By now you’ve probably seen the mighty hand of God at work my life. Just a few months ago, Jordan and I exited our “desert season” and are now enjoying the shade of The Lord’s love and mercy. Lately we have been walking in a constant awareness of Him. We feel His movements and can hear His whispers.
Part 1 of this entry was about the little miracle that God breathed into our lives- STILL PRAISING HIM!- but this post is about a curve ball we most certainly did NOT see coming.
Before I go on, I must say that this hasn’t deterred us from enjoying the presence of God.
I think sometimes we get caught up in the red and yellow lights that The Lord issues -instead of- being THANKFUL that we even heard from God in the first place. The thing about being in a desert is that your aching legs, parched lips and burnt skin would DO ANYTHING for God to send a little cloud of relief… even if it brings no rain. We forget to rejoice for our clouds… our yellow lights… our curve balls… our little reminders that God is moving and speaking– that The Almighty still takes an interest in our lives.
This is us with adoption. We rejoice in the fact that we have somewhat of an answer, instead of none at all.
What’s this “curve ball,” you ask? Well, let’s start with the good news: On August 19th we were approved for international adoption! WE ARE IN! This, to me, was the biggest hurdle to cross. Having a difficult 1st trimester and only 6 months to give a new employer, I had a hard time finding work. Jordan is on a church salary. We have debt- not much… but it does exist. We are young. We live in an apartment. We are down to one car (since Jordan sold his to pay down debt). Who in their right mind would entrust us with children to raise? The numbers SHOULD NOT WORK. But we were called to this journey, so we decided to press onward anyway. To be approved is just confirmation that we are walking in the path of the unexplainable ways of The Lord. Amen!!
The “yellow light” (because I refuse to call it “bad news”) is that…. Ethiopia has recently become a closed country. For now.
At this time, there are many waiting families ready to be matched with their adoptive kiddos. But, the matching process has been set back because of some wonderful rules, emplaced by the Ethiopian government, to protect the adoption process. There are some agencies out there that are still placing Ethiopian children with adopting families at a high rate, but their ethics are being seriously questioned. In order to better understand all of this, let me explain how the “referral process” works:
When a child is brought to an orphanage, it is not eligible for adoption until EVERY LIVING relative is found and proven void and/or relinquishes their rights to that child. Ethiopia, being a country of both cities and bush tribes, can be a bit tricky when trying to navigate through the family lines. Tracking family members within the organized city system isn’t so much of an issue… but when you’re trying to locate members from nomadic tribes, one can only imagine the lengthy process that could potentially unfold.
The agencies that are matching Ethiopians more quickly than others must be bypassing some step that the other agencies are not. They get away with this because most African countries are non-Hague. (You can read more about the Hague process here.) HOWEVER- older children, and those with special needs, are still waiting and available in abundance! We are not eligible for older children because my new pregnancy interrupts birth order. Soooo this means that we will have to wait until the Ethiopia Program opens back up for new families OR choose another country to adopt from.
Our agency really encouraged us to take a look at Bulgaria instead. Jordan and I took about 2 weeks to educate ourselves on Bulgaria and petitioned the Lord on what our next steps should be. We asked God if we had correctly heard Him about Ethiopia… if He was closing a door and opening another… if we were putting our desires over His plans. We had so much information and just a short amount of time to make a decision. We ended up taking the first week to just pray that God would open our hearts to change. We wanted to be receptive to whatever He was teaching us. The second week we took all of our new information and sought wise counsel, called educated members from the adoption world, researched like crazy, and asked God the hard questions that are kind of uncomfortable to ask: “God, this isn’t just a child… it’s a soul. Right? It really doesn’t matter where it comes from, or what the different needs/developmental issues are… We know that. But are you teaching us to trust and hang on??? Or are you asking us to get over ourselves and walk through the obvious door you’ve opened?”
Jordan and I had a really hard time moving from Africa. But eventually our hearts became completely willing to whatever God handed down from Heaven.
This is when Chloe, our AGCI case worker, and I touched base. We found out that our Bulgarian adoption process would move much more quickly than we had planned (12-18 months). This meant that placing a “sibling group” with us would be unlikely. The odds of finding 2 kids under the age of my biological child (coming in March) are slim to none. If we were to wait for Ethiopia to open back up (which hopefully will happen by the end of this calendar year), we would buy ourselves more time to honor the birth-order rule and still be obedient to the call of adopting siblings.
I told her that I felt a wave of relief. I also confessed that I really struggled with deciphering whether my will had a much stronger voice than I was wanting to admit… OR… if it was truly God keeping us stuck on that African continent. She asked me to be candid, and so I was:
Jordan and I felt like the negative reaction we had (by various loved ones) to the prospect of us raising “black kids” almost confirmed that we needed to go through with it. As weird as it sounds, we almost feel “doubly called” to be brave and show what God’s love REALLY looks like. We knew that we were called to the challenge of adoption… but because of this process, we were learning that God was also really strengthening our hearts to raise African babies, despite their deep south maternal heritage. [Note- My family is 100% supportive. This is not in any way referencing them.]
I felt the sting as the words poured out of my mouth. I would never utter such a thing outside of the privacy of my husband. I have such a deep love for the part of the country I call home. But there is also disgust. I know that I will NEVER be able to fully protect my children from the exposure of such ungodliness… but God calls some of us to be game-changers. Jordan and I are inviting our children to be on our TEAM that burns like the SALT we are supposed to be.
Chloe listened with diligence and affirmed our hearts. She shared scripture that she had been praying over our process thus far (JUST LOVE THAT!), and told me that she would keep me on her “special list.” When Ethiopia opens back up, she will let me know before it is publicly announced -SO THAT- I can get my application in before the others. Since we have now been approved, I have no doubt that we will be again. AND, our baby will most likely be 2 or 3 when we get our sibling set, so birth order should not be an issue!
As I told my family, I don’t really have a prayer request this time. God will open the door when He’s ready, and we believe that will be soon. Our hearts are SO at peace. As Chloe reminded us, “The Lord is just making us wait because our babies aren’t here yet… And how cool that He’s giving us this little blessing (my pregnancy) to be exited about in the meantime.” She also reminded me of that Pslam that says, “God, who sits in heaven on His throne, laughs.” The plans we try to make, though honorable in man’s eye, fail to the encompassing love story The Lord has in store for us.
I can’t tell you why God would throw this at us… or why we would have to go through a few weeks of researching a country that The Lord never intended for us to complete. But maybe that’s just it. Challenges are for our benefit. It gives us the opportunity to recheck our hearts. To be strengthened. To be assured. God is gracious to count us worthy of walking through obstacles… and we are better for them. I hope I don’t ever forget that.