Adoption Requirements: Faith, Hope, and Love

When I started this blog, I wasn’t completely sure where I was going with it. Like a traveler that takes an unknown path in hopes of finding something significant along the way, I simply felt called to start. I’m thankful for those who have joined me in the journey. If you haven’t already, please feel free to type your email in the subscribe box on the right side of the page so that you can have any new posts delivered straight to your inbox and more importantly, I can stop feeling guilty about blogging inconsistently! I have a really good excuse though. Here’s what’s been keeping me busy for the last 3 months.

Many of you have asked when I’m going to write about China. We’ve been home with our sweet girl for 3 months and in many ways, I’m still processing what we saw and experienced in China. The truth is, our story is still unfolding and it’s difficult for me to articulate. Each day brings new joys and challenges. We are in the trenches of adjusting to a new normal. Adoption is a journey and meeting our daughter was just the beginning. What I do know is that healing is taking place. Some days it’s almost imperceptible, but when I take a step back or bring in an outside observer the changes are remarkable.

The day we met our daughter in China was probably the worst day of her life thus far. While we had been anxiously and joyfully anticipating seeing her for the first time, she woke up that morning and was told that today was the day she would leave behind everything she had ever known and go with complete strangers.

The hubs and I waiting to meet our precious daughter.

The hubs and I waiting to meet our precious daughter.

Our beautiful and sad little girl.

Our beautiful and sad little girl.

China was very rough for many reasons. There was crying and gnashing of teeth, and that was just me. When we arrived home from China, we enjoyed a 2 week honeymoon period where all seemed right with the world again. People were bringing meals and marveling at her English and we were enamored with her every move. But like all honeymoons, it came to an end and the real work began. One day we woke up and reality set in for all of us. Good feeling’s gone. These have been some long, dark days.

My friends, I’d love to give you a rainbows and unicorns kind of story about adoption tied up with a pretty little bow, but I believe I would be doing amazing adoptive families everywhere a disservice. Because the truth is, adopting an older child is very rewarding and it is very hard. Families don’t magically form overnight and healing for children from hard places happens one day at a time.

When I am wading in a sea of tantrums, grieving and attachment, it’s easy to lose sight of the eternal. Every day I’m reminded of my inadequacies and of my sole dependency on God. Because in my own strength, I just don’t have what it takes. I’m not a miracle worker or a savior, but I know the one who is. And I know he has incredible plans for my daughter’s life.

If you want to have a better understanding of the joys and challenges parents and adoptees face, I highly recommend that you read Jen Hatmaker’s candid blog post The Truth About Adoption: One Year Later. Keeping in mind that we are in what Jen Hatmaker refers to as, “Stage 2: Spaz Out,” I want to tell you what we are clinging to these days:
1. Faith. Hebrews 11:1 says, “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” Because God called us to adopt, I’m confident he is seeing us through it. I know he is going to make beauty out of ashes in all of us. I see glimpses of it every time my children laugh together and my new daughter’s face lights up with joy.
2. Hope. Romans 15:13 says, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” When you visit a room full of orphaned babies staring blankly at the ceiling, it is easy to lose hope for this world. But when you walk into a hotel lobby in China and see dozens of families from all over the world who have come for these children, you can hope because God never sleeps and is always moving in the hearts of ordinary people for his precious ones.
3. Love. 1 Corinthians 13:8 says, “Love never fails.” Because God loves us with a never ceasing, crazy kind of love, we can draw strength from him to love unconditionally. Not because it’s easy, but because it’s what we are called to do. Love is a verb, not a feeling. I am humbled that God gave me another child to love.

A few days ago, my husband and I were showing our new daughter pictures from our time in China. When we came across the photograph of our first meeting in that hotel lobby, she was finally able to express how scared she was and I was able to say how sorry I was that she was scared. Then I told her everything was ok because I was with her that day. Suddenly, there was clarity in her eyes and joy spread across her face as she wrapped her arms around my neck and said, “I lub you Mommy!” Oh what joy filled my heart! I was overwhelmed that in 3 short months, God had given her new eyes to see a traumatic event in a whole new light.

My beautiful, brave, sassy, and enchanting daughter today.

My beautiful, brave, sassy, and enchanting daughter today.

Like an observer standing too close to a Monet, there are times when all we can see in our lives are the seemingly unrelated paint strokes. My prayer for anyone stumbling in the dark today is that we may step back and see the trials and confusion of our lives through the lens of eternity. We don’t have to be afraid. Everything is going to be ok because he is with us. The light is coming. Lord, open our eyes so that we may see.

Now all that I know is hazy and blurred, but then I will see everything clearly, just as clearly as God sees into my heart right now. These three things that remain—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love.
1 Corinthians 13:12-13

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In the Meantime

My #2 (yes, we use a highly sophisticated code in our house for referring to our children) sighed this morning and said, “Whenever I try to teleport myself, it doesn’t happen.  It makes my life seem so lame.” Lame, indeed.  

Some days, staying in the same place is just plain hard.  We have been waiting for adoption paperwork from China that says we can go get our little girl.  In the meantime, the seasons have changed and she has grown from a toddler to a preschooler.  A few days before her 3rd Birthday this month, I pulled out an outfit with a 3 embroidered on it.  And for the first time, I cried.  Why can’t I be there to celebrate that she is fearfully and wonderfully made? 

The smile that greets me each morning.

In my head, I know that God’s timing is perfect and he wastes nothing.  I’ve learned this lesson before.  But my heart still questions, “Why not today? Do it now!” 

The truth is we are all waiting for something.  And when that something comes, it may have us shouting for joy or weeping for sorrow.  So what do we do in the meantime?  We live our lives.  We celebrate the joy of the moment.  We stay close to him and delight in the knowledge of his love for us.  We surrender control and we trust.   

Because one day when we stop waiting and we start living, we will get a word, a decision, an email, a phone call, or a package that will change everything.

My FedEx delivery man was lucky he was in such a hurry or I would have given him a big, awkward stranger hug.

And we will know that the waiting was not wasted.  The joy of this moment was part of the still waiting of the moments before.  Like David, we will sing a new song and know that only God could see the path before us clearly. 

How many times have we cheated ourselves of seeing a miracle by trying to hurry the wait?  Let’s wait patiently for God so he can get all the glory.  Only he knows when it is time to go.

I waited patiently for God to help me; then he listened and heard my cry.  He lifted me out of the pit of despair, out from the bog and the mire, and set my feet on a hard, firm path and steadied me as I walked along.  He has given me a new song to sing, of praises to our God.  Now many will hear of the glorious things he did for me, and stand in awe before the Lord, and put their trust in him. Psalm 40:1-3

 The latest issue of Between the Lines magazine is here.  This issue is all about forgiveness.  I took a walk down memory lane to the early years of my marriage.  I hope it encourages you and makes you laugh!

Finding Delaney

A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. -Chinese Proverb

As a writer, I believe in the power of starting the story where the story starts.  So please indulge me while I back track briefly to the place where this blog begins.  It’s a day that changed the trajectory of my family’s life forever.  On December 9, 2011, I attended a neighborhood cookie exchange where one of my sweet neighbors announced that she was expecting her fourth child.  Now as a very busy mother of 3 children, I would normally have thought something like, “Wow, that’s crazy.” But that night something went horribly wrong.  My soul felt a familiar pang of emptiness, a dreaded longing that had been with me since the birth of my last baby. Where was my fourth child, my daughter Delaney?  To keep from sounding like a crazy person, let me just explain that after having 3 children the old fashioned way, my husband and I are officially done having children biologically.  But nonetheless, I still had this feeling that a little girl with the name Delaney was missing from our family. We had picked the name before we knew that I was carrying our son during my last pregnancy and somehow it had just stuck with us.  We would often joke about what a handful she would have been. 

I left the party and came home and explained to my husband that I just didn’t understand why I still had this feeling 2 years later.  By then I was in tears and completely beside myself.  I did what I always do when I need to be alone with God.  I hid in the bathroom.  Don’t ask me why, God gets it and we’ve had some good bathroom chats over the years.  For months I had been praying that God would break my heart for what broke his, which by the way I don’t recommend unless you are willing to turn your life upside down.  At that moment, I suddenly felt like my heart was going to break into pieces.  I finally fell asleep praying that God would either take this feeling away for good or show me where Delaney is in a dream or whatever.  I’m pretty sure I said specifically in a dream, but I don’t want to sound like I’m bossy or anything because you know he’s God and he can do whatever he wants.   

The next morning, my husband was at work and I was checking my email/hiding from my kids for a moment when I received an email from a website called www.rainbowkids.org.  It’s a website that lists children with minor to severe special needs who are available for adoption all around the world.  A friend had shared the site with me a year earlier when I had mentioned that we had always discussed the possibility of adopting a fourth child, but the timing just never seemed right.  I had never received any emails from them before so I jumped on rainbowkids and sorted the names of the waiting children by alphabetical order.  The entire time I was thinking about what a futile exercise this was and how I should really be doing dishes or some other dreaded task.  As I got down through the D’s, my heart about stopped beating as I saw a little Chinese girl who the American adoption agency had listed with the name Delaney (her actual Chinese name is different). It took my breath away.  Could this be her?  Surely it was just a coincidence.  She could have been sitting on this list for months now.  And then I looked at the date her information was posted…yesterday.  The day my heart cried out in anguish. 

Our first glimpse of Miss Delaney

 

On March 5, 2012, we called the adoption agency to let them know that we were ready to begin the paperwork to bring our daughter Delaney home.  And the missing piece of our family puzzle fell into place.  Our adoption agent’s response to our phone call was, “Congrats on finding your baby Delaney.”  Found at last.  God did it.  To Him be the glory!