Christian Author Lorilyn Roberts

Synopsis of Children of Dreams

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Synopsis of Children of Dreams 

by Lorilyn Roberts

"Do you have anything to say?" the divorce judge asked.

"I took away her dreams."

My husband turned his eyes away from me to hide his shame.

I swallowed hard to hold back the tears. After eight years of marriage, praying for a child, and putting him through medical school, I could hardly bear the pain of his affair and the divorce he sought. I left the courthouse where I worked as a court reporter thinking my life was over. I had lost the man I loved deeply and wanted a child more than anything. Now the other woman carried my husband's baby when I had been unable to conceive. I didn't know if I would ever be happy again.

As the years passed I slowly began the process of putting my life back together, all the while growing in my dependence on God and learning to trust Him.
Eight years after the divorce I prayed and asked God to help me adopt a little girl. Less than two months after I began the adoption process, I left for Nepal. Nothing could have prepared me for what I experienced and saw - extreme poverty, starving children with no opportunity for a better life, and cows milling around everywhere. The stench was nauseating.
I arrived home with my 3-year-old daughter, Manisha Hope, on Mother's Day in 1994! Life was wonderful and busy, and when Manisha turned 6, I decided to pursue a second adoption. After two failed referrals, I received my third referral when tragedy struck.

On September 19, 1998, Manisha suffered a complex-partial seizure that left her unconscious. She was rushed to the hospital in an ambulance and underwent tests which initially diagnosed her with a brain tumor; the same condition that had killed my Father exactly four years earlier to the day Manisha spent nine days in the hospital. A Christian doctor thought it might be a parasite; something extremely rare in this county but not that uncommon in third-world countries. Tapeworms can live in the brain for five years and it had been four and a half years since Manisha arrived from Nepal. Eventually, the larvae die and cause an infection in the brain, called neurocysticercosis.

After much consultation, including Dr. Margaret Hostetter, Professor and Chair at the Department of Pediatrics at Yale School of Medicine, the doctors believed it was neurocysticercosis, but the diagnosis was never confirmed. During the next year while Manisha was chronically ill from immunosuppressant medication, I received many pictures of my third referral. I prayed unceasingly for Manisha and "my little girl" who sat in an orphanage waiting for documents to be completed that would never be processed. My I-600 petition expired along with my home study, and I was asked to pay additional sums of money that I didn't have. After a year with no action being taken on my adoption, with conflicting emotions, I asked for another referral. I had already received my fourth referral and purchased my plane ticket to travel to Vietnam when Manisha had another protracted seizure. The doctors wanted to do surgery. If I didn't travel to Vietnam, my documents would expire. Did God want me to have a second child? Did Manisha really have a brain tumor?
I called Dr. Hostetter and shortly before Thanksgiving I took Manisha to the Yale International Adoption Clinic to be examined. We didn't know what to expect. The doctors performed tests all day and did more MRI's with special cuts.

I'll never forget walking into Dr. Hostetter's office to go over the results. She looked at me and said, "The MRI is normal." Dr. Hostetter didn't think Manisha needed any further treatment. As long as she stayed on seizure medicine Manisha would be fine. I should go to Vietnam and get my second daughter. I believe God miraculously healed Manisha.
Less than a week later I traveled to Vietnam. Upon arriving in Hanoi, however, I encountered another insurmountable problem. While other adoptive families staying at my hotel were meeting their new sons or daughters, the "birthmother" of mine had gone into hiding. The police who eventually interrogated the woman found she was not the birthmother. She was trying to "sell" this little girl. When I realized I was caught up in a baby-selling scam and I would have no child to take home with me, I was devastated.

I walked streets of Hanoi crying inwardly and outwardly, "God, if you don't want me to have another child, I will go home and love the child that You so graciously gave me. After three years of trying to adopt, I give up my dreams. I love You anyway. You are my God and You know best. I will love Manisha with all my heart and not pursue this any further, and not be angry or bitter."

When I got back to my hotel I received the phone call I never dreamed I would get. Another child was available. I received a picture by Email and was excited but guarded. She was cute but didn't look two and a half like the birthmother said. This little girl who I named Joy was brought to Hanoi because it would have been dangerous for me to travel to her village. Joy's birthmother was young and frightened, and the language barrier made it extremely difficult. How I desperately wanted to talk to her. I had so many questions that would go unanswered; a lifetime to wonder, but only a few moments to talk with Joy's birthmother, lost in a blur of uncertainty.

I took Joy to my hotel room and she cried non-stop for five days. I told my friend, "I don't know if I'm doing the right thing. I'm not sure she's ‘normal.'" I was worried she might have medical problems, which I didn't think I had the emotional strength to handle. Joy would not look at me, would not interact with me, and would start crying every time anyone looked at her. I asked people to "not look at my child." My friend and I prayed, asking God to show me what to do.

The next day Joy was different. Even the people at the hotel took notice. They couldn't believe it was the same child. I now faced another problem. I couldn't stay two months in Vietnam to complete the adoption. It was December 1999, and everybody was trying to complete their adoptions because of Y2K. The Vietnamese government said because of my unusual situation, they would speed up my adoption and set the hearing for December 28. After I finished the Vietnamese part of the adoption, however, I would not be able to complete the American side of the adoption because the American Embassy would not process my case, although they were processing other American adoptions.

They called me into the American Embassy and insisted I come alone and not divulge the information they gave me. They wouldn't say anything except they strongly advised me not to leave Vietnam until the adoption was done. That would be another three weeks past December 28. I had left Manisha in Gainesville with friends, I was home schooling her, and I was already going to miss Christmas with her. I couldn't financially afford to stay and I couldn't afford to come back four weeks later. The American Embassy told me, "If you leave Vietnam before we process your case, Immigration and Naturalization may find the adoption illegal. Joy will be your child, but you won't be able to bring her to America." I would have to trust God that He would bring Joy to me. The entire time I was in Vietnam, I was never sure God would give Joy to me.

Why was the U.S. Embassy processing other cases and not mine? I didn't know then, but my adoption facilitator was under investigation by the U.S. government. I never knew the full details, but God works no matter what happens. He brought Manisha to me through a Godly pastor, and He brought Joy to me through untoward circumstances that were full of evil plans. God works in spite of evil. God is "good" and He is in control. In spite of it all, the facilitator offered to have Joy stay with her, finish my American paperwork, and escort Joy to America.

On January 26, 2000, I went to pick Joy up at the Jacksonville, Florida airport. My heart was full of excitement and anticipation. It was a night I will never forget. Manisha met her
new sister and we were finally a family. God made the impossible happen. About a year before I set out on the adoption road, I received a letter from World Vision stating there are millions of children living in poverty around the world, with no hope, with no love, with no joy. I put it on my refrigerator door and said, "Someday I am going to adopt." The letter quoted Proverbs 13:12*: "Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but when dreams come true, there is life and joy."

When I stood in the emergency room with the doctors hovering over Manisha thinking she might die, I quoted Proverbs 13:12 and said to them, "There is life. I gave Manisha the middle name Hope. God did not bring Manisha here from Nepal to die. This is her verse. She'll be okay."

They looked at me but remained silent. I had to believe God would save her. I had to believe, "When dreams come true, there is life..." And, after life, there is joy, the name of my second daughter. Manisha came to me on Mother's Day. Joy came to me at Christmas. Both in their own unique ways, both from God, and both loved beyond belief. Indeed, my dreams had come true.

*New Living Translation

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