The first week back from Ukraine with our boys, we went to church and I remember sitting there so exhausted but so content. We had done it! They were here and we were done! No more fighting battles. We were at the church we would raise our kids in, my friends were here, the school promised to take care of everything; it was all just going to be smooth sailing! I almost fell asleep in that service, so exhausted yet so content with all of my children finally next to me; I had no worries.
I was so disillusioned.
At a time when I was so worn out from a previous year of emotional ups and downs, I got handed a new fight. Every adoptive parent will tell you that the first year home with your new children is rough if you're lucky and hell if its normal. We were lucky, but that first year home with three new sons was definitely not easy. I wanted to be the perfect mom that intuitively says all the right things at all the right times. Instead I was strung out between emails, meetings, and phone calls just trying to get my sons the help I had promised them in school.
Looking back, I will always wish I could have that time back to focus on my kids more. What I did, needed to be done, but only because the school forced me to fight them by refusing to do anything without someone ramming it down their throat.
I had guilt over this too. I never wanted to be the kind of person that forced others to do something. I never in a million years pictured myself taking on a school district. I didn't want to do it. Somehow since last November, I became known as aggressive and combative. Some people couldn't believe I had the nerve to demand my "foreign" children be evaluated. These things actually said in a church building by school staff. Hearing these things had been said, and that no one challenged them (save one sweet friend) just broke down the respect I had for Christianity and our community in general. Is this really how people feel!? What has church turned into?
Fighting for my kids was ruining all of my ideals. What I thought was; wasn't. Fighting for my kids was putting me into a tailspin. I didn't know what I believed anymore. I knew that God gave me these children, and I knew it was my duty as their mother to be their advocate. I thought the church would be our safe place. I thought our stance was Biblical, therefore I thought it would be supported by others of like faith. When that didn't happen, we started questioning it all. Phillip and I stayed up late so many nights talking things over with each other in complete disbelief, as if we could rationalize what was going on. We couldn't. Didn't we do what God asked? So why was this going down so badly?
I used to refuse to even tell anyone where I wanted to go for dinner for fear of picking a place someone didn't like. I was so afraid of inadvertently causing someone else discomfort. Typing this post out is actually causing me physical pain right now. My chest hurts. That is how much I hated this fight. I couldn't sleep for days before meetings, so keyed up that my heart would race. Sometimes I would vomit before meetings because I felt the weight of what not getting help for my kids meant for them. I'd already seen their future in Ukraine and I had brought them here with promises of "It won't be like this in America." Yet it was. D became depressed. E was beyond lost ,and was even accused of not wanting to learn by.his.teacher. I felt let down by everyone. No one really cared on a level deep enough to DO anything to help me. I was not only alone though, I felt judged for not accepting this unbelievable indifference towards my children.
The question I keep asking myself is why? What does all of this mean? Nothing is what I thought it was. People are not who they said they were. In our experience, churches are museums for those polishing their crowns, not command centers for workers to go out and help those who need it the most. Sure there are programs, but everything must be done in a prepared sanitized bubble. We can go out into the world, but we must have t-shirts printed up first, and we mustn't get dirty OR make anyone uncomfortable. Jesus said to do things, but apparently its common knowledge that He only meant if it was in the budget and everyone was cool with it. We didn't even realize that indifference is the face of Christianity now, but like the orphanage; we can't un-see it.
So now what? I do not regret even for one second, fighting this fight for my kids. I fought to make them mine, and I then I fought for them again. But it has ruined the life we thought we had planned because my devotion was seen as offensive. God has a way of wrecking plans then rebuilding something better, but right now we just can't see what.
The one thing we do know is that we do NOT want our children to be hurt by churches the way we have been. We do not want them raised up in a superficial faith, surrounded by people that say they believe God, but don't take what He said seriously. We were avid church goers. The kids asked why we weren't going on Sundays anymore, and it broke.my.heart. I had no answers! I just don't. What can I say? They don't want us!? The pastor told us he hopes that we find somewhere else? We were not valued members. Why not? I can't even go there with my babies. We taught them that we were supposed to go to church and learn about Jesus. The problem comes when you actually decide to do what Jesus says. How can I even explain that to my child?
This is such a deep wound for me that I can't explain it to my children because I don't understand it myself. We haven't found a way to replace Sunday mornings at church. We don't know what to do.
Right now I still can't believe what has happened.
We don't have a church.
We've ALWAYS had a church.
We don't want a church anymore.
We just want God.
So we're waiting for some sort of direction. How do we raise children up as believers without a church? We don't know. Quite frankly its terrifying; but then again so is raising them IN church. We look at those we grew up with and see the fallout from those raised in church.
We used to ask why. Now we know.