/ adoption / Barry York

Two Broken Hearts, One Love

The following article is a guest post by Sarmishta "Shammi" Venkatesh, the wife of a church planter in India. I had the privilege of knowing Venky and Shammi when they were students at Reformed Presbyterian Theological Seminary. They were sent out along with another family from the Second Reformed Presbyterian Church of Indianapolis where Gentle Reformation blogger James Faris is the pastor.

Recently Venky and Shammi went through the process of adopting a young boy named Abhi.  In a beautiful fashion Shammi has chronicled the difficult yet ultimately joyful journey the Lord took them on in this adoption. With their permission, I am sharing today and tomorrow two of her articles in the hope they bring encouragement to a wider audience.

Today is Children’s Day (Note: This article was originally posted privately on November 14, 2017). Jawaharlal Nehru, one of the founding fathers of our nation and our first Prime Minister loved children, and his birthday is commemorated every year as Children’s day. I think today is a good day to pen down an important milestone for one little child. Abhi is coming home in 21 days! It’s also a worthwhile day to think about children unwanted by the world, whom God urges the church to embrace.

One of his usual days.

Abhi and I have so much in common besides our wide smiles and funny faces. Of course, we are both adventurous, love to talk. Love to be silly. Love dreaming. Question everything. Perhaps that’s one reason I connected with the boy the first time I saw his pic. “Mommy, come get me!” I couldn’t resist.

Abhi and I also are very broken. Eight years ago Abhi came to know what it meant to be abandoned. Rejected. Forsaken. These are things no child should know at so frail an age. From his first day on, a tender grasp left his fingers. A bosom failed to feed him. An embrace coldened. Around that time, Venky and I were just married, longing for children from the get-go. Those tender fingers, we longed to feel. The bosom was never full to feed. Our embraces had none between us to warm us even more.

From the time he was born, Abhi was well acquainted with hospitals. During the first year, he had to get a shunt placed in his brain owing to Hydrocephalus. His first spinal surgery wasn't a great success and had to be redone years later. He went back and forth between hospital and home owing to the effects of trauma and spina bifida. He had to also get a MACE surgery to help him with his bowel management. The trauma of his surgeries on his little body and mind are unfathomable. In the midst of this all, Abhi learned the cheer of life in the love of his many foster moms, dads, and caregivers, not to forget, his little friends all of whom were battling similar struggles as himself. In the meantime, mommy got many of her bones broken too! Tail bone, left elbow, right elbow, spinal issues. God knew I guess, he needed a broken mommy like myself.

Abhi after one of the surgeries. Ice cream seems to make him happy!

Above all, Abhi longed for a home. Every visit that prospective adoptive parents (PAPs) made was a time of testing. Would they pick me? Will they like me? The stress these children in foster homes faces is enormous. They try to outperform each other to get the attention of PAPs and in the end only one gets picked. Abhi had to relive that first rejection very many times in these 8 years. Someone always got picked, and it wasn't him. Why am I not chosen? What do I lack? Why can't I belong? Why do I not deserve love, a family and a home? These questions cross the minds of every child still left an orphan, perhaps not so eloquently, but through deep seated feelings of shame, failure & rejection which usually manifests in anger, withdrawal or self-injury. Abhi did ask these questions. Abhi longed for a family.

The lonely can’t scream. Who would hear, after all? They are lonely. Their voices shrink with time. But God knew. God saw. God heard Abhi even before he let out his first yelp.

But He condescends to know things in heaven and earth below

From the dust he lifts the poor, makes the needy grieve no more. -Ps. 113:6-7

For several years, Venky and I longed for a home too. A home where Christ would reside and children would grow in love and longing for Him and His people. Being in churches where children popped out ever so often made this stage of life difficult for us. Every time a baby shower happened at church, joy was always mingled with sorrow. Not me, not this time. Rejection and loneliness have different shades but just one dark color. Every time my cycle passed, a sense of grief and failure ensued. This time too, the Lord did not answer. Every time one of our birthdays came by, I would fervently ask for that one wish: Lord, this birthday, grant us a little one please! But the Lord always passed us by. Always. We had our hopes lifted in 2011 and again in 2012 when we conceived a child. This one, it is! Yet, it pleased the Lord to crush us, by taking away both these little ones at a tender age. Mommi-ness lasted only weeks. The Lord gives, the Lord takes away. May He be praised forever. These words became my soul’s silent lament through these years of waiting, praying and finally even giving up.

God knew what He was going to do.

He the barren woman takes... -Ps. 113:9a

This past year was filled with deep seated griefs, losses and a long season of loneliness and depression for me personally. I was in a dark abyss, leaping in faith, trying to get out, only to fall back in again. I was surrounded by loneliness and sorrows within and without, with too many to number or name. Darkness became that sinister friend who never left. Until Abhi.

Our first meeting. Oct 20, 2017

Abhi. Someone named him so aptly. Abhi means “fearless”. Abhi, who has endured so many trials, is indeed a fearless little boy. God brought Abhi into our lives when we were fearful of the unknown. Fearful as to whether we could parent a child not our own. Fearful as to whether we knew what parenting really was, and that with an 8 yr old. Fearful of spina bifida and the struggles and sorrows it would eventually bring about. God renewed our faith and hope in Him through little Abhi’s life. But Abhi meant something more to me. As went his name, he became the “first rays of sunlight” beaming into my abyss. His spark became my song. His life my heart-beat. His smile lifted me from my sorrows. His courage encouraged my faith. Abhi became mine and we his. I am a mother, finally!

He the barren woman takes and a joyful mother makes,

In her home she finds reward. -Ps. 113:9a-b

Abhi is going to have a new family, new friends and a new home. He’s also going to have a new name. Abhay Kumar Venkatesh. Abhay means “safety”. He will find a safe haven of rest in a Christian home, in our arms’ embrace. Close to my bosom, clinging to my hands. His tender fingers in mine. His presence between us in warm embrace. Abhay Kumar means something more. Something personal. It means “fearless prince”. No longer orphaned but fathered. Fathered by the King of kings, remembered by Him.

From the dust He lifts the poor, makes the needy grieve no more

Those He’s raised up from the pit, with His people’s princes sit. -Ps. 113:7-8

Two broken hearts. Shattered by life’s struggles. Deepened by life’s traumas. Joined by God’s grace. A perfect match. God it is who broke us, that we might have something to share with the other. That we might learn how to sigh. How to love. How to comfort. How to kiss.

Who is like our God alone? High in heaven the Lord’s enthroned.

But He condescends to know things in heaven and earth below.

From the dust He lifts the poor, makes the needy grieve no more

Those He’s raised up from the pit, with His people’s princes sit

He the barren woman takes and a joyful mother makes,

In her home she finds reward.

Hallelujah! Praise the Lord! -Ps. 116:5-9

Barry York

Barry York

Sinner by Nature - Saved by Grace. Husband of Miriam - Grateful for Privilege. Father of Six - Blessed by God. President of RPTS - Serve with Thankfulness. Author - Hitting the Marks.

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