Kendra and I were acquaintances in high school and reconnected through a class my husband, Aaron, and I were teaching for adoptive and foster parents. It was a nine week course. Kendra and Carlos made it through six weeks before they left to add the fourth member of their family, a little guy named Connor. They have an amazing story.
We did their session two weeks after Connor arrived home.
When the Cordero's little girl, Camila, was 2 years old, they decided she needed to be a big sister. She was clearly made for this, so they opened the discussion about adding to their family. Kendra's pregnancy and delivery with Cami was awful, and the thought of being pregnant again was terrifying. Kendra dealt with guilt over these feelings and found comfort in the fact that God has a purpose for everything.
They began to ask God what he saw when he looked at their family. God answered Kendra's prayers much earlier than he did for Carlos. Kendra had a college friend who was in the process of adopting from Uganda. As she watched and prayed for her friend and her family during this time, Kendra was "struck straight through the heart" with the truth that her next child needed her to come and get him or her, too.
"This child would be born into the arms of someone else, someone who wouldn't be able to care from them, and that child would be waiting for me to come and welcome them into our family."
She was aware that the cost would be high and the road would seem impossible, but Kendra began to see their family the way that God saw it. They were undoubtedly supposed to adopt. Not long after this, Carlos arrived at the same conclusion.
So, Carlos and Kendra ventured down this crazy, winding road that is international adoption. It was surely a bumpy ride, taking almost three years from start to finish. Carlos is from Venezuela, but adoption from there was not an option, so they started in the Columbia program because it has so much in common with Venezuela. After nine months of being in the Columbia program, their agency closed it and asked them to choose a different country. They chose Uganda.
After a few months in the Uganda program, however, they came across a waiting child named Oliwia in Poland. She captured their hearts. They wholeheartedly pursued the adoption of this precious child. After being matched with her and completing all of the paperwork to adopt her, they were told that she was no longer available. Her foster family had decided to adopt her. Their hearts were crushed.
That very same day, the Cordero's agency asked them to consider a little boy who just became available for adoption in Poland. They received a picture and a paragraph of information, and agreed to pursue adoption. It turns out this little guy had a sister named Oliwia. I don't think it was any coincidence that their hearts were drawn to this little girl. God used that to lead them to the one he had chosen for them. Two weeks later, they boarded a plane, and went to Poland to meet their son.
Because of delayed and cancelled flights, Kendra and Carlos arrived in Poland forty hours after they were originally scheduled to, completely exhausted. They were immediately driven to the social worker's office, where they spoke with her for thirty minutes, and then to Connor's foster home.
They had only three days with him. Because of Connor's history, he had turned inward. He had no one he could depend on, so he took care of himself. He was afraid, and his little brain decided that the best way to cope with his fear was to lock everyone else out. Kendra says, "We had three days to infiltrate his fog. When we looked at him, he didn't see us. When we threw a ball to him, he didn't try to get it. When we called his name, his head did not turn towards us. He lived in his own world and we weren't a part of it. We were locked out." She cried herself to sleep that night.
The next two days were the same. They watched their son play because they weren't allowed into his world. He was silent. He was private. He had no voice.
On their last day with Connor, Kendra asked Carlos how he was so calm. He responded, "Kendra, we don't choose our children. God does. This is the child God has chosen, so you don't have to worry about the future."
So simple. God is trustworthy. Just as God had given them their biological daughter, Cami, he also chose this little boy to be their son. She says, "I suddenly had a profound knowledge that he was my son. I didn't have to feel like he was my son because I knew the feeling would come later. Just as I had to wait and fight to get to him physically, I would have to wait and fight to get to him emotionally and mentally."
If you are a child of God, and you have been feeling a similar tug in your heart toward adoption, be encouraged by this story--by a couple's willingness to jump into something that may not be safe and certainly will not be comfortable. When you receive a traumatized child into your home, life never looks the same.
When we adopted our oldest son from Kazakhstan, I naively believed that all he needed was love, safety, and his basic needs met, and we would return to life as a normal family in, I dunno, maybe six months? That was eight years ago. We are in this for the long haul. Healing takes time. A lot of time. Most of these precious babies were harmed through relationships, so they push us away, but their healing will only come through relationships.
But here's the amazing part: God changes us. He reveals things in us that we had no idea were there and forces us to deal with them. It is ugly, but as we walk in it and learn to depend and trust God, just as this precious child has to learn to depend and trust on his new parents, we know him more deeply and love him more passionately. We get a front row seat to the miracles that God is working in our own homes and hearts.
I'd like to conclude with Kendra's thoughts:
"Adoption is expensive: financially, emotionally, physically. There isn't any part of your life left untouched by the process or the child. For some, adoption brings ruin with it--it brings intense sorrow and heartache. For us it was those things, too, but it didn't end there. The disappointments brought us to a place of surrender, and that surrender was redeemed into hope. In all areas connected to Connor, I am distinctly aware that the Lord will provide, and that is such a peaceful realization.
"I am deeply grateful that God brought me through this sad and crazy story that I had no control of so that he could teach me what real trust feels like. I didn't know it so intimately before this. I now also have a first hand knowledge of what God sacrificed when he adopted me and the patience he has towards me now as I learn to function like his daughter. As Connor learns to love and trust me, I have experienced profound joy that must only be a fraction of what my Heavenly Father feels when I learn to love and trust him. Adoption is God's story with each of us who are his children. It was costly to him, but his deep love for us fueled him."
Would you ask God to bring healing to Connor's heart and brain, and ask God to supply Kendra and Carlos with all they need for this journey?
When you look at these images, remember this sweet family's journey to their son. Remember Connor's story. See the miracles in the eye contact and high fives and hand holding. Not too long ago, he wouldn't let them in. Remember?