It was an ordinary October day. I was driving my son to preschool, watching the golden sun flicker through the autumn leaves. The director of our adoption agency called. I could tell she was excited: “I have good news,” she said. “I just heard from the orphanage and they have a fifteen month old girl.” She went on to tell me what she knew about this little girl. She had only been at the orphanage for a month or two. She had been placed by her mom who was dying of AIDS. She was HIV+.
I felt my heart pounding in my chest as I listened to the story. I cried. I wanted to fly to Uganda and hug this baby girl’s mama and tell her everything was going to be fine. I did not think we could adopt her, but I began to pray.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11
As I prayed the words for the little girl, I flicker of hope grew in my heart. My husband and I learned about HIV+ adoption and opened our hearts. My hope grew into love for this girl who, I thought, might be my daughter. After six weeks, my husband and I made the decision to ask for her photo and her medical information.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Psalm 139:14
The little girl was beautiful. She looked tiny and fragile like a scared bird. She had huge brown eyes. For two weeks I looked at her picture dozens of time each day. I prayed. I dreamed. I imagined her as my daughter. I ran eight or so miles on the beach in California, humbled by God’s glorious creation and cried for this little girl. I prayed that my husband and I would have the courage to do what God was calling us to do.
We never had the opportunity to say yes to this little girl.
Yesterday I got a phone call from our agency. When I heard the director’s voice, I knew something was wrong: “I have hard news.” She went on to tell me that the little girl had died. She had put her hand in hot tea and the burn had become infected. Something that could have easily been treated her with access to medical care was too much for this sweet little girl. Her immune system had been weakened by HIV and malnutrition. The staff from the orphanage took her to the hospital, but she was too weak.
As the story continued, I felt like I was looking into the face of evil. The child’s mother, who was just 19, had been gang raped. She got pregnant and was infected with HIV. She lived in a poor slum outside Kampala, Uganda. She had nothing. After her daughter was born, the doctors told her not to breastfeed, so that she would not infect her daughter with HIV. But she had no hope. She chose to breastfeed her daughter. She could not afford formula. She did not have access to medication that could save her life or her daughter. She did not have access to resources.
She was without hope.
It feels like evil won this round. Poverty, disease, rape, violence, pain, death. In this slum in Kampala, evil and shame and despair and death won. The brokeness in this world overwhelms me. I am just broken. My heart is completely broken. I’ve known the statistics about children dying in Africa. But never before was one of these children like my child.
This sweet, beautiful baby girl has gone home to be with her heavenly father. We are sad because we never got to hold her. We are thankful that we had two months to love her, to pray for her. We’re sad that there wasn’t more we could do. We’re angry and frustrated. And we are broken at the feet of Jesus, longing for the end of this, longing for the end of sin and suffering.
For I know the plans I have for you. Plans to prosper and not harm you. Plans to give you hope and a future.
This beautiful little girl’s names meant Song and Diamond. I don’t understand why God allowed so much pain and suffering in little Song’s life. But I am utterly thankful for what God has done in my heart through her life.
As we’re grieving, my children have reminded of how simple it is to love.
My two year old keeps looking at the picture of the the little girl we hoped to adopt and saying, “Baby. Sad.”
My three year old, after hearing that this little girl had died, climbed up into my lap and said, “Mama, why didn’t we hurry?”
My five year old went and found his wallet and took out all his money so we could give it to the orphanage so no more babies would die.
Family and friends, I implore you: let your hearts be broken by the things that break God’s heart. Do not be sad for our family. Pray that we would have courage to follow God’s call. Pray that we would be comforted thinking of little Diamond Song at home with her heavenly Father. Rejoice that she is now free from pain, that she now has hope and a glorious future. But please, please, let her story move you. Let her story change you.
Be sad. Be broken. Feel the weight of the evil, suffering and injustice in the world.
Feel the urgency of love. Hurry. Seek what God would have you do.
Give. Give everything you have because it is not your’s to keep. Use whatever God has given you to be his hands in this world.
Little Diamond Song, I am so sad I never got to hold you. Little baby, I wanted so much to be your mama. I wanted to look you in the eyes and read God’s promise over you. Oh sweet little girl, I am sad because I will never get to kiss your sweet head. But I am thankful you are with your Father in Heaven.