That being said…You won’t hear me complaining if her house-cleaning skills get passed on to them in return ;).
While in time-out today, Sofia kept saying something over and over again to Chad. I searched through our Serbian-English dictionary until I found it. She was telling him that she wants to be good and asking him if he is deaf. Bless her little heart. She does want to be good. She just has no clue what good looks like.
There are probably a dozen more interesting facts about these past ten days, but whatever illness I am dealing with has zapped my energy and I need to get to bed. Over the weekend, our dear friend Charity reminded me of the promises in Isaiah 43. I prayed tonight over my child as I tucked her into bed and I claimed those promises. I ask that everyone reading this claim them with me.
But now, God’s Message, the God who made you in the first place, Jacob,
the One who got you started, Israel:
“Don’t be afraid, I’ve redeemed you.
I’ve called your name. You’re mine.
When you’re in over your head, I’ll be there with you.
When you’re in rough waters, you will not go down.
When you’re between a rock and a hard place,
it won’t be a dead end—
Because I am God, your personal God,
The Holy of Israel, your Savior.
I paid a huge price for you…All of Egypt and more.
That’s how much you mean to me!
That’s how much I love you!
I’d sell off the whole world to get you back,
trade the creation just for you.”
We may be here feeling like we are in way over our heads. God is with us. We are only passing through this tough time. It is far from being the end of our journey. God already paid a price for us. For all of us. He has called not only Chad, Kira, Chase, Seth and I by name. He has also called Sofia by name. He would trade this entire planet for her to walk with Him. She is His!