New Year, New Family

He wants to come here to stay.

The first whisperings were in a dark car, driving back home from a friend’s.

“Sometimes, when it is dark, I am sad,” he said.

It was out of nowhere, but I wasn’t too surprised. I chatted on about how I understand, because I know it’s hard to be in a foreign country and miss your friends and deal with some of the restrictive rules that come with hosting.

“Yes, these things are true,” he said. “But this is not all.”

It took a long time for him to elaborate. It took the drive home, and settling in, and a quiet wait at the table while he cradled his head in his hands, wondering if he dared to say. I made some guesses, and he hemmed around it, until he finally said.

“I will be 18 soon. And I have no family. I so want to live with family. THIS family. And I am so sad.”

And I took his hands. You have my love. It is yours when you are here in America, and when you are in your country.  This is what I can promise to you. You have me. You have my love. I cannot control the rest of the broken world, and I cannot even control the future of our family. But this love, I do control. And I pour it out freely and without reservation, across this table. Across the world, if need be.

But we both confided that we did not want to be across the world from each other. He needs to live here. He wants to be here.  For a long time.

And so we mulled together over what this could mean. Living with a family in America means leaving your culture, leaving your friends. Living with a family means being part of a unit and giving up autonomy. Living with a family means sacrifice and doing things you don’t always feel like doing.

But living with a family also means being connected. It means having a home. It means hope and love and arms that can be wrapped around you.

And he counted out the realities. Friends are nice, but they do not help pay the rent. Freedom is a treasure, but it does not keep you warm at night. His country and his culture are extremely important, but it does not promise a future. Staying means dropping out of high school to work. Staying means lonely nights and dangerous situations. Staying means no hope of higher education. Staying means no hope for much at all.

Staying means being alone. And this is worst of all.20151228_140729

So we talked and we whispered, and we let it stew for a few days. And then Peter Pan and I traveled for a weekend together in DC. At night, in the darkness, we whispered more. We said the things that are hard to say in the light. We talked about our scars and our past and the hurt and the hope and what it means to join together in this life.

He asked me again why him…why did I choose him? Why did he get picked out of all the faces? I told him because of the whisper in my heart, because I heard his need and I wanted to love him, in whatever form that took. The end goal is not necessarily to be together physically, but to grow something that stretches across time and space. That is family.

And then I met him and I fell in love with him. I fell for his heart, his kindness, his sense of humor. I fell for the way that he fits in like the missing piece come home.

Maybe we will have the joy of spending more time together in the same space. I long for that, and I know he does too. It will be hard for us both to not have him here. But family is not made by proximity, but by love. And I love him with all I have. I cannot explain it, but it was rooted there by the One who loves us both.

And in the dark, he counted out more people. Little Man. Sprite. Stephanie. Rachel. More and more names. How do they feel? What do they think? And I told him that there is more love for him than he can possibly understand.

So I asked him why it mattered.  I asked him why….why does he choose us? Why me?

“You understand me,” he said simply into the darkness. I was glad it was dark and he could not see the way my love slipped out of the corners of my eyes.

And so we will start walking this road together. This is not an easy journey, and there are a lot of things that need to fall into place in order for him to come here. We are both aware of this, but we know that we are not the ones in control anyway. We are both willing to step out in faith toward this, knowing what we risk, and praying that he will be able to come to the people who loves him very soon.

Please pray with us that Peter Pan would not have to grow up, not alone.

Peter Pan will return to his country in just two weeks, regardless of how the visa process goes. He is here on hosting on a visitor’s visa and must return from his holiday with us. We need to get a separate set of papers to bring him to study, and it is a completely different process than hosting.

Here’s what this process looks like, and how to pray for each step:

  • We have to find a school that is government approved for foreign students. This step is completed—my town just *happens* to have one of only two schools in our half of the state approved for student visas!! This alone is a miracle, and it gives me hope to move forward in faith.
  • We need to apply to the school and the board needs to approve our request for admission. This could happen as early as THIS week. Pray that they are favorable and they approve Peter Pan!
  • We fill out the paperwork with the school to request a student visa from Peter Pan’s country. This is where the costs for the visa begin. Please pray for unexpected blessings toward these costs.
  • The papers are sent to Peter Pan’s country, and a lawyer there helps us fill out the additional things that are needed there. This step is currently very shaky. Recently, some families misused the student visa process, so many people in the government are wary of Americans requesting visas for orphans. It may be difficult to find a lawyer to help us. This is a HUGE prayer request.
  • Peter Pan would need to complete an interview at the embassy for visa approval. Again, the climate is touchy at the moment. This step, if we can get here, is another place for miracles.
  • If approved, Peter Pan would return to our home to begin his studies. We would like him to come before the end of the school year this spring. This is a stretch of miraculous proportions, but it is what would be best for him, so please pray with me that this could happen.

This is an expensive undertaking, at a time when many people in Peter Pan’s country are rightfully suspicious of American motives. There are costs involved at every step, including lawyer fees, flight costs, and tuition to the school—as a foreign student, he does not get free or reduced costs for schooling. We will need probably around $8000-10,000 for the initial costs and the first year of school (additional years will be a little less). I will be doing some fundraisers soon, and offering opportunities to sponsor Peter Pan through tax-deductible scholarships. But in the meantime, if you want to help support us through this journey, you can donate here.

I am so grateful for the support so many of you have shown to Peter Pan. He feels its tangible effects, and is overwhelmed by the possibility that he might be able to study here in America. Thank you so much for your prayers and encouragement, and thank you for investing in this dear young man.

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