The Long Wait

Today our Dossier was submitted and our wait begins!  In 5-7 weeks we should be on a plane to Eastern Europe to go meet our son!  And to celebrate this milestone on our journey I’m going to finish up the series I started forever ago about our adoption journey.  You can read the first two parts at the links below:

Our Adoption Story
I Waited Ten

Here is Part III of the series!  The Long Wait…

I was a mere fifteen years old when I was first introduced to the idea of fostering and adoption, with the accompanying dream that confirmed this calling on my life.  I knew then, that it would be a long wait before I would even be able to begin putting my new dream into reality.  So I put it in the back of my mind, and figured I would revisit it when I was 18.

But, I went to college at 17, so the lines between adolescence and adulthood were blurred and soon overtaken by all the cares of a college student.  I was overloaded, and way too busy.  My sophomore year I was taking 20 some odd credits, working 30 hours a week, and still fitting in (or not) extra-curriculars because I couldn’t seem to say no.  In all that time I do remember still having moments of pause, thinking of my sweet children who might already be born.  Were they loved now?  Were they fed? Clothed?  Cared for?  Did they know there was a God who loved them?  I would say small, silent prayers for Him to watch over my little ones… the ones I didn’t know.

I would close my eyes and remember the bouncing black curls and the deeply wounded eyes of my daughter from the dream… and I would pray that we would be together soon.  Soon Lord… please let it be soon.  But it was not to be.  I am glad I did not know then how much longer I still had to wait.  It would have pained my heart to know.  While at university, I met my dear husband.  We got married the week after graduation and I followed him to seminary.  Almost immediately after the wedding I told him we should look into fostering.

I am sure he thought I was crazy, but he humored me and allowed me to check into it.  I was about ready to sign up for the introductory classes when the inevitable happened… God blessed our marriage with a child the home-grown way, and we were no longer eligible to be foster parents until after she was born and we had settled into life as a family of three.  I understood the requirement, it made sense… but I didn’t have to like it any.

I was determined to continue preparing myself for adoption.  I knew it was in our future, and I wanted to know as much as possible.  I started googling it and found a plethora of adoption blogs to enjoy.  They became my constant companions during the next few months of morning sickness and waiting… along with the Office and Scrubs but I digress…

One of those blogs was an internationally adopting family.  I was fascinated by their journey and all the details of the process.  Along the way I got linked to a Youtube video that changed my life.  I know I’ve blogged about it before.  After I saw this, I would never be the same.  I found Reece’s Rainbow shortly thereafter and spent the next few days just pouring over the pictures of precious little souls in precarious, unimaginable situations.  I will never forget.  Almost immediately I started looking into the requirements to adopt internationally.  Our lack of income due to Jake’ being in graduate school was an immediate shut door.

No foster care.  No international adoption.  What now?  Nothing to do but wait.  I had to do something about those children though… I had to help.  I could not just sit and do nothing.  I began shouting, advocating, begging to anyone who would listen.  My sweet husband tolerated me, of course.  My heart literally was unable to continue if I wasn’t doing something.  I found a jar, we started saving our pennies.  We called it the “Baby Jar”.  Every single coin I found went into that jar.  When it was full we would roll them all and start over.  We didn’t have much, but we could save our pennies for our future adoption – and that’s what we did.

I did fundraisers for the orphans that grabbed my heart.  I did them for families who were currently in process.  I kept reading, and waiting… when would it be our turn?  In the meantime we expected to get pregnant again quickly, but the Lord had other plans.  I was impatient, but His timing was perfect.  We moved from seminary to vicarage (our internship) and we had an income – hooray!  We also were not pregnant and our daughter was a year and a half old.  We would qualify to adopt from foster care now, I mentioned it to Jake and he agreed that we could look into it.  Again, I began finding out what we would need to do to get the ball rolling.

A month before our foster care orientation… it happened.  We were expecting our second.  Well played God… well played.  I was ecstatic, but it still hurt, and I went on a fundraising/advocating kick again.  Not everyone appreciated it.  I didn’t care.  Those kids needed out; I couldn’t bring them home, but I could help someone else bring them home.  I got burned out, and stepped away from the adoption world for a few months.  With the new baby and another move coming up, I just needed a break.  I could not emotionally cope with all of it.

Heath BeforeThat autumn, no sooner had I started dabbling in the Reece’s Rainbow community again.  A little here and there… I saw him.  A small boy called “Heath”.  He was twelve years old and had Down syndrome.  He was in a mental institution, a bad one.  His eyes seemed to be searching my very soul… he was beautiful.  I loved him.  I did… I still do.  He will always have my heart.  With some fancy, shmancy number games we would qualify to adopt that year.  Heath’s adoption was fully funded.  We could technically do this.  I begged and pleaded with Jake to let us go for him.

It was a H.A.R.D. month.  The fact is, Jake knew it wasn’t our time yet, but I didn’t (or wouldn’t listen).  We got counseling from a pastor, we had some really rough nights.  Were our priorities even the same anymore?  I knew we were in school.  I knew it would be crazy hard.  I didn’t care, I loved Heath like my own son and I couldn’t just leave him there.  Jake reluctantly agreed to take the first steps, and I began contacting some social workers in our area.

We didn’t get far in the process when we were told it would not happen.  We were too young to adopt Heath.  My heart was shattered, but it was a merciful ending.  God decided, and that preserved our relationship.  We began the healing process.  I was grief stricken.  I have heard adoptive parents relate the pain of losing a child in this way to the pain of a miscarriage.  I believe it.  I had spent the last few weeks dreaming of what it would be like to have him in our family, loving this child in my heart, trying everything in my power to keep moving forward past huge, insurmountable obstacles that God kept peeling away.  Until it happened.  We hit a brick wall, he was ripped away from me and I would never be his mother.  He was still stuck in that awful place, with no way out and no one to tell him how very much he was loved.

It hurt for months, and it still hurts sometimes.  But only selfishly.  He is home now with his wonderful mother and he is thriving.  It is only me who is missing out on his wonderfulness.  I still hope to meet him some day.  He is doing so wonderfully now and I could not be happier for him or his family.  Adoption changes lives folks.  Adoption is restoration… healing… life.

Heath After Pic

But at the time it was just pain.  It wouldn’t be until months later that a family stepped up for him.  And we are forever grateful to God for that miracle.  But at the time… that was the nail in the coffin.   Adoption, again, would have to wait.  We only had a few months left of seminary, after that maybe…  we would see…

To be continued!

I waited ten.

In my last post I talked about how ten years ago, our adoption story began.  I was in high school and had just had a life changing conversation with a complete stranger about foster care and adoption.  Never had anything sounded so right for me.  But I was afraid to talk about it, so I didn’t.  God knew though, and He continued to prod my heart.

Just a short few weeks later I had a dream.  Not just any dream, but a vivid dream, one of those dreams where you wake up and wonder if what just happened was real or imagined.  A dream where the physical world where you live is literally invaded by what just happened in your mind while you were asleep.  These kinds of dreams do not happen to me often.  But when they do happen they make you sit up and pay attention.

I have only told a few people in my life about this particular dream.  It is incredibly close to my heart, and I knew I couldn’t share it until the time was right.  Now that we are officially in the process of adopting, I feel that the time is here to share it.  If nothing else to keep the details for posterity.  I know it’s controversial to say that God spoke to you through a dream, but when any experience in your life leads you to apply God’s Word to your life in a fuller, more complete way, the Holy Spirit is at work there.  God does not often work through dreams, but He has been known to do so.

God has been directing my life toward adoption for a long time… I have known about it for ten years now.  And this was the night He revealed His plans to me.

***

The dream started in an underground tunnel.  Dark, wet, dirty… there were roughly twenty of us.  We were being led by a few uniformed soldiers carrying assault rifles.  Most of us were women and children.  They led us out of the tunnel into a wide open area filled with garbage.  It was a glorified trash yard with a solitary bus sitting right in the center.  It was one of those old green buses with torn up seats and no air conditioning to speak of.  Not that it would have worked to turn on the air anyway.  They led us into the bus; it was our prison, probably a temporary one.  And then they left.

She had been next to me the entire time.  Her bouncing, curly, thick black hair and her huge brown eyes.  She was the most beautiful little girl I had ever seen.  She had pretty olive skin and she was so sweet and innocent.  Even her appearance was clean and neat, in stark contrast to the garbage heap around us and the frightened, roughed up people sharing our makeshift shelter.  I felt inexplicably attached to this little girl, and she clung to me – totally trusting that I would protect her.  In dreams sometimes you know things without knowing how you know them.  I knew this girl’s parents were gone, and I knew she was mine to take care of.  I also knew it was her birthday.

Dreams can be convenient things sometimes too.  Like the birthday cake I procured from underneath the seat in the very back of the bus.  It was just a couple rows behind us, and I would keep checking to make sure it was still there.  I don’t know how I got a hold of it, but I was so proud of that little cake.  It was simple, white with dainty red flowers.  There were no presents or balloons, but this girl was going to have a tummy full of delicious cake.  I brought it out and showed it to her.  Her eyes lit up like stars.  The dire  surroundings we were in melted, and there was nothing but pure joy.

I was quickly brought back to the reality of things when one person spoke up and said “The king’s daughter is not going to like that.  You know she doesn’t allow any child other than herself to get gifts.”  One of those dream intuitions happened again; somehow I knew just what this fellow prisoner was talking about.  No sooner had I realized the severity of the matter than a Shirley Temple-esque monster storms up the stairs of our bus.  Her blue eyes reduced to glaring slits and her little rosy cheeks puffed out.  My sweetheart, meanwhile, was sitting on her bench holding her birthday cake, which was just seconds ago a treat, and now was damning evidence.  The “princess” was infuriated.  She didn’t say much, but she left in a huff and we all knew what was coming next.  Someone had to be punished for this injustice.  And it was my little girl who was on the line.

In anticipation of an attack, I gently took the cake back, before the poor darling had even had a bite, and slid it back under the seat.  Half hoping that if she wasn’t holding it the soldiers wouldn’t know who was the offender, but it was of no use.  Two soldiers quickly entered and unsheathed their weapon of choice.  It was a long rod with a sharp end surrounded by three metal circles just under its point.  It was not for stabbing, but for electrocuting.  They took one look at my little girl and proceeded toward us immediately.

She was sitting just across from me.  I grabbed her and shouted, but they didn’t listen.  The rods went up.  I threw myself over her as they laughed at my feeble attempts to protect her.  I knew I couldn’t hold out for long, but I had to try.  After about three jabs in my side and my back… I woke up.  The pinpointed, searing pain lasted for minutes as I laid there wondering what on Earth had just happened.  But in that moment I knew… I had a child to find.  A part of me wanted to fall back to sleep to get back to her and hold her and protect her.  But I knew I couldn’t.  I knew it was a dream and that she wasn’t really there.  She was somewhere else, maybe even sometime else.  The only thing I could do for her was to pray and to remember.  I had to remember that there was a child somewhere to be protected.  A child that was not born to me, but who I loved intensely from then on.

***

Juri1I have kept those memories, and thought of her often, though I have never dreamed of her again.  I knew that dream was a confirmation of what I was feeling after my conversation with the woman a few weeks earlier.  I didn’t know how and I didn’t know when, but I knew what I needed to wait and prepare for.  It has been a long ten years.  Patience has not always been my close friend.  But looking back I am so grateful for that time that I have had to prepare.  And after we are home, and Juri asks me that oh so common and heartbreaking question, “Why did it take you so long to come for me?  I waited six years for you.”  I will be able to honestly look him in the eyes, take him by the hands and say, “I know.  I know you did, and I waited ten.”  Love is patient.

Lord thank you for giving me the opportunity to love my child before I knew him.  Thank you for putting this groaning in my heart that mirrors the pain in his.  Give us both the patience to wait just a little bit longer.  We’re on our way sweet boy… we’re on our way.

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