Monday, June 10, 2013

Sweetly Broken, Wholly Surrendered

On Thursday, Michael and I (and everyone else here in Ethiopian-adoption-land) found out there is a new process (called PAIR) going into effect September 1st.  You can read about it HERE.  On the surface it seems great ~ children will be pre-screened/pre-approved for orphan status before families go to court in Ethiopia, so the process that used to be completed *after* court will now be done before.  When the USCIS first posted this 6 days ago, there was a collective cheer from my fellow adoptive families, agencies, and orphan advocates.  We all (incorrectly, turns out) assumed this would mean Ethiopian adoptions would go back to being a one-trip process, and children would be spending less time in orphanages.  I saw the USCIS link (above) posted on facebook several times over, and our agency even blogged about it.  And then?  Then there was the conference call about the specifics.  Not only does it not reduce travel to one trip, now the time between referral and the first trip will be *significantly* increased.  After court, Ethiopia will still need time to process paperwork so that children will be cleared for Embassy, so adoptive parents will still need to leave for at least several weeks and then come back for a second trip to pick up their children, just like what is currently happening.  The big thing that seems to be changing is that children will now be in orphanages or the transition home for much longer :(  I think that deserves another sad face :(  It also means that, while these children wait for their parents, the transition home will not have room for new children to come in, so the wait for referrals will also (likely) increase.  My optimistic guess of 3 years between the time we submit our dossier and the time we bring our child home is seeming very unrealistic at this point.  We are realistically looking at 5 years.  5 years.  FIVE.YEARS.  All the while there are hundreds of thousands of orphans waiting for families, and thousands of families in the US waiting and hoping and praying for them.

The pathway is broken and the signs are unclear
And I don't know the reasons why you brought me here.
But just because you love me the way that You do
I'm gonna walk through the valley if you want me to.

I'm someone who likes a little bit (ok, a lot) of stability in my life.  I really enjoy Michael's steady job and our reliable cars and our budget that accounts for unexpected expenses.  I like knowing that when Michael says he will be home at 5:15, he will probably actually be home at 5:10, and I like that I have an app on my phone that allows me to check where he is just in case I get worried.  I'm a planner.  I have lists and a calendar (ok, a calendar in my head...I mean, I have a calendar on my phone but Michael would call me out if I pretend that I update it regularly) and our kids get checkups for eyes and teeth and development at the appropriate times.  I do not like uncertainty.

Cause I'm not who I was when I took my first step
And I'm clinging to the promise You’re not through with me yet.
So if all of these trials bring me closer to You
Then I will go through the fire if you want me to.

And yet?  In this time of sadness and uncertainty, I have cried out to God and I have certainty He has heard my prayer.  As much as I weep for how this changes what I expected for our family, I know that the heart of God is broken for how this affects His children.  God's plan was not for these children to remain in orphanages, and I am clinging to that hope.  The hope that God is bigger than this.  The hope that God created the universe and moves mountains and works in ALL things for the good of those who love Him.

And it may not be the way I would've chosen
When you lead me through a world that's not my home
But you never said it would be easy
You only said I'd never go alone.

I do not say the following lightly: I have never in my life felt closer to the heart of God than I have in the past four days.  It is a sick to my stomach, can't stop crying, praying on my knees kind of feeling.  God is working in me, and while I do not yet fully understand what our next step will be, I do know that God is revealing His plan to me one step at a time.  I refuse to believe that God is not in control of this process.  He has put us with the agency we have chosen, the country He led us to, at this time in our lives.  He is doing something big, and as anxious as I am to find out, I know that God has not yet let us down, and I (try to) rest in the assurance that He never will. The only other time I have felt similar to this is when I felt the initial calling into this crazy beautiful process of adoption.

So when the whole world turns against me
And I'm all by myself
And I can't hear you answer my cries for help
I'll remember the suffering that your love put you through
And I will go through the valley if you want me to.

And when I cross over Jordan
I'm gonna sing, and I'm gonna shout
I'm gonna look into Your eyes
And see You never let me down
So lead me on the pathway that leads me home to You
And I will walk through the valley if you want me to.

So for now, I wait.  And I pray.  Would you join me?  Would you pray for our family, for all the adoptive families who are getting caught up in this, and, above all, for the orphaned children who are being affected? The devil does not want these children to be redeemed through adoption, but God was, is, and always will be in control.

"Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them."
-Matthew 18:19-20

Lyrics from "If You Want Me To" by Ginny Owens

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Obligatory First Day-Last Day Post

We're at the beach!  I have pictures for you (of course!) but wanted to get a quick post up of my sweet sweet middle child.  She finished her first year of preschool last week, and I couldn't be prouder of how much she grew and changed this year.  Her teachers were amazing and have the patience of saints, and the work that they do with all of the kids is so incredible.  I'm definitely looking forward to a summer off, but we're both excited for her to go back in the fall :D

First Day of School

Last Day of School