Thursday, August 29, 2013

The Craziest of Love

His love never fails, it never gives up, it never runs out on me.
His love never fails, it never gives up, it never runs out on me.  

This story started two years and four months ago.

When I first visited Forever Angels orphanage to meet Lily, another story began.

I didn’t remember the names of all the kids I met that day, but I remembered Zawadi.  Almost everyone who meets her does.  Five years old at the time, fluent in both English and Swahili, bright, amusing, and affectionate, with an infectious joy despite her very difficult circumstances, Zawadi is a child who makes an impression. 

Lily (age 2) and Zawadi  (age 5) at Forever Angels

And she was desperate for a family.  Zawadi saw child after child from Forever Angels picked up by relatives or brought home by adoptive parents.  And she wanted a Mommy and Daddy too.  In fact, she would tell this to Amy H. (the manager) quite often.  “When is my family coming for me?  When do I get a Mommy and Daddy?  Why does Lily get a family and not me?  She is only two, and I am five.”

The truth is, Zawadi would have been selected for adoption years ago, but she had an unusual family background that made social welfare reluctant to release her for adoption.  But finally, right around the time we picked up Lily, social welfare agreed:  Zawadi could be adopted.  She could finally get her family.  But would it be too late? 

We even considered Zawadi for our family, but eventually knew that it was Lily that God had chosen for us. 

However, I talked about Zawadi whenever I talked about Forever Angels.  And I remember clearly when I told Lauren, one of my very best friends. 

It was on a Friday night, at Youth Group, and I had just returned from my trip to meet Lily that afternoon.  Lauren and I sat with our backs against the living room wall, a swirl of teenagers laughing around us.  I told her about Lily, about the orphanage, and about the other children, including Zawadi.  About how she always asked Amy for a family.

I had no idea that would be the seed. 

Lauren went home and looked up Zawadi on the Forever Angels website.  She couldn’t get her out of her mind.  She told her husband, Ben, about her, and soon he also couldn’t stop thinking about her.  On Monday I got a text message from Lauren, “Can we come talk to you sometime about the adoption process in Tanzania?”

Two years and four months ago, they started the adoption process in Tanzania.  

When you are in love with a child, and that child is desperate for a family, two years and four months is a very, very long time. 

In October of last year, they finally got to meet her.  They spent a glorious two days together.  They all fell in love.  Zawadi, being quite perceptive, figured out that Ben and Lauren were her prospective parents.  And being the precocious child that she is, and knowing how this process works, took it upon herself to sit down at the computer and write her own letter to social welfare, print it, sign it, and seal it in an envelope.  It reads, ““Ples can loren and ben be my mom and dad.”

 It was at that point that I first posted about this story.  Back in October, we thought that it would be "any day now."  But instead weeks and weeks went by which turned into months and months.

Instead of getting easier, Zawadi's story got more and more complicated.  Harder.  Unprecedented among adoptions in  Tanzania.  Yet her need for a family never went away.

Many, many times, it seemed totally impossible.  I wept and wept with Lauren and prayed and begged God to help.  Even writing this now, the tears flow as I remember those times of utter despair.  

Finally, a few months ago, circumstances arose that meant that Zawadi would probably never be adopted, by anyone.  

That's when Ben and Lauren took the craziest step of love ever, and declared that they would be willing to be long-term foster parents.  Long term, as in, Zawadi's entire childhood.

People do that in America all the time, but this is Tanzania.  And they are American.  They knew the future would be uncertain and risky and there would be no guarantees.  

But they loved Zawadi with a crazy kind of love.  A never-stopping, never giving-up, always and forever love.  

Back in February, at our amazing spiritual retreat, Ben taught the students that song:
His love never fails, it never gives up, it never runs out on me.  

During the past few days, those words keep running through my head.

Because two days ago, the day before school started, Ben and Lauren brought home this little girl.  

To love unconditionally, now and forever.  

I can't stop smiling and I can't stop crying.  

How they love her.
How He loves us.

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