For our fifth Anniversary, my husband took me to a place called Wild Waters. While watching the water rush past us, I saw these bulrushes on the banks of the River Nile. Of course you can’t think of bulrushes and the Nile without thinking about the story of Moses. Gazing at the river and thinking of Moses’ mom, a mother of one of our children came to mind because of the similar choices she had to make.
Some things never change. A mother’s sacrificial love is a story that goes back over three thousand years ago when Jochebed had to make a huge decision. This decision is one that most of us moms may not be able to comprehend. Her baby Moses didn’t have a chance of survival with her and the situation reached a place of desperation. Her decision…. make a basket from bulrushes, lay her child in it and set him to float in the River Nile filled with rushing wild waters, hippos, and crocodiles. The only option she had to save her son, which I believe had to come after much prayer to a God who had been silent for so long, decided to trust in Him. She could have held him close to her till the last minute that the soldiers came and snatched up her child only to murder him. Surely this was the choice most of the mothers would have made or maybe they tried to hide them to have a few more moments with them but even this option came with certain death before long. Had Jochebed chosen the other ways, the Old Testament from Exodus on would be completely different and the name Moses would mean little to us today. Thank God she released him with no idea of what the outcome would be. She also used wisdom in asking Miriam to watch over him and to be in the right place at the right time.
Families are important here as in the rest of the world. Even when a situation is desperate and the primary caregivers are not willing to change the circumstances for the child’s care, they would rather the child stay with them than make a decision that would permanently help. Some are willing to place them in an orphanage for some time and some are happy to have them grow up in an institution as they can still claim ownership of them. They don’t want to be the acting caregivers and are not willing to change their environment (sometimes they can’t change) but most of the time will not be willing to sign their children away. When we talked to local authorities about starting Amani, our original idea was to only take the orphaned and abandoned. They specifically asked us to be willing to take the needy that had family also. I am so thankful they spoke with us and that we agreed. In the last eight years we have had the honor of reuniting 66 children with their loved ones. Most of the families just need time to get back on their feet after extreme poverty or tragedy. It is always the goal to place them back in their families if possible. It can take anywhere from six months to four years to make it happen. There have only been five who had to be transferred to other homes because reuniting wasn’t possible.
For the first time in eight years, a mother who had been reunited with her child for about a year told us she wanted us to take the child and find her a permanent home. Her situation was not changing, her health getting worse, and her extended family that would have her child one day when the disease that has swept through the African continent finally takes her life, were also not changing. Knowing there is certain death in the future not unlike Jochebed. She made a selfless decision about the future of her child. I couldn’t believe it at first as she is the only one in our history here who was willing to let someone else claim ownership of her daughter, releasing her into the arm of others. She has prayed over and thought long about this decision and is at a place of peace with it. She doesn’t have to make a basket of bulrushes but she does have to trust in the care of Amani. She doesn’t have a big sister to watch over her but she has trusted us with being the guard and decision maker in her daughter’s life. We are humbled by her trust and sacrifice. I have so much respect for these mothers, for their selfless sacrifice and willingness to trust God with the future of their child. For choosing life for them although it means giving them up. Over three thousand years apart, opposite ends of the same river, death a certainty two mothers make a selfless decision.
I do understand these moms and their trust. It is a daily choice at Amani. One hundred and eighteen (118) have been place for adoption over the last eight and a half years. Truthfully it would be an easier decision to keep them, knowing how they are being raised, loved, taught, and protected, but it would also be selfish. We know if we had kept all 118 orphaned and abandoned children they would be loved and would love. It’s just sometimes love isn’t enough but love and sacrifice is. There is much more for them than our home and our arms. It’s a big deal to be part of choosing others to raise our children and it is something we never take lightly. Like these mothers we are giving some of God’s most prized possessions that he has entrusted to us, to new stewards to love and care for them and it is bittersweet every time.
Please pray for all parties around the world that take part in decision making in these children’s lives. Pray for wisdom and discernment for social workers, agencies, orphanages, immigration, judges, lawyers, embassies, and the families that are blessed by being chosen and approved to be stewards of the fatherless.
We have already seen fruits because of these circumstances. Feeling slightly overwhelmed while this mom was in a hospital, with a disease that in the end has no physical hope of healing, I asked Mama Jude (a good friend who has cared for and given her home to many in the last stages of HIV), to visit her and pray for her. She was happy to do this and the outcome was healing in a much better way; she led her in prayer and Lydia’s mom gave her heart to Jesus!! I can only hope, pray, and trust that Lydia will make the same decision in her future and that they will be a family reunited for eternity. I don’t know what is in the future for Lydia but God does and maybe she will not be parting waters or leading a nation out of slavery but she is just as important to her Creator who has a plan for her, and we will do our best to place her in a home where she will learn to love, fear, and serve Him.