Guest Post By Tim Sainz-
A few weeks ago, Heather Radu asked me to write something about my experience with Dorie’s Promise.
“Something brief,” she said. “Or something long. Whatever you want.”
The long version is way too long, so I will take a stab at a short one.
I have visited Dorie’s Promise about 15 times in the last six years.
The first time I went, it wasn’t called Dorie’s Promise, the oldest child living there was nine years old, and my daughter was three weeks old.
When I went a month ago, I chatted with that same young lady, who is now 15, and after the trip and a long legal battle, I also took my daughter home. She’s now six.
A few things strike me about the reactions friends, family, and strangers have had about Chelsea finally coming home.
First, a lot of them comment about what a good thing it is that I stuck with this for so long — and they say this with a combination of curiosity and surprise.
It’s not for me to analyze whether these reactions are commentaries on what folks think of me or whether they are reflections on themselves.
Whatever they are, they provoke only one thought in me. I never had the choice of giving up. I went into this seven years ago with my eyes open.
Adopting isn’t like shopping. There is no return policy. At least not for me.
My wife and I agreed before we even started an adoption process that no matter what happened, we would stay the course. That included things like developmental or physical handicaps. We never imagined legal roadblocks and the associated financial burdens, but it included them too.
Don’t get me wrong. Even though I kept them pushed away in my dark recesses, I had my doubts about the outcome of this adoption. My faith was tested. It just wasn’t lost.
Comments that were intended to comfort me — for example, “God has His own timetable” — proved much more annoying than comforting. I had to work at not allowing this trial to take my faith and turn me into a misery for the people in my life.
The next reaction I get is the knowing look that is a combination of worry and pity coupled with the question, “How is Chelsea adjusting?”
Let me just say this.
Chelsea was home maybe 10 days before she started complaining, “Why are you always asking me for help putting away my clothes?” It’s completely lost on her that I helped by washing and folding them. Sounds like a normal adjustment to me.
The biggest surprise, however, is the reaction I never get.
People focus on my wait. No one ever wants to hear how Chelsea managed through the last six years.
For me, however, it’s important to remember that at the end of the day, the adoption of my daughter has nothing to do with me or any unforeseen benefits I may have received from having my resolve tested.
The people at Dorie’s Promise, Chelsea, and her birth mother are the heroes here.
Imagine you have a boyfriend and that he loves you. Then imagine you get pregnant and all of a sudden he no longer does. You are a societal pariah, and overnight you lose the support of your friends and family.
Now imagine that you are a six-year-old girl who owns her own underwear but not a whole lot of anything else. You have seen other children go home, but you don’t really know what that means. Some foreign guy who speaks broken Spanish visits regularly. You know him as your papa, but you don’t really know why he won’t just take you home. Life is pleasant — it’s all you really know — but there has always been something that’s not quite right.
And finally imagine that you start a foundation to help unwanted children find homes. Other people exploited the system and ruined it for all of the unwanted children. You had to come up with an entirely new operating plan so that you could continue to shelter the kids who were already under your care.
I wasn’t really looking for something to test my faith when I started the process of adopting Chelsea. Candidly, I had no idea what a test of faith was.
On reflection, it seems to me that test of faith is a misleading term. It’s not so much a test as it is a search for stronger people who inspire me to continue down a challenging path.
It wasn’t fun fighting a legal battle and watching the growing frustration in Chelsea.
It was nothing, however, compared to giving my child up in hopes of her having a better life.
Nothing compared with living in an orphanage without “my own mama and papa”.
And nothing compared with the constant pressure of more than 50 children and employees depending on me.
Dorie’s Promise is undoubtedly the greatest thing that ever happened to Chelsea and every child who has ever, and will ever, live there. It’s certainly the best thing that ever happened to me.
The place is full of people who keep the faith — active faith, it seems. Not so much blind faith. And with this, they change lives. Not the least of which are mine and Chelsea’s.
For that, my family and I are and always will be grateful to everyone involved.