Monday, April 24, 2017

"Will I Always Be Born in 2007?"

We are officially legal guardians of Lifa!
If you don’t know the back story, here’s the extra short version: IT’S A MIRACLE.

For a slightly less short version, you can click here and here.
If you do know the story, THANK YOU. You knowing our story is part of what writes it. We might not ever be able to communicate the impact and power of your participation, prayers and financial/spiritual support, so just hear this: 
Thank you, thank you, thank you.

When I picked Lifa up from school on Friday, I told him it was an extra special day for our family. I re-explained guardianship and let him slowly process it, Lifa-style. I explained that nothing really changes for his daily life and asked if he had questions.

I told him he has always been protected, loved and cared for. Now we have a piece of paper that says it’s our job to make sure he has everything he needs for his mind, body and heart to become the warrior God made him to be. Now we can protect him better than ever. If he breaks a warrior bone, we can even take him to the hospital.

Now there’s a piece of paper that says what we’ve always known: We are family. We belong together. We have rights and responsibilities toward each other.

We went out for a special night and took this first legal family photo together.
These are the best guys on the planet. And handsome!
Silence from the backseat… brain churching…nail gnawing…

 Lifa, stop biting your nails!”
“How do you always know when I’m biting my nails!?!”
“Mom powers. They’re even stronger now that we have guardianship.”

Finally, he says, “Mom, can other people still take care of me now that we have guardianship?” He specifically asks about the pastors that watch over him when he visits his biological father’s house.

I realize that this idea of defined family feels very safe in one culture and very uncertain in another. Drawing boundaries of protection and provision in the Ladd household is very different from drawing them in the township where his father lives.

We have written our identity on the wall, and we discuss it at dinnertime. Over the years, we have begun rewriting the anxiety-fueling chaos from Lifa’s past with clear order and well-defined roles. We teach him regularly about a mom’s job, a dad’s job and a kid’s job.

Our Ladd Family banner that hangs in our dining room.

“The kid’s job is to listen to their parents, play and learn.”
Those lessons have not always come easy, especially when he spent many foundational years forced to survive on his own when he wasn’t in my home. But he’s gotten it.

He thrives in God’s created order for family.

Mastering the kid's life:
Bat ears, blanket, beach picnic
We secretly celebrate the Lego’s in the living room while we lecture him about cleaning up after himself. We see the victory in his regression from a weathered, wounded heart to a goofy, bright-eyed boy who insists on wearing a cape. We put on headphones when he plays the SAME upbeat worship song over and over and over again, spinning like a tornado and shouting about his new dance. (We have our limits. We can’t be perfect.)

The differences between Lifa’s two cultures are vast. One household is written with predictability, routine and a very defined identity. Our name, purpose and values are written clearly on the wall.

Lifa’s father faces a generational disadvantage of not having his name written on anything – until we established co-guardianship with him for Lifa. Lifa’s father’s name has never been written anywhere, not on a birth certificate, bank account or school document. Without a name and a lineage to anchor yourself in, it’s impossible to establish identity or bring chaos into order.

We have provided a home, furniture and connection to a spiritual body for Lifa’s father. We have spared no expense to make sure his name was written down on a family document, and that he would be included in guardianship over Lifa. We provide parameters for order, and pray that he chooses it for himself. We pray he grafts himself into an eternal lineage and looks to the Father who spared no expense for his identity to be redeemed. 

Lifa can’t understand these differences his father’s house and ours, but he did ask if the pastors could take care of him while he was with his dad. He knows what safety feels like, and it comes with stability, foundation in Christ, and the protection of parents. It’s different than cooking your own meals, managing your own 9-year old life, and fending for yourself.

As Lifa and I wrapped up our conversation about guardianship, Lifa asked one more question. “Ok Mom, I think I understand now. But there’s just one more thing… Will I always be born in 2007?

That’s the cutest question I’ve ever heard.
I give him a resounding “YES,” and continue on with the questions that follow. Yes, even in 2018 you will be born in 2007…

His charming little question stirred my heart. He may have been just doing math… He may have been thinking about birthday cake… But I think he was responding to a stirring in his 9-year old heart that knows his life is different now.

His identity changed when the chaos of namelessness and insecurity were overcome. Jesus walked out of a tomb to overcome it the first time, and we signed affidavits as the “Yes and Amen!” We are humbled and thankful to be counted worthy to be a Yes and Amen.

Yes, Lifa, your life will always have started on December 29, 2007.
And, yes, everything about it is different from this point forward.

You belong to a family that loves you and will sacrifice everything for you.
You have a place and a purpose in the order of our family, and we won’t compromise that for anything.

You listen. You play. You learn. We will love each other and love you.  
You set the table each night. We will provide the meal.

We love you. We believe in you.

We will guard you, protect you and provide for you with all that we have and all that we are.

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