Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Palms Open

I thought the moments would get easier. With a picture in my hand I could conquer the world. I have a son. He is mine. Before the courts and the governments and even he says so, my heart knows it's true.

I thought this revelation would make it easier but it doesn't. It means the chance to lose him becomes even more real.

Today we received an email that literally made me breathe easier. Ethiopia's children's welfare division has agreed to keep adoptions open and continue to push for reform. They said they would tell us their decision a week and a half ago but we finally know today. I sigh and praise my God that one of the barriers to getting my child home is out of the way.  This hurdle could have kept him from us permanently. He's closer. He's still ours.

For now.

I think, in a way, the fear always stays. It solidifies my entrance into motherhood. This threat, the latest one, will not take him from us. There are so many more doors to walk through. The legal ones yet to come with no guarantees that the paperwork and the signatures will arrive. The emotional ones, as we pray he will accept us into his life and trust us. The physical ones as we put  him in schools and student ministry trips and so many other places to come where we can't make sure he doesn't break.  He is ours and he is never fully ours. He is given to us.

1 Sam 1:27 "I prayed for this child, and the LORD has granted me what I asked of him."

But we all hold our children loosely, with open palms. The ones we know. The ones we've yet to meet.  The ones that nuzzle us in the night. The ones that call us to tell us their college woes.  The ones that are only dreams in our heads, dreams we won't even share out loud for fear we'll be broken beyond comprehension if they don't become reality. They are all held with palms open to the sky, praying that our God blesses us with many days with their presence. Their smiles. Their wonder. It's prayed for but never guaranteed. And every mom knows.

So while I may not have a child in a bed in my home for a while longer, I feel the mama bear in me coming out in full force.  I am so thankful for Ethiopia keeping its doors open, as I keep my palms open to the sky, praying for grace and blessings in this journey of being a mom.

Jesus, be near. For my sake. And his.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Little Man Monday

Hello Dear, Sweet, Little Man,

I can't believe as I type this, the picture of you is in my mind. I finally know your face. Finally. After all the months of writing to an imaginary, ageless, faceless you, finally I'm writing to YOU!

I think you'll get the handwritten letter from me this week. I wish I could see the emotions you have. I know there have to be many. Will someone read it to you or will you just look at it, wishing you could understand the words. Are you hopeful? Excited? We are.  Are you terrified? Worried you won't fit in with us? I have no fear of this, little guy. I know God has written our stories together for a reason and we will learn each other. We will be different and we will be the same and we will learn the differences and the similarities.

As you look at our pictures I wonder what you think. Do you think we're weird looking? Have you met many people with skin our color? Are you terrified of all the photos of our dogs? All things we can work out together. But as I strive to know you, I just have this deep desire to know your reactions to this whole situation.

And us? We are elated. We know growing a family is hard work. But we are so ready to work for you. We want to learn about soccer. And any possible thing you might have even the slightest interest in. We're all in, buddy. We have been. Since the moment we signed on the dotted line with our agency. Before we knew your face. Your age. Your circumstances. We are all in.

I love you. I would count down the days until I meet you but I don't know how many they number. Regardless, you are in my heart, on my mind, and in my prayers.



Friday, January 24, 2014

Not So Imaginary

It's hard to believe. We've known for a few weeks now but it almost doesn't still feel real.

I have a son.

I am a mom.

I am the mom of a seven year old boy.

He's beautiful and lovely and I don't know very much about him yet but I'm pretty pumped to be his mom and I can't wait to learn every detail.

On January 13, 2014, we officially accepted our referral for IC and he turned from an imaginary figure in my mind to a real, living, breathing little boy.

He has likes and dislikes.

He has a story. (We won't be sharing this because it belongs to him and only him.)

He has the most beautiful eyes and a cute little toothy grin.  And he is stuck to the wall on my desk, where I look at him as I fill out paperwork.

Yes, the paperwork continues. If you thought there was paperwork before the referral phase, you ain't seen nothin' yet.

No really. We have to redo much of the first paperwork because of the time gap in between. The last two weeks have been filled with doctors' visits and form-filling. Lots of visits to Fed Ex. We have a home study visit tomorrow to update more things.  I can't even begin to describe all the paperwork.

But before all the paperwork, we celebrated:

The dinner where we wrote his name on a cork and celebrated together before anyone else knew.

Lots of celebrating! With friends, by ourselves. So much celebrating. After all, it's been almost three years and lots of tears to get to this point!!

Then we went shopping! We have a care package headed to our little guy through a traveling family next week. What do you put in a package for your son you've never met? A little of everything!

That green, shiny thing? It's a photo album of us and the pups. He will eventually know what we look like. And he's already been told we exist.

I know there are lots of questions about him and what happens next. So let's do a Q & A. I think you will find our answers quite unsatisfactory but let's try it anyway:

You: Oh my gosh! Where's his picture??

Me: Well, he's not legally ours yet so I can't share his photo on social media. But ask me in person and I'll jump at the chance to show you his cute little face. He couldn't be sweeter.

You: Wow! So, what's his name?

Me: OMG we LOVE his name. But, again, I can't tell you. Not yet. When we are legally his parents, I will be happy to shout his name from the rooftops but not yet. And even then I'm not sure it will be on the blog.  For now, let's still call him IC, shall we? That way we all know who we're talking about. I know he's not imaginary anymore. But just go with me on this one.

You: Does he speak English? Do you speak...what does he speak?

Me: He doesn't speak English! He speaks Amharic. We do not. But we are excited for the adventure!

You: What are the next steps? Is this real?

Me: It is real! We filled out our referral acceptance paperwork, signed on the dotted line, and paid our referral fees. It's super real.

We've actually already done some of the next steps if you can believe it. We were told earlier this week we've been submitted to court in Ethiopia. We also submitted a 40 page packet to USCIS (the initial-laden name for Immigration) to be submitted to PAIR. PAIR stands for Pre-Adoption Immigration Review. They will look at all the documents and investigate. When they've gotten the information they need, they will write us a letter and send it over to Ethiopian court. When court receives the letter and writes their own letter, they will summon us over for a court date.

You: Wow! So will you travel soon?

Me: Probably not "soon" per se. Immigration is, thankfully, very thorough. But thorough also means slow. We don't expect to hear from them for a few months and when we do hear, we expect it to be requests for more documents. But someday, Lord-willing, they will plow through all that paperwork and tell us we have the all-clear!

You: OK. So then you bring him home?

Me: Not so much, no. Then we travel, meet him, hug his neck, and go back to the US and wait for the embassy and immigration to clear him. We'll sit on the other side of the world, as his legal parents, and wait for someone to stamp our paperwork to go get him. I'm not sure I'll be entirely pleasant to be around during that time. But God could gift me with abundant grace. I hope that's the case.

You: But I thought immigration was clearing him now? 

Me: Yes. And then they have to wait for some documents and clear him again. Tricky but true.

You: So, but really, when will he be home?

Me: I have no idea. Have you ever wanted something to happen really badly but were afraid to name a date you thought it would happen for fear it wouldn't happen on that date and then it would rip your guts out and splatter them out on the pavement of disappointment? That.

You: Overdramatic much? OK, new topic. Where are you financially?

Me: Well, because of the Lord's faithfulness and your generosity, we had all the money we needed for the referral fees. We also think we are covered for the first trip. That will clean us out and we'll need another $5000-$7000 for the second trip fees but we are trusting God has it when the time comes, depending on plane ticket costs. We know He's made it all happen so far and we're so excited to see what else He's up to!

So there you have it. We don't know when he'll be home. We don't know when we'll meet him. But we are so excited and we can't wait and we are praising God for His timing and His faithfulness.

You can pray in the meantime!! Pray for IC to remain safe and healthy. That his heart will be prepared to meet us and for ours to meet him. Pray for speedy and accurate processing of paperwork throughout the next steps by immigration and by the Ethiopian court.

And of course, would you thank God on our behalf? He's mighty good.


(still not used to that!)

Monday, January 6, 2014

Little One Letter

Hi Little One,

Oh I am praying. Praying, praying, praying. You see, Ethiopia? The place we have been waiting for you for more than two years? Well, the government isn't so sure anymore. They are talking changes. Or even ending adoption. We don't know much yet. And I am still hoping that's where you are.  But it's a little wild ride we're on.

I want you to know I am praying for all the kids in Ethiopia and you specifically.  I want you to know I am praying for the government.  I am praying for your safety and that your government makes choices to keep the option of adoption open to those of you who need it and protects those kiddos who can stay with their birth family, in their birth country.

I want you to know I know this is hard for you. And your family. I want you to know that I love you so, so dearly and I want to make sure you are meant to be ours.  So if you are not in Ethiopia, we will find you. If we have to wait years and search for you in another country, we will find you.  If we have to fight for you, we will.  But for now, our fighting is done in prayer.

Things in adoption are hard.  Nothing is easy. But I am praying God will lead us to you and protect you along the path.  My prayers for you and Ethiopia have only increased since we got word that things are questionable in Ethiopia. And so maybe that's a good thing.  In the end, my prayers for you and for Ethiopia will keep going regardless of the decisions the government makes.

Love you Little One. Even amidst uncertainty,