For the last 29 months we have been saying phrases like, “our son” or “my little man” as we have anticipated the union of our family with the child whose face adorns our walls and whose life has taken up residence in a portion of our heart.
You see, we started this adoption journey with his photo in hand. We started this process saying, “this is the little boy that God used to stop us in our paths and clearly told us to start our family a different way than we had planned”. While my heart was instantaneously knit with his (see our original post for the story of panic that ensued when I thought I lost his photo), we also held our hands open knowing that God could use this little boy to start us on this journey, but he may not be the child that we ended this journey with. Yet within days of saying YES to adoption, we were told that there was no other family pursuing this boy, that we met all the preliminary requirements and there was no reason why this precious child could not be our son. That was 29 months ago.
A few days ago the reality that those pronouns we’ve used for this child we have claimed as our own long before he is legally ours may not be true. This process has looked very different than we expected and so much of it out of our control. It's been one of those "You can't make this stuff up" kind of stories. The most recent event that just kind of leaves us sitting with our mouths hanging open wondering, "What??" is that there is a lot of political unrest in Ethiopia and they are officially in a state of emergency. The entire country is under a state of emergency, for at least the next 6 months. There have been riots and demonstrations outside of the capital and the U.S. Department of State has also issued a travel warning for any American planning to travel to Ethiopia.
Last month the courts opened up after a two month sabbatical. We have been on hold as we needed to petition the court to have one document rewritten in order to get our final approval. However, due to the political unrest many of the government buildings are shutting down or have had priorities shifted.
Selfishly, I began to pray for peace. If things calm down, then we can travel when they get this last paperwork piece sorted out. My mind can’t help but wander to the what-if’s. And as I venture into that land the reality sets in that Little Man is not, and has never been, ours.
An even harder more challenging reality is that even if we were legally to adopt him, he would still not be fully ours. Just like if we had a biological child, that child would not be fully ours.
As parents, our children are entrusted to us, given as gifts to steward and love and protect and teach and a thousand other things. But they are never fully ours, no matter how they come to us. The pronouns have been wrong all along.
And so, this orphaned child sitting among other parent-less children in Ethiopia has a momma halfway around the world who loves him and prays for him and is fighting for him. They may or may not get to share the same last name and live in the same house. And while the tears well up at that reality I am once again humbly reminded that God does not make mistakes. He has put us on this path for a reason and if the outcome is unlike what we hoped and prayed it would be it is still exactly as it was supposed to be. There is a purpose in the pain and a point to the waiting. We only catch glimpses of it here and there and I am beyond grateful for those passing moments where I get to peak behind the curtain to the larger story that is being written.
In the end, our hope is not in little man coming home, although we desperately want that. Our Hope is ultimately in Jesus. We rest in knowing there is a plan, and there is a promise. We don't often understand why things happen they way that we do, but our trust is in our loving Father. So as the writer to the Hebrews said, "Let us hold unwaveringly to the hope that we profess, for He Who promised is faithful." Hebrews 10:23