In October I wrote of our current period of discernment with Jackeline (age 12) and her special-needs brother Josue (age 7) who have been living with us since January 29th of last year. We will celebrate our 1-year anniversary with them next Friday as we continue to discern the Lord’s plans for their lives – whether we are to be their long-term family or whether they are to return to a blood relative.
Several weeks ago I had a long meeting with their biological mother and a psychologist from Honduras’ child protective agency to try to hash through the details of whether the mom is (or will be any time soon) ready to receive her children again. To make a long story short, she’s not. We do, however, maintain a very positive and mutually supportive relationship with her, and last month on the kids’ once-a-month visit day with their biological family members, we invited her to a local beach with all 9 of us (Darwin, the 7 kids, and I). It was such a blessing that we can have a ‘family outing’ of such a mixed sort but still with so much joy, love, and encouragement.
Jackeline and Josue days after moving in with us in January 2015:
And more recently:
Jackeline has had a genuine turn-around in her general attitude and work ethic, although she failed to pass fifth grade again when she earned a grade of 18% on her final exam in December. She is currently preparing to take the entrance exam into Gleny and Jason’s private Christian school where, if she is accepted, would be one of 11-year-old Gleny’s classmates in her fifth-grade class.
Overall, we are incredibly content with the situation with Jackeline and Josue even though on paper it all looks pretty messy and uncertain. Jackeline has been spending a lot of time each day reading the Scriptures during these weeks of school vacation, and she’s been spending 2-4 hours per day practicing piano, recorder, and voice with our eldest, Dayana. She’s participating weekly on the girls’ basketball team I coach in the nearby city of La Ceiba, and she’s taken on the role of ‘tutor’ for little Gabriela two afternoons a week, coaching her in guided activities like Play-Doh, building blocks, physical exercises, and coloring books.
Just yesterday Jackeline found me behind our house as I was washing our clothes in a big bucket and began sharing her heart with me for over an hour, which is not typical of her. She told me that she is extremely content living with us, but at the same time she feels a responsibility to return to her biological family someday to be able to teach them all that she is currently learning. She also mentioned with serenity that, after having suffered child obesity due to her mother’s compulsive feeding of her two children, she has now learned that “food is not [her] god,” and that, although years ago she felt urges to kill either her brother or herself, she now knows that God has a purpose for both of them as His children.
Josue is as joyful as ever, and his behavior has improved to such a degree that living with him is (generally) a privilege and blessing. He still wears diapers and can only pronounce a handful of one- or two-syllable words, but he continues five mornings per week in his special needs school, where he receives very individualized attention in a class of 3-5 students.
Please pray that we may focus on living one day at a time with them, loving and guiding them moment-to-moment for God’s glory, for that is all we can do with any of them.