About two years ago we began the process of adopting two boys from Ethiopia. My wife has since read many an adoption blog, but they seem to all be from a woman's perspective. We're near the end of ours (unless getting them home is really the beginning) so mine won't be much in depth except on the tail end here. But I think it interesting to write down even if only for my own sake.
You first need to know that basically there are the following steps in adoption from Ethiopia:
1) apply to an adoption agency
2) pay exorbanent fees for a home study
3) turn in all kinds of crazy documents which are all difficult to obtain
4) recieve and accept a referral (pairing children with you)
5) fly to Ethiopia and attend a court date
6) fly back and pick up your kids
We were stalled between 4 and 5 for almost exactly one year. And it stank to high heaven because you start praying for your children the moment you begin the process, but once you've accepted a referral you know your kids are out there in an orphanage just waiting for you to go pick them up. And you want to. Quickly.
Some people wait a long time for a referral and then get their kids quickly thereafter. We did not have to wait long for a referral but our process since then has been long. And now we're stalled out between steps 5 and 6. We attended court two months ago and there has been no progress on our case. Basically we're waiting for one government office to issue approval and then we'll be weeks away from getting our kids home.
But this same approval is a large part of why we waited a year for our court date. It's surprisingly hard to obtain this approval.
So two weeks ago, sick of waiting with continued promises that it would be sorted out by "next week", I bought a one way ticket to Ethiopia and I got here on Wednesday last week. I should also mention a big part of my motivation to come is that all of our paperwork with the U.S. side of things will expire at the end of the month. Those documents can be renewed but its a long and expensive process.
So when I arrived on Wednesday the first thing I did (after swinging by to say hi to my boys of course) was head down to said government office and hang out for a while. I sat around, showed some pictures of my boys and my biological girls, and was able to convince them to move my file out of the archives and start working on it.
I know what you're thinking, why was it in the archives? I have no clue. Nor was I happy. But what can you do?
Well then they began work and then Thursday they requested a document that I obtained a year and a half ago but no one ever asked for. I had it faxed in and then it took two days to get it translated. But it turns out to get it authenticated I'll need to go get a new document and then have it processed through four different places all in different cities on two different continents.
Anyhow, if this really is needed then all our documents will expire and I'm out of here to head back home and get working on my documents. If for some reason they show mercy I may have my boys home in a few weeks.
So that's my situation. Let me tell you about my heart.
This process sucks. Royally sucks. I hate that I'm away from my wife and daughters for an ambiguous amount of time and that I can go see my boys, I can look at pictures and tickle them. But I can't Rambo them out of here. Not legally.
I've been praying the Lord would be at work in their hearts and minds and it seems He has been. I've been praying that the Lord would save them, because ultimately I'm not their savior. And I've been begging God to bring them home. And he hasn't yet. And I hate it. And I don't get it.
I feel like I've known a lot of people in places of waiting who say they feel like God is absent. But it's never felt that way to me. I feel like He is answering my other prayers. I feel like He's close and hearing me. I even feel like He's saying He has this situation under control. But it sure as stink doesn't feel like it to me. And I don't know what to make of it.
I heard a sermon that said "read God's promises back to Him", so I've been reading John 14:18, "I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you." And I've been trying to remember Phillipians 4:4-7, "Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."
And occasionally I get peace from God. And then other times I'm flipping out so bad I need a shot of alcohol just to fall asleep at night.
Tomorrow morning I'll be pleading. And pleading. And I have so little hope. I have faith that God CAN do something. I just am so unconvinced that he WILL. Because His timing in this has never lined up with mine.
But He did get my file out of the archives. He did get me here to be with and play with my boys. He did give me the two most awesome boys ever. And He has been working in their hearts and minds. I also believe that He will release them eventually, but I really really want it to be now. I want to stay a few more weeks with them and take them home. I don't want to leave them here.
This morning I read a bit in Deuteronomy 7,
"If you say in your heart, 'These nations are greater than I. How can I dispossess them?' you shall not be afraid of them but you shall remember what the LORD your God did to Pharaoh and to all Egypt, the great trials that your eyes saw, the signs, the wonders, the mighty hand, and the outstretched arm, by which the LORD your God brought you out. So will the LORD your God do to all the peoples of whom you are afraid. Moreover, the LORD your God will send hornets among them, until those who are left and hide themselves from you are destroyed. You shall not be in dread of them, for the LORD your God is in your midst, a great and awesome God. The LORD your God will clear away these nations before you little by little. You may not make an end of them at once, lest the wild beasts grow too numerous for you. But the LORD your God will give them over to you and throw them into great confusion, until they are destroyed. And he will give their kings into your hand, and you shall make their name perish from under heaven. No one shall be able to stand against you until you have destroyed them."
I'm supposed to trust the Lord and watch Him provide. I'm supposed to remember all He has done before because He is awesome. And I'm supposed to recall how He holds the whole world in His hand. But too often I forget. And right now remembering doesn't set my heart at ease. It makes me believe absolutely that He has the power to do this. But I still question if He will or not. What I really want is for Him to open the gates to let my kids out, and to send hornets on anyone who stands in the way.
It's hard to wait. It's hard not knowing what the future holds. And part of what's been so hard about this adoption is we have been promised time and time again that there will be progress "next week" and unmet expectations are really tough.
So I pray, Lord give me grace to ponder and understand what you're doing. Because I don't get it. I don't want to wait until you do something to believe you're at work. But I don't know how to believe when I see no progress and my heart so vulnerable again and again. Have mercy on me and my boys and don't make me leave them again. Please please please please please.
(I should note this post was written about two weeks ago, but I just now have gotten around to posting it. Follow up soon.)