The questions have arisen many times in the last few months, and twice in the past seven days, but each time it has, it hurts all the same.
“How do you know you’re not just getting scammed again? Is your adoption agency just stealing your money? How do you know the kids don’t have AIDS and they’re just not telling you? How do you know that you’re not getting robbed again?”
Reasonable questions, but painful questions. Most often, they come not from those who love us most, but from those on the periphery of our social circles who know that we were scammed by a ‘birth mother’ who wasn’t even pregnant. So perhaps they don’t understand that to us, what happened in the spring felt very much like a late-term miscarriage. An unexpected death. A loss of life and hope and trust. I know that these situations are different, but our experience feels very much like a death to us.
And if the situation is parallel to those, the questions feel like they would feel to a mother who had suffered several miscarriages, if someone had the audacity to ask, “How do you know that you’re not just going to miscarry again? Aren’t you wasting a lot of emotional energy, time, and money?” Or like asking a mother who lost a child in a car accident, “You’re going to buy a better car seat next time, aren’t you?” Heaven forbid!
Now, I know that people don’t mean it that way. But the questions still shake me to my core as if they did.
Another question I was asked in the weeks that followed the scam, when I really wasn’t even ready to talk about it was, “What lessons have you learned in all of this? What are you going to do different next time?”
Reasonable questions, but painful questions. In my heart it feels like, “You should have known better. This is your fault, and you should be more careful next time,” as if I didn’t feel that way already. We trusted the word of others and were taken advantage of, and we have paid for it dearly. And every time the questions are asked, we pay another painful toll.
But the truth is that there are few guarantees in life. Mothers who carry babies miscarry. Parents who seek to adopt have the adoptions fall through. Children die from accidents and mistakes made by others. People with the best of intentions get taken advantage of.
One thing the police said to me, as they were politely telling me that they were not even going to launch a criminal investigation into our situation, was, “The sad thing is that what the ‘birth mother’ has done to you is destroy your ability to trust, and your desire to help other people.”
And for a while, it was true. I lost trust. But that’s not what Love is. That’s not who God is.
I Corinthians 13: 6-7 NIV says,
“Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” (Italics mine)
And because Love is who God is, that is what I must strive to be like.
I must trust, even when my natural self wants to protect my heart. I must have hope that God will finish His work, even when I have no earthly idea how. I must persevere as long as His hand leads me forward.
Fortunately, God has placed many people in our lives who have demonstrated the very kind of Biblical Love mentioned in I Corinthians 13. Like a healing balm, words can also soothe my heart, “I’m so sorry. My heart hurts with you,” or “If you ever want to talk or just hang out, please just do,” and, “We still believe in God’s plan for you, and can’t wait to welcome your kids home.”
And with every whisper of kindness, with every hug, with every expression of generosity: trust is reborn, hope is renewed, and perseverance is spurred on.
Because that is who Love is.