To my sweet daughter,
At this moment, you are 8722 miles away from Dallas sleeping in an orphanage in Thailand. You are older, old enough to know what has happened to you, to remember your birth family, and ache with longing for them. And you are HIV+. We don’t know why or how you came to the orphanage, but I am sure that you have experienced more in your few short years than most of us have experienced in a lifetime.
In your country (and mine), an HIV diagnosis means that you become virtually unadoptable. HIV? Too expensive, too much stigma. The fact that you’re older exempts you from people who want to adopt babies. Older child? Too stressful, too difficult.
We want you.
We want you. We want you. We want you. We want you. We want you. We want you.
My heart practically explodes everytime I think about you. I walk around on the verge of tears all day because my heart can’t bear the thought of you being in the orphanage, feeling that you’ve been abandoned, any longer. We want you.
Our friends and families are shaking their heads because just a few months ago, I proclaimed publicly that we didn’t think it was in God’s plan for us to have kids. We were off, off, and away to a foreign country to do work there- maybe one that would be unsafe for kids. We felt like God has asked us to sacrifice our dreams of Alex+Beth+kids and turn our attentions to other things.
These past few weeks have turned our lives upside-down and God has given us new dreams- dreams that involve doing God’s work here in Dallas, where 25% of the population has been born outside the country and where one out of every five people is living in poverty. We are supposed to settle here and love our neighbors all over the city.
This is the first thing I want to teach you- that God gives us the desires of our heart. Most of the time, we (at least your dad and I) have no clue what those desires are. We think that we do. We think that we want to move overseas and never look back and not have kids. But really, we want to do ministry here and we want to make you a permanent fixture in our family. God knew that this was the adventurous life that we desired- a life that will please God– the God of the forgotten, the lost, the weary, the orphan and the widow, the downtrodden- and give us inexplicable joy. It just took us a while to get here.
Unbeknownst to us, God has already been orchestrating your arrival in our lives. We’ve discovered how wonderful eating local, organic food can be (which will help your little immune system battle the HIV monsters). We’ve bought the heirloom seeds for a garden that we’ll have one day in our backyard. I work at one of Dallas’s largest ESL service providers, so that we can help you learn English. One of our volunteers is the executive director of an AIDS organization in Dallas; another speaks Thai fluently and knows how to access the Thai community here in Dallas. Alex’s company provides a few thousand dollars to families who are adopting.
I can’t sit still. The waiting might just kill me so we’re being proactive. Before you get here, we’re going to talk to people who have adopted older kids. We’re going to buy a Thai food cookbook and start practicing. We’re going to meet with doctors who specialize in treating kids with HIV. We want to volunteer at Aids Services of Dallas and talk with people who are living with this disease. We want to openly advocate for you. We want to educate our friends and family about HIV. We want to know everything so that we can help you navigate living with HIV in this broken, ignorant world.
Sweet girl, I can’t promise that we’ll be perfect parents. People will probably say we’re too young to be your parents. People will say that HIV treatments are too expensive. I will probably still just eat chips with cheese melted on them for dinner sometimes. I will cry and embarrass you as you grow up. I probably won’t buy you everything that your little heart desires, because I don’t think that’s what Jesus would do. Yes, I know we won’t be perfect but we’re doing everything that we can to be the best for you.
Some people, maybe even you yourself, might tell you that you owe us something- that you can never be angry or sad or disappointed in us because we “rescued” you. I want you to know, right from the get-go, that our love comes to you with no strings attached. It’s unconditional. There’s nothing that you could do to make me regret my decision to choose you as my daughter. You deserve that- a family that loves you, not because you’re always exceedingly good natured or respectful, but because you’re you.
We promise to honor your past, the family that made the difficult decision that the best place for you was not with them. I promise I won’t be jealous when you talk about your birth family or the nannies at the orphanage. These people have all been a part of your story and a story that involves life before us- a life that we want you to heal from, but not forget.
We know that this journey will require us to lean heavily on God, which is what He wants. We’re still feeling a little unsure about our finances. Adoption is crazy expensive. We want to travel to meet you before the adoption is finalized. We want to buy a house in a good school system before you get here, so that we can be stable for you. Also, we fully expect the engine to drop out of your dad’s car anytime now…and catch on fire. Sure, all of this sounds like alot, but we are trusting that He will cover it. God always provides exactly what we need.
Oh, my daughter, my heart aches at the thought of you going to bed tonight feeling like you’ve been abandoned and no one wants you. I wish that I could stand on my roof and shout, “I WANT YOU! I CHOOSE YOU! YOU ARE MINE!” loud enough that you could hear it 9000 miles away.
But I can’t.
So today I’m praying that God, who feels those things for you a million times stronger than I do, makes them tangible and True and real in your life. I pray that you feel loved and not abandoned; remembered and not forgotten.
Because, precious daughter, we have chosen you.
My heart can’t contain my love for you,