Many of you read and commented on my blog post related to our son, Lemuel, who came to us through two disrupted adoptions (see post here ). Much has gone on in Lemuel's life since I posted that heartfelt account. Some good. Some not so good. Lemuel is currently in a residential treatment facility. He has been there for months. He calls every night and keeps the conversation as "surface" as he possibly can. He's an expert.
Right now, we stand at a crossroads. The facility has offered to help us take the steps necessary to place him into therapeutic foster care. For weeks, my husband I prayed about and agonized over this decision. We reached out to Godly friends and family members for prayer. We shared the situation with our two oldest children. This decision is what drew me to write my previous post about feeling like I don't know the Lord as well as I ought. This should be a "no brainer" in terms of decision-making, right? God gave us a child and we should keep and raise him to the best of our ability, right? Maybe. Maybe not.
You see, Lemuel comes home for monthly visits. During his March home visit, he fidgeted and squirmed for the first hour of the car ride home. It was just him and me. I asked him why he was acting so nervous and he replied "I have something to tell you but I don't want to hurt your feelings."
"Oh, great", I thought "he's done something inappropriate and here comes the confession . . ."
but instead I said "Lemuel, you can tell me anything. Don't worry about hurting my feelings. I'm a big girl."
"Okay", he said taking a deep breath "I just wanted to tell you that I don't love you. Or dad. Or anyone."
"I know that", I said matter of factly "but even if you don't love me, I still love you. I think you WILL love us someday but a lot of people have hurt you and it's hard for you to trust."
At this point, Lemuel began to cry. Just quietly, and look for a fast food napkin in the glove box.
"I WANT to", he said in a quivering voice "but I just don't know how."
"Fair enough," I replied "how do you KNOW you don't love us?".
He responded "because I hurt you guys. I lie. I cheat. I'm mean. Because I don't feel any love in my heart. You don't hurt people if you love them."
"Sometimes you do" I offered "but usually it's an accident and usually you feel very sorry afterward. Most of the time you apologize and try to make it right."
"I never do those things" he said "or if I do, I don't mean it."
We talked about God's never ending supply of love and forgiveness. We talked about trusting Him to heal us and that sometimes healing takes time. It was an unusually lucid conversation for this particular child.
Lemuel then proceeded to turn on the radio in the van, find a rap station and start to dance in his seat.
Conversation over. I got it.
Fast forward a few weeks. Lemuel went back to his placement and our little town was swarmed with tornadoes. We lost power for 24 hours. From Saturday afternoon to Sunday afternoon, we were "in the dark." At exactly 7pm, after power was restored, the phone rang. It was phone time at the treatment facility so I thought it might be Lemuel. I answered and he burst into tears. He was beside himself. Hysterical.
"What's going ON?" I asked.
"I heard about the tornadoes on the news and I called and called but you never answered! I'm just so happy to hear your voice" he wailed.
"Oh, so you DO love me?" I teased. He started to laugh and answered "I know. I do."
Time went by. Placement continued and our phone calls and visits were fine. Sometimes he would call to report he had broken a rule and received discipline, other times he had interpersonal problems with staff or other clients and some calls were just a run down of his daily activities.
This brings us up to today and "THE DECISION". Foster care or coming home? The staff left the decision up to us. It was NOT the cut-and-dried, simple answer type decision. It was a spiritual battle for many days. Lemuel's presence in our home can make things more difficult. He isn't altogether trustworthy. The other kids in the family tend to avoid interaction with him. He doesn't play fair. He is silly and immature. His comments often don't make sense and he speaks like an authority on things he knows nothing about. Exhausting!
We discussed the possibility that God was releasing us from the burden of parenting him. We talked about how nice a fresh start might be for him. We said that maybe we are only supposed to be PART of Lemuel's journey and that God may have another family out there who will think he's the best thing that's ever happened to them. We recalled the time he said he didn't love us. Maybe he would be GLAD if we offered him a way out. We talked and talked until we had let ourselves off the hook completely. . . even had some peace about it.
But then, there was Ariel, Lemuel's oldest biological sibling still living in a shelter in The Philippines. We promised Ariel we would take good care of Lemuel. He's counting on us to do for Lem what nobody ever did for him as a child- to be "forever". Then there were all those promises we made to Lemuel since he was eight years old. We were going to be just another set of big, fat liars if we let him go. He would expect it and grow even harder of heart.Then there was the notion of what our other adopted children would think. Would they worry that they, too, were just one lie away from being put out of our home? How awful!
More than all those considerations, was one defining factor. God called and we answered. We said "here we are, use us" and He did. He is. It is a messy affair and painful beyond anything I have ever experienced. We want to do what honors our Savior and makes His name great among those who know our situation. That's all that really matters in this life.
So, with that goal as our aim, I called Lemuel last night and told him that in one week, he was coming home for good. He was so happy! He said "should I start packing tonight?". I laughed and told him I would let him know when to pack.
I know this isn't going to be easy but so often, what is right is hard. What is right is painful but the real peace that comes from taking the hard road is the reward.
Any/all prayers are coveted for our family. Lemuel IS getting his "fresh start", just not in a foster home!
Praise be to our Heavenly Father who takes us places we never thought we'd go but holds us tightly all the way!