Adoption is Hard Work - Part 4

I'm actually writing this from the front porch of my guest house room in Ethiopia. The boys are asleep in the room as I sit out and relax at night. Now you'll notice a few things in that sentence. First, yes I have my boys. I've signed the final papers and no one can take them away from me (legally that is). Also, it's "I" not "we" that's here to pick them up. My wife is back home with our daughters for a number of reasons. It's fun to be with them. But hard to be with them alone. I have a visa for them to enter the United States but do not yet have a visa for them to enter the country we live in. So I'm here. Probably for a few more days at least.

First off, it's exhilarating to finally be with my sons. This has been the goal. But as excited as I am, it doesn't feel done yet until they're home with my wife and daughters. There also is the inevitable feeling of shock that comes after you've worked this hard for something. It's been two and a half years. A year and a half since we were first referred our sons. That's a long time to wait. And these boys are a great gift. But it's almost a feeling of let down that they aren't perfect after so long!

Now don't get me wrong. I never expected perfect, but it's hard to long for anything this much without at least a bit of a feeling of "buyers remorse". I don't regret that I spent the money, or took the time, or any of it, but after two and half years of waiting they still poop their pants? This is the $60,000 dollar model right? Cuz that's what I paid for!

Okay that sounds crass. More than I probably mean it to. But I have to say it's strange how all the feelings mix together. I imagine a huge percentage of adopting parents have tons of feelings they're afraid to admit to people. Even their spouses.

Now, I do love the living daylights out of them. And I'm surprised how much I'm attached. But then there is also the feeling of frustration for me,
first and foremost over language. I can neither express frustration or delight. Encouragement or discouragement. Even reason is lost, "Don't touch that light socket or you'll zap yourself," is what I say, but all they hear is daddy saying no.

In December I visited and the younger of the boys screamed bloody murder one nap time, "My daddy left me! My daddy left me!" (Or so my translator said). That made me feel mighty loved until today a friend visited me for about three hours and he screamed the same thing at bed time for an hour (the best I could tell that's what those daddy screams were).

There is so much wrapped up in this. It's making me realize how much I delight in my daughters because they are like me. I enjoy them and their personality for often vain reasons. My sons don't think or act like I do (not yet) except in the ways that boys do just because they're boys. When they do something that's super boy-like, such as play in a puddle for a solid hour, laughing hysterically at how wet they are, I delight in that because I'd be the same way. But when they smile at their own disobedience it makes me crazy. I want them to want to please me like my daughters do. But they don't. I want them to care about my opinion, but they're still figuring out their own.

My boys giggle. And laugh. They're ticklish. And they sing songs and talk to each other (they're 3 and 4 by the way). They take a while to fall asleep but sleep like angels without waking up even briefly all night long. Often 13 hours. They smile and play with each other. They like rain, sunshine, strollers, balls, sticks, drinking water, and eating beans by the pound.

But they don't know Jesus and I can't even tell them about Him. When I pray they don't know what's going on. My daughters are used to it. My sons push my hands off their belly and get confused about whom I'm talking to.

I'm stuck on Ethiopia alone with them for about 5 days longer than I would have liked. Alone time with them is good. And I should rejoice. Unfortunately I'm only here right now because of a bonehead move my agency made on Friday. It took them 30 minutes longer to do something than they anticipated and so a government office they needed was closed. So I waited through the weekend. They got it solved this morning (Monday), but then the embassy I need is closed until Thursday. Knowing my plans were thwarted yet again by incompetence is overwhelmingly frustrating. Had it been anyone else (as opposed to my agency which has made nearly every possible mistake) I think I would have been fine. But the incompetence is stealing my joy. I'm having to work hard in the Word to rejoice over the gift the Lord has given me rather than pray imprecatory Psalms over these people.

I should mention that a few weeks back I found nothing in the word that could keep my attention. It was people's stories I didn't care about in the Old Testament. Or theology I couldn't process in the New. This is why God gave us the Psalms. Man, can I read the Psalms when life is too emotionally roller-coaster-esque for anything else.

I've been such an emotional wreck for six months I've thrown out my back probably 10 times when I normally only throw it out every few years. I'm so stressed my time in the word has suffered and I've slept like poo. In the last few days my back has recovered by leaps and bounds (until today when I got so mad it tightened up again). I've slept so much better in the last three nights it's incredible. I feel rested. Overwhelmed.

But it's still not done. Not till they're home. And then that's just the beginning. Of disobedience. Crying at night. Attachment to us and too much attachment to others. Eating issues. Potty issues. Whew! But I'm so ready for these problems.

Adoption has been incredibly hard and I'm just getting started.

But when I rub these boys heads and see their smiles and the bounce in their walk I get excited. Not because everything is finally peachy keen. But because someday they're really going to know that I'm their daddy. Different than that other guy they met. And they'll understand when I see them do something that delights me and I yell "That's my boy!"

Someday my boys will know they're my boys and they won't remember any different. They'll know their sisters and mom. They'll know the foods we eat and how to wash their hands and where and when to poop. They'll live and experience love. In a way they wouldn't have otherwise. And my family will have the pleasure of being there through everything it takes to get them there. And we'll grow and stretch and fall madly in love with them.

Goodness. This had been hard. But they're mine now. And no one can take them away from me.

Thank you Lord for your faithfulness to me when I was faithless. Thank you for protecting my boys. Show me how to love and protect them. And be with our family. All six of us as we go through the transition of a lifetime.

Adoption is Hard Work - Part 3

Six months ago I stood in court in Ethiopia and declared before the judge my intention to adoption two boys. Six months ago. That was a year after being paired with them through a referral. One of the most important decisions (probably THE most important) you make in the adoption process is which agency you will choose to go with. Our agency has been fundamentally incompetent for two and half years now.

Two weeks ago our paperwork was submitted to the U.S. Embassy in Ethiopia and I did a dance thinking the agency was finally out of the equation. But I was wrong. Turns out the agency is still responsible for getting a birth mom to appear before the embassy, as well as providing information about our other son who was an abandoment case. And it turns out they can mess up even the final details.

My wife and I have been outrageously patient with our agency for a year and a half since we received and accepted our referrals. But we've switched tactics. It appears somewhere along the way our agency got confused and began to think their incompetence was acceptable. A year ago March I wrote our and asked if it was possible to switch agencies. I wish I had followed through. Though the real reason we didn't switch was we were already attached to the two boys we had been referred. We'd been praying for them. They are my sons. But for a year since then our agency has consistently made excuses and not taken any responsiblity for their lack of competence.

It's exausting. Last week I sat in class with my local language teacher who asked about how things were progressing. I told him the boys were still not home. To this he laughed and said, "I don't think I would have any more patience at this point." He's partially right. The truth is we lost patience a year ago. Then we were mad for about 5 months. Then I lost sleep for another four or five months after that. Now we're pretty much just emotionless, until today I received another email from our agency with more excuses, shifting of blame.

Imagine if this had been the case with our Savior. Imagine if when Jesus saved us he only partially saved us. Or consistently made excuses for our different sins and said, "Well, I'm not really responsible for covering that one with my blood." In some sense the agency is supposed to act as the savior for my boys. It is their responsibility to fulfill the requirements of the law that our boys cannot fulfill on their own. But they're a terrible savior. No agency is perfect, just like no savior besides Christ is perfect. But goodness.

I'm mad. I'm mad at the agency for their shockingly consistent terrible behavior. For their promises that they care about the kids and do this "for the kids," because it seems what they actually do is very little. I'm mad at the Lord for allowing this go on as long as it has. I don't understand why He doesn't intervene and rescue them.

"Surely the arm of the LORD is not too short to save, nor his ear too dull to hear." - Isaiah 59:1 (NIV)

If His arm is not too short to save or His ear too dull to hear, why does He not seem to save? Why does He not seem to hear? This verse in Isaiah goes on to talk about the sins of the people and that being what keeps the Lord from intervening. There is a part of me that wants to examine my own life and see if there is sin that is keeping them at bay. But that betrays my understanding of the gospel. Surely there is sin in my life, surely I don't deserve these sons, but Christ has made me clean before the Lord. So I conclude it is still the sin of man, the sinful nature of this fallen world. The fact that Satan still reigns in some sense over the world.

My prayer is for salvation for my sons. For the Lord to extend His grace to my sons. For His arm to be long enough to save. He will save. But why the hell doesn't he do so faster?

Adoption is hard work, and I don't even have my kids home yet. I haven't begun to see them disobey when they don't understand my English, or even more blatantly when they do. But this has already been hard. By far the hardest thing I have ever done.

I want to scream at my agency. I want to shout from the highest mountain (or the most followed facebook account?) that no one should ever go with this agency. I want no one in the world to experience what we're expreiencing. But I know there are folks out there who have had it even worse than us. And more than anything I just want my sons. Home. In my arms. I want to be able to look them in the eye and tell them their daddy loves them, and fought and fought for them.

And I want to be able to be consumed by something else. I want to recover from this and watch the Lord demonstrate grace in their lives and my own. It's been infurating to see the Lord's hand in every aspect of my life except this. I know He is there. I know He is present. And I know He is hearing and probably even answering my prayers. But goodness Lord, your timing sucks!

Set my sons free. Please God.

And I'm SO sorry to those of you who have had similar or worse experience. I hope at least some will find solace in their bad situation not being as bad as ours. Or those who have it bad would know they're not alone. And whatever the pain is in your life, I hope you remember the love of your Savior has not left you, but living in fallen creation is like the pain of child-birth.

We know better is coming. Lord haste the day.

Bring me my boys!