This blog was supposed to have a way cooler title.
I had longed for the day when I’d write this. I’ve had it written in my mind for about three years; it was originally to be called, “Our Family Just Grew by Four Feet!” and it was going to have a cute picture of four little feet.
And everyone on the Internet was going to say, “Congratulations, BLC! They are sooooo adorable!”
But that’s not the blog I’m writing today. What was supposed to be a fun announcement to the world has turned into a way for me to try to put some closure on this chapter of my life, and to begin a journey to someplace that hurts a little less. I’m not sure that’s possible, but I need to try.
So, here is our story… which ironically could better be titled, “Our Family Just Shrunk By Four Feet.”
A few years ago we decided to adopt again.
We had always known that adoption was our “thing” in life, but after spending a long season with our home converted into a would-be-hospital, after months of in-home therapy, attachment therapy, locking the knife drawer, gutting the house of potentially sharp objects, and a host of other things that unexpectedly became our life—including the pain of loss we had never really imagined– we weren’t sure what the future would hold anymore.
As we processed the painful loss and considered our future, we kept coming back to the belief that adoption was still part of our story. We also realized we couldn’t let our painful experience derail us from the life we both knew we were called to live.
So, we began adopting again.
We told a handful of people in real life, but decided that we wouldn’t be public about our process. We needed some aspects of our life that weren’t windows that thousands of strangers could peer into on a daily basis.
We were nervous as we began the process, but quickly became excited. Unlike our first adoption, where we did not know the identity of our children until right before we went to Peru, this time we knew the faces and names of our children from the beginning.
We were adopting Gracia and Janella from the Democratic Republic of Congo.
While we didn’t expect it, adopting again began to be a healing process for us. It was encouraging and brought hope into our home for the first time in as long as we could remember.
As soon as we had agreed to adopt the girls, things started quickly falling into place, in a process that seemed like it would go quickly. It felt totally unlike the 2+ years it took to adopt our first daughters.
We believed. We had hope. We internalized it. Our home was finally experiencing a rebirth after years of difficulty and sadness.
This time it would be different, or so we believed. With each photo we got of them, each update from the orphanage, our dreams for the future were once again full of beauty.
The actual adoption process flew by, and before we knew it, we had judgment from the court: we were now the parents of the girls.
But then, in the midst of our joy and optimism, the world collapsed— again.
And when I say collapsed, I mean everything that could go wrong did go wrong.
First, an official in the DRC ordered immigration to stop issuing exit letters to adopted children—preventing legally adopted children from leaving the country. This became a seeming never-ending crisis, which resulted in actions and advocacy from the US Congress, Secretary of State, and media outlets across the country. There were even some adopted children who died while waiting.
Then the orphanage the girls were in abruptly shut down, complicating things.
And then this or that would pop up as something that needed to be acquired or finished– adoptive parents know that there’s always a host of things the pop up at every stage of the journey, even when you think it’s complete.
Along with the 2+ years of waiting out the government shut-down, and normal adoption issues that crop up, things seemed to continue to spiral into a mess of complexity. Between communication challenges with all the players in the process, families who contributed to adoption corruption by smuggling their kids out of the country without giving two hoots that their illegal behavior would only serve to harm those of us who insist on completing adoptions legally and ethically– even if that means failure– having waited over two years to receive some final documents that never materialized, and a host of other complications, we have slowly come to accept that this journey is finally over.
International adoptions are incredibly complex- no matter where you adopt from or what agency you use. When things go bad, there’s not always someone to tell you that it’s officially over. Instead, parents in our cases are often left to figure out when the end is the end. Like a failed presidential candidate who eventually has to acknowledge on his or her own that there’s no longer a plausible path to achieving victory, parents are put in the difficult position of being the first to acknowledge that it’s over.
Lately we have struggled to accept that such a moment came for us, and time now dictates we face it.
We’ve been living in denial about it for a while (or maybe just living in silence) only to have the pain of our wound reopened as we’ve watched so many of the other children released from the Congo. Perhaps one of the most painful moments was watching a US newscast of some children who made it out… two of whom were wearing dresses we gave our daughters a few years ago.
I still remember the day we picked those dresses out and mailed them to the orphanage. I’m sure they’ll forever be burned in my mind.
Yes, we’ve been living in denial, but there’s no room left for living in denial anymore, no matter how painful it may be to finally acknowledge that there is not a viable path to completion. Even with the all the difficulties that Congolese adoptions presented, most of the families in our process were able to complete their adoptions. But that moment isn’t going to be happening for us.
Another dream is dead. It’s over.
We’re now entering another chapter of wrestling with what to do when you’re not going to get to watch your kids grow up. And by some sick twist of fate, it’s not the first time we’ve had to ask ourselves this question.
Even as I write this I am finding myself confronted by emotions I hadn’t given myself permission to feel yet. There’s just so much grieving that needs to be done. And honestly, I don’t know if I have the energy to grieve anymore. I’m seriously burned out on being sad, and am craving a vacation from life.
Unfortunately, grief doesn’t let you run away from it. It’s one of those relentless things that follows you wherever you go until you sit down at a table and look it in the face.
And face it I must. Not because I want to, but because it confronts me without mercy.
I’m realizing my next chapter in life involves some long talks with grief.
There’s the grieving that the adoption is over. It failed.
There’s the grieving over the fact that we adopted 4 children in our life, but will never be able to parent 3 of them the way we dreamed we would.
There’s been the grieving as we sold their beds, and packed up all the bins of clothes we picked out saying, “Oh, this will look so cute on them.”
There’s grieving that I’ll never again know Gracia’s giggle as I bounce her on my knee while saying, “Trot, trot, to Boston, trot, trot to Lynn, you better watch out or you’re gonna fall in!” or what it’s like to watch her go from stoic to slowly opening up and smiling bright after an hour of being held and loved.
There’s grieving that I’ll never again get to hear Janella talk to me a mile a minute in Lingala as if I know what she’s saying. That I’ll never again know what she’s like after eating a bag of my energy gummies thinking they were candy (ok, maybe it’s good that’s never going to happen again). That the last time I sat on the edge of the bed and rubbed her back while she slept, was the last. Or that I’ll never again wake up to her slapping two slices of bread and a package of tuna on my stomach, as if to say, “Wake up and make me a sandwich.”
There’s grieving this idea that I’d have a room spilling over with lots of kids and grandkids at Christmas in a few years, a scene that’s not going to happen.
Then there’s grieving for our daughter, Johanna, who so desperately wanted siblings to grow up with, but will not.
There’s grieving the reality that this was it— there are no more adoptions for us, and there are no possibilities of biological children anymore. It’s like hearing the director say, “And that’s a wrap folks!” when you’re like, “But wait, this wasn’t supposed to be the last scene.”
The raw truth is that after all we have been through since 2011, we just don’t have the emotional capacity to walk the adoption journey again. It’s not happening– our window of life for adopting new children or producing biological ones, is closed solid.
Beyond the emotional capital, we don’t have the money anyway. We have lived very, very simply. We’re still waiting to be homeowners. We’ve frequently sold what we could to make payments to adoption agencies, investigators, USCIS… and there is nothing left to sell anymore. There’s nothing left to give. The financial numbers in adoption are no small change, even if we did have the emotional capacity to risk ourselves again.
Since 2011, it feels as if we have given every drop of energy, focus, and money we had, toward the cause of adopting and raising children. We sold anything we didn’t use. If we didn’t absolutely need it, we went without. We became experts on ELL and disability law. We learned so much about IEPs that it feels like we often educate the educators. We know the ins and outs on everything from equine therapy, attachment therapy, to the limitations of traditional talk therapy. Adoption, and all that comes with raising older children with special needs, became our day-in-day-out life.
To use a sporting analogy, “We played hard, and we left it all on the field.”
I’m a person of many flaws and mistakes. Like a lot. And if there really is a hell, I’ll admit that I’m probably going there for good and just reasons.
But for all the shitty mistakes I made in life, I can say this with a clear conscience: I withheld nothing from God when it came to money, the command to care for orphans, or when he asked me to put my deepest dreams on the altar and walk away.
That part, I @%$&! did.
And so, if hell is my final destination, this one part of me will go there with my head held high and my integrity intact.
We’re tired now. We’re burned out– both individually and collectively. We followed our calling with no regrets, yet our calling involved a level of loss and pain we didn’t quite budget for… and now we have to figure out what that means for the future, and how to navigate those uncharted waters. We’re pretty much on empty while being thrust into a new chapter in life.
We’re grieving another loss, and what the realities of all this loss means and represents for us as individuals, as a couple, and as a family.
And we’re just not sure where to go next.
We’ll have to answer the question, “What do you do when you’re not going to get to see your kids grow up?” Honestly, we hadn’t finished answering that question the first time, and I’m no closer to an answer than I was a few years ago.
A year ago I shared with you a moment I experienced while sitting atop Mt. Nebo where Moses died. In that moment I felt as if God was asking me to let go of some of my deepest dreams for life, and looking back, I suppose this was it.
And as hard as it sucks right now, I’m going to reflect upon the words of Jesus that I heard spoken to my heart that day: “Unless a grain falls to the ground and dies, it remains alone. But if it dies, it produces much fruit.”
I don’t know what that fruit might or could be, but at this point, hope that God still brings life out of so much death is hope I must cling to– even when I’m not sure I believe it.
The anticipation and excitement of sharing “Our Family Just Grew by Four Feet” has now become grieving another loss, and there is no cool way to title the loss of those precious feet.
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Your point of view caught my eye and was very interesting. Thanks. I have a question for you.
Ben, if I may adapt a saying of Nadia Bolz-Weber, you are not going to hell. You have been in hell.
I haven’t been in anything like your situation, but I do have a friend who lost a young daughter (also not by physical death) and I do believe that facing your emotions and expressing your grief – publicly as you have done here, or just with close friends and family – is a hugely important step. May God be with you.
My thoughts and prayers are with you and yours, Ben. I’m so sorry to hear of all you’re going through.
I’m so sorry to hear this. Your efforts are not in vain.
Benjamin. Oh man, brother. I’m so sorry, I really, really am. My wife and I adopted twin girls from Liberia seven years ago. We made it out by the skin of our teeth with them. You will be just as rewarded as those of us who somehow were given the grace to pull it off. I really believe that. You will be just as rewarded eternally as I will be.
so sorry ben may god be with you.
So sorry, Ben. *hug*
Brother Ben, I am in tears as I type this — I want to wish you “God’s peace” but I know you and your wife won’t have that again for a long time? … I can only weep for you and with you — and light a candle and say a prayer for you at our altar today …
I’m so very sorry. Love and deep sympathies to your family, my friend.
I’m sorry Ben. I hope there are brighter things ahead for your family. In the meantime, we mourn with those who mourn.
I am so sorry for you and your wife, that things didn’t turned out, as you’d hoped and planned. 🙁
I’m so sorry to read this heartbreaking story! You have my prayers and my sympathy for your loss. I can’t imagine the pain and exhaustion you and your wife and child must be living through. But you are young and have a lot of life and love yet to give. It’s there and it will find a way to be expressed and embraced.
[Not that it will be of great comfort or even worthy of pondering coming from someone who does not identify as Christian, but I believe hell is of our own making, and heaven is really all there is. Life is just our journey into realizing our own heaven. If “God is Love”, as I believe her to be, she would never send you to hell. 😉 Or anyone for that matter. She is simply pure, rapturous, *unconditional* love.]
I wish you and your family all the best in reaching the other side of this grief, and in absorbing the rays of light and value you’ll inevitably find in the journey.
The pictures are precious. My heart aches for you and your family.
I am so sorry for your loss. I can’t imagine losing a child. I hope I never do. Grieve the loss, keep your heart open. I know you have a lot of love to give to a child/children.
The one thing I don’t get is why people insist on adopting from overseas. Yes, those kids need parents, too, but here in NC, we have over 13,000 kids in foster care, many of them are available for adoption. I have one biological daughter and two adopted daughters. I also have 4 former exchange students that I call my own. 3 from Russia and 1 from Pakistan. Our first adopted daughter suffered traumatic brain injury after being thrown from a car at the age of 4. Her birth mother was under the influence of drugs, ran a stop sign and was T-boned by an 18-wheeler. We got K. when she was 16 after 4 years in foster care and 1 failed adoption. She made our lives a living hell for two years with destructive behavior, running away, cursing, trying to push us down stairs and even pulling a knife on me. The police were at our house numerous times. However, we did not give up. She is now the first to call to wish me a Happy Birthday or Happy Mother’s Day. She left us at the age of 18 to return to her birth family. She stopped all meds, including birth control. She had 3 children in 3 years by 3 different men. The first child she had is now our 2nd adopted daughter. We were called by DSS because K. had been beaten by her boy friend (second child’s father) while holding L. While we were fostering her, we discovered she has 4 Q deletion, cerebral palsy, ocular motor apraxia and bicuspid aortic disease. K. and the birth father allowed us to adopt L. because she was going to need lots of services they would not have access to in their small town. She is now 6 years old, a joy and a miracle child. We were told she would never walk without assistance, but she runs and plays like a normal 6 year old. K. still has the other two children and is doing her best to raise them on her own. We help keep them in food and clothes. None of the fathers are in their lives.
Sorry, I got off track, but there are so many children in foster care in the states that need parents. Adoption is free when adopting older children, they get a monthly adoption assistance stipend and if they choose to go to college, it is free as long as they attend a state college here in NC. There are lots of benefits to adopting a child in your home state. We need to take care of the kids here. Doesn’t charity begin at home? Why aren’t our churches helping to take care of the orphans here at home? Why aren’t we as Christians? I understand the attraction to adopting kids from other countries. It is interesting to learn about other cultures and lifestyles. It can be exotic. We have done that through sponsoring the exchange students who compete for scholarships to study here. CIEE is a great organization that helps students who cannot afford to study abroad. The US State Department sponsors these kids. They are very bright and the competition is fierce. They are not rich kids being sent here by parents. Most come here with very little. Our first Russian daughter brought her entire wardrobe which fit in half of a suitcase. The other half was filled with gifts for our family. We still see them all on occasion when they come back to visit or we meet while traveling abroad.
So, why do you believe your option to adopt is over? You don’t have to spend a ton of money to adopt at home. As for your age or whatever, I am disabled and 57 years old. I may not live to see my youngest grow up either, but I will make lots of memories with her while I can. Sometimes God closes one door to open another. I am so sorry you lost your daughters. Nothing or no one will ever replace them in your hearts, but I am sure there is still room there for other children. My heart has grown so much over the years. I was told I probably would never have children of my own due to endometriosis. I had my daughter at age 27 and she will be turning 30 on Sept. 3. She is beautiful, intelligent and a very successful young woman. She and her husband have chosen not to have children. She is a social worker and if she decides she wants children in her life, she will adopt.
I never dreamed of adopting. I was happy with one child, but then I got divorced, remarried 4 years later to a man 14 years my junior who did not have kids or had ever been married. We had planned to try to have a child, but I suffered a massive heart attack at age 40, two months after we were married. After hosting exchange students, we decided to look into adoption. That is where our journey began. Now I have 6 daughters, 1 son and two grandchildren. We have been so blessed with our kids. I only have one brother, but my father has a very large family. He had 10 brothers and sisters, my grandmother was the oldest of 12. I have 26 first cousins just on my paternal side. One of my uncles has hosted several exchange students and one of my cousins (his daughter) has adopted 5 children.
Please don’t give up on adopting. You don’t need to sell everything and pay an agency to adopt in your home state. There are plenty of children waiting for forever homes. Many are brothers and sisters who want to be adopted together, but not enough families to adopt or foster so many of them are split up. Yes, many of them have been abused and neglected, but so have those kids in other countries. It isn’t easy and many days you ask, “Why did I do this?”. We were told that however long the kids were abused, neglected or rejected, it would take twice that long for them to recover. It’s true. K. is still struggling, but she is 25 now and is just beginning to call me “Mom”. She swore she would never call me that because she had made a promise to her birth mother. Now that she has gone back to live with her birth family, she now knows that they really don’t care for her. She didn’t believe if for years and was in denial that they willingly gave her up without a fight. Now she knows the truth. Sometimes it is hard to love kids with these issues, because they know how to hurt you deeply. They have had plenty of experience. But, it is soon worth it, when they finally realize that they are loved and that we are not giving up on them. Sticking with them through all the bad stuff is what they really need, Someone who doesn’t give up. So please, don’t give up yet. Grieve for the daughters you lost. Keep them in your hearts forever, but keep it open for those who still need you. May God richly bless you for your loving heart.
My dream was not the same as yours, but I too had a dream I put everything into. I remember all the people who told me admiringly how brave I was. I ‘knew’ there was risk in giving up money, time and even health towards what I felt I was called to do.
In phase 2, after multiple failures, I was told to keep trying, that you’re not a failure until you stop trying. I figured God was preparing me, that he was strengthening me, that he was instilling much needed humility.
In phase 3, I begged God to give it a rest! How much teaching did he think I needed? How much punishment for the arrogance of my youth? I became depressed and found it harder to keep trying.
In phase 4, I realized that doing something ‘risky’ means you might fail; that by definition some people WILL fail and that I was one of those.
I have accepted this now. The grief is still there and hits me hard at what seem like random times, but the depression is gone.
I don’t know if there’s a phase 5! I don’t know if any phase 5 will involve God clearly and completely handing me my goal. I do know that phase 5 will not involve me going back to trying again. As I have aged, I have to consolidate what I have left.
But I also finally accept (most days) that understanding was never promised me and that it will probably never be given to me.
I do not know why my life has been what it has been, but it has been a good life anyway- and never has it been boring!
I hope that your future life journey will bring you and your family peace.
So very sorry to learn of this.
Ben, I don’t have words. There is nothing I could say to give the right kind of honor to the sacrifices of your hearts and those of your family in choosing love, and love again, and love again (and again.) This is my first time on your blog, and I am aching with your grief, and also grateful for your willingness to open up the raw reality to us all. As trite as it can be, I want to say that I’m praying for you and for yours (all of yours—because there are four.)
I’m so sorry. Ben. This is heartbreaking. Sometimes, the best of ideas, the best of intentions, and all our best efforts just aren’t enough, and that sucks. All I can say is, grieve, let yourself be sad, mad, and hurt, and then let yourself heal.
Again, I’m so sorry.
Sorry to hear.
Not to be that guy, but in a few years you guys may be in a very different place. The whole ‘never say never’ thing. Especially on the financial part. I’m going to assume you have received (and have given) things that were very unexpected and surprising.
At the minimum, you have a ton of knowledge that can and will be shared with others to make their process of adoption easier.
(it hit me the other day that I could do individual health insurance ‘consulting’ to folks struggling with their coverage, I’ve been in public & private, before G-C)
I am so, so sorry for what you are going through. I adopted two children from Russia and the adoption came close to not going through. Parenting has been difficult for us after the adoption. I’m sure you know how much is packed into that last sentence. There have been joys, but also many, many challenges, some of them quite unanticipated even by the excellent preparation our agency provided. Your post is a reminder to me that I need to look deeper into my own experience and count my blessings. I will continue to pray for you and your family as you process this most difficult outcome.
I am deeply sorry. I can’t imagine how deeply your heart must ache and I am holding space for your family’s grief.
I really don’t think you are going to Hell, even if life feels like Hell at the moment. Heaven wouldn’t be heaven without people like you. Hugs and prayers from New Zealand. <3
So sorry those beautiful girls won’t be able to join your family. Hugs of comfort to all of you.
Viktor frankl has a few quotes from his ‘man’s search for meaning’ that might help:
‘Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.
When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.
Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.’
I see this as a signpost in your new landscape:
‘We became experts on ELL and disability law. We learned so much about IEPs that it feels like we often educate the educators. We know the ins and outs on everything from equine therapy, attachment therapy, to the limitations of traditional talk therapy. Adoption, and all that comes with raising older children with special needs, became our day-in-day-out life.”
& this from scripture has been significant personally to me when I felt that salt was being rubbed in my deepest wounds.
“Unless a grain falls to the ground and dies, it remains alone. But if it dies, it produces much fruit.”
One wonders is this all there is?
Is it really so impossible to live out ones humanity with good intentions towards others in good faith yet one’s best efforts are thwarted because this is life on life’s terms & one didn’t know? Now one has this terrible knowing and raw gnawing gut that this vision goes this far and no farther & no favor just mind numbing hangover. Others are similarly abused & seek the answers that have been vouchsafed to you in your moment of crisis and suffering. the living in the solution one has to connect with on a daily basis is a slender thread of hope. The promise hidden in ones vulnerability is an enlargement of your soul’s boundless wisdom & empathy needed to encouage the broken hearted divine appointments being prepared for you. IMHO you will hold a door open for many who are oppressed like you are now.
I do not know you except from your blog. I do recognize your pain and feel deeply for you and your family. But from what you have written here, can I assume that you have a daughter, Johanna, who is alive and living with you? If so, I hope your pain and sorrow do not deprive her of what she needs to thrive and grow.
Also, I cannot help but wonder why you did not adopt from here in the U.S.
Pain and loss are a part of life for every human who ever lived, but some seem to have more than their share of it, and I can speak as one with you in that. I wish you rest, comfort of friends and family, and eventually, that you will find renewal and hope to move on……..Peace……..
Grieving with you. Been at a similar place with God and hope. You deserve quiet healing rest. As you rest, I am going to hope on your behalf.
What a beautifully raw, horrifically human piece. Thank you for being so real here. I wish I had something to say that could make it better. But I’ve never even met you (yet) and so all I can do is offer my soul to sit with yours in your pain. I do take comfort from the scripture that tells us when we don’t even know what to pray, our spirits do.
It is difficult to imagine God abandoning Ben and his wife. I’m sure this isn’t the end of the story for them. It might be easy for me to say, but this is what I feel.
I read this story and the link “it’s not the first time”. Thank you for sharing! I understand.
Tears and hugs…so sorry for this deep loss. So blown away by your authenticity. God, just wrap your arms around this precious family so willing so full of giving and so full of love.
Holding you and your family in my heart.
God bless and keep you and carry you through the ocean depths of sorrow…
Much love to you and your family.
God bless you my friend
My heart swells with sorrow for you and yours. May you find peace and comfort dear one.
I spent a few years in that place where you followed God faithfully and wound up in some screwed up situation, lacking the energy or wherewithal to carry forward in a reasonable way. It was like, “I followed you and this is where you take me? Really?” I knew in my head that the story wasn’t actually over, but I had hit an immovable wall.
Anyhow, I won’t bore you with all the gory details of what happened (or is happening – the story’s in process), but the dark night did end. And what I put my faith in held. The rock held. What God taught me on the way worked. And even though in the middle of it I really believed I wasn’t going to make it through without being irreparably damaged, restoration was waiting on the other side.
I don’t want to feed you platitudes, but when I was really deep in the pit, a couple of people who had been there themselves testified to me that they were not abandoned there and that gave me something solid to pin hope to. So now it’s my turn. It’s going to be OK . . . eventually.
I’m so sorry, man.
I’m so deeply sorry for this loss, Ben. Grieving with you and your family today.
Ben, that is really awful. We live in an animal world where virtually every living thing has to consume another living thing to sustain itself. If we consider ourselves spiritual beings living in an animal body that has to kill and eat and compete for resources in order to live, we enter this world starting on the wrong foot if we want to somehow come through it all as decent, good, loving, sentient people. Why bring that up and risk sounding completely non-sequitur? Because I don’t think you should be so hard on yourself. I’m trying to stick up for you. I don’t know you, but I believe you are trying harder than most to be a decent, good, loving person despite the fact you are doing that in this physical, animal world. This is a rough place and you are doing what you can to be a shining light here. Other people in terrible situations like yours, like people who have lost kids to drunk drivers, or gangs or whatever, have channeled their grief into railing against whatever took their kids from them. They form groups or foundations and try to do something about it. I’m not one of those people so what the hell would I know. And I’m certainly not in your shoes, so again, what the hell would I know. I’m just saying I think you’re a good guy in a brutal world that ultimately seeks to reduce us all to an animal existence. And I believe you will somehow work out how to channel your good intentions in some other direction which is going to be breathtaking to behold.
(((hugs))) is all I have to offer.
I love you man. Call me when you feel like it.
<3 I am so sorry. I can't say anything more. I am so, so sorry. <3
The question I hear most folks asking is; where will I be when I get to where it is I am going? It is an issue I find in the words of the “Four Feet.” What I became willing to accept in my life, is it is not my Will that was so important; but what naturally became of life and how capable I grew of becoming accepting of those circumstances. There are crisis’s in life; there are rewarding events too. We can find in ourselves the grace to prepare for and celebrate both. It is not by faith alone we grow, but through experiencing life as it happens, however, fair or unfair, we perceive it to be.
Ben, I am an adoptive parent internationally, myself. I was sorry to read this, and for what it’s worth from Internet people, am with you in your grief.
What can we do to help? Besides grieving with those who grieve, and praying for solace and peace for your family, what can we do? For those who give so much there comes a time when others should and could relieve or share their burdens. A journey shaped by loss is not chosen willingly but endured. Prayers for your family.
And yes please let us know what we can do.