A hard conversation

Dear friends, 

Can we have a hard conversation? One where there is complete honesty spoken from a place of intimacy shared among close friends? My intention is the same with this post as it is with every other thing we’ve posted on here for the world to see and that is simply: to honestly and vulnerably pull back the curtain into our worlds, and more specifically our hearts and minds, as we journey down this road the Lord has sovereignly set us upon.  So please don’t read this as berating or complaining because I have sat on this for so long that this is more of a reflection than a reaction.

Throughout this journey we have had many people assume many things. One of the most predominant assumptions is that we are adopting because we have fertility issues. Which is an understandable conclusion as many people in our stage of life without children who adopt do struggle with infertility. We chose to adopt first because this is what we believe God has called us to do. He made it very clear that this was the way he wanted us to start our family. And so we began this process. We have not struggled with infertility. Yet, as our wait has lingered on, some well meaning people have made comments advising us not to wait too long to “have our own” or have subtly (and not so subtly) asked us if we are going to start trying while we wait. People have tried to encouraged us by saying that maybe once we bring Daniel home we will get pregnant, as if in some way our “obedience” in adoption will be “rewarded” with a baby. Others have flat out told us we should have a baby.

I get it.  The way we’re building our family is unorthodox. Adoption. A teenager. International. It’s strange. But please hear me when I say that growing your family through adoption is in no way a “lesser” way of making of family. Adoption is not second place or a backup plan. It’s simply what we believe is God’s plan for our life. And we want His A plan, even if it’s hard, even if it’s confusing, and even if it’s uncomfortable. 

So dear friends, when we hear the implication that we are wasting our time waiting for this child my heart grieves. Not at the implication that we’re being ignorant or passive in “wasting time” but because of the worldview behind it that indicates having a baby is superior or better then adopting. The implication that the time we’ve spent in our journey to bring our son home is less valuable then if we had spent that time trying to get pregnant or doing fertility treatments. I’m not saying those things are wrong. I am saying that every child’s life has value. Every child deserves a family. And while foster care and adoption are never ideal because they both start from a place of brokenness and loss, they are not lesser ways of starting a family. We’re not settling for second best, we’ve chosen to prayerfully consider and obey God’s best for us.

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P.S. If by chance you are reading this and have said something along these lines to us, please do not feel bad or that this is directed towards you. I hope you are not angry that I have not said something to you directly.  I am a big believer in talking directly to people and not posting grievances on the internet so please know that this is not my intention. In fact, there are many times when things are said that I’m just processing in the moment and it’s not until many days or even weeks later that I am able to put into words my heart on the matter.  The Lord has used each conversation to prod me to reflect more and deeply on our journey and His truth and it is that perspective that I wish to share with others. 

When the Pronouns Change

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 beThere 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 

Walking a Fine Line

Walking a fine line


It's a strange thing waiting with expectation while guarding your heart, preparing it for reality.  While the journey has looked different at different times as we continue in this season of uncertainty, waiting for just one more final"yes" I think I am finally understanding what it looks like to plan for the future based on my current reality and yet still wait expectantly on God to break through the red tape and do something miraculous.

And so we plan our lives and make commitments and schedule clients and buy tickets for conferences all the while adding that phrase, "if we're here", the same phrase I said December last year when I declined multiple events because we wholeheartedly believed we would, in fact, not be here.

I have no idea why God saw fit to give little man these "extra" months of living in an orphanage. I have no idea why God saw fit to keep us childless for these last two years. And yet I use that word "extra" ever so soberly recognizing that His timeline hasn't changed... Ours has.   There's no such thing as extra or unexpected or unplanned for days on God's timetable. Just the perfect amount of days.

And so I trust that God loves my boy more then I do and that He is looking out for him and using these days in his life to shape him and mold him into who He is supposed to be.  And likewise is doing the same with us over here.

So we wait.  And we tentatively plan. And then we make more definite plans all while saying, Lord willing, if we're here.

I realize that's not such a bad place to be. Waiting and planning while constantly being mindful there's a largeragendaat work than my own finite mind can possibly comprehend. It's where I think Scripture directs our hearts over and over again.

A man plans his ways, but the Lord directs His path.

James 4:15

Sovereign Still

"The truth is nothing about adoption is safe. We sign papers and write checks and make timelines as if any part of this process is secure, and then we're shocked when the battle waged in the heavens over these children's lives encompasses the natural.                      The fields of the fatherless are war stained".

Taken from Every Bitter Thing is Sweet by Sara Hagerty

There are few days that go by that we don't get asked, “what’s the update on your adoption?”.  It seems we are way overdo for an “official” update and there’s a reason.  

There isn’t one.

We’re still waiting.  Our case was scheduled to be reviewed by MOWYCA (aka Ethiopian government) May 20th.  Deadlines and due dates don’t have the same weight and meaning over there as they do here. And so, we wait. We’ve been told they are processing cases, but our workers on ground have yet to see any movement.  Our specific case was discussed with the head honcho last week and there was not much information given, other then they are still reviewing it.  

There is a slight plot twist in our waiting.  If we get a positive recommendation within the next few weeks, there is a chance we will be able to travel in July.  If we do not hear soon, we will most likely not be able to go until at least October as the Ethiopian courts shut down from August-September(ish). 

The hardest part for me as of late, is another one of Little Man’s friends, one of his closest friends, just came home a few weeks ago. While my heart rejoices that this precious one is home with his new forever family, my momma’s heart aches for my son who is still there, continuing to experience losses in relationships with those he loved.

When I asked for an update on how Little Man was handling losing another friend, we learned that Little Man does not know he is getting adopted. We had been told early last year that when the kids begin to get tutoring they know that means they have a family waiting for them. Little Man has been getting tutoring since January 2015. We were also told that when he went to court in October he found out officially he had a family waiting, even though they didn’t disclose who we were specifically. However, none of that is the case. He believes he is receiving tutoring to help with his academic studies. He has no idea that his closest friends who have left with families of their own, he will one day get to see again and stay in contact with. He has no idea that there is a family on the other side of the world fighting, waiting, advocating, praying and loving him. He has no idea.  

And while the counselor in me worries about how his little heart is internalizing all of this and the meaning he is making about himself, the world, and God…. as I type this the Lord is gently showing me that He too feels this way so often with me.  I have no idea how much He longs for me. For all of me. And yet so often my heart is so far from His. My heart is so easily consumed by the things of this world. 

I can only see a portion of the whole story. I only know my part in this section of the chapter I am in.  I can’t see the next page and I have no clue what’s happening with the other characters in the story. I can’t see the big picture and yet I make judgement calls about myself, the world, others, and my God based off the tiny, limited perspective I have. All the while, not fully grasping how deeply I am loved, how fully I am redeemed, how completely my sins have been paid for. I know I don’t get it because if I fully comprehended it all, it would dramatically change how I lived, how I reacted, how I prayed, how I thought. 

Well, that was an unexpected tangent. If you made it this far, thank you. Thank you for journeying with us. Thanks for praying.  Thanks for being disappointed and annoyed with us. Thanks for hoping with us. Thanks for trusting with us that God is sovereign still and He never fails. 

This "W" Word..

{Prelude}

The last two days have been an unbelievable roller coaster of incredible blessings and good news, juxtaposed with really hard things and devastating news. The highs and lows have been unreal, occurring back to back making it that much harder to process. At some point, we would love to share it all with you, because it’s a beautiful chapter in the story He’s writing.  At this point, I’m still too raw to try to put each detail on paper. 

Yesterday, after a very long day, I literally cried the entire way home from work and then spoke all of about ten words for about two hours after I got home. I was just so drained I couldn’t even talk about any of it.  A little while later, Meek opened up our mail to find a book that I had ordered weeks ago (and had been annoyed when it didn’t come when I wanted).  It’s title: Every Bitter Thing is Sweet: Tasting the Goodness of God in All Things.  Ironic? I think not.  Divine? Definitely.

This morning, after finishing some tasks that needed to get done, I knew my soul needed to sit at His feet and rest. And this is what transpired:

 

The WWord

 

“Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!” Psalm 27:14

On the cusps of what seems to be yet another delay, I flipped open to Psalms, too raw and tired to try and attempt to “find” encouragement and hope my weary heart was longing for. I was hoping in His providence He would just let the page open to the nourishment He knows I so desperately need. Psalm 27. It was good and encouraging.

And then came the last verse. It seemed to scream at me,

WAIT FOR THE LORD!

That particular “W” word has recently taken up residence on my list of “things that trigger me” and yet here it was, TWICE in the last verse. WAIT.  Not wait for government officials. Not wait for paperwork. Not wait for no reason.

 

Wait for the Lord.

 

In our 20+months of waiting, I hadn’t really thought of it like that. It’s been all about waiting on the process, on the paperwork, on the people to process the paperwork. But really, we’re waiting on the Lord.

I wept.  The living words of God rushed through every fiber of my being and I wept. I was overcome with emotions I couldn’t begin to put into words. That verse is surrounded by tear stains now. 

And then just as quickly as I had been flooded with anguish and sorrow, I was filled with a quiet, gentle peace. His peace, no doubt, reassuring me that He is in control. We’re on His timeline and all 3 of us are in His hands. And so we wait. But now I know what we’re waiting on.

Wait for the Lord. 

-Brittany

Fall Update

Well we've been enjoying an indian summer up here in Philadelphia. We've also continued the roller coaster that is the adoption journey. Up, down, fast, slow, what was that?! We're learning so many lessons along the way. Learning to trust, learning more patience, and learning just how much we can love our little man before we meet him. 

A family we know recently went to Ethiopia to pick up their son and bring him home. In one of her updates during their time there she said, “Flexibility is key.” We’re learning that this is not only true when in country, but also throughout the entire process of adopting.

A lot has happened in the last few weeks.  Just as we think one thing is happening, it changes.  We had hoped to travel by the end of the year, but now we are looking at sometime between March and May. There are a lot of nuances and pieces to the puzzle that quite frankly we don’t fully understand ourselves. But here’s the highly condensed version:

Little man had a court date the last week in October where a judge reviewed his case. Little man was summoned to court to testify if he wanted to be adopted. This is not common that a child is summoned to go, but we learned that there was a new judge so things were a little different than normal. Little man knows that he has a family wanting to adopt him, but he doesn’t know about us specifically. This is very hard and initially confusing, but because our timeline keeps changing and getting delayed they are waiting to tell him about us until we have received all of our approvals and get a court date to adopt him (this would be the court date we travel for). 

So what happened at court? We don’t know much but we do know that his case was approved and we received a federal decision date for Dec. 2. This means that all of our paperwork has to be submitted in the next two weeks in order to be reviewed in time for a determination to be made on December 2nd.  We needed regional approval prior to this and received it just in time! So we're still on track for Federal approval at the beginning of December.

There is also an approval process that is happening simultaneously here in the US.  This process takes 8-10 weeks. 

So in a conclusive nutshell:

There are 2 more government processes/approvals that have to occur before we can get our court date where we will travel to get Little Man. There are a lot of details in each of these processes that all need to occur in a specific timeline. There are a bunch of things that can happen along the way to delay our process. All of it is completely out of our control. And in it all, we continue to trust The One Who set us on this path.