Sunday, February 25, 2007

We've found Pedro's Mom!

An amazing thing has happened – we have found my darling Pedro’s mother and family!!! After a total of eight years apart, the last five living here at Iris, they are reunited! Although the story is long, it is precious to me as he is the boy I was praying about and planning to try and adopt. Let me start at the beginning:

When Pedro, who’s real name is Juliao Jose Mindou, was two years and two months old, he was stolen from his mother by a neighbor woman. She took him to live in Inhambane, about eight hours north of here and his mother and father were never able to find him. Sadly, his father accused his mother of selling him and they split up. A few years later, the woman who stole him brought him back to the Matola area where he was from and took him to the police, claiming she had found him abandoned on the streets. They took him to a children’s center and a short time later, he came to live at Iris Ministries, at the same time as five other boys with no identifiable family. A time later, his mother saw the woman who had taken him at the market and ran to her, crying “where is my son?!?” She took her to the police where the woman eventually confessed. They were able to track the child to the first children’s center, and then to Iris.

His mother came to our center with her new husband (she had another daughter by this time as well, who is now 7) and the police, but our Head Administrator at that time did not believe that she was Pedro’s mother. The administrator felt it would be impossible to prove that Pedro was the same boy so she essentially refused to look into it further and denied his mother’s requests for visits. Eventually, she gave up asking, which seems impossible for us in the West (a loose term we use a lot here) to imagine. I won’t go into an in-depth explanation here but trust me when I say her acceptance has nothing to do with whether or not she loved and wanted her son and everything to with the defeatism and fatalism that so often accompany poverty and repression. I know that won’t appease most people reading this but you’ll just have to try and withhold judgment. (If you’d like to dialogue about this more, feel free to contact me.)

I have seven boys in my dorm right now with no identifiable family, including Pedro with his unique story, some of which we knew. This last year, as we have completed home visits for all of other children, it has been so on my heart, and my co-worker Vella’s, to investigate these boys’ situations and see what we can find, even if that literally means driving to a market and start walking around and seeing if the boy recognizes anything. With Pedro, we had more to go on and we started at the police “station” (literally a one room cement building in a clearing under a tree!) where the police report was filed. The Chefe (chief) who had signed the report was retired but the new Chefe said he was having a leader’s meeting the following day and he would ask around about this story. That was on a Friday. Monday morning began with a visit from our new Head Administrator yelling “It’s a Miracle – they’ve found his mother already! Praise God!!” She was still living in the same area and although the new Chefe didn’t know her story, nearly everyone else in the community did.

So my Educators arranged a visit for the following morning to meet the mother and try and ascertain if she was indeed his mother. When my head Educator, Eliza Juliet returned she said “Mana Laura, if you walked in the room, you wouldn’t need to ask which one is Pedro’s mother, he looks just like her!” Everyone felt that she is his mother and so they arranged for her and her mother (and her gorgeous ten month old daughter) to come to the center the next morning to meet Pedro.

Now, here’s the amazing part. The biggest miracle of the whole story. When Vella and I began doing home visits on the boys, Pedro began telling me that he didn’t want to visit his home (even though he didn’t know where it was). I asked, “you don’t want us to try and find your family?” and he would say no. For a visit? No! He always insisted he didn’t want to find his family. He didn’t know that we had gone looking for his family last Friday. On Monday morning we were called with the news his mother was found. On Monday night, still not aware any of this was happening (we were waiting to tell him until after my educators had met the mother and could find out more), he said “Mana Laura? I’m ready to find my family. I want to visit my house. I have been praying every night that God will show you and Mana Juliet where my mother is!” I HAVE TEARS IN MY EYES AS I WRITE THIS!!!! God had prepared him in exactly the right time for finding his mother. I was incredulous! I still didn’t say anything, although I was bursting to shout “God has heard and answered your prayers!!!” but was waiting for the meeting the following day.

So after that meeting with me educators and his family, Mana Juliet told him they had found her. He did not believe her at first. I was in the city with a group of boys and when I returned, he met me at my car with the hugest grin – now I know what people mean when they say “grinning from ear to ear!” He was ecstatic!

The next day, his mother, Filomena and her ten month old daughter and her mother, Pedro’s grandmother, arrived early for their 9am meeting. We then called Pedro from school and he was so precious when he saw her. Their visit lasted over five hours and they all had such a wonderful time together. Pedro warmed to her immediately and even asked how many chapas (loosely, buses) it takes to get to her house so he could visit her. I had a moment of doubt when I realized he has a step-father and in this culture it sadly isn’t uncommon for the step-father to not receive another man’s sons. I went into my house for something when that thought hit me with a fear in my stomach and I felt the Lord say to me “don’t you think I can work that out too???” Yes, Lord I do. When I went back outside, Mana Juliet was asking her about her husband and how he would react! She explained that she had already called him in South Africa where he often works and he is thrilled not only because he knows how much he means to her but now he’ll have a son and an older brother for his two daughters! Amazing!

Monday afternoon, Pedro can visit and see the home as well. This will begin a series of visits that will culminate in him moving home at the end of the school year in October, unless something really strange happens.

The people who know this story now have an immediate question for me: How are YOU doing in this? Pedro has been my special boy for three and a half years now, before I even moved into my dorm. He’s was my daily visitor and kept his things in my house back when I was working in Hospitality. (Here he is on the left, in 2003, when he first adopted me!) For the last two years I have been praying about adopting Pedro and this last summer while I was at home in the States felt what I call the green light from God to go ahead and begin the process, the first step of which would be to investigate this story in his files. For the last two years I have daydreamed and planned and hoped and prayed about he and I becoming a family for real. You see, he is already my son in my heart.

And now, I have to entrust him to his real mother. Until this very moment as I write this, I have only felt overjoyed for their reunion, especially for a mother to really find and be given back her son after eight long years. I think I’ve been in a bit of denial and knew the time would come when I would grieve my loss while I rejoice with them. The moment has arrived as I am writing this. I have to keep stopping to wipe away my tears.

As for many others, one of my favorite verses in the Bible is God’s promise in Jeremiah that “he knows the plans he has for us, for our good and not to harm us.” I have shared it with Pedro often, as I have with my other boys. In the midst of my sorrow for not being able to adopt Pedro, I have a rock-solid, unshakable faith that God’s plans for me, for Pedro, for his mother Filomena, are for our good and he has orchestrated this so amazingly. Who knows if we would have found Pedro’s mother had it not been for my desire to adopt him? (I like to think we would have anyway.) I know that this will remain one of the most satisfying things I have been a part of during my whole time here, to reunite this mother and son, even though it means letting go of him myself.
Mana Juliet said a precious thing to me when we heard she’d been found but before we met her. She said, “Mana Laura, if Pedro goes back to live with her, you will not have lost a son, you will then have his whole family to be part of your family.”

Please pray for Pedro and his mother Filomena and the rest of his family to be knit together in their hearts and become a true family. Please pray for Pedro in particular as he processes ultimately leaving what has been his home for the last five years and leaving me, whom he calls Mama. Please pray for me that I will love Pedro well and truly in these upcoming months, including equipping him for going home. Please join me in giving thanks to God for his marvelous works!!!


Jaime said...

what an amazing story. I will be praying.

Adele said...

Yeah God! My heart hurts for you, in a way, but am also excited with you that Pedro will be reunited with his family. (I think you intended on uploading a photo of you two, but it didn't work.)

Wishing we could sit down for a LONG visit!